My Outward Bound story.

My Outward Bound story.

Navigating the world with a new confidence.

By Pluto Xiaoyue Liu.

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Pluto Xiaoyue Liu.

Outward Bound Classic 692     |     Sheppard Watch     |     2-22 August 2022.

21 days to make or break a habit.

Since moving to New Zealand I’ve pursued an academic path so far as starting a PhD in Marine Science. Academia can be solitary, you spend whole days entirely focused on research and learning. I’d become accustomed to working hard without respite and was losing track of the world around me. Attending the course forced me to disrupt the routines I had become complacent with and gave me the space to reset. Starting each of the 21 days early and with exercise energised me. Spending time without technology and the impacts of society norms, especially social media, gave me mental clarity – it was refreshing. The course encouraged me to relax, I now wake up ready to seize the day.


Time to reflect.

In daily life we don’t allocate time to think deeply about topics. We get caught up in the actions we’re carrying out and forget to consider how we emotionally or intelligently process the way our life is progressing. Or how we are developing. Every day on the course, we we’re asked to sit with our group, talk and ruminate on important topics like community, environment, and vulnerability.

At first, being expressive was foreign and felt a little daunting. But as the days progressed it became a time I looked forward to – a time to regroup with others and myself. I was able to practice speaking openly with others, to understand my own opinions and how to express my ideas clearly.


There’s more in you than you know.

There were moments of difficulty and times when I questioned my own ability – especially around completing activities I perceived as physically demanding. Like many of us, I knew where I could excel and tried to stay clear of things that took me out of my comfort zone.

My course leader helped me confront my fear barriers by remaining firm in the opinion that I was capable. Their unwavering confidence encouraged me to at the very least try things that scared me. In doing so I really surprised myself.

Pluto's Watch

“It’s crazy to look back at the experiences I endured on the course - I think 'how did I do that?'”

The supportive environment of Outward Bound pushes you to access parts of yourself that you wouldn’t normally. It shows you what you’re capable of with the right mindset. The continuous exposure to new experiences built up my tolerance for facing challenges with less fear.  We’re all more resilient than we give ourselves credit for – try something that scares you.  


A deeper connection to New Zealand.

A deeper connection to New Zealand. My move to New Zealand from China was driven by a desire to be surrounded by nature and space. Outward Bound gave me uninterrupted time in natural New Zealand, surrounded by breath-taking landscapes and native flora. An unexpected bonus to this time was the opportunity to learn about Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and whanonga pono (values), through a range of experiences. I enjoyed exploring new heights, in the high tops of Kauri trees as well as practicing karakia (prayers or incantations) before mealtimes. 


Valuing people around me.

The focus on human connection on the course helped me appreciate the people in my life, a lot more. To say thank you more and to show them I care. Becoming confident in who I am has made me want to connect with others on a deeper level. I feel grateful for the positive influence people have on me and I want to give that back to people in return.

Since attending the course, my ability to express myself, my ideas and my feelings has strengthened. It was a great self-development opportunity. I now navigate the world with more confidence, with a belief that I can do more than I originally expected.