Getting Oriented

Caroline Stratton
February 21, 2016

There wasn’t a formal invitation, but I think New Zealand has invited me to fall in love with the country more and more each day.  I wasn’t sure at first, seeing as I missed my connecting flight, causing me to spend 5 unplanned hours in the Auckland airport without a working phone, edible food, or Internet.  

Over the next week, I had seen enough beauty that I would have spent a week at the airport if I had to. 

IES Abroad orientation has been such a great experience and was the perfect mix of bonding with other students, and being introduced to Christchurch and surrounding cities.  I mean the bonding activities that we did slightly resembled the feeling I get at family holidays where I am asked questions like: “What’s your major?” “So what exactly do you want to do with that?” “How are you liking TCU?” But by the 3rd day I felt like I have known most of the students in my program for years, and conversation topics evolved away from what my favorite food is.

Since orientation lasted around 10 days I’ll just write about the highlights.  (see below for pictures)

1. Anytime we had a group meal funded by IES Abroad. 
Our program director Eunice planned every meal flawlessly.  The first night she baked us a cake and prepared a rice salad that covered every dietary need I have ever heard of.  Every meal after that was just as notable.

2. Group trip to Sumner Beach and Cliff Hike to Taylor’s Mistake Beach. 
This trip wasn’t planned by IES Abroad, but almost everyone in the group decided to have a beach day.  Sumner beach itself wasn’t as impressive as I had imagined; partly due to the weather, and partly because I’ve grown up next to amazing beaches my entire life.  However, a friendly kiwi told us about a cliff hike that would take us to a more secluded beach, Taylor’s Mistake.  The hike itself offered the most beautiful views I had seen up to that point.  The rocks under the cliff were black and the dark turquoise water was pounding against them.  The hiking path felt like a rainforest up until we touched the warm white sand at Taylor’s Mistake.  I quickly jumped in the water with a few other students where we watched one local kayak surf.  Casual. 

3. Jet boating on the Waimakariri River in Christchurch. 
Honestly I had no idea what jet boating was walking into this adventure.  I was imagining a speedboat that would take us on a lake.  From my experience, jet boats are the Ferraris of boats.  Our driver was very confident in his skills; I felt like if I reached my arm out it would hit the rocks just inches away from the boat.  He especially liked spinning the boat, or maybe that was just me. 

4. Bouldering at Castle Hill.
It’s the top out door rock climbing location in New Zealand.  Enough said. 

5. Pick up soccer and rugby games with the locals. 
I’ve played soccer my whole life and play on the club team at TCU; rugby is definitely a different story.  Thankfully Caleb, a leader for IES was enthusiastic to teach us the rules so we could begin to scrimmage.  It surprised me though that when our group of 12 Americans walked onto Ilam field with a soccer and rugby ball in hand, around 12 other students walked over to join our game.  Kiwis are the friendliest people I have ever met.

Now that my orientation blog post is finished, I am overexcited to write about my weekend adventures that took me all over the South Island.  Stay tuned.  xx

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Caroline Stratton

<p>I&#39;m Caroline, a native to Southern California, and a student at Texas Christian University. &nbsp;I&#39;m studying Social Work and hope to eventually work in the field of child welfare, where I