I spent the spring semester of 2010 studying in New Zealand through the ISEP program. I used this blog to keep an account of my school experience and as a record of the adventures I found. Hopefully it can serve two purposes: to have kept my friends and family informed of my travels and experiences; as well as to serve as a reminder of how important the study abroad experience is, whether it's in New Zealand or not.
11 February 2010
Settling in, also known as nesting.
The flight left San Fransisco on time and directed itself toward the setting sun. I found myself seated next to a boy from a small town three hours outside of the Bay area who was traveling with a large student group. He was to be studying at AUT, but wasn't sure how many of the other student he was traveling with were headed to the same destination. We talked about our mutual feelings of disbelief that we were actually headed out over the Pacific to somewhere so far away. I settled into a movie (Inglorious Basterds) until after dinner was served, when I tried in vain to fall asleep for the next 9 1/2 hours of the trip. Just before landing I decided to liberate one of the Air New Zealand blankets I had used to keep warm on the plane. I'll clear my conscience by giving it back on the return flight, but it's not as though I hadn't paid enough for the flight to get a blanket out of it. Not to mention I have no blankets in my room. In hindsight, I should have grabbed a pillow too. We landed twelve hours after takeoff in a damp Aukland before sunrise and a full hour before our scheduled arrival. I decided to use my extra time to walk between the international and domestic terminals rather than take the shuttle. I went to board my final flight (the third in 23 hours, which by the way was my total travel time) and simple handed over my boarding pass. I want to emphasize this: There was NO security for my NZ domestic flight. No restriction on liquids, no taking off shoes, no x-ray machines, and no metal detectors. Not even an ID was required. Just to give you an idea of how safe this country feels. Whether that feeling is backed in reality has yet to be seen by me. I was picked up by a Massey representative only to find out that one girl I had seen in the SF airport and had been on both my SFO-AUK flight and my AUK-PMR flight, was also going to be studying at Massey. Not only that, she lives in the same housing complex as me. After starting to settle myself into my room (I'll get to that next), this girl, Jessica, and I ventured by bus into the center of Palmy. We wandered aimlessly through the streets surrounding "The Square," a small park like area in the center of town. One thing that strikes me is how much I feel like I"m back in Ireland half the time. Many of the same European qualities are found here. Such as driving on the left and the chain store "Farmers," which has nothing what-so-ever to do with farming. There are other chains, like Woolworths, and companies, such as Vodaphone, that I associate strongly with European culture. After wandering quite some time we both noticed how strange the weather was. Clouds move endlessly through the sky and every time one passes by, the temperature seems to drop by 10*. Luckily for us the rain has stopped by the time we had arrived at Massey campus. Our final stop in town was "Pak 'n' Save," the cheapest, major grocery store around. The best one for students or so the international student representative told us. Exhausted, we took the bus back to campus and parted ways with plans to meet up tomorrow to do something else. Now, here I sit in my room writing this rather than figuring out where I want to put the rest of my stuff. The first thing I thought when I really saw my room was that it kind of looks like a jail cell. Though once I've made up the bed and gotten my clothes away, it really begins not to look that bad. It makes me really appreciate how nice the mods are at Hampshire. This place is not as cozy, but I'm sure I'll grow to love it while I'm here. The room is narrow, but not short. There is no dresser, but enough closet space to make up for it as well as a good amount of shelving space. My welcome package included sheets, one set of dishes, a travel mug, a water bottle, a bag, a Frisbee, lots of welcome papers, and two posters to keep me organized. It is carpeted and that I have to say, makes up for a lot, as well as the full length window that I can open substantially. At least for now it's warm enough I may not have to pull my sleeping bag out at night, what with my contraband blanket and all. Did I mention how excited I was that my computer didn't explode when I plugged it in? I know it says that's how you're supposed to do it, but I'm just so protective of this beast that I don't like to take chances. Also, there's an adorable black kitten and it's black mother that seem to love the stoop outside my window for sunbathing. Orientation starts Sunday, so I'll hold off my updates until I know what it's all about, unless something truly amazing happens.