Have low expectations. When you barely expect anything of your trip, you may just find that you'll be pleasantly surprised. Of course, easier said than done, with the availability of information about travel destinations nowadays.
But, I strongly encourage this.
"Ignorance is bliss" is a quote I hear every now and then. After traveling throughout a variety of destinations in New Zealand, I am quite pleased that I entered the country knowing very little about it. Why? Well, just because I never had heard about the "land of the long white cloud" until this program was introduced to me. I did my research about the country, and the places we'd go, however, any information I had accessible to me hasn't even come close to what I've learned through my experiences here.
From the endless snow-covered peaks, to the caramel colored sand, and all the green in-between, I don't think I would have imagined this beauty even existing. Even after post-departure research of the place we were to go on our excursions, I couldn't believe that I'd soon experience places that only existed in postcards or desktop backgrounds. To me, having the ability to travel for educational purposes is incredibly exciting. But, not knowing of exactly what I was to expect almost made the trip even better.
The syllabus we end up reading to decide if our money is worth it, gives just enough information on some of the diverse places we're able to go. I remember hoping to find an hour-by-hour schedule of what tours we'd be going on, how the transportation will work, what our sleeping accommodations were like, etcetera, etcetera. Typical behavior for the modernized American, who prefers to know what each day will bring them, unlikely to add elements of mystery to their day. Because of the limited "knitty-gritty" details given on the syllabus, I only had a slight idea of some of the more iconic places we'd be visiting. All the planned in-between places, accommodations, and transportation information in-between left me with an element of mystery, one I had to accept when committing to the trip. This mysterious element would later be an element that made the trip more fulfilling. Had I known every detail of this trip, I would have researched every bit of it, setting high expectations for my quest. Luckily, this wasn't the case.
Setting expectations for anything, I believe to be risky business. Looking back at past experiences... the less expectations one has, the more enjoyable something can become. To me, the finite details about this trip that I found were missing left me with a curious amount of mystery, making my experience (especially all of New Zealand) incredibly exhilarating.
The beauty was encapsulating. I didn't expect to be swept off my feet by the views after our climbs, nor left breathless looking down from the clouds. It's those experiences that you're not expecting to have, the relationships you're not expecting to develop, the appreciation of our Mother Earth that most of us have lost touch to, or never felt before... That's given each and everyone of us on this trip moments we will never forget. Moments we wish we could capture in a bottle, or a picture and take with us all the senses we feel at those very moments. It is these moments that if we had already developed personal expectations, there is a heavy possibility that due to not meeting or exceeding ones expectations, the experience could be judged as '"less" or unenjoyable. So why bother encrypting elaborate expectations in ones imagination before they are able to live a foreign place, concept, or experience? To be honest, you're better off not! Or, let your imagination run wild, and be the outline to your experience coloring book, but let your true experience be those colors that fills everything in, giving it life. Let yourself experience reality, and just be the beholder of it.
Even though words are the language we use to describe our experiences and communicate our adventures to others, there isn't the accurate slinging together of words to encapsulate all the emotions, smells, sights, noises that I have been so blessed to have experienced while on this trip. No one could have come close to expecting before each adventure what I've experienced, and that's the best part.
So live life without expectations, go for it! Be patient and appreciate the (now) hidden beauty around you.
Emilia Smith is a student at Providence College and is blogging from her summer abroad with the Environmental Studies program in Australia & New Zealand.