Horns meet world, world meet Amanda Mouton. Writing to us while she is still currently abroad, check out what she has to saw about her time in New Zealand so far.
I sadly said farewell to my host family, the ever sweet Hikus, on Wednesday. It’s not goodbye forever, as I’ve been invited to come by for tea anytime I like. Jasmine drove me to the Uni Flats to pick up my key and helped me make my bed and bring my suitcase and bag inside. She then graciously drove me to New World and helped me shop for some basic foods and snacks to get me through the week until I had figured out how meals and cooking would go between all of my flatmates. I won’t be the first to say that food in New Zealand is expensive! Even after discounts, I still spent about $80 for the week, and that excluded buying meat. I’d say everything in NZ is about 3 times more expensive and 3 times smaller than the stuff in the US. A few brief, funny shopping anecdotes:
- Grape jam is unheard of here. There is seriously every flavor under the sun (including a four fruits jam which I bought and is particularly delicious), except grape. Not a thing. R.I.P. to my ideal PB&J sandwich.
- The best barbecue sauce in existence, Sweet Baby Ray’s, is available here, but isn’t located with all of the other sauces. It’s in the international food aisle.
- Shower loofahs are apparently not a common object as part of a complete shower routine. Only by asking an employee and him kindly searching through their inventory, was I able to acquire this necessary hygienic product.
After I had loaded up with all of my groceries, I headed back to my flat to begin the unpacking process. I was pleasantly surprised to find my flat of nicer condition than the reviews I had read online. It’s got a nice homey feel and look to it; a bit cabin-like. It’s not high-rise fancy like the one-bedroom I had the privilege of living in back in Austin, but it’s not too shabby and is at least half the cost of renting in Austin. Plus, I am about a 5 minute’s walk to campus and I can hear the Otago clock tower bell ring on the hour. And here I was sad and nostalgic about not getting to hear the UT Tower chime any more.
I am flatting with 4 other people: 3 Americans and a Kiwi host. Having lived by myself for the past two years, it’s quite strange living with other people (e.g. constantly having thoughts of “Why are all these people in my house? Oh right, they live here.”) So far we all get along alright and hopefully it stays that way for the entirety of the semester. I attended my international student orientation Wednesday afternoon and that evening, went out for dinner at Indian Spice with my flatmates Sarah, Noah, and Jens and two of Sarah’s friends from her home uni. On Thursday, I attended the International Student Welcome Seminar with Jens. It was a bit of a drag, but there was excellent free food afterwards, especially the miniature quiches. I’m going to save myself some embarrassment and not disclose how many of them I ate and also wrapped up in a napkin and shoved into my backpack for later. After I finished up at the seminar, I headed to the IT Services building and got my student ID and then spent the rest of the day walking around campus, trying to learn streets and buildings.
On Friday, I walked to ANZ Bank to finish setting up my bank account and walked out with a nice shiny new debit card. That evening, I headed over to Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) for a meet and greet event for the Otago International Friend Network (OIFN) program. My international partner, Dhivya, wasn’t able to attend, as she’s a pharmacy student and is busy with her placement this week, but I convinced myself I should still give the meet and greet a go. I’m really glad I did, as I met a ton of international students from all over the world; a nice respite from being around Americans. After the event, I went and ate dinner at Saigon Van with a group of students from China, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It was really cool getting to share anecdotes about our own countries and discuss similarities and differences.
Saturday was a nice, busy filled day. I grabbed a quick bowl of the NZ equivalent of corn flakes and met up with the group I had met at the OIFN meet and greet. We checked out Otago Farmers Market, enjoyed some coffee at Morning Magpie, and explored the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum and The Dunedin Chinese Gardens.
Some additional takeaway points from the week:
- Kiwis and people from other non-U.S. countries aren’t the only ones who have no idea what Texas is like. Yankees don’t either. We actually don’t all work on farms, wear big hats, boots, and belt buckles, and enjoy country music. Shocking, I know.
- Scrumpy hands is a drinking game that involves taping a bottle of Scrumpy to one’s hands and then forcing said person to drink all of it before they’re allowed to do anything else, including pee. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you tape a bottle to each hand. If not already obvious, nothing good can come of the game.
- While the selection is a bit smaller, Netflix in NZ still has some pretty great movies and TV shows. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, anyone?
- The internet here is a bit slower than in the US, but it’s not as terrible as what I heard online. However, free WiFi is a very limited and special thing and should not be taken for granted if found around town.