During the course of my time in New Zealand, I am interviewing the interesting people I meet. I met Robbie Parkinson, 22, of Chorleywood, England, at our hostel in Auckland.
Robbie Parkinson originally came to New Zealand to attend a forensics conference in Auckland, but then decided to extend his trip for three months. In order to pay for the trip, Parkinson spent all summer working in a pub.
“I really want to come away with a bit of feeling like I lived in New Zealand for three months rather than just went on extended holiday,” Parkinson said.
Parkinson has a knack for finding things. His room in England is packed with relics he found in the Thames and a human skull he bought for a biology class. While in New Zealand, Parkinson is eager to find some of the famous greenstone that is hidden in rivers and streams.
“It would be amazing if I could learn how to carve it,” Parkinson said. “But I’m not sure if I’ll get that far.”
Parkinson also discovered a personal connection to Kauri trees, an important cultural symbol for Maori people.
“I’ve never felt that strength of feeling for just a tree before,” he said. “But it’s just their age and the fact that they’re the oldest and the biggest trees in the world. And they really have such cultural importance.”
Parkinson had been in New Zealand for two weeks at the time of this interview and already was effusive about the transformative experience. He spoke quickly and articulated points with rapid flicks of his wrists.
“It’s felt like I’ve had an education about people,” he said. “It has been more of a soulful education, so far, in that I feel like I’ve gotten more comfortable and more outgoing.”
As one of the chattiest people in our hostel, Parkinson certainly didn’t seem like someone who needed to be more relaxed around people. However, Parkinson stressed that he wanted to rediscover himself away from what he has always known.
“When you go into a friendship group you change depending on who you’re with,” Parkinson said. “It’s like the stars, you see them and you see the light reflecting from thousands of years ago. It’s like that with friendship groups, you sometimes revert back to how you were when you were a teenager.”
For Parkinson, the value of traveling abroad is meeting new people.
“It’s been so cool to form these bonds with people from so far away that you wouldn’t otherwise have met,” he said. “And it’s just so cool that everyone comes from all over to meet in the common ground of being so far from where you’re from.”