Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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Where will this path take me?

Near the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, New Zealand

This photograph was taken a couple days after the February 22nd earthquake that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand. I was studying in Christchurch when the earthquake happened. In the aftermath, everyone seemed to be fleeing the city. Some people that I hardly knew rented a car and invited me to leave with them. We spent the next few days driving up the coast and ferrying to the North Island. I eventually ended up in Auckland, New Zealand where I met up with some family friends. One of them took me to this gannet colony. While walking around the trails, I came across this view. It seemed important at the time so I took a picture of it. In a lot of ways, this picture reflects my Study Abroad experience. The trail winds and turns, leading to unknown places and things that I had never seen. I don’t always know what lies ahead. The spontaneity of the ‘trip’ that I took in escaping Christchurch for about a week was unforeseen. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to return to the city, or if I would be forced to return to the USA, or even if all my friends made it out of the city safely. Despite the tragic events that happened on Feb. 22nd, my flight from the city, not knowing where I was going to sleep for the night, was an incredible experience. Not good, not bad, just amazing and unbelievable. I felt this invigorating sense of awareness and aliveness. When I look at this picture, behind the bushes in the distance, I can see the shoreline constantly bombarded by waves. It makes me think that even though we don’t know what is just around the corner on life’s path, the ocean still ebbs and flows in an endless succession of tides and the world keeps revolving. Bad things happen and we are reminded about how little control we have over what happens around us, but, despite this, life goes on. That is what I was thinking about while I was taking this picture. I know that because, that is what I have been constantly thinking about since February 22nd, 2011.

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