Four months at the other end of the world. I must say, I still haven’t seen a lot of the country (been to Rangitoto, Coromandel Peninsula including Hot Water Beach, and the West Coast including Whale Bay), pretty much Auckland-bound during term, but well, uni is part of the deal and I’m looking forward to three and a half months of holidays!
It took me a while to get used to Auckland – never had I lived in such a big city before. It’s hillier than Edinburgh, and can’t compete with Edinburgh’s unique flair and atmosphere. The weather is finally getting warmer and sunnier, I already had my first sunburn :/ and it’s not even summer yet!
This semester I did Advanced Phonology, Historical Linguistics and two Psych papers (Clinical Psychology and Research Methods). We had heaps of assignments during the semester and one exam per course at the end (I had my last one the day before yesterday)! Besides the classroom, I founded a linguistics society (LLS, the first linguistics society at any Kiwi university! –website –fb) and so far we’ve had Jason Brown and Quentin Atkinson give talks, and are looking forward to our first talk by Miriam Meyerhoff next semester in March.
Contrary to what I usually like to do – plan everything way in advance, I didn’t plan my summer holidays in that much detail. I’ve dreamt of this for quite a while, to just go out there and live kind of à la Into The Wild, which is not really realisable in most parts of Europe but more so in NZ with all its uninhabited, untouched places. I’ve got a sleeping bag, a tent, and I’m preparing a bag full of food and water plus some pieces of clothing. In about two weeks my adventure will begin; first I’m going up the Northland, spending NYE with friends on ‘the Island’, then down to the South Island to be back in Auckland at the end of February. I’ll mainly hike and possibly hitch-hike now and then. I’m not a big fan of spending money if it’s not necessary (i.e. public transport), and while it would be quite convenient, a car is out of the question too (not only that I wouldn’t have the money for petrol and over-expensive parking, but I don’t even have a driver’s licence ;P). I’m looking forward to this experience, being free, unbound, on an adventurous journey to the unknown. Yet, I have to admit, I’m somewhat scared too. A girl, alone (couldn’t find anyone to tag along, most of my friends are Kiwis who have/want to work during the break), into the wild. Tbc how that goes…
To lift up your mood in order to not leave you with worrying thoughts about my upcoming wellbeing, here a list of some NZ peculiarities I’ve come across:
- Sometimes when I roam around I’m surprised as to how much NZ/Auckland resembles any other ‘1st world’ country/city in Europe, advanced technology and everything you know, despite this being at the other end of the world! They even have flapjacks here (but they call them ‘bumper bars’)…
- Maybe that’s the case in other big cities too, I don’t know, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it: the street lights at main crossings in town have a countdown, showing the time left until the colour changes to red.
- I feel like people here are shorter. Hobbit culture maybe?
- There are water fountains all over town – pretty sweet!
- Alcohol is very expensive! (well, as almost everything here 😉 )
- Eating culture. Hm. There are lots of Asians here so they definitely influence kiwi eating habits; every second shop is a Sushi place. Btw, to make the distinction between the three meanings of ‘kiwi’ a little more clear, ‘kiwi’ refers to New Zealanders or the kiwi bird, and kiwifruit to kiwifruits.
- There are penalties for everything! If you want to get special circumstances, you have to pay. If your phone rings during an exam, you have to pay. I’d suppose the list to continue.
- The trees here are amazing! Gigantic, really absolutely massive!
- They keep reminding me of Snow White. There are so many, they come so close, think they’d even eat out of your hands I actually tried that yesterday but it didn’t work…).
They’re really cute! Well, people who’re used to them find them annoying. They’re even in our uni buildings!
- Finally, if someone says ‘sweet as’ common kiwi expression) to you, it does not refer to your ass being sweet 😉
Many greetings from sunny Auckland, already wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year 2013!