February 21, 2006
Centre College in Danville, Kentucky:
It’s officially been a month since the last day of class. It’s been just eight days less since I left New Zealand, and honestly, it feels like much more. I hate to admit it, but I’m already back into the swing of things. I’m already used to getting up ten minutes before class begins. I’m already used to going from my dorm, to a classroom, to the library, to a classroom, to Cowan, to the library and back to my room for sleep. I felt learned. I felt wise. I felt, no, I was a traveler;
I had seen other cultures, I had experienced other cultures.
That last week was probably the best part of the trip. So much happened, it’s hard to believe even now. Basically, seven of us rented an eight-passenger van, packed it tight and drove up and down the south island. Finally being on our own, we began to notice some very different things about the New Zealand culture. For one, they either hate or just prefer to make little use of stop signs. Everywhere we drove, yield this, yield that, but heaven forbid we have some stoppage! Another difference, though we noticed this as early as the first week, everything closes by 5 p.m. sharp! Well, nearly everything, if not five then at least 6:30 p.m. Seven o’clock would roll around, the crew would be ready to eat and we’d be fighting to find an open restaurant, bar, grocery store or petrol
station (gas station). Of the entire time spent on the Islands, I believe it was only the Countdown grocery store chains that were open twenty-four hours, and those were small and rare. At first this was kind of a disappointment, our schedules were off from the rest of the country, but as time went on I began to become more comfortable with it. By the end of our time, I had begun to enjoy the laidback feeling as people didn’t feel like they needed to work their lives away. Comfortable, very comfortable.