Following the Bell-CurveChristchurch, Spring 2012

At every study abroad orientation I’ve been to, whether it was back in Ithaca, with IES, or for international students at Canterbury, they show you the bell-curve. The bell-curve is a rough illustration of the never ending ups and downs and in-betweens that we are expected to experience as students living abroad, including anxiousness, adjustment, assimilation, and the plunge. And I have to say; so far it’s been pretty accurate.

New Zealand is stunning, and I’ve only just begun to explore it. The ocean is a clear, bright blue, mountains stretch on for miles untouched by everything except for sheep, the small coastal and beach towns that we’ve come across are unique and charming, and the people are some of the most friendly and easy-going that I have ever interacted with. A Kiwi friend introduced me to a New Zealand band called I am Giant, and they are the artists behind the most-played song on my iPod right now called City Limits. This song resonated with me the first time I heard it, because it’s about the difference between living and killing time, and the feeling of needing to get away. I vowed when I got here to not waste a single day sitting around, and with such a group of adventurous, energetic people it has been far from difficult to find friends to share new adventures with.

In the past few days I’ve hiked the Port Hills outside of Christchurch (great views of the city and the cost), ventured to the beach in Sumner, and driven out to a small coastal town called Akaroa, whose views will speak for themselves (photos are below). In addition to that, we’ve had international student orientation, enrollment, a community farmers market, more explorations of Christchurch, and the initial training for the Christchurch Half Marathon, which takes place in June. At the end of June I have twenty hours of flying to do to get home, and I anticipate no problem sleeping through all four flights!

So true to the bell-curve, there are highs and there are lows. These are exciting times, but there are a lot of things to miss. You can’t get much further away than New Zealand, and I definitely feel that when I can’t just call my family whenever I want, or when I want to talk to my friends but everyone is asleep in a totally different time zone. While the corners of the country I’ve seen so far are beautiful, I miss pine trees and black North Country lakes, and every run through city parks has me looking forward to my first run of the summer down my winding, hilly mountain road in the Adirondacks. And lastly, while there are plenty of great people who I’m getting to know better and better, you can’t help missing seeing a face that’s been familiar for more than ten days.

But despite all of this, I continuously experience moments when I think to myself “I am in NEW ZEALAND!” and a huge smile will spread across my face. These next months are going to fly by, and I’m taking advantage of every moment in this awesome country.

Cheers!

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