Somehow, my 15 hour plane ride seemed to go by in a blink of an eye and all of a sudden I was in Melbourne at 6AM on Saturday. No Friday for me! My 3 hour plane ride to Christchurch was just as quick, as I sat by some young sassy Australians who were more than anxious to ask me about America. “Are there really frats?!” “Are there really cheerleaders?” “What about hillbillies and gangsters?!” I sensed a little rivalry/superiority from the Australians, as they teased me that all I had to look forward to was sheep. The first time I see a lush green field with sheep, I know I’m going to freak out. Some may make fun of all the sheep here, but that quintessential image is something I’ve always wanted to see. After answering affirmatively to the Aussie’s questions, I arrived in Christchurch in a good mood. We flew over the Southern Alps which are amazing and beautiful as well as lots of green fields (No sheep yet).
Unfortunately, my bags were lost, but I was too charmed by everyone’s accent to be too angry. (I just got a call and my bags are on their way to my hostel!) One other girl from my program (Anna) was on my flight, and we both ended up at the same hostel with another kid (Chris). The hostel is adorable, and the owners’ beautiful soft-spoken accent make me feel like a very typical loud American. We walked to the store, bought some beer and pasta, had dinner, and passed out at 9:30. Of course, this means I woke up at 5:30, so I watched some Kiwi cartoons. Our really nice program director stopped by because both Anna and I lost our luggage and pointed us in the direction of some cheap clothing stores and which bus to take. I scored at a sweet second hand shop, with some levis, a very kiwi-looking green cardigan and a micropuff for 13$, which will definitely help me fit in at Puget Sound 😛
I was really hoping to meet up with Sam (from UPS), so I left him a map and a note of where we were going. Miraculously, he found us at the library after walking for 3 1/2 hours, and we all set off to find some food. We walked around campus a bit and ate some pitas. Fortunately, none of us can shut up about New Zealand and our stuff back home, so we’re all getting along really well.
I’m already speaking with similar intonation! I find my voice going upwards at the end of my sentences even though it’s not a question. Everyone says “mate” and “cheers” and “g’day”. Luckily I’m getting a little better at understanding the accent, before I had to ask them to repeat what they were saying all the time, especially when cashiers say random phrases that mean nothing to me, like “D’ya have a one card?” “Err….what?” But everyone is so nice. It’s just funny being in a place where people know where I’m from the minute I open my mouth.
It’s been a very relaxed few days as we get oriented, our program officially starts today so we’ll start seeing Christchurch with some sort of context and go to some more interesting parts of town. I also will go to my homestay today, which will make me feel a little more like I’m actually here. There’s a lot of stuff about the earthquake around, and apparently a lot of the downtown is blocked off, which is sad. It’s winter here, but It’s not very cold, I really only have needed my jacket in the morning and at night. It’s similar to Montana in the fall- the chill hurts your face, but it’s clear and refreshing, and not a cloud in the sky. Apparently there are like 300 days of sunshine here…something I have not experience in 6 years. It gets dark at 5:00 though, so that is not helping my jet lag. But so far Christchurch has been incredibly charming and friendly, and I can’t wait for school to start and to get the ball rolling. I am tempted to say that everything here feels simpler and more quaint, but I think I am also experiencing some serious ideological traveller’s perspective. I’m sure I will think of more details to add in my next post, but until next time-