From the snow caps of Mount Cook to the coast of Milford Sound

Claude Miller, ‘19, studied abroad in New Zealand this past semester and is currently finishing his time there


Claude Miller, Contributing Writer

Adventurous is one of the last words I would use to describe myself.  I enjoy the comfort and safety that come along with establishing a home.  For the past two and a half years, Lexington has been nothing short of a perfect home for me.  I have my friends, and I have my place. But here I am, writing this on the other side of the world in New Zealand.  That’s adventurous, right?

Studying abroad this semester has been one of the most formative experiences of my life so far.  Every day hasn’t been great, but every day has been worthwhile.

Miller spent much of his time at skate parks, such as this one in Dunedin. Photo courtesy of Claude Miller, ‘19

It’s funny noticing how different things are from back home, even in an English-speaking country like New Zealand.  There’s the obvious driving on the other side of the road and listening to new accents, but there’s a ton of little things that are still hard for me to adapt to. In New Zealand, people walk on the left side of sidewalks. The lingo is completely different. They listen to last year’s music. Cops don’t carry guns, and there’s no open container laws.

But there have been so many experiences I have formed intense connections to, especially in nature. My first outdoor trip I went with some friends to Milford Sound on the west coast of the South Island.  I’m having trouble finding the words to describe how absolutely beautiful the sound is. It seemed like the sky reflected the blue water.  The evening sun settled softly on these ancient mountains that rose straight from the water like old castle walls.  It was absolutely bonkers.

View of Mount Cook from the top of the Sealy Tarns Track in Mount Cook National Park. Photo courtesy of Miller

Milford Sound was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen until I went to Mount Cook the other day.  My friend and I did a day hike up to a hut, and the scenery around us genuinely left me speechless, as cliché as that sounds.  Rocky snow-caps cut into the clear sky with their jagged edges.  Thousands of years of glacial movement scarred their faces.  The views made up for all the slipping and sliding in the snow on the way down.

Hiking and road trips take up most of my weekends, but I’ve also been spending a lot of time at the skate park here.  It’s definitely an upgrade from the park in Lexington, which most people don’t even know exists.  My time at the skate park has been really beneficial for me.  I’ve always been pretty introverted and have trouble striking up conversations with strangers.  Skating has such an awesome and welcoming community, and that definitely extends into New Zealand.  My conversations with the dudes there and my progression on the board have really helped boost my confidence since coming here.

Since I arrived in New Zealand, I also have dived completely headfirst into photography. Taking pictures is such a simple action but it unbelievably fun.  The feeling when you take THE picture is unlike any other feeling in the world. It’s been an awesome creative outlet for and will help me keep records of the memories I have made abroad.

I’d like to give some advice to anyone reading this who is considering going abroad.  Firstly, do it.  Secondly, come to New Zealand.