With Wellington. Calm down folks, I haven’t met my attractive Kiwi, rugby player yet. Or maybe I have…? I’ll keep you posted.
But in all seriousness, I can find no other words to describe this city other than “perfect” “my future home” and “a million times better than Winston-Salem” (sorry Wake). Wellington was recently ranked the 11th best city in the WORLD to live in and the only thing I’m wondering is what those other 10 cities could possibly have that would upstage this magnificent coastal capital.
Probably the best way to describe Wellington and to appropriately capture it’s effect on me is that it is unbelievably charming (the Kiwi accents help with that too) . With a population of less than 400,000, this city is miniature in comparison to Auckland (and just about all other world capitals). In fact, most people are inclined to believe that Auckland IS New Zealand’s capital. Think again! Wellington is where it’s at.
With it’s winding streets, hilly landscapes, arbitrarily located staircases, and gorgeous views, this is one city that I think everyone should make an effort to visit. Let me briefly walk you through my experience with Wellington thus far. Hopefully it can help you understand why I’ve fallen in love in three short weeks.
Located at the southern tip of the north island, Wellington is kind of a “C” shaped city, curving around a natural harbor. The waterfront was the first place we visited when we got here and I’ve since gone back nearly every day because it is so beautiful. First of all, the water is SO BLUE. Most American harbors are pretty gross and on the murkier, darker side of the color wheel, so this is a nce change. On any given (sunny) day, you can find countless people jumping off the waterfront dock. I’ve been told it’s something I have to do before I leave, and I definitely intend to!
Another really cool thing about the waterfront is the “Wellington Writers Walk.” While the image below depicts one of the more prominent literary works, it generally takes a keen eye to find all the little quotes around the area. They all celebrate the city and help take on the difficult task of describing why this city is so amazing. This one is definitely my favorite (so far!) and describes Wellington perfectly:
There are also lots of really cool bars and cafes located around the waterfront and I love that it’s not just for people with boats, rather it’s a place to hang out and enjoy Wellington. More importantly, its one of the only flat spots in the entire city which makes it one of the more popular places for running, biking, taking the dog for a walk, etc. I’ve found the unbelievably gorgeous harbor views to be a great distraction while going for a jog.
While I know I complain quite a bit about the hilliness of Wellington, I secretly love it. First of all, everyone on this campus is in great shape because you really have no choice. Out of shape people would legitimately not make it to class– it’s that bad. Victoria University is located on a hill above the city. While it’s close to the heart of the city (as the crow flies), you have to climb some pretty steep streets and stairs to get to it. The worst is the DIxon Street stairs. This is the staircase that we take to get from town to campus. Dixon Street is quite steep itself, and then you climb 9 flights of stairs, and then you continue to go uphill for another half mile or so. It’s a great workout. The city does have a cable car to get residents from the bottom of the city to the campus, but most students hoof it.
Wellington Cable Car (it completes the quintessential Wellington picture)
An encouraging plaque on a bench halfway up the Dixon Street staircase
Besides the fact that the hills are a great, built-in workout, they also give Wellington a really unique look and a lot of character. Houses are built on top of each other, carparks (as they call them here) are more like really strong decks (see picture), and almost everyone gets some sort of view of the city. On my walk to class I can see the entire city and the harbor. It’s really pretty magical and I wouldn’t change it– despite my sore legs.
Not a bad view for my walk to class!
Where to begin. The Kiwi’s (locals) are great. They’re super friendly, incredibly helpful, and have killer accents. I’m really working on my Kiwi lingo as well. More to come on that.
While my classes are pretty big (we’re talking 300 students here, Wake didn’t prepare me for that) I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and openness of my classmates. I feel like people tend to keep to themselves in the U.S. Once they have their friend-group they don’t necessarily feel the need to introduce themselves left and right. That is definitely not the case here and it has made adjusting to life here so much easier.
They also love Americans (at least that has been my experience). Before studying abroad I was told by many people that Americans studying abroad often have a bad reputation and aren’t respected in many countries. But here, they love our accents, our TV shows, our music, and (wait for it) our red solo cups. Seriously, red solo cups are worshiped here. It’s hilarious. I wish I had known so I could have brought some with me (they’re ridiculously expensive and hard to find). I met one Kiwi who said she has one red solo cup and will never throw it away. God I love them.
So moral of the story: Kiwis are great people and everyone should make themselves a Kiwi friend at some point in life.
Okay that’s all I have for now. There will be much more to come– I’m just super tired and have homework (apparently studying abroad actually requires some studying. Who knew?)
Just know that I’m having an amazing time (if you couldn’t tell) and that I LOVE this city more than I could’ve possibly imagined.