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A great start to 2013 January 7, 2013

Posted by kwolfe9 in Travel Log.
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On January 3rd 2013, my adventure began in the Tampa International Airport. I checked in a suitcase that was just under 50 pounds (after ditching a few things that weren’t quite necessities), said my tearful goodbyes to the family, and boarded a plane headed to the west coast. The flight from Los Angeles to Wellington, New Zealand took a little over 13 hours and deprived me of my January 4th (with the time change) but compared to the 3 month sea voyage immigrants from Europe used to endure to get to New Zealand, I had no complaints. Upon arriving in New Zealand, I noticed the country really embraces their Lord of the Rings identity and their slogan “Home of Middle-Earth” which went completely over my head having not seen a single Peter Jackson film.

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The luggage I lived out of for 3 months
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Flight route from Los Angeles to Auckland, NZ
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My roommate Rachel and I in the Wellington airport

Anyways, from the airport we took a bus ride along the beautiful coast line and, after rounding a corner, the city of Wellington and all of its splendor appeared before our eyes. Words cannot even describe the beauty of the city and the excitement I felt at that moment. It was the first of many times that I paused to think what a blessing it was to be able to go on this adventure on the other side of the world.  As we neared out destination, our bus wheezed up the steep hill (that we all became very accustomed to climbing up and down into the city via the infamous 140-step Dixon Staircase ) to our accommodations at the Weir House in Wellington.

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My room and “home” for the first 6 weeks in New Zealand
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The Weir House was the Victoria University dorm we stayed in
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Wellington, New Zealand
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Sailing is popular in Wellington because it is so windy

The first weekend in Wellington was all about exploring the city, getting settled into our accomadations, and fighting through the jetlag.  Saturday, we went down to the harbor, took a stroll along the boardwalk, and enjoyed some gelato. In the evening, we went into town to celebrate Rachel’s 20th birthday. On Sunday, we went to the beach at Oriental Bay to soak up some sun.  Much to our dismay, we discovered the water was chilly and full of jellyfish.  Many people on the trip also learned that sunscreen was going to be a necessity in the Pacific sun. My classes didn’t start until 2 pm Monday so in the morning I went to the Botanical Gardens just a little ways up the hill to read.  Speaking of academics, yes I did actually take classes! I took Dr. Noble’s class on New Zealand’s history and Dr. Crawford’s class on Herman Melville. On Tuesday, we took a field trip to the Te Papa Museum which had an overwhelming multitude of exhibits. One that really caught my eye, was a Maori meeting house (The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand). During the first week, I attended classes, focused on learning everyone’s names, and ate meals in the cafeteria.  The cook, Raj, enjoyed teasing me every opportunity he got but he made decent meals; the staples of our diet were rice and curry. In an icebreaker activity, all 50 students sat in a circle and shared what they were most looking forward to in our travels. Many said visiting the Shire, skydiving, bungee jumping, meeting new friends, or learning about the culture of the Pacific; I said I was most excited to meet the locals, which jokingly could have been translated into “I’m looking to fall in love abroad and bring home a man with an Australian accent.” I actually didn’t meet many eligible bachelors but I did fall in love….with the culture, landscape, and way-of-life of the Pacific!

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In the water with Rachel at Oriental Bay
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Reading my history book in the Botanical Gardens
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Flowers in the Botanical Garden
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Rachel and I on the harbor boardwalk