As my departure approached, my peers prepped me for my time abroad. I had lengthy discussions about international flights and overcoming culture shock, etc. While I had never been abroad before, I knew to keep in mind that I would be changed in some capacity. I assumed this change would stem from my professional experiences abroad as well as the people I would meet. It never occurred to me that what would irrevocably change me would be the change of scenery in of itself.
The first time this thought occurred to me was during my orientation. I was scheduled to spend three days in Auckland before flying to my internship site in Wellington. One of the most famous landmarks in Auckland is Sky City, an incredibly tall building that overlooks all of the city. I chose to go at night and reached the top floor to find a circle shaped room with floor to ceiling windows. It was so stunning that I actually just stood there, taking it all in. The city from the ground is bustling and full of life. From up above, the landscape morphs into a quiet calm picture. There’s something magical about the full moon reflecting on the water while a single boat sailing passed. The city lights around the harbor gave off the appearance of fireflies dancing on the water. It was simply transcendent.
This inspiration of awe was not a one-time occurrence either. I traveled by bus with my roommate to Rotorua. Where the city was vivacious, the countryside was resplendent. The sun shone on the vibrant blue waters making it look encrusted with diamonds. The rolling green hills and imposing mountains were something out of an epic.
Then there was Hobbiton.
It quickly became evident why Peter Jackson insisted on New Zealand being the setting for Lord of the Rings. The movie set for the Shire was made out of permanent fixtures so that fans everywhere will get to experience the magic for years to come. It’s incredibly difficult to produce a place that only exists in books, but every careful little detail added made this fictional realm a reality for all to enjoy. The aura of this place expresses something grander.
For a while, I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling. I went on a tree walk in the Rotorua Redwoods and knew I was getting closer to understanding.
It wasn’t until the bus ride back that it all came together. Out of my window, I saw this.
It wasn’t that I saw something pretty. It’s that, in the wake of such splendor, I felt humbled. My surroundings have reinforced that I am in the midst of something greater than myself. That the world is so much bigger than I typically give it credit for, and in the grand scheme of things I am only a small part. The privilege is that I get to witness it firsthand.
The world awaits…discover it.