The flight itself wasn't actually as bad as it sounds. Luckily, I was able to sleep most of the time and spent the rest of it watching movies and music videos. Let me just say that Air New Zealand is absolutely fantastic in so many aspects. The service was great, they provided so many amenities that were unexpected, great entertainment options, very friendly, and they even made the safety video at the beginning of the flight enjoyable. I can honestly say that I have never been more into a flight safety video than I was for Air New Zealand, so they are definitely doing something right.
Once I got off the flight and through all the security, I was greeted by Jane who was holding an Arcadia University sign where I exited
. She directed me to a group of students who had also just landed and there I met with Alex and Kate, the other two trip advisers. Everyone was just sitting around, clearly exhausted and we waited for the others to all arrive. I met Christine from Villanova and Eric from Rice University first - the only other two students who arrived around the same time as me and were studying at the University of Auckland. The others in the group were all attending Victoria University in Wellington. Once the others had arrived, we all boarded the bus to head to the Kiwi International Hotel so we could settle in a little, shower, call home, and then start our days. They assigned us hotel rooms which were mixed with Auckland students and Victoria students so we could all get to know each other. I was placed with Sarah from Denison, Ann from Davidson, and Dallas who was also from Denison. Once we were all ready, they took us on a quick walk around so we could see a little bit of the city as we made our way to the Otago University building near the hotel. At the building, they showed us videos of past years, gave us basic information, and played some name games so we could all try to remember one another. We finished there and headed back out into the city so we could exchange our currency and then have some free time to grab lunch and explore a little bit.There is so much sushi all over this country (at least what I've seen so far...) and I couldn't be more happy since it's a major addiction of mine. Prices for sushi aren't too, too bad either but realistically, most things here are much more expensive which is unfortunate
. Minimum wage here apparently is actually $13 because the cost of living is so high - looks like I'll be scavenging around to make it through these 4 months, but that's okay! After lunch, I walked down to the harbor with some of the guys so we could see the landscape around us. It was so nice, and it's incredible to realize that this is where I am living now. They had these cool reclined benches facing out towards the water which was really nice too - I'll definitely be back there many times I'm sure. We hung out there for about 15 minutes and then had to go back to meet up with the rest of the group again. The rest of the night was pretty relaxed after that. We went back to the hotel and just relaxed a bit (it was hard not to fall asleep but they wouldn't let us sleep until at least 8pm to fight the jet lag) and then went to a little Italian restaurant for dinner. At dinner, we learned that it isn't typical for people to get to-go boxes...it's just not in their culture. Unfortunately, we are all poor American students so we will be going against that cultural norm for sure...
Back at the hotel, I had a relaxing night. Rachel from Santa Clara University, Eric, and Austin also from Rice University found the bar area in the hotel with a pool table. We played one game and decided that it was definitely time for some much-needed sleep. It was a long day, but I couldn't be happier to have finally arrived in this beautiful country.
So...after a 13 hour flight, I finally made it. Though it's weird to think that July 5, 2012 was a day that I never lived as I flew through space and time, it's weirder to realize that I finally made it to the number one destination on my bucket list: New Zealand.