Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Arriving in Auckland

Kia Ora from New Zealand!

29 June 2010:
Kia Ora is the Maori casual greeting, similar to aloha. Here are some updates from my adventures in kiwiland.

Leaving Los Angeles on June 27th, I arrived in Auckland on the 29th. It was a 12 hour plane ride (not as bad as I was anticipating), although we lost almost a day with the time change. For all those on the west coast, I am 19 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (so add five hours... tomorrow).

The program that facilitates this study abroad is called AustraLearn and it places American students at unis throughout New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji. For my first week in New Zealand, I was with a group of 40ish Americans from all over, half of whom continued on with me to Hamilton to study at the University of Waikato, and the rest went farther south to Wellington to two universities in the capital city.

I met several people at the airport gate, since everyone flew through LAX. We arrived in Auckland at 6:30 a.m., a day and a half later. From there we took a short bus tour around the city, stopped at the top of Mt. Eden, a dormant volcano that resembles a giant grassy crater, for a wonderful view of the water and downtown.

The Auckland Sky Tower (think a much larger version of the Space Needle), which is the largest free standing building in the southern hemisphere, highlights the skyline.

We spent the first night of our AustraLearn orientation trip in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, with an info session about New Zealand culture and dinner down by the waterfront. With a population of 1.4 million, the “city of sails,” set on a beautiful bay, is home to one third of the country’s 4 million people.