…And she’s here! After 3 flights, 6 movies, and +23 hours of travel time, I finally reached The Land of the Long White Cloud. Just a bit of context: I left Atlanta at 5:55 PM ET on Saturday, Feb. 11 and reached Christchurch, NZ at 11:30 AM GMT (+12) on Monday, Feb. 13. Luckily, my flights from Atlanta to LAX and LAX to Auckland had in-flight movies. I watched In Time and Country Strong from Atlanta to LAX and from LAX to Auckland The Adventures of Tin Tin, Rio, Warrior, and One Day. It was so late by the time I left LAX that I was falling asleep, and I ended up taking a one-hour nap in the middle of every movie. Surprisingly, the food on the plane was not only edible, but quite good. For supper (at about 1 o’clock in the morning eastern time), I had chicken in alfredo sauce with a roll a cup of fruit and some cheese and crackers. Oh and the grand finale was a small serving of Haagen-Däz ice cream cone flavored ice cream. Superb. I had a fruit plate for breakfast but they also offered a ham and cheese omelet with tots. All in all I would give the food an A- grade.
Upon my arrival in Christchurch, I was greeted like an A-list celebrity with my aunt and uncle’s friend Lester Fletcher waiting for me at the end of the terminal with my very own name placard. After grabbing my bags from the conveyor belt, we headed to the parking lot where I proceeded to try to get in on the right side of the car. Rookie mistake. Everybody knows Kiwis drive on the left side of the road and therefore the steering wheel is located on the right side of the car. Duh. Mr. Fletcher drove me to campus and helped me get situated in my flat where I met two of my new flatmates, Mary and Kate. Mary is a kiwi and Kate hails from California. Kate gave me some chocolate within a minute of meeting me so she immediately moved to the top of my friends list. I met my other two flatmates, Florence and Monica, later. Florence is from California and Monica is from China. From first glance our group dynamic seemed completely different from the Northpole in Lexington. False. Mary is married (a la Greg & Caroline—hehe), and Florence and Monica both have boyfriends (Ainsley & Scott, Toddy & You-Know-Who). Then there’s me and Kate—single and ready to mingle (me and Zank). Kind of creepy.
Even though I hadn’t showered in two days my first course of action was to go to the grocery store and get some supplies. Mary drove us (on the left side of the road) to Riccarton Mall a couple minutes down the road from UCan. We went to a discount grocery store called Pak ‘n Save where I was shocked to find that they don’t refrigerate their eggs in New Zealand. Surprise number one. Surprise number two: calories don’t exist here. They use kilojoules (kJ) to measure the energy found in food. Guess that means I won’t be counting calories while I’m here! Best. Day. Ever.
It’s only been a few days but I’m already in LOVE. I haven’t seen the sun since I’ve been here, but I love the campus and meeting everybody. There are a lot of American study abroad students here but I haven’t met any one from any where remotely close to the South. The Northeast and West are predominant. I’ve run through the area around campus the past three days and tend to run longer than I initially intend because I get lost quite often but I’ve gotten to see a large part of the surrounding area.
1. There is an Indian, Thai, Japanese, and Chinese restaurant on every block.
2. There’s no such thing as Kroger or Walmart. but there are McDonald’s (Macca's) and Subway. Sadly, the $5 dollar footlong is a figment of the American imagination.
3. SUVs are a rare sight and most cars have two doors.
4. School kids are made to wear uniforms that are designed to be as unattractive as possible. Think grey knee-high socks, khaki shorts, and blazers for boys and rompers three sizes too big and black clogs for girls.
5. Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way.
Vocabulary of the week:
1. boot=trunk of the car
2. gumboots=rain boots
4. Scrumpy’s=alcoholic cider