So I’m pretty sure my calendar is lying when it says I’ve been here 8 days because I’ve never had longer days in my life. Yesterday was the first day since I’ve been here that I haven’t had plans with the program I came here with. Not that that means I didn’t do anything because I still had to grocery shop and figure out how to use the wifi that is fast enough to allow me to post this. Also, just a fun fact to keep in mind through out this post, New Zealand doesn’t believe in heating or functioning dryers, so currently I have pants hanging from my curtain rod. And we are required to open our window once a day and yes it is the middle of winter . (FYI I do know how to spell New Zealand I was just spelling it how it is pronounced by the kiwis)
Wop-Wops: the boondocks, the sticks
Bach: Vacation home
Dairy: small store
Sweet as: cool
Now for story time!
Keep in mind this was undoubtably the longest day of my entire life!
June 29 at 9:30ish pm. Board plane to NZ! YAYAYAY!! Then the best lady in the entire world gave me her window seat because she hated the window, and just like that we were on our way. Naturally I turned The Flash on my seat TV and very quickly fell asleep (ish I’m not sure one ever fully sleeps on a plane). About two hours later I woke up, and I was wide awake, so I watched 5 to 7 more episodes of The Flash (I can’t actually remember how much I watched at this point; all I remember is it was a lot). Eventually, I got a few cat naps in between episode to help prepare me for the upcoming day. Finally, I ran out of episodes, and around that time the overly enthusiastic flight attendant announced that it is 3:30 AM Auckland time, and they were going to serve breakfast and start to turn back on the cabin lights to simulate a sunrise. At this point it’s very clear sleeping was out of the picture, so I accepted the “cold breakfast” not the hot one because it was creepy looking and turned on The Incredibles. Two hours later we landed in Auckland.
July 1st (Somehow Still Day 1):
5:35 AM: We unload from the bus and go through customs.
6:20 ish AM: IFSA-Butler does roll call, feeds us one apple per person, and loads us on the bus to start the “get over jet lag by banning sleep” trip.
7 ish AM: We drive through parts of Auckland on a mission to see a hole in the ground that has something to do with a volcano.
7:30 ish AM: We make it to the hole/volcano thingy and walk around it for a little while. (Here is where I learned everyone has a dog, no one believes in leashes, and people don’t like you touching their dogs.) It was very pretty, but all of us at that point were ready to die from lack of sleep and a full meal.
Some point later: We arrive at the YMCA’s Shakespeare Park, our home for the next few days, and drop our bags off in bunk bed rooms. From here we go on a super long and muddy hike where I fall twice. (If I hadn’t fallen, would you really believe that I hiked?) This is the moment we all realized how amazing this trip is going to be. The beauty we see confirmed in all of our minds that this is one of the best places on Earth. Plus, we get to see a lot of sheep, cows, and a really weird pig.
Even later that day: We find out we are required to eat 5-6 meals a day (which sound great in theory but in reality makes you want to die a little). The meals are: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, and (sometimes) Supper. So we are force fed unlabeled food that is completely unrecognizable and confusing.
Still that day (Mid-afternoon-ish, maybe?): We walk the beach and then are taught to play touch rugby. Rugby is shockingly fun and does indeed wake me up, but only while playing. The second it was done I am more tired than ever. The test ends in a tie, but I didn’t completely fail so that was nice.
A little later (And much closer to my death): We make it to hot spring pools after 45 minutes on a bus with the world’s most terrifying driver. Also I believe we’ve had two or three meals since our hike and leaving for the hot springs. But I won’t lie– the hot springs are life changing! I feel so much better after being super sore from the flight!
A few hours later: We leave the hot springs and re-board the bus with the speedy and crazy driver. About 30 minutes into it I get super car sick and feel like I’m going to die (this is a very good thing soon).
End of bus ride: It’s time for meal number 5, but due to being sick, I am allowed to skip it and go straight to bed! It was 7:30 PM and I almost cry with joy when I see my bed. (The lack of heating was great, except for the fact that apparently we were supposed to have sleeping bags and all I have was a sheet, but honestly I was so tired I had no clue it was cold.)
Day 2 (FINALLY) July 2nd:
So day two I’m sure was just as memorable, but I was still pretty comatose from day one to remember much. So I remember that we had five meals and that apparently breakfast spaghetti is a big thing here, heating is still not a thing, and we spent the whole day at the Y.
