Kia ora! That’s Maori for ‘hello’ and I’ve heard it many, many times since I arrived in New Zealand a week and a half ago. My travels, though long, were smooth and uneventful, even with traveling internationally by myself for the first time. New Zealand is absolutely gorgeous! It helps that it is summer here; it’s been in the seventies and sunny pretty much every day I’ve been here, a nice change from the thirties or forties I left behind in Oregon.
Most of the other international students have been in country for at least a couple weeks longer than I have. I arrived around dinner time on Monday night and by 9 am Tuesday I was sitting in orientation for the international students. It’s a strange juxtaposition of knowing how to go through college, but also being new to the campus and needing a map to get around. Apparently I’m absolute rubbish at reading maps, because even with a map, I’ve gotten lost on campus. Twice. One time I went out the wrong door and ended up in a dead-end residential neighborhood, so I had to backtrack through the building. Another time I went looking for my lecture theater and ended up wandering around by the engineering labs. Both times I had to ask for directions as to where I needed to go.
I’m settling in, figuring out how to do things. There is a big grocery store within walking distance, and another smaller, but cheaper one about a five-minute bus ride away. We have to buy our internet pre-pay, so you buy a chunk of gigabytes. Skype burns through internet really fast, so my flatmates and I are going to get a router so we can get cheaper internet. I live in a flat (apartment) owned by the school, a couple blocks away from the academic buildings. I have four roommates; one’s from the Mid-West, one’s from the East Coast, one’s from Barcelona and the other is from Paris. We each have our own bedroom, and share a tiny kitchen (with no oven…). I didn’t have to worry about learning another language, but still things are different from home. A trip to the gym required some quick mental math because the weights were all in kilograms, not pounds. I got to Uni, not college; sometimes they call high school college. Driving on the other side of the street still throws me for a loop sometimes, especially when I see a dog or a kid sitting in what would be our driver’s side, but here, it’s the passenger side. Shopping carts are either trundlers or trolleys. A parking lot is a car park. Every Kiwi (New Zealander) I’ve met is incredibly friendly and nice. They can’t tell I’m not Kiwi until I start talking. I can’t get over how much they love my accent. One Kiwi girl told me she just wanted to listen to me talk all day, but I love listening to them talk! They say my name differently and it makes me smile, instead of Emily, it sounds like Emma-lay.
Until next time!