After spending four months here in New Zealand, I've gotten to travel quite a bit. The South Island's contrast of miles of open farmland and rather busy city life was a unique experience that I'm not so used to seeing. I got to visit some of the other unis while I was in Te Wai Pounamu and surprisingly, they were all based in large, busy cities. There were people and cars everywhere! On the North Island, I haven't explored too many places, but I plan to make up for it at the end of the semester. However, out of all the places I've been to so far, I'm happy to have spent most of my time here in Hamilton.
Hamilton isn't a metropolis of a city with everyone hustling about, but it's not a small town where everyone knows everyone either. It's a common medium, just the way I like it. No towering skyscrapers or outrageous traffic. It's a family friendly town, which is perfect for a 20-year-old girl like me trying to adjust to living in another country. My first experience of Hamilton was catching the bus to Victoria Street and walking around the shops and, of course, Centre Place. It reminded me of something you'd see in an old film and I could sense there was some history about this place.
After making some friends with other fellow international students, we all decided to adventure around the Hamilton Gardens for the day. We went on a beautiful day and I must say, this is still one of my favorite places in all of New Zealand. The gardens were so well kept and authentic--I felt like I was travelling from Japan to China to all the other places represented through the different gardens. I couldn't pick a favorite garden; they were all so elegant and each had a special feature that set it apart from the rest. We had so much fun that day, and I'd definitely like to go back there before I leave and have a picnic... that seems to be the popular thing to do, and I can see why!
Hamilton's bus system is great! Much better, safer, and cleaner than the buses in Hawaii :) The bus drivers are always so friendly and helpful in giving us directions on how to get places. It's also safe enough for kids to catch the bus by themselves, which shows the unity and safety of Hamilton. I can't say the same for Hawaii, unfortunately. I mean, it's relatively safe there, but catching the bus isn't such a popular choice for children, or anyone, for that matter. The routes are pretty unpredictable and the people who ride the bus aren't the "best" people... if that makes sense. Anyway, by the bus system being so effective here in Hamilton, the amount of air pollution caused by vehicles is decreased! Just another way New Zealand is fighting for a better earth :)
One of my other favorite places in Hamilton was the zoo! The variety of animals was quite amazing... the birds, monkeys, pigs, swans, rhinos, you name it! I especially liked the Safari exhibit with the giraffes, zebras, ostriches, and antelopes; it was really unique and I haven't seen one like it. We even got to see a baby rhino! So cute! The exhibits were designed to please both the zoo visitors and the animals. I'd love to live at the Hamilton zoo if I were an animal :)