CHRISTINE DE LA PENA

CHRISTINE DE LA PENA

Summer 2018





This trip was truly an amazing experience and something I will never get to experience
again. I discovered this program through my school. I decided to check out the website and find
out more about this program. When I saw that people traveled to far places such as: Costa Rica
and California. I thought that I should apply and see where I might go. I did have my doubts
about this program. First, I wasn’t sure if I should apply because I did not want to leave my
mother because I wanted to help her work. Second, I did not want to get disappointed if I was not
accepted into the program. Third, I was scared to be accepted and go someone super far and not
know anyone. But when I talked to my aunt about this program, she urged me to apply because
an opportunity like this does not come everyday. Then I talked to my parents and told me to
apply as well. As soon as I applied I waited everyday for a response. I got super nervous waiting.
Then I remember getting an email letting me know that I was a finalist and it was the best day
ever. I remember feeling so happy and excited. The phone call interview made me so nervous but
I knew that I should just be myself and stay calm. I thought the interview was fun and I thought I
did good considering how nervous I was. They later emailed me that I will be receiving many
emails telling me about meetings and where I will be going. Then later on I received an email
telling me that Trip of a Lifetime wanted to know if I wanted to attend California or New
Zealand and Australia. I automatically knew which option to choose. I knew that if I went to
Australia and New Zealand, I would gain more culturally experience that I wanted. But I
couldn’t help feel scared. I have never traveled by myself to another country. But I knew that I
should take the opportunity. When we had to go to a meeting to get the information on what to
do in the places we were assigned to, I learned that I would be the only student from Trip of a
Lifetime to attend New Zealand and Australia. This made me more nervous because I would
really be attending this trip with strangers. But this would allow me to get out of my comfort
zone and make new friends.


The day I was getting ready to leave was filled with many mixed emotions. I was nervous
for going on my first trip by myself and I was excited to be going to another country and getting
to experience new things. The flight itself was not bad; I was not able to sleep on the plane very
comfortably but I was able to enjoy the flight and see movies and shows. Arriving to the New
Zealand Airport, we met our tour guide, Michelle who would be with us the entire trip. When we
arrived to New Zealand, it was 5am so we started our day by driving our the city and visiting a
very tall building that people get to jump off of. Some of us wanted to also jump off the building
but couldn’t unfortunately. To me, New Zealand smelled very fresh like they did not have as
much pollution in the air as the United States. I remember smelling the air so much because it
smelled so fresh. Then we went sailing which was so much fun. Even though it was cold and it
started raining. Some of my favorite moments from New Zealand is, when we went
sandboarding in the Bay of Islands, I got so much sand in my hair and clothes but it was so much
fun. I never heard of sandboarding before doing it so seeing it and doing it was fun. It was like
sledding but with sand and the water right in front of you. While we were there we also got to
walk up the mountains covered by sand which was hard to walk through but the view was worth









almost getting an asthma attack. Another moment that I enjoyed was getting to make necklaces
from cow bone. We got to choose designs and help polish the design we choose. The man who
makes them told us that the necklaces could be our own story. His wife also told us that if we
keep it close to our bodies that when we pass the necklace to our loved ones, they will have our
body oils and we will be close to their hearts. I thought that it was really beautiful what they
were saying and I am still wearing my necklace to remind me of what the man’s wife said. We
had also went on a boat ride and saw dolphins. It was so cool because the dolphins were so close
to the boats and they were playing with a fish. Literally. When we were on the boat we got to go
through a hole through a rock which was pretty cool to see. On the last day of being in New
Zealand, we went to caves to see glowing worms which was so beautiful I couldn’t believe my
eyes. Later on we actually went underground into the caves and cold water; even though the it
was super cool being in caves, it was very scary and cold. It was scary because it was so dark and
I lost the shoe that the people guiding me gave since the waves were super strong. The first half
of my trip was super fun and exciting. I was super excited to see what we would do in Australia.


Australia was so much more fun. There were much more activities that I enjoyed doing. I
got to learn how to surf. I always wanted to learn how to surf, like Lilo from Lilo and Stitch. It
was fun and I was able to stand one time before being attacked by the waves. But worth it. We
also got to go to an amusement park called Movie World. It was interesting to do there because
the characters don’t really look the same from the United States. But the rides were fun and it
was nice to see an amusement park from another country. Then we went to Cairns Island, and
that was my favorite place. We got to stay at this ranch, which I thought would be terrible but I
actually had a lot of fun. We got to eat the meat from the ranch itself and it was delicious. I got to
learn how to use a whip (which I became very good at), learned how to use a boomerang, and
learned how to milk a cow. Then when the night came along, we got to see the stars and the
milky way which was so beautiful and amazing. I would never get to see this in the city because
there would be so much light pollution, but it was majestic seeing the stars like a fairy tale. We
also got to go to Queens Island which where we got to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef! For
some people the boat ride was not fun... There was a lot of waves and people starting getting sea
sick. But at least I got to see the biggest reef , it was absolutely amazing. I loved seeing the coral
reefs and all the fish. We also got to see a shark! It was tiny but insane on how close they were.
Also I love swimming so doing this was so much fun. We also got to go to a zoo and take
pictures with a koala and kangaroos. It was super fun seeing them in person and not on TV. In
our final days we got to go to the famous Sydney house which was such a beautiful sight, the
construction of the building was incredible and a sight for sore eyes. We also got to see a very
weird magic act inside the opera house. I didn’t understand exactly what was going on but I
found it entertaining. The next day we got to climb a bridge. I loved climbing the bridge it was
one of the highlights. My group had gone at the perfect time because we got to see the sun set
and see the city in it’s beautiful lights. While we were up on the bridge we got to take pictures
and hear a group sing and they sang so beautifully that we started to sing with them. I always









wanted to climb a bridge to see the the from a high top and I was happy that I got to actually
experience it. On our last day, we got to see the steepest railroad and see the mountains in
Australia which was an incredible view. Then we got to go to go to the beach and walk around
and eat. I loved walking on the beach and sightseeing. For our last night we went to Hard Rock
Cafe and had amazing food and a great last night.


Overall, this whole trip was amazing I feel like I learned so much. Two main things I
learned was to step out of your comfort zone. This trip allowed me to talk to people that I would
never really talk to and forced me to try things that I never try, such as: eating kangaroo, eating
crocodile, and try caving in cold weather. I was glad that I took this opportunity because i will
never get to do these activities ever again. Even though it was difficult to adjust being by myself
and be with people I have never talked to before, I would like to thank this great program for
allowing to push myself and get out of my comfort zone. I also learned a very important lesson
while I was in New Zealand. There we learned about respect. Not only for people but for the
environment around us. When we went on a tour through the trees, we were told stories of how
they believed the world came to be. One story that stuck with me was when a man tried to make
a house using the trees from the woods. We went to find the biggest tree he could and chopped
most of it down, but he got so tired that he had to return the next day to continue cutting down
the tree. But when he returned the next day, the tree was upright as if it had never been chopped
down. He then chops it down again and the same thing happens. The man being so confused that
he decides that he will chop it down again but stay observing to see what happened with the tree.
As he waited to see what would happen with the tree he chopped down, he saw that animals
came down and put the tree together again. The man stopped them and asked “Why are you
putting the tree up again? I need it to make a house for my family.” The animals replied, “You
did not ask Te Matua Ngahere(the father of the forest).” The man asked permission to cut down
the tree to make a house for him and his family, Te Matua Ngahere agreed and the animals even
helped to make his house. The moral of the story for me is that the people must respect the
environment and respect the culture even if they do not understand it. To the Māori people they
would do many strange things that would never be viewed as normal to Americans. For example,
the people would sing to the trees to show their respect and ask permission to enter the trees
home. They would also get face tattoos to show their respect of their family, one side would be
dedicated to their mothers, who protected them and nurtured them, and the other side for their
fathers. They would also have a male from a group grab a peace offering before entering their
homes. To prove that they meant no harm and wanted to enter peacefully. Many people would
laugh or make fun of them because of their extraordinary traditions, they shouldn’t because
people should truly try to be open minded on the ideas that the Māori people have since this is
the way they live and it is a very beautiful thing to see. It was super fun to see these people live
the way they do. I didn't exactly expect for them to live in cities like we do but to see that they
still live and continue their traditions and pass it on to future generations. I would like to express
my deepest gratitude to Stan, all of the Trip of the Lifetime team and Rein Teen Tours for letting









to attend this amazing indescribable trip. It was absolutely beautiful and a memory I could never
forget.