Orientation Week & Trying my best to slow down a little.

Friends! Welcome to my blog post. I have been so busy here in New Zealand!!

A quick recap of the flying process after I left Houston: It stunk. At points, quite literally. I found out fifteen hours with a lot of humans in one place makes for some interesting smells.

At first I was nervous, excited and awed by the screens in the back of the seats that played the most amazing safety video ever. I watched a movie I’d been wanting to see for quite some time, had dinner that wasn’t terrible and talked to some cool people sitting near me. But after about 10 hours I’d had enough of flying. After 12 hours, my knee was hurting pretty bad – despite having an aisle seat so I could stretch it out and being lucky enough to not have anyone sitting next to me. We landed in Auckland about 15 minutes late and I missed my connection even after running from the international terminal to the domestic terminal (with 2 suitcases and a backpack). I also very nearly missed my rescheduled flight because of a bunch of other first-flyer issues (I’ll spare you the details).

I got to my seat on the plane taking me to Christchurch – sweaty, frazzled, exhausted and really not knowing what the heck I was doing – and breathed a sigh of relief. The couple sitting next to me live near Houston and we played trivia for most of the flight when I didn’t have my head stuck to the window looking at everything. They reminded me a lot of my parents, and it was nice to have someone to talk to during and after the flight.

When I made it to my apartment (that was an adventure in and of itself) I had a few hours to spare before a very busy orientation week started. So far I have:

  • Visited the botanical gardens in Hagley Park.
  • Kayaked on the Avon River.
  • Explored Christchurch. (the city city part not the part where my apartment is)
  • Saw the old UC Campus Buildings.
  • Gone on a street art tour.
  • Gotten a metro card and used public transportation for the first time. (I’m still getting the hang of it)
  • Gone to Little High Eatery. (this place is awesome)
  • Tried my first Flat White coffee.
  • Decided to never get a Flat White again.
  • Bought a $3 french press from the Warehouse to satisfy my coffee needs. (drip coffee is oddly really expensive and kind of hard to find here)
  • Learned (sort of) how to play ultimate frisbee and soccer.
  • Visited Springfield. This place was absolutely stunning. I went on a guided tour with Smylie’s Tours (highly recommend) with my IES program and saw a beech forest, waded in some absolutely freezing water, lost & found my glasses, hiked around Castle Hill, climbed a huuuge boulder, watched a movie and played some cards, stayed in my first hostel, planted trees, went jet boating, saw a farm show and helped shear a sheep, took some photos in Andy Goldsworthy’s honor (see below), and was overall awed by the landscape I get to live in for the next 5 months.
  • Found a sleeping bag at the Red Cross for NZ$7 (an absolute steal).
  • Skyped my family for the first time.
  • Enrolled in classes & switched my classes around (high key kind of stressful but I made it.)
  • Spent a day at Sumner Beach.
  • Gotten lost on campus.
  • SEEN A REAL LIFE KIWI on a tour at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and then after got to experience Maori culture by seeing a cultural performance and eating a traditional meal (absolutely delicious and so so cool to learn about).
  • Found a church to go to this Sunday and a group of people who want to also go!

You can’t see how high off the ground we were but it was a pretty good way. The side made a nice little natural ladder though so the climb wasn’t too difficult! 🙂

While I’ve been adventuring so much, I’ve realized that I’m less afraid of doing things because I know if I pass up the opportunity I might not get the chance again. That doesn’t mean I’m being stupid, but there have been a few moments where I’ve thought to myself “Just do it, Reeves. You’re going to regret it if you don’t.”

This place makes me feel the same way, Jason.

It has been really good to stay so busy, but I’ve also realized that I need some time to rest and just do nothing. A lot of people in my program are going away this weekend before we start classes. I decided not to go with them (even though I know they’re going to have an amazing time) because I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Classes start in 3 days, this University is way bigger than Wofford, I don’t know the campus, and I’m figuring out how things work in a different country. I’ve been constantly reminding myself that I’ve got 5 months to go away on trips and visit interesting places. I can take one weekend to make sure I’ve caught up on all the little details that I need to iron out before we dive into school.

Speaking of, I’m so excited about the classes I get to take! My schedule turned out a bit different than I thought it was going to, but I know I’m going to have a great time!! I’m enrolled in Marine Biology and Ecology (sorry Dr. Kusher, I won’t be able to take it with you back at Wofford), Evolution, Aotearoa: Introduction to Traditional Maori Society, and Land Journeys and Ethics. That last class is basically Backpacking 101. I can’t wait to share what I learn throughout this semester. 😊

Tomorrow a few friends and I are going up to the Port Hills to do a day hike. So if you follow me on social media expect some more pictures here soon!

 

Pro Tips:

  • Eggs don’t go bad when they aren’t refrigerated. Don’t freak out when you see an aisle of eggs in the grocery store that’s not in the refrigerated section.
  • NZ Lemonade = US Sprite w/ Lemon
  • New Zealanders don’t tip. Servers get paid minimum wage (something like $16.50/hr here) and I’ve been told to only tip the pizza delivery people so they get your pizza to you fast and if you have extremely exceptional service at a restaurant.
  • Don’t question it if you see people barefoot in the grocery store. Walking barefoot in NZ is socially acceptable anywhere but work and nice events. Grocery stores, restaurants, hiking – I’ve seen bare feet all over the place. (I’m going to work up to it myself. Compared to a lot of Kiwis’ feet, mine are babies.)
  • If you switch from tennis shoes to sandals halfway through a day of outdoor activities make sure you put sunscreen on your feet. (See picture below if you want a good laugh.)
  • When you get a MetroCard it works on all the bus lines in the city, not just the one you rode back to your apartment on from the station. (Y’all it’s my first time using public transportation. Can you tell?)
  • Take time to decompress. You don’t have to be on the go for your entire study abroad experience. (I’m glad I’m learning this so early.)

Here are a bunch of photos! If you want to see even more head on over to my Facebook page.

This is the Flat White. Looks lovely but tastes pretty nasty.

It’s really all my fault so I can’t complain about them being burnt.

An homage to Andy Goldsworthy.

We went jet boating on this river! It’s called the Waimakariri River.

A second homage to Andy Goldsworthy.

These are alpacas. Very soft.

This is Blue. He’s the cutest sheep dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Geoffrey and Benjamin planting native trees at Lord’s Bush!

Brendan was my tree planting partner.

This is the Department of Conservation officer that guided us through our morning of planting. He’s awesome.

We went stargazing at Smylies hostel! This picture does not do it justice in any way, but it was the best I could do without a tripod.

All but 3 of my program went swimming in this lake. It was freezing and I was cold just sitting on the bank so I did not get in the water.

Here I am sitting on the bank. 🙂

This is at Castle Hill! Crazy awesome place.

Amira and Jason on the rocks at Castle Hill.

I had to strap my hat on pretty tight because it was so windy.

🙂

One of the murals we visited on our street art tour. The big bird is the extinct Moa, while the smaller bird is the endangered Kiwi. There’s also a Fantail perched to the side.

I liked the bee in the foreground compared to the bee in the background. 🙂

At the botanical gardens in Hagley Park!

Do you see the group of climbers in this picture?

More of Castle Hill. <3

 

Until next time,

Reeves

Matthew 11:28

Categories: Pictures, Thoughts, Words | 3 Comments

The Start to my Shared Adventure

Monday, February 4, 2019

Friends! Welcome to my first blog post. This is probably going to be a bit of a mess while I’m getting started. I meant to write a post before I actually left my home, but that didn’t happen so here I am sitting in the Houston airport (im)patiently waiting for my 7:20 pm flight to Auckland.

But I’m going to start this shared adventure a bit before the airplanes. Packing for 5 months and a few seasons was tricky but saying goodbye to my friends and family members was definitely harder. I know I’m going to see (most of) them again, but that didn’t stop the tears when I had to say goodbye to some of my dearest friends and all my family members. I got to visit my grandparents on Friday and I’m so glad I got to see them before I left today. The time I get to spend with the people I love is so important to me. I’ve never been good at saying goodbye, so each “See ya later, friend” // “Love you lots” // “We have to do ___ when I get back, okay?” // “Goodbye. I love you.” was emotional.

This morning before I went through security in Charleston. Gonna miss these peeps. <3

These next five months for me are going to be filled with so much adventure, learning, and growth that I seriously cannot wait, but it’s confusing to be this excited to go and so sad to leave at the same time.

I also don’t really think it’s hit me that I’m actually going to be in New Zealand in less than 24 hours. (If nothing goes wrong on these next 2 flights.)

But on to the fun stuff. This morning in Charleston was interesting, to say the least!

My flight was supposed to leave at 6:45 am. I boarded around 6:20 or so and made some new friends. One of our flight attendants wasn’t that much older than I am. She’s taking classes to become a Civil Engineer and is about halfway done with her degree now! Talk about impressive. I also talked to a man that’s going on vacation to Mexico. When he heard I was going to New Zealand we both got to gush a little at how excited I am for the opportunity and how much fun I’m going to have.

After everyone got settled we got news that we actually weren’t going to leave at 6:45 because of bad weather in Houston, and to say people were less than enthused would be a gross understatement. The line of people needing to change their itineraries was insanely long. (Lucky for me I just got to have a little shorter layover.)

Goodbye Charleston! See you in June!

The flight went fine after we got in the air, and, after following some advice from my new flight attendant friend, I find myself in Terminal B of the Houston airport. Between the bird that’s trying it’s best to taunt the faint of heart, the small groups of frenzied travelers that are sprinting to their next gate (I’ve taken to calling them Runners. Yes, every time they pass, my subconscious shouts “We’ve got another Runner!!”), the surprisingly large number of adorable children, and my people keeping me company through texts and phone calls I am occupied.

It’s also neat seeing so much diversity in one place. This airport is busy. I think I’ve heard at least 5 languages and seen more outwardly expressed cultures in the past few hours than I ever have before. Maybe I’m paying more attention to it now that I’m going to be entering a foreign culture myself.

I’ve still got about 5 ½ hours until my flight leaves, so I think I might watch some Netflix or go walk around a bit. 😊

 

Pro Tips for the Day:

  • Wear your sorority letters to the airport so you can meet sisters that are way more experienced in flying than you. They’ll help you out when you have questions. (Thank you sister from Wyoming whom I regretfully didn’t catch the name of.)
  • When things go wrong with flights, don’t overly stress yourself out about it. There’s not a whole lot you can do and getting upset with the people that work in the airport won’t make things get any better. (Y’all. When I said the line of people needing to change their flight because they got messed up by the delay was long I really meant it. Not everyone kept their cool.)
  • International flights are on different departure boards in the airport than domestic flights. (This might seem like a “duh, Reeves” moment but your girl has like no flying experience.)

Overall I’m rating this whole experience a solid 8/10 at the moment. We’ll see how things go on this long flight tonight and I’ll keep you updated.

 

Until next time,

Reeves

Prov. 16:9

Categories: Stories | 11 Comments