Day ten is already here. A week and a half goes by faster than you can imagine when trying to adjust to a new “home.” The first thing that really overwhelmed me was having to go shopping for food. My Kiwi host, Daniel, welcomed me with open arms on day one and gave me an awesome quick tour around town. I honestly don’t remember much of the walk now. I probably couldn’t get back to the phone store he brought me to. We went there so I could get my phone set up with my own New Zealand phone number and have data to contact home. This was simple in comparison to the food shopping; I didn’t think much of this trip as I do it frequently at home. I knew what I needed to buy–just the essentials right? When I walked into the store I was stunned, with no idea what to buy; it looked different and it felt different. Luckily I had Daniel with me to give me some direction. Daniel told me what we had at the flat, what the cheapest meat to buy is, and what he normally has for dinner. I triumphantly left the store having bought bread and beef mince (ground beef)–burgers on the first night it is! My first challenge was done and over with!
After my first day in New Zealand I still had not met all of my flat mates. All of them were in programs so they had an agenda and a group of people they had been with for the last week or so. Not being in a program has given me a unique opportunity to interact with many different groups. It has been very nice because I feel closer with my flatmates and not forced to be associated with just one specific group. My communitas has been very supportive and they all have the same mindset as I do. They are all ready to be enveloped in the culture and experience as much of the country as possible. Having a Kiwi host has given me the chance to break away from a communitas and engage in a dynamic group of Kiwis and Americans that are all willing to share their personal experiences and their understanding of the culture of New Zealand. My ability to be independent and trying to stay away from conforming to what groups are doing has helped me while being in the liminal stage of my transition. It allowed me to find the parts of New Zealand I have been so excited about seeing. The first few days I did not feel as though I was in the right place. I looked around wondering where was all the beauty, all the amazing views, and everything that New Zealand is known for? I didn’t find it until one of my flatmates Fitz wanted to go on a run to the beach. We weren’t sure how far it was but Daniel told us he has done it before, explaining to us the shortest way to get there. I was blown away when we first arrived on the beach. I had no expectations, as all I had seen for the first four days was the industrial city of Dunedin and the harbor, so it was that much more amazing. The surf was 6-8 feet tall, the sand was soft and fine and everything about it was beautiful. Fitz was ready to run back but I convinced him to walk all the way down the beach and back, about a 30 min walk each way. I finally felt like I had a fresh breath of New Zealand!
I have been thinking about home and missing home more than I thought I would. Especially before I found the beach and went on a few hikes I did not feel comfortable and was asking myself what I was doing wrong. There was a part in Becoming World Wise that allowed me to refocus and begin finding what I wanted to get out of New Zealand. The line states, “we need to step back and think about the actual conditions triggering our mental and emotional disorientation, and our physical response to it” (Slimbach 161). I found that I needed to realize that I wanted to have all these amazing experience and see beautiful places but they weren’t going to come by themselves. I needed to make them happen and challenge myself to find the beauty I wanted to see and meet the awesome Kiwis of New Zealand.
My picture for this week is my flatmate Andy and I on the summit of Mt. Cargill. This was an incredible hike that only took us 6 hours round trip from our flat. We had an awesome perspective of the entire peninsula, the mouth of the channel, and all of Otago Harbor which is about 10 miles from end to end. This describes my journey to date due to the fact that I needed a chance to experience New Zealand in the way I expected to. Summiting this mountain gave me the reassurance that I needed to put me on the right track to fully adjusting to New Zealand.