So it’s been almost a week since I arrived in New Zealand, and it had been one jammed packed week. I left Pennsylvania early Wednesday morning. Took a quick 6 hour plane ride to San Francisco, where I had a short 2 and a half hour layover in San Francisco. I spent 1.5 hours on another plane and FINALLY I made it to New Zealand. No I’m just kidding with you. I actually had to wait another six hours in LAX where I boarded a 13 hour flight to New Zealand. The journey to New Zealand is definitely a long and treacherous one filled with lots of waiting in security checkpoint lines, waiting in airport terminals, and waiting in airplanes. But it is definitely worth it especially since Air New Zealand has some of the best safety videos of all time!
We landed in Auckland at 5:45 am where we battled through customs. We eventually were given some time to call our parents, but unfortunately most of our calling cards did not work. IFSA bought internet for us to use, so I was able to send a quick email to my parents.
We were gathered as a group with all of our luggage, waiting for our other members to join us when this guy walks over and says follow me guys we’ll load your luggage up into the truck so that we can get moving. So as clueless tourists we followed this man out of the airport and loaded our luggage onto a truck where we were then served juice, biscuits (aka cookies), and fruit. And as we’re munching down on this stranger’s food, we realize that we just walked away from our main group with a stranger who now has our luggage in a truck, and is feeding us. Fortunately for us this stranger was Mike, the manager of the Shakespear Lodge. When we arrived at the Lodge, we quickly learned what our schedule was going to be like for the 3 days that we spent there. To sum it up:
and so on. Kai is the Maori word for food, so we essentially ate like hobbits for the entirety of orientation (not that I’m complaining). The food was absolutely delicious.
The day we arrived we went for a little walk around the park to a look out area. Later that day we learned how to play rugby, and then later that afternoon we were given the opportunity to learn how to play cricket. It was fun to learn the rules of rugby but I don’t think I pulled much weight for my team since I don’t have a competitive bone in my body when it comes to team sports.
The next day we broke up into teams to participate in a publess quiz where we were asked trivia questions whose topics ranged from general New Zealand knowledge, safety, sex, and drugs. My team was unfortunately named “Can we pass?” because we couldn’t think of a name. We then participated in a ROGAINE, or Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Exercise. Scattered throughout the park were numbered posts that contained a symbol. Each of our teams were given a map of the park with numbered locations that we had to find. Running up and down hills was a little difficult but the scenery definitely made it better. Later that afternoon we went sea kayaking and played kayak polo. The water was a tad chilly but we still had a blast. I actually didn’t want to get out of my kayak, but the retreating sun had a different idea. I then brushed up on my archery skills.
A member of Te Hana, a Maori settlement, came to brief us about our upcoming visit. We learned about the customs and practices of that particular marae. You have to follow certain protocols in order to be welcomed onto a marae. Our rehearsals went smoothly (sometimes), but the experience was different than what we thought it was going to be. I loved learning about this community who came together to support their heritage and basically turn life around. Their story was really inspiring. As we all curled up in our sleeping bags, I couldn’t help but feel saddened that our group was going to be divided the next day as we traveled to our host universities.
Traveling to New Zealand basically made it so that I didn’t want to see a plane again for a long time. Airport security in the states isn’t too passenger friendly, and as our orientation activities required multiple outfits fore ach activity, my suitcase which weighed a perfect 50 pounds was now all discombobulated. Not only that but Air New Zealand can be really strict as far as carry on luggage weight. So I sat in the airport putting on layer after layer of clothing in order to get my luggage down to the proper weight.
I have now settled into my flat in Christchurch. It has been raining for the past couple of days so we haven’t exactly wanted to go out and explore the city. I know I have a view of the hills from my flat window but I can’t exactly see them with all of the clouds.
We had an orientation for international students yesterday where a lot of us IFSA Butler students realized how well they take care of you as far as preparation. Last night was also the Fourth of July so a couple of us met some other Americans as well as a few Kiwis at a flat party.
This morning I went to enrol (while New Zealand speaks English, some words are spelled differently). A normal course load for the University of Canterbury is 60 points. I was approved for three courses:
Antarctica: Life in the Cold (15 points)
New Zealand Biodiversity and Biosecurity (15 points)
Freshwater Ecosystems (30 points)
The weather is hopefully supposed to clear up this weekend. I’m not exactly sure what I will be doing but I just want to get out and explore the city.