The first thing I remember from that morning is that I woke up at 5 AM and showered because I couldn’t sleep. Then at breakfast we each got a piece of cut-up post cards and had to find the other four people whose pieces matched ours, and those four people became your teammates for the next two days. After getting our teammates and picking a team name (#TeamLambChop) we immediately got our first challenge: Rogaine. What is a Rogaine you ask? Well a Rogaine is organized death. You get two maps, and there are numbers all over the maps. These numbers all correspond to small wooden plaques with the matching number and a symbol. The goal is to run around the park for the next 45 minutes and record as many correct symbols as you can while making it back in time. So okay sounds cool, I know, free range exploring and a little exercise. So much fun. WRONG YOU ARE! SO WRONG IT HURTS. First, the park is giant. Second, there are tons of fences (some electric for a fun surprise). Third there are a ton of cows and sheep. Fourth, many of the plaques are hidden in hard to reach places. In addition to that, add five overly competitive girls (and the only all girls team). It’s torturous. But hey we made it. How I don’t know because 45 minutes of me trying to hop fences is a very dangerous idea. But we got to see some new parts of the park and run on the beach, so that was cool. We made it back with about two minutes to spare which allowed us to be qualified to earn points (yay, we aren’t complete failures). But we were all out of breath after what was easily a million and a half stairs that lead up from the beach and the check-in spot. So yeah it sucked a lot, but was kind of cool. And I bonded with the girls on my team, so all wasn’t a complete loss. After this we had tea and went to a few briefings where we learned how to be safe and not fail out of school. Then we had two hours to go mountain biking, learn archery, or rock climb. Obviously I booked it straight to archery. Where I proceeded to make a complete fool of my self during all of the practice rounds. Eventually at the end we played a world domination game where we had to shoot countries on targets all around the building and then defend our own from attack. We got two shots each round and some how in one round I took two countries. And my partner took New Zealand the next round, so we ended up winning the world (#StillTeamLambChop). Next we go to lunch, where the Rogaine winner was announced. And shock of all shocks–WE WON!! The team in second place had the same amount of points as us but we turned our score sheets in 45 seconds before them (#TeamLambChopsRules). After lunch we had the option to do the same three stations as before, but instead I went on a hike and got to see more beautiful views of Auckland. Finally we had afternoon tea and dinner. Then we got back in our teams to play NZ trivia (we got fourth out of six) and then learned how to sing Maori songs and introduce our selfs in Maori! Then thankfully we went to bed!
Day 3: July 3th (are you as shocked as I am that we aren’t at a week yet because same):
6AM-ish the whole cabin got up on their own to walk to the “official” tree-house look out thingy to see the sunrise. And let me tell you IT WAS SO WORTH IT!! Sunrises over the ocean cannot be beat! But honestly I’m really not sure what happened in the middle of the day except for we had to re-pack, and none of my stuff fit, so I had to used three extra trash bags outside of my duffel bags in order to get all my stuff packed. Then we left the Camp to go to a Marae (a sacred meeting place for Maori people). This was a real Marae that is still used by Maori today, but it is also an educational location so it is set up more for tourist. But we still had to follow all their traditions: not wearing shoes; when walking in groups, girls have to be in front and guys have to be in the back; when sitting, girls are in the back and guys are in the front and what not. Once we went in we were greeted by one of the older woman who sang us a welcoming song, and then our Maori leader taught us some Maori words and about their history and traditions. After that we set up mattresses and sleeping bags, so we could all sleep in one communal room to become closer. After dinner and supper, we were led through a mock Maori village from 300 years ago where we had to go through rituals to be invited in and we got to see a haka (if you don’t know what that is look it up! It’s awesome!) After this we all went back and went to bed “under the stars”.
Day 4 aka 4th of July (Yay ‘Merica):
First off it was so weird to have the fourth of July essentially a whole day early from everyone back home. But it was a fun day. We left the Marae and headed straight downtown Auckland where we were given 4ish hours just to explore. There we had the option of walking around doing whatever, or we could stick with our teams and go on a scavenger hunt, and with the pressure of winning the Rogaine #TeamLambChop went all out on this hunt. And obviously won. Auckland is a really cool city (known as the City of Sails and it totally lives up to it name), so I totally recommend it if you are looking for New Zealand without the Wop-wops. After that we went to the Auckland War Museum/Natural History Museum which was cool, but we had way too much time there, so we toured it, ate lunch outside, toured the garnered and greenhouses nearby, and played in the park. After that we went to they airport to finally head to Dunedin. Here is where I almost fell apart completely. Trying to re-fit everything was impossible! I ended up having my stuff in 3 different peoples bags outside of my own. But it all made it to Dunedin, so all is good! Then we loaded the plane and made it to my new (and fantastic) home. Then, late at night, I moved into my flat, unpacked, and instantly fell asleep.
Day 5 July 5th:
Ahhhhhhhh Finally in Dunedin! I’m so excited!! This day is better shown in pictures than explained. We toured the city and went to some boring orientations. Oh and I found the grocery story and walked there and back!
Days 6 &7:
Went to more orientations on the 6th. And thats about it. 7th was the 1st day without major plans, so I went to the grocery story, and my friend made us grilled cheeses. OH AND I BOUGHT ALL BLACKS TICKETS! So August 26th is going to be lit!
(Aren’t you so happy to not have a novel? Because same.)
I got up and walked to the farmers market with my friends, where I had a crepe made by a nice french man! Then we walked to The Warehouse (it’s kind of like Walmart minus the food and cheaper-ish). And I have plans to figure out where my classes are tonight since we start school Monday and tomorrow we are going curling and lugeing!
P.S. I lost my passport photo so now you just get really awkward photos.
PPS: I don’t actually know the order things happened in; I just remember things happened.
PPPS: If you made it this far congrats! I totally would have lied and said I had read it even though I would have only looked at the pictures. And if you just looked at the pictures, good for you that’s way more fun.