Kangeroo just chilling out in an Australian zoo

T wo summers ago I boarded a 14-hour flight from LAX. My destination: Auckland, New Zealand.

During a two week duration, I went to both the south and north islands of New Zealand, to the city of Sydney and to the Great Barrier Reef. New Zealand and Australia may lie in the same region of the world, but they both are very different.

In New Zealand, I experienced the cities of Auckland and Christchurch. Both were relatively big, but they were spread out; there were very few skyscrapers. This country, where sheep outnumber people ten to one and where the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was filmed, is one of vast and beautiful landscapes. The country has various natural wonders, from geothermal hot springs in Rotorua to countless mountain chains.

In New Zealand, I also experienced cold weather and even a little snow. I went repelling at a camp in a forest located in northern New Zealand, where I got to see the beauty of a waterfall as I slowly declined the cliff. I saw beaches with white snow.

But the first place my group went when we arrived in Auckland was a McDonalds. Cliche, I know, but it showed a different culture right off. The McDonalds had leather seats and beautiful lighting. It didn't look like a fast food joint at all. Later, in the city of Christchurch, I got to stay with a family for a couple days. This gave me complete insight into the culture of the Kiwis.

Australia was a completely different experience, even though it was on the same trip. We went to bigger cities. I found Sydney was like a New York City only located halfway across the world. The Sydney Opera House was a sight to see, and I learned that the color of the structure was not white like seen on TV but rather a cream. Australia was an experience of the cities, showing me the world of busy people lies all over the world, not just in America. It made me want to explore the rest of the world.