This post has been long overdue, but finding free time to play catch-up while in a amazing, new setting is much more difficult than you would think. A lot has happened since my last post. I experienced time travel (for some of you reading this I’m in the future right now, just try and wrap your mind around that one), spent a few days amongst rolling hills at Shakespear park, but I would swear it was actually Southfarthing, and experienced a bit more time travel during our visit to a Marae/ recreated Maori village.
Other highlights I’ve experienced since orientation include:
- Moving in
- Multiple trips to the Countdown (grocery store) and The Warehouse (essential Walmart)
- Lantern Festival
- First Day of Classes
- Sailing to and wine tasting on Waiheke Island
- All you can eat Korean BBQ
- Free Pizza
- Multiple Movie Nights
- Paintball and trampoline park with a whole bunch of Maori.
- And more food (probably my top priority).
- Side note: I’ve made it my personal mission to find the best Mexican food here in Auckland. It was a miracle in itself finding pinto beans, dried beans aren’t really a thing here, my roommates had never heard of them. And I thought I struck gold today when I found corn tortillas at the market. My hopes aren’t very high in this department though. I got excited today when I heard people talking about making enchiladas and then I saw them using flour tortillas… (side tangent complete)
When I first arrived in New Zealand I felt a bit out of place. Orientation was an amazing experience but I felt a bit estranged; I was one of the only minority students with a far different background and upbringing than the others. Respect is something that has been drilled into me by both my mother and other native community members. Just the other day my mom sent me a facebook message saying, “remember to carry yourself well as you are walking in someone else’s homeland, so be respectful”. From first impressions and witnessing various microaggressions as well as cultural ignorance, there was a bit of work involved in finding the right friend group. Lucky for me, all the IFSA Auckland students are sweet as.
I pretty much see this whole experience as reliving freshmen year of university; all of us are just meeting for the first time and have no idea where we are or what we’re doing (more or less). Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy these sort of situations but the novelty of everyone actually thinking your a first year and the look of surprise when you say your 21 and a third year grows old fast. There area also heaps of fairly young students here. I had someone tell me that the Matrix was “before their generation”, that really threw me off… I really miss being able to walk around campus and seeing your friends everywhere. Uni Auckland is five times larger than Brown so those kind of things don’t happen that often. Slowly but surely I’m starting to hit my stride; filling up my schedule, joining clubs, etc. I keep forgetting I’m only here for a semester and I start to settle in for the long run, acting like I’m going to be here till I graduate. It’s just my innate college instincts kicking in.
All the Kiwi’s that I’ve met here have been so welcoming and helpful. All the Pacific Islander student groups here have taken this “lonely” native boy in and treat me like whanau, it’s more than I could ask for. It’s crazy how similar hanging out with Pacific Islanders is to hanging with native people, there’s so much laughter and love. When I’m with them I feel at home. But dang, they’re big. I feel like a true, short Navajo when I’m around them.
But that’s us for now. To build the anticipation, here are some probable future posts to look forward too:
- Class updates
- Spring break travels :O
- The Quest For Real Mexican Food
- The Diaspora of Native Culture in Aeotearoa (pending proper motivation and time)