Working through my Bucket List

Submitted by Stephanie Stapf on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand and Australia…

My final week in Australia was much more relaxed, but still allowed me to cross off numerous items on my bucket list. One of these items was snorkeling, which we did along a coral reef site on Moreton Island. I had no idea what to expect and was nervous about the logistics of being able to breathe. The experience ended up being less intense than I expected, and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I found it so amazing how clearly I could witness all of the sea life, including the vivid colors of the fish and the immaculate details of the coral reef. These sights felt like they could have come from a movie, and it is hard to believe that I was seeing such a beautiful display with my own eyes, in real-time. The experience was followed up with a presentation, during which we learned about the effects of global warming and what we could do to help protect these ecosystems. The instructor exhibited so much knowledge and passion, emphasizing how important and urgent these environmental concerns are.

Snorkeling along the coast of Moreton Island

Encompassing everything I have learned on this trip into a paragraph would be impossible. I have discovered so much about the world and myself. This was my first time traveling outside of the United States, so I did not have any clear expectations. These thirty days have been the most eventful in my life. The sights of my first foreign country during the 6 a.m. bus ride from Auckland Airport will be ingrained in my mind forever. I embarked on countless educational opportunities while also experiencing bucket-list sights and activities. I floated on a raft through a cave in New Zealand, climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, pet a Kangaroo, and embarked on so many other once-in-a-lifetime experiences. New Zealand and Australia have a special place in my heart, and I am already planning my next trip back.