Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Kior and Kai!!

After a long day of flying from nashville to L.A. then into Auckland I arrived only to find that the fog in Auckland was so thick that I couldn’t even see the runway much less the city below. Gathering my backpack and swallowing the disappointment of not being able to see the city I had flown nearly twenty hours to inhabit for the next four months I exited the plane.

After going through customs and then security at Auckland I walked under the beautifully carved tribal wooden frame that served as the door frame for the passage out into the main section of the airport. Immediately I was greeted by the very friendly IFSA butler staff who, after having outfitted me with a name tag and expressed their kioras (greetings), pointed me in the direction of a currency exchange booth and a pay phone to call my family.

The currency exchange was simple, I went inside handed over my American dollars and was given the corresponding amount of New Zealand dollars in return.The pay phone was not as straight forward. This was demonstrated by twenty minuets of inserting coins having them returned to me unaccepted, slamming the receiver down and picking it back up as requested by the machines display and contacting several confused people around the globe not one of which had the same name as a member of my family or knew of their existence. Eventually I was able to get my calls to the correct sources, yet they went unanswered. In absence of such conversations, voicemails were left. With my hard fought victory over the pay phone under my belt I took my luggage outside to the IFSA bus and about an hour later we were off to see New Zealand!

Or, we would have see New Zealand if the fog had not completely veiled the entire country from view. Driving through Auckland up north to the YMCA camp where orientation was to take place was the most sightless sight seeing tour I have ever experienced, at no fault of the IFSA butler staff who kept telling us what we would have been able to see had the fog not been present. Once we reached Shakespeare’s lodge however, the fog had mostly cleared and we struck off for a walk after a quick Kai (a meal). We walked to the top of one of the highest hills in the area to see the waves lapping at the beach down below and Auckland across the sea. The water was shockingly blue and much more clear than the bodies of water In the states. After the walk it was back to camp to grab some more food and then we went down the beach to kayak in the Pacific.

The kayaks we used required one person in front and one in back making for a fun activity to get to know some peers. With some instruction from the YMCA staff it wasn’t long before my partner and myself were maneuvering around the water with ease. After everyone had a chance to get acclimated at controlling their vessels we played a game of water polo. The rules for water polo are simple. It requires a rubber ball a bit smaller than a soccer ball and much more suitable for gripping, basically a dodgeball but lighter. The goal of the game is to get the ball through a goal marked by two posts standing vertically in the water. There are two goals, one for each team. You may pass the ball to other team members, the only hinderance is that any one person may only hold onto the ball for no more than three seconds. My team was trounced by our opposition, but the loss only slightly detracted from the fun of being out on the water and learning a new game.

Once everyone was spent from polo we made way down the beach to the remains of a sunken ship covered in barnacles. Not much of it was above water, but what we could see was a spitting image of Davie Jone’s ship from the pirates of the Caribbean film. Fifteen minuets later we made our way back to shore. The deadly combination of jet lag and a long day had taken its toll and I was completely spent. It was all I could do to drag myself to the meeting that would prepare us for visiting the Maori village on the eighth. During the meeting we covered the procedures for entering the village and practiced speaking and singing the Maori language with which we would pay thanks to the Maori for allowing our visit. With the meeting over it was time for dinner and then off for a much deserved rest.

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