February 1, 2012
New Zealand is stunning.
Finally arriving here after almost thirty hours of airports is a dream realized!
Although airplanes and airport travel is not my favorite I met some very cool people. First was a mother and daughter pair who are headed to New Zealand for a wedding, while sitting next to them on the first flight (Boston to San Fran) they offered me sandwiches, snacks, and good conversation. When I found my way to the next terminal the mother asked if I had eaten anything, and her daughter asked if I wanted to sit with them while we wait for the flight. Really, they were so nice. On the next flight, San Fran to Auckland NZ ,I sat next to Liam. Liam is a newly married man from London who is moving permanently to Christchurch to be with his wife. He was very nice, although I did sleep most of that 13 hour flight.
New Zealand has pretty strict rules about what you can bring into their country. Having a single apple in your bag can provoke a fine of 500$! Everyone entering the country had to fill out a form declaring what he or she had or didn’t have in the bags. “Bio-Security” I suppose is extremely important on a small island country. My hiking boots got inspected to make sure that they were sufficiently clean, they of course were spotless. I had heard horror stories of students getting boots confiscated because of a little dirt, needless to say I was paranoid.
On the short flight from Auckland to Christchurch I was so excited that I could barely concentrate on anything, my undiluted enthusiasm was appreciated (I think) by the person I sat next to, Jaco, a New Zealand native who seemed to think that I was a crazy person.
Taxi man Brian was waiting for me by the baggage claim. We got my bags and walked out into the beautiful weather. Leaves on the trees, a warm wind. It was perfect. My adventures and confusion with NZ language and customs began a little less than gracefully. After throwing my bags in the back of the taxi Brian told me that I could sit in either the front or the back, so I go to get in the passenger seat and end up opening the drivers door! I totally forgot that they drive on the opposite side of the road! Brian found it hilarious, telling me, ‘don’t worry, you’ll get used to it!’. Sitting in the side of the car which I would expect the steering wheel to be on was very VERY strange. If one thing is for sure, it is this: Carolyn is NOT driving in this country. At all.
I got dropped off at the office of Ilam apartments, awkwardly rolling my bag into the small entry I was handed a few welcome items (a mug, shirt, and lanyard) and my swipe card/room key. The woman at the fron desk told me that I am living in building “N” and then sent me on my way. I couldn’t find the building and ended up sitting on a bench to consult a map. A guy in a sort of big cherrypicker machine laughed asking if I was lost, “Because, you know, you look lost” and then pointed me in the right direction. I found my flat, found my room and immediately threw my stuff everywhere.
I didn’t have the right kind of power adapter, tacks, food or hangers, so I changed and set off to find a store. After getting pretty lost and walking for hours I got what I needed and headed home. Then I finally meet some of my flat mates! It is a five bedroom flat with a living room, kitchen, and little porch area. It’s on the first floor, which I’ve heard is nice because people walking by can just hop though the window. It’s very social I guess. I met Mackenzie and Sameema, who are the two girls living here. So far they are awesome! The other two are boys who haven’t arrived yet. This is good because we can get everything organized and sorted before they even arrive!
After getting my room set up I walked around campus. Or “uni”. I’m starting to learn the NZ slang, Semeena says “Don’t worry, we’ll fix you!” . Classes are called papers (“What papers are you taking this term?”), liquor is called spirits (“Well she’s already put bottles of spirits all over the kitchen, so she must be alright.”), and weirdest of all: peppers, the vegetable, are called “capsicum”.
Then I walked around campus; lots of plants, interesting architecture, spiral stairs, lawns, gardens, animals. It is outstanding.
Basically I have settled in, I’m starting to meet fun people, and everything in this country continues to amaze me
🙂 Lots of love from NZ to USA