One month ago today was when I first arrived here in New Zealand. It has been a month packed full of new faces, new places, and new experiences. Yet, I’m starting to see a routine forming here. For this post, I thought it would be fun to walk you through a typical/hypothetical day of mine.
The first thing I hear in the morning is the alarm from my phone. The second thing I hear is the voice in my head telling me “You’re in New Zealand! Get your butt up!”. Just remembering the fact that I’m here is usually enough to get me up and going. First on my agenda is breakfast. I walk to my kitchen to make some oatmeal and have a quick chat with the janitor who cleans my dorm. She is super friendly and likes to ask how my time in New Zealand is going and what I’ve been up to. Interactions like these aren’t out of the ordinary either; every staff member/employee I’ve talked to here has been so kind and helpful.
After breakfast it’s time for my first class. The ground is wet, but it’s sunny and in the mid-fifties. I still can’t wrap my head around how this is mid-winter. Back in Madison, this type of weather would be seen as a beautiful spring day. All I need is a light jacket and I’m on my way to lecture.
I arrive a couple minutes before class and sit among the other 30 or so students. My largest lecture has around 50-60 students—much smaller than the 100-200 student lecture halls in Madison. Class begins, but we have a new teacher lecturing today. Each of my classes has around 3 different teachers that rotate lectures, which keeps going to class fresh and exciting. As I’m taking notes, the teacher asks a question to the class so I raise my hand and give an answer. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but every time I’ve spoken up in class so far I’ve been asked to repeat myself 1 or 2 times. I’m suspecting that my American accent is stronger than I think.
Lunch takes place back at my dorm. Everyone in my building shares one kitchen so there’s bound to be a bunch of Kiwis joining me as I make my meal. I don’t know everyone in my building yet, but I say hi to the few Kiwis I’ve gotten to know. Those who aren’t having lunch are usually watching an American movie on TV. It’s a really social place to be.
After lunch and my second class of the day, I have a little time before dinner is served at the dining hall. This is a good time to go to the library and get some work done. There is only one library on campus—which seems absurd compared to the number of libraries in Madison. Finding a table is quite easy too and if you go in late enough you might find yourself to be the only one there. Again, completely not the case in a Madison library.
Dinner is only served between 5 and 7 so while doing a reading I get a text from one of my friends telling me the meeting time for dinner. Tonight its 6:15 so I head over and line up for dinner. The person in front of me is going barefoot, but no worries! Here in New Zealand, walking around barefoot is socially acceptable, even in the dining hall and supermarkets. The food here has generated a mix of opinions. You don’t get as much variety; that means no pizza, burgers, french fries, or tacos available every night. Instead, you’ll find lots of salads, veggies, and a meat or vegetarian option for the main dish. My opinion… it all tastes great! I am in no way missing the traditional American foods.
Dinner is possibly my favorite time of the day, not only because of the food, but because I get to sit and talk with my friends I haven’t seen all day. Our conversations range from serious talks about plans for the upcoming weekend to reminiscing about past weekends to just joking around and having a good time. The people I spend the most time with are international students, but occasionally a couple of Kiwis will join us and make for an interesting dinner conversation.
Once dinner is done, we all walk back to one person’s room to hang out. We may continue to discuss plans for the upcoming weekend. This is a time for more joking around but also learning about how to plan for rental cars and hotel accommodations in a very short period of time. These sessions usually go on until 10 or 11pm at which point we all head back to our individual dorms.
As the night winds down, I reflect on the day by writing in my journal. I’ve never been the type of person to write down their thoughts in a journal, but before I left I was told by multiple people that it would be a great thing to have when my study abroad experience was all said and done. My entries so far are pretty basic… I did this today with these people. But I think I’m getting better at making more meaningful reflections.
So there you go—this is my typical day as a New Zealand student. However, weekends are a whole different story. That’s when I change from being a student to a traveller. Keep reading my blog and you’ll know what I mean.