And so it begins… Welcome to ChristchurchChristchurch, Spring 2012
It’s only been two days so far in Christchurch, but it’s been an absolute whirlwind. Since we directly enroll in the University of Canterbury, it almost feels like being a freshman in college all over again; everything is new and exciting, I’m awkwardly asking everyone to repeat their names at least five times because I’ve met too many people to keep track, and we’re all exhausted at the end of the day from constant interactions and orientation scavenger hunts. But nevertheless, it’s been an awesome start!
The first thing I’ve noticed about New Zealand is how friendly the people are. There is never a rush, you are always given full attention, and Kiwis express a genuine enthusiasm, positive attitude, and sense of humor in everything they do. This was apparent from the very beginning on the flight from LA to Auckland: Everyone on the plane groaned when the TV screens switched on to the boring safety video, but I didn’t expect to see this! So far this attitude has been consistent, from the young cashier who escorted us around the grocery store last night to help us find random things that didn’t make it into our luggage to the enthusiastic entertainers who served a traditional Maori four-course meal to us this evening.
Of course, it is difficult to talk about Christchurch without mentioning the earthquakes. The one-year anniversary of the February disaster is just two weeks away (we plan on going to the memorial service, as classes will be cancelled during that time). Today we spent a lot of time in the city, and the damage is still devastating. Aftershocks are part of daily life; in fact I experienced my first minor one just moments ago. But despite the damage that was caused, it is obvious how the city has pulled together. Some photos of this are below.
Besides friendly Kiwis and a great group of American students from IES, I am lucky to have some very awesome flat mates. So far two are from China, one is also American, and the other is a PHD student from Uran! We have just started sharing meals and really getting to know each other, but I’m very excited to continue this and gain a better understanding of where they come from.
Off to the Southern Alps tomorrow for more orientation, more photos to come soon!
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