Written by Holly Knight ’18
This blog post is written in response to Holly’s fall 2017 3-week course to New Zealand with Professors Douglas Brattebo and Acacia Parks.
Over the three-week during the fall semester of 2017, I went on a study abroad trip to New Zealand. While on this trip, we were lucky enough to travel all around the North Island and South Island of the country, instead of just sticking to one area. Every day we did something something different and new. It is nearly impossible to express all the experiences and adventures the students and I went on throughout the weeks. The two disciplines focused on for this trip were psychology and political science, and what we were studying was happiness.
While keeping happiness in mind, we had many amazing adventures, such as, hiking a volcano, hiking to a glacier, zip lining, black water rafting, and many more. There is so much to enjoy in New Zealand, which is one reason we developed as playing a role in their happiness. The many adventures people can go on – the options are endless. The breath-taking beauty you see on those adventures definitely has to be playing a part in the happiness of Kiwis (people of New Zealand). When discussing the topic of happiness to Kiwis while we were there, they would even mention how the beauty of their country could be every reason for their happiness.
In the most populated city in the country (Auckland) or the least populated town (Ohura), you always see nature around you to remind you of the beauty of New Zealand. During our time in Auckland, we constantly were seeing bits of green space; which is not something we are very used to in many of the most populated cities in the United States. We enjoyed that very much, especially since we started and ended our trip in Auckland. Although, the nature I enjoyed the most (that had the greatest effect on my enjoyment and happiness) would have to be from our hikes on Mount Tongariro and the Southern Alps on the South Island. They were extremely long hikes, but the views made it worth every second.
Even without knowing it, nature can play a huge role in people’s happiness. Whether it is mental, emotional, and/or physical/health-wise. Being exposed to nature and natural beauty is very good for us. That is one very important thing I learned from our trip to New Zealand. Nature plays a large role in the lives of humans and our happiness. Surrounding yourself with natural beauties (just nature you enjoy) can have a great positive affect on your well-being and happiness. Due to my realizations about nature, happiness, and enjoyment, I decided that was something I could focus on more here at home. No, there is not nature around my home like there is in New Zealand, but there is nature I enjoy. Just to improve my life and myself, I have started paying more attention to natural beauty around me, enjoying it, and bringing nature more into my life. This is something every person could do regardless of where they live, just by making an effort.