So I’ve been in New Zealand for 4 weeks now, and through absolutely no fault of my own, just got this blog set up. Now it’s time to get everyone reading caught up to speed on what’s going on over here in the Land of the Long White Cloud. However, due to the number of amazingly fun adventures, of which you are sure to be jealous, along with the strange yet titillating mini-adventures on which I have embarked, I have decided to make a 2-part recap of the last 4 weeks. This is PB&J’s for Second Breakfast, Part 1.
June 22: A warm, sunny day on the southwest side of the greater Detroit area. It started off just as I anticipated; my mother’s bi-annual baking of my favorite cinnamon rolls. In a pack of 10, 200 calories each, I inhaled my all-time favorite breakfast, soaking up the 2,000 calories in mere minutes. However, this day was unlike the other times I had eaten this delicious concoction. Normally I would sit around the house for a few hours, allowing my digestive system to undergo a complete overhaul. Instead, I had to rush to my room to complete my packing before driving to the beautiful Detroit Airport.
After saying my goodbyes to my loving parents, I hopped on the plane, with a stop in Chicago, and over to LAX. With a 5 hour layover, I took my time to navigate the surprisingly confusing and overwhelming airport to make my way to the proper terminal. About 13 hours later, I was in Auckland, New Zealand.
Along with the rest of my GlobaLinks group (About 50 students), we made our way to the tour bus as the sun rose over the green pastures surrounding the airport. Our first stop was to a hill (the hill’s name I cannot recall) overlooking the city. It was a gorgeous view at the top; a great way to start my long journey.
We returned to the hotel, went to our rooms, and, after far too long, showered. With a fresh, clean feeling, we were free to roam about the city, with only a short meeting and nighttime meal on our schedule. The meeting was enjoyable, as we met our leaders for the week, Paul and Tyme (both Kiwis). We did the usual, icebreakers and safety protocol, while they read us stories of former students who got into some trouble during their time in the country. Being a risk-taker myself, I felt no fear. After the meeting, we were free to explore. With a few other students, I walked about, stopping at the pier, as well as having a beer in a local pub. Shortly after, I separated from the group, walking about the city on my lonesome. I entered shops here and there, as well as further explorations of the pier.
Later that night, we had a dinner paid for by the program (as most of our meals during the week would be), and returned to the hotel. While some students were keen on having a few drinks that night. I was determined to go to bed at a reasonable hour. However, instead of listening to my gut and overcoming jet lag, I realized I only had one night in Auckland, and I wanted to see the city. So I went out alone, and explored the nearby casino. I spend about 30 minutes watching gamblers play craps, roulette, and a few card games before heading out. I ran into a few other students, and with them we explored the city before I returned to bed to restore my internal clock.
We left the next morning for Rotorua, a few hours drive from Auckland, for 4 days of great adventure. We had a couple more meetings each day, but the real excitement came from the extras. On one of the days, we went on our pre-booked adventures. I chose white-water rafting. While not quite as intense as my previous white-water experience as a teen, this river was absolutely gorgeous, and included a 7 meter waterfall drop (the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world). I got a special treat, as my raft flipped over and we were dumped into the water. It was truly invigorating.
The next day we went to the Waitomo caves. Here, we repelled down waterfalls, squeezed through holes, and viewed glow worms 2 inches from our faces in the pitch black (to date, this is my favorite experience here in NZ). It was amazing. I felt like I was on the film crew for Planet Earth.
We departed the next day for our individual universities around the country, hopping aboard some small planes out of a disturbingly low security airport. I arrived in Dunedin with a handful of other GlobaLinks students, hopped aboard a shuttle, and arrived to my flat at night. My home for the next few months resides on Castle Street, in the heart of the city.
My first two weeks involved getting accustomed to the university, learning where my friends from the GlobaLinks program were living, and meeting my flat mates. My flat, from what Tim, my Kiwi host, has told me, is one of the better flats that the university has to offer. The first week of classes is known as Re-Orientation week, where there are comedians, bands, festivals, and the Paint Party (which set the Guinness World Record for largest paint party). This week was filled with many get-togethers and fiestas. It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was a very college-oriented town, and that any night I wanted to go out, there would always be something to do. Each night holds something new and enjoyable, as I grow accustomed to taking care of myself.
Through several factors, mainly my inability to cook and the lack of a cheap meals around town, I have resorted to eating an inordinate amount of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Between these, scrambled eggs in the morning, and the occasional pasta and alfredo meals, the number of PB&J’s I have taken into my body astounds even the most dedicated of PB&J enthusiasts. My meals have become the epitome of cheap and plain eating. Although no matter how many I eat, each sandwich is more scrumptious than the last.
Well, I skipped over a few bits here and there, but Hope College is paying me to blog, not to tell you what I ate for lunch on a Wednesday in a random city in northern New Zealand (it was a pork curry at a Thai restaurant….delectable).
PB&J’s for Second Breakfast, Part 2 coming whenever I get around to it.