Sunday, July 26, 2009

Classes, and Our First Weekend Trip

Auckland continues to be amazing, even though I have started classes and my relaxation time is now filled with lectures, tutorials, and reading. My classes are good so far. I am taking Sociology of Auckland, Introduction to Business Management, and a class about Maori history and culture. I like them a lot so far, and I think they are easily comparable to classes in the states. The one difference is that we have scheduled lectures, and then we separately enroll into tutorials on a website that is very similar to NU's Blackboard site. I somehow managed to get Fridays off, which will be very useful for three day weekend trips.

I was also able to join some student groups and clubs this week. I have signed up for Tramping (Hiking) Club, The Sustainability Group, and the Campus Radio. Hopefully these clubs will get me more involved on campus and also aid me in seeing more of New Zealand.

I few friends and I took our first trip out of the city this weekend, to the Coromandel Peninsula. It was absolutely amazing. We left Saturday morning, driving straight to Hot Water Beach. This beach has hot thermal rivers underneath the sand. When we arrived, we were able to rent shovels and dig our own hot tub into the sand to relax in on the beach. Considering it is winter here, we were hoping that the water would be warm enough. We were all surprised to find hot pools that ended up being too hot to be able to sit in. I actually think I saw water boiling in some spots. It was a really cool beach to see. After, we drove to the well known Cathedral Cove, to check out some amazing scenery. That night we stayed in a hostel in the small town of Whitianga - and finally got to see more local culture. Auckland is such an international city that it is easy to forget its in the middle of a country with its own local culture. Saturday night we had dinner and drinks at a local hot spot and got to meet some friendly kiwis. The next morning we took the long way home, stopping at different areas where there were short walks to small waterfalls. It was a great first trip to explore the New Zealand outdoors.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Week 1

I can't believe that I've already been here for more than a week. This past week has been so busy, but I've had a blast. From going to Ambury Regional Park Farm, to cheering on the popular All Blacks rugby game at a local pub, it has been an amazing first week. Yesterday we went to the farm to check out a sheep shearing demonstration, as well as seeing a cow get milked. Following that - we had a BBQ and had time to wander the farmland. I got some great scenic pictures. It was nice to finally be able to see what is outside of the city.

Tomorrow classes start, and its back to some sort of reality. I am looking forward to seeing what life is actually going to be like over the next 5 months. Hopefully my first week of being a student here won't be too hectic.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm Here!

So I'm officially in Auckland, New Zealand! I arrived early Saturday morning here, completely confused about times and dates and how I skipped Friday all together I believe. Somehow, after traveling for about 24 hours in total and not having slept much, I was way too excited to attempt to fall back asleep. My arrival was overwhelming. I was given keys to my apartment, and figuring out the rest seemed up to me. We haven't started orientation yet, so I'm hoping thats when I learn a lot more about where to go and what to do, but I've been doing pretty well for the last couple of days, anyways. I've done a lot of wandering the city, which I love to do anyways. Today I plan on tackeling finding a grocery store, and figuring out a cell phone plan to use while I'm over here. My first impression of Auckland is good, everyone who I've met is so friendly and nice, and I'm sure I'll find a lot to do in such a big city.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Almost Time!

So I'm down to the final week before I begin my New Zealand adventure. I have to say, I am more excited than anything else. With this being my first time out of the country, except for Canada, I have no idea what to expect. What I hope to find is a new culture that I will learn from. I have heard amazing things about New Zealand, and mixed opinions on the city of Auckland. These things have only lead me to one conclusion: I will have to see for myself.

It amazes me that after all of this preparation, this semester abroad has finally come together, and I am actually going. The past 6 months have been stressful, but when all is said and done, I think it will be completely worthwhile.

As far as goals for this semester, I am hoping that the next five months in New Zealand will open my eyes to a different culture, and help me gain a better perspective on my life and what I want to do with it. I think it is a especially interesting time to be spending abroad, considering it is my last semester as an undergrad and I have a lot of uncertainty about where my life is going to take me, post college life. I am going into this experience hoping to meet at many new people as possible. I believe that removing myself from my comfort zone of Boston, and my close friends, I am sure to grow in many ways.

Six months ago, I honestly don't know if I knew one thing about New Zealand. I had probably never heard of Auckland. As I looked for a study abroad opportunity, I was looking for a country that was mainly English speaking, something that would allow me to meet and interact with natives in my own language. After looking up New Zealand, I fell in love with its natural beauty. I thought, for my last undergraduate semester, I want to go to the country I feel that I will enjoy the most and get the most from, all while enjoying my last few months as a "care - free" student. And, about 5 months later, here I am packing all of my things to fly off to a relatively small country in the South Pacific. I am only sure of one thing: I can't wait.