You may (or may not) be glad to know that I survived my slightly epic 30h journey of over 20,000km without any problems (which is distinctly unusual), which means… Hello from New Zealand!!!
Small confession: being able to type that is really quite satisfying. I feel that my first blog post from New Zealand should be something super exciting, but I’m afraid I’ve spent the three days that I’ve been here just finding my way around the area that I’m currently staying, familiarising myself with the university campus and doing really unexciting things like setting up a bank account and other admin-y type stuff. However, trips to the bank don’t make for the most riveting of blog posts. Alternatively, I could just upload some really pretty pictures of my new surroundings, but I’m afraid things are a bit limited in the pretty pictures department. I’m finding the light quite difficult to work with here (look at me sounding all technical and like I know what I’m talking about. I really don’t.) – it seems incredibly bright, even when the weather is overcast, resulting in some very over-contrasted photos. Basically, I just need to get used to it (and maybe learn to use my camera properly), but in the meantime here’s a glimpse of the clock tower, a symbol of the University of Auckland:
I’m going to be unoriginal and talk about Valentine’s Day (please don’t groan and go off in the huff) since that’s today. Which you totally knew, right? You didn’t forget? No? Well, I did. I totally forgot that it was Valentine’s Day today. Not that I have any particular reason to remember, but since most of the shops in Edinburgh have had obnoxiously pink and/or red, heart-filled, fluffy vomit-inducing window displays since the beginning of January, it’s not something that I would have expected to happen. My general view on Valentine’s Day is that it’s a completely overly-commercialised occasion that is stressful for everybody whether you’re in a relationship or not, and why does there have to be a designated day to declare your love for somebody anyway? What about the rest of the year? Some supremely awkward situations at school haven’t helped my general dislike of the day either. So how does one go about accidentally forgetting?
- Move to a new country where you don’t know anybody, arriving four days before Valentine’s Day. A country that involves a 12-13h time difference with the countries that your most pro-Valentine’s Day facebook friends live in is best (or just avoid facebook, but let’s be realistic).
- Get super distracted by the fact that it’s summer, which means that it’s warm (currently 23°C to be precise – please don’t hate me if you’re somewhere cold) and fairly sunny. This is particularly effective if you’ve just moved from Scotland and haven’t seen anything resembling warm and sunny for… about four years.
- Schedule your very first meeting with your MSc supervisor for the morning of Valentine’s Day, in the hope that you’ll find out where you’ll be based so you can start looking for somewhere to permanent live. Stress out about not having read enough papers, not having read them more in depth (it’s a well-known fact that the least read section of any paper is the methods section), not really understanding
mostsome of the physics involved.
- Decide that you’ll need to get some basic physics books out of the library and revise electricity. Remember that you can’t get books out because the International Office won’t give you your student card until you have a permanent address or if that’s really not possible, then a NZ mobile phone number. Because clearly international students arriving and staying in temporary accommodation organised by the University itself until they’ve found somewhere to live must be a really rare case…not. Get annoyed about the lack of logic.
- Get excited at the prospect of picking up your shiny new phone, knowing that it won’t freeze for two minutes whenever you open Twitter… Get excited at the prospect of having a NZ phone which means you can access Twitter again whilst out and about (realising that you have a minor Twitter addiction is optional).
- Notice a huge gift basket that includes a large, very fluffy, baby pink, ugly stuffed toy being delivered this morning whilst
people-watchingdrinking your coffee. Wonder why somebody would have such bad taste and then finally remember that it’s Valentine’s Day. Then get distracted and stress out a bit more about your upcoming supervisor meeting and potential lack of preparation.
- Go to the meeting with your supervisor, who turns out to be really nice. Worry because there appears to be no door to the building, but then find it round the back. Discover that “meeting” means a walk-and-talk as he delivers a piece of paper at the other end of the campus and then stopping at a café for coffee on the way back to discuss potential projects. Whilst sitting on the terrace (I’m not complaining). Briefly wonder if this is a legit university, then just go with it.
- Stress out a bit because you still don’t know where you’ll be based, although at least your supervisor is very comprehensive of the situation and agrees that it would be a good idea to just assume Auckland and start looking anyway.
- Go pick up new phone and get terribly distracted by it (ooooo shiny).
- Get rained on a couple of times, but saved by the habit of always carrying an umbrella in your handbag (thanks Scottish weather).
- Manage to convince the International Office to give you your student card (hurrah!). See a girl with a rose in a brown paper bag – the brown paper bag looks like it should contain a bottle of gin rather than a rose. Debate to yourself which you would have preferred: rose vs gin (the queue at the International Office was really long and I got pretty bored…). Incidentally, as much as I love roses, gin wins (if it’s good gin).
- Realise that you haven’t seen a single shop display that is pink, fluffy or full of hearts, and that the gift basket and rose-that-should-have-been-gin are the only two Valentine’s-related things you’ve seen during the entire day. Conclude that New Zealand is clearly the place to be to forget about/ignore Valentine’s Day, and that you love the Kiwis for their minimum fuss attitude towards it.
- Walk past a massive hibiscus tree (bush?) on your way home, after another rain shower. Revel in that wonderful almost-tropical post-rain shower smell. Be happy.
Enjoy the rest of your day, whether you’re a Valentine’s fan or not!