“Amy meet Auckland; Auckland – Amy”
Amy: 21, female, Londoner studying Linguistics in Edinburgh, likes travelling far and wide, international cinema, drumming in reggae bands, good food and (a little too much) drink; dislikes grey weather, birds, children, getting lost
Auckland: mixed-heritage city of 1.3 million, likes the southern hemisphere, volcanoes, beaches, parks, islands, coffee shops, Maori culture and sheep; dislikes tall buildings, convenient transport systems, south islanders and rain
This introduction blog is actually a bit of a cheat, since I’m already in New Zealand and have in fact been here for a month. Nonetheless, I’ll try to recall how I felt before I left and then tell you how it shaped up upon my arrival.
For the most part, I was looking forward to coming out here – around Christmas time when the exchange applications were being made I was feeling pretty hesitant, but once it was all systems go I began to feel more and more excited. Of course it was sad to leave the awesomeness of Edinburgh and all my friends there and in London, but quite a few people I knew were going on exchanges to various places, and more to the point I was about to have a big adventure, whilst all those at home would be going through the same routines, so I was definitely the winner.
The last few days and hours before I left brought back the old feelings of nervousness though, as I packed and said my final goodbyes to parents and grandparents. But to be brutally honest, since then I really haven’t felt very homesick at all – which surprises even me!
There are however several possible explanations, including having had a gap year before I came to uni and then moving to the other end of the country to study at Edinburgh, so I’ve already done the ‘leaving home’ thing (albeit previously a lot closer to home than NZ). I also have a family friend who I stayed with when I first arrived, so that eased me in, and I know the other three students from Edinburgh out here. It’s been nice to see a few familiar faces around campus and to compare experiences (though you should never compare yourself to others, of course).
I don’t remember having any particular expectations for Auckland, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been disappointed – I have a great place to live in shiny new halls, just five minutes from the main university campus; lectures are much like in Edinburgh and their content is interesting and varied; I’ve met heaps (kiwi word!) of nice people too, and there’s loads of great travelling opportunities.
I think my one great hope for my time out here is that I can not only live the kiwi lifestyle but that I can see as much of NZ as possible. And since everyone goes away at weekends (there are endless day/weekend trips to be done) and I have a three-month summer holiday over Christmas, I don’t think that’ll be difficult!