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Chillin’ In the Virus’s Shadow

Ang Vaiana
March 15, 2020

Hey I’m still alive, I survived the airport aren’t you proud??!! I had some Xanax (calm down it was prescribed to me) and that stuff works, baby. Enough about that though since the thing you are here for is what the heck is going on with my time in Auckland.

Fun things, that is what is going on. And school, I guess (which I am doing but we’re gonna focus on that later). Oh, also a global pandemic. We’ll touch on that. Today I’m gonna talk about our weekend trip to Rotorua, and a lil about the virus because everything’s getting messed up by it, yeah?

First, a bit about Rotorua. It’s a town located within this huge caldera. A caldera is formed when an underground magma chamber is emptied due to eruption and the rocks above it collapse, forming a large depression in the ground. The majority of this caldera is filled by Lake Rotorua. We got up there on Friday night, so we mostly just wandered around the town and looked at some of the geothermal pools along the lakeshore. There are still magma reserves beneath the town, and these heat up groundwater that bubbles up to the surface. The water can be scalding hot, but it can also be like bathwater/hot tub warm, which means SPA TIME (we didn’t go to the spa on Friday though. But it’s there). 

Saturday morning: two of us who go to the same college wake up to an email from said college. They’re being pulled from study abroad due to the Coronavirus, and so are quite a few others who didn’t go on this little trip with us. Now in some countries, being pulled makes sense due to the number of cases there. But the US has had over a thousand while New Zealand has had SIX, so staying here seems much safer. And forcing these students to go through airports opens them up to all them TRAVEL GERMS which is no bueno. They tried to fight it but alas, the schools don’t want to be liable if they get sick in NZ, so in the end they’re going to have to go home. Obviously, in the wake of such bad news, we need a distraction, and to enjoy New Zealand as much as possible. Thankfully, Rotorua is great at that.

We started off by going to a farmer’s market, where I got some samosas (lil fried dough pocket full of curry or something) and roti (tortilla sort of thing but it is not Mexican) and boy did they SLAP. After that highly successful breakfast, we rolled over to the redwood forest area and wandered a bit there. The redwoods there are “not as impressive as California’s” according to one of my friends who is from there, but I’ve never been and I thought they were pretty tight so it was worth it. Next up is my favorite thing we did all weekend: the geothermal park. No it was not a theme park or a waterpark in the going on slides sense but a park of nature and toasty water.

Ya know those like Windows 10 backgrounds with the weird colored steamy water? That’s what this park was full of. A ton of steamy, smelly wildly colored pools, bubbling away, visible proof of the Earth’s tectonic activity. The different colors are due to the presence of different minerals (sulfur was the most common), though one was a brilliant emerald green due to all of the algae that live in it year-round. It was surreal to be able to walk around them and be engulfed in clouds of slightly acidic steam that you knew was coming straight from the depths of the Earth. It smelled like rotten eggs, so you could say it’s like Earth farts I guess. But yeah that place was a geological wonderland and even if you don’t vibe with rocks it’s still super cool.

After looking at all that steamy water we were like “but what if we got IN it??” And so we went to the spa, because bathing in random pools is very dangerous and you can get burned please don’t try it at home. So yes the spa had a bunch of different pools of varying temps and it was all very healing, both for the gash I got on my finger from trying to fix the dishwasher and our sad hearts. It was a lovely end to a lovely day, but it doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people’s study abroad time is being cut short. So here’s to all the students that either couldn’t go or had to be pulled from their programs, because that is rough as heck. Obvious health and safety are more important but that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to the place you wanted to call home for a little while. I hope y’all make the most of the abroad time you have left and hopefully this whole pandemic thing never repeats itself.

Ang Vaiana

<p>Hi! My name is Ang (rhymes with dang) and I'm a junior at Hope College in Holland, MI. I'm majoring in geology and I'm really passionate about volcanoes, so be prepared for me to talk about rocks. Besides geology, I like hiking, eating (especially sweets), and playing video games.</p>

Home University:
Hope College
Hometown:
Westfield, IN
Major:
Geology
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