My last post ended up a bit disjointed and rambling, so I’m going to go through my first few days here again.
I arrived in New Zealand on Sunday afternoon as a tired, grumpy, and grungy passenger. The flat was seemingly empty as I arrived, allowing me to explore and haul my bags up to the third floor uninterrupted. I unpacked a little, made my bed with the provided bedding pack, and took a much-needed shower. After standing in my room and staring at the walls for a bit (jet lag hit me hard), I realized that I could hear music coming from downstairs so I followed my ears and met my first flatmate, Sarah. She was kind enough to show me around the flat and give me directions to the nearest grocery store. Since I had no food, and was thoroughly sick of airport fastfood, I decided to walk to five minutes to the grocery store and then make myself dinner.
The walk to the store felt amazing after being cooped up in an airplane for so long. The sun was warm on my skin (a little too warm, after a while) and the breeze was blowing. Dunedin sits in a valley with hills to the north and west and water to the southeast. As I walked, I caught glimpses of hills checkered with farmland and covered in forest.
My memory of the grocery store is a bit of a blur. Mostly it seemed the same as the US, only with different brands and names for things (here, a sweet bell pepper is a capsicum) and I quickly bought some staples (pasta, cheese, sandwich fixings, and as much fresh fruit as I could carry). And on the way back from the store, I discovered my favorite part of the city so far: the botanical gardens, a verdant park with flowerbeds everywhere. It is a gorgeous place to walk through and somewhere I will be exploring and studying in throughout the semester. They even host free concerts on Saturday afternoons!
After I got back to the flat, I made dinner and stayed up as long as I could (until 7:00pm) before crashing for 13 hours straight. The next day I woke up, met my other flatmates, and went exploring in the city with Caty. She took me down Great King St., past the Otago museum and over to George St. which runs straight to the center of downtown (called the Octagon for the shapes the streets make around it- I’ve included a map at the end of this post where you can see everything I’m talking about. My flat is indicated with a big yellow star). We went shopping (me for things like tissues, shower shoes, school supplies; Caty for kitchen dishtowels and paintings to brighten up the living room) in the Octagon and in thrift stores we found on the way back to the flat. We also went down to the stadium (which is also the University gym) so she could show me the waterfront. We passed so many great shops, bars, and restaurants that my head was on a constant swivel trying to take it all in! I can’t wait to explore more of downtown and sample some of the local food and nightlife.
These last few days have been filled with the meetings, orientations, campus tours, and information sessions which characterize Orientation Week. For me, it has been a hectic time filled with running from event to event, trying to get as much information about the University, classes, events, and resources as I could. Some highlights include: a lecture on how to handle yourself in New Zealand’s great outdoors; a workshop on how to navigate the University’s email and assignment system; the Clubs Day where students could sign up for clubs (I am now part of the Archery Club, the LGBT Club, and the Outdoors Explorer’s Club); and Tent City, the outdoor expo where businesses and organizations set up tents, activities, and free promos to entice students to sign up or become customers.
I have been having so much fun so far! I’ve hit the ground running and been very busy, but I’m making friends and delighting in new experiences and really enjoying myself. I have a few more days before classes start, and I plan on cramming in as much fun stuff as I can before I have to really focus on coursework for a while (although I am planning on lots of weekend trips throughout the semester)!
I’ll try to keep blogging pretty regularly, but it may drop down to once or twice a week instead of every couple days.
Until next time,