by Brittany Holt
High: May was, per usual for my time in New Zealand, a great month for travelling and generally having fun. The first weekend some friends and I took a trip to Dunedin, which is known by some as a crazy college/party town and by others as a cute city with a rich Scottish heritage in close proximity to the stunning scenery of the Otago Peninsula. We definitely saw both points of view, but had a really fun time – it was nice to have one “city” weekend that didn’t involve being outside all day and then sleeping in a tent/car. On the way back we stopped in Oamaru to check out a Steampunk-themed playground, and then the Moeraki boulders for a touristy photo shoot (see photos). I also got a chance to check out Paynes Ford in Golden Bay another weekend, an area with ample rock climbing that’s all within a 5 to 20 minute walk from a campground dedicated solely to climbers! The last weekend trip was to the west coast and then Arthur’s Pass National Park on the way back. I’d been to these places before (the west coast during my three week break, and Arthur’s Pass during field camp) but it’s always nice to revisit places, find new things, and see how your perspective has changed. We got some stellar campsites with beautiful lake and ocean views, saw Franz Josef Glacier and Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, and caught a killer sunset at Cave Stream on our way home. Oh and my birthday! Some friends put on a “high tea” celebration and baked a bunch of goodies, including a glorious ice cream cake with one very large candle. The next night my flat had a crepe dinner to celebrate my flatmate’s birthday, and my birthday/graduation!
Low: May turned out to be quite a busy month for school work – after not having many assignments (or any, for some classes) up until May, it was tough to come back from the three week break and have to immediately crunch out a bunch of projects and presentations that were each worth more than a quarter of my grade for the entire semester! I definitely got a bit stressed some days, especially since I was trying to finish everything within the week so I could travel on the weekends, but hey, they don’t call it study abroad for nothing, do they? A lot of important things tend to happen back home during May, as well – mother’s day; graduation; and my little sister’s prom, birthday, and dance recital are just a few of the events I had to miss out on this year, but I plan on celebrating all of those things when I get back to the states!
Glitter: Since my semester abroad is my last semester of undergraduate, I technically graduated from Smith College in mid-May. It was bittersweet to come back from a weekend of climbing and see all of the pictures of senior week, Ivy Day, and commencement, but several of my friends made sure to congratulate me and snap a photo of my name in the commencement program. Even though I couldn’t physically be in Massachusetts for the formalities of graduation, seeing how happy everyone was in the photos made me happy (thank God for social media!). I’m immensely grateful for the time I’ve spent at Smith and the smart, beautiful, amazing people I’ve met along the way, and no distance on graduation day could have changed that.
Brittany Holt is a senior at Smith College majoring in geoscience. She is spending her last undergraduate spring abroad in New Zealand, where she first attended a 6-week geology field camp through Frontiers Abroad before starting a semester at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. Brittany loves being outdoors hiking, climbing, and exploring, and can’t wait to see what other adventures New Zealand has in store for her!