I arrived in Auckland at quarter past 5 in the morning after a 26 hour flight, feeling abnormally bright for such an unsociable hour. My first solo long haul flight hadn’t been that bad- I watched five films, read a book my auntie got me for a my birthday called ‘Xenophobe’s Guide to the Kiwis’ (very informative) and memorised the lyrics to some Kendrick Lamar raps so it was quite productive I think.
My first day in New Zealand also went pretty smoothly. I have chosen to live in university halls of residence because it seemed like so much less hassle than trying to find a house once I got out here and I’d be able to meet loads more students that way, so the university arranged for me and other new students to get picked up by minibus and taken to our new accommodation. I met some American exchange students on the bus who were also living at my halls, Carlaw Park Student Village, and ended up going for lunch with them after we’d moved into our rooms which was a lovely way to start my uni experience.
My halls are only two years old and are definitely the nicest halls I’ve ever stayed in, though they’re quite a lot more expensive than what I’m used to back in Manchester. However, accommodation and general cost of living is pretty high in Auckland so I think this is something my frugal soul will just have to adjust to. My first supermarket shop consisted mainly of me muttering to myself about the prices of vegetables and hummus and dragging back about 30 cans of soup in the little red suitcase that I brought with me while I reminisced fondly about my weekly trips to the Oxford Road Lidl back in Manchester. I’ve now found an Asian supermarket (Tai Ping on Beach Road if you’re interested) where I can get really cheap fruit and veg though so that’s helped a lot.
I’m living in a flat with three other girls, one of whom is another exchange student from Rhode Island, and they are all fantastic and lovely. Meeting other international students has been really easy because of the various orientation events put on by the halls and the university- we got welcomed in with a traditional Maori event and dance which was really interesting to see, and everyone is really friendly because we’re all in the same confusing friendless boat so making friends has been really easy.
The city of Auckland is really beautiful, surrounded by coastline, beaches, hills, islands and forests that are quick and easy to get to for a day trip. Though the city centre is small it still has a lot to offer, including the iconic Sky Tower (tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere), lots of shopping, theatres, a snazzy waterfront and a surprising amount of karaoke bars and comedy nights. I’ve yet to find Auckland’s answer to Warehouse Project though, but all in good time.
Sorting out bank accounts and phone has been really straightforward, and enrolling on university courses has worked very much like Manchester. As an international student I’m allowed to enrol on a massive range of courses so long as I can prove that I have the appropriate experience, so after going to a few different lectures I settled on two English, an Anthropology and a Geography module. It’ll be really fun to study something that I could never do at home, so I’m excited to start!
ps. Auckland winters are colder than I expected- bring your coats, people.
pps. Jetlag is real.