With overwhelming excitement, I am finally starting my study abroad in New Zealand, or Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud. Here are my first impressions about the city of Wellington, Victoria University, and the people I have met.
The long waited study abroad is finally happening! I am extremely excited for what’s to come. After my over 16 hour flight to New Zealand from California, and losing a day crossing the international dateline, I finally arrived. On the plane I have watched “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and “What We Do in the Shadows” directed by Taika Waititi. His style of humor cracks me up every time. I landed in Auckland airport and transferred domestically to Wellington, where I am staying for the next 5 months. Transferring from international Auckland airport to the domestic airport, I had to go through security process again, then transferring 15 minutes on the shuttle. Although California summers are not terribly cold, Auckland was definitely warm and made me feel the summer sun during the short transfer.
First impression 1: Friendly Kiwis
The lady who sat next to me on the plane was from Auckland. She is a music teacher who teaches vocal lessons. Usually on planes I don’t talk to any strangers, but she was chatted with me and recommended places for me to visit. She welcomed me, and this was my first impression of the friendliness of Kiwis. My exchange program director also informed us about how friendly people are, especially in Wellington. Since she was having trouble parking, strangers offered to help pay for her parking. Other people from my program also had strangers offered to cover their meals because their credit cards didn’t work properly. This has been quite true about the Kiwis I have met so far, I think part of my personality matches with their relaxed, down-to-earth nature, so I have good conversations with them.
First impression 2: Windy Welly
Wellington is the windiest city in the world (not Chicago)! I was anticipating wind similar to the condition of San Francisco, but Wellington wind is completely on another level. Since the ozone is thin over New Zealand, the sun is very harsh and can easily cause sunburns. However, the wind makes being in the sun very comfortable. It immediately lowers the temperature by a several degrees. So on any sunny day, jackets and jumpers are crucial for me, who often runs cold. Getting used to the change in temperature and weather has been a gradual adjustment.
Making first impressions: Orientation
Heading up to Kelburn Campus is quite a steep climb. I am working my quads everyday. Besides my roommates, one from Santa Cruz, one from Liverpool, I made friends in orientation from Japan. Since I learned Japanese for four years in high school, I was able to have simple Japanese conversations with them! I have been taking advantage of the end of summer. We were fully enrolled during our orientation for our classes starting next week. I look forward to learning very soon!