Semester in New Zealand – Spring Break 2.0 – by Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[NZ flowers bloom in October]
This is my second spring break of the year, as spring is in full swing here in the southern hemisphere. Time is a complicated concept. Being in a time zone seventeen hours ahead of my home, friends and family has made me realize that time really is relative. When I call home I am talking from the future, something that my mom always thinks is funny and weird. The weather is getting warmer and warmer here, back home it is getting colder and colder. Even the holidays are confusing. The stores in New Zealand are selling Halloween costumes and fake pumpkins. Halloween is the quintessential fall holiday back in the Unites States. Halloween still has all the commercial items from the northern hemisphere here in the southern hemisphere, Starbucks even has pumpkin spice coffee, but this all feels out of place.
As a native of Minnesota I have grown up loving everything about fall. Being away for the fall has been harder than I expected. This only becomes more apparent when I see Halloween costumes and pumpkin flavored food in a place where everything is turning green and new life is blooming everywhere. The leaves should be falling, it is October after all, instead new plants are shooting towards the sun and flowers flash their fantastic colors everywhere. The fiddle heads of the iconic New Zealand ferns are unfurling more everyday to create huge fern trees.
I do not tend to get homesick, even being eight thousand miles and more away from home has not made me feel homesick, but I do miss the Minnesota fall. Sometimes the best way to realize that you love something is to go without it. Fresh green fern fiddleheads are no comparison to the richness of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns that transform the vision of the trees of home. The natural beauty of New Zealand amazes visitors every day, it amazes me everyday as well. The mountains seem to rise up right out of the ocean some days when I look out the car window or out across the bow of the ferry between the north and south islands. That being said I can’t help but imagine the trees turn red and yellow.
I have never felt more tied to my home and my sense of place until I went very very far away. The landscapes of new and different places may inspire myself and travelers like me, but the familiar environments of home call back to me from across the vast ocean.
[Giant fern fiddlehead growing to form a new branch on a large fern]
Maybe this is why so many immigrants to new lands tried to change their new environment to look like the one they came from. This can be seen in the Norwegian immigrants settling on the rocky north shore of Minnesota, or the English settlers changing forested mountains into sheep and cow pasture here in New Zealand. Everyone feels tied to a home environment. Some people moved to places that looked like their home country, some people have drastically changed their new places to look similar to older ones. Some people, like myself, may simply have a greater appreciation and love of their homes natural beauty after seeing the beauty of a faraway place or places.
Spring in October feels wrong right down to my Minnesota core, but I have learned to appreciate fall in a whole new way by being away from it. Learning or acquiring a greater appreciation for the places that we all call home ties us all to the land in a new way. Maybe distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Fall will never feel the same way again. Being gone for hunting season, fall colors, harvesting of vegetable gardens, and so much more will make all those things more valued when I come home to experience them with new enlightened eyes all over again.
Spring break 2.0 2016 in New Zealand has been an eye opening one. Sometimes we have to travel far away from the places and things we love to see the real value in them. Who would have thought that cold nights and dying plants could be so appealing. When one is half a world away things look different.
[Me being excited about all the greenery]
About Matthew Breeze. I am a junior at the college of St. Scholastica this year and I am majoring in Global, Cultural, and Language studies with a minor in spanish and a minor in political science. I will be returning to St. Scholastica in December. I am originally from Bemidji, Minnesota, but I have come to consider Duluth as my second home. I have a passion for politics and I hope to someday work for the State Department or the Foreign Service working in international relations in some way shape or form. I have always wanted to go to New Zealand. I have been to Canada and Mexico, but I really haven’t been anywhere different than the United States. The city in Mexico I was in was a tourist trap and Canada looks like my northern Minnesota home. I have a family connection to New Zealand as well as the general desire to visit. My grandfather was in New Zealand for rest and relaxation during World War II. The stories of his time in NZ have been passed down through the family and are one of the biggest reasons that I decided to do a study abroad semester in NZ.
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