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!
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.”
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!
- 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.
Until next time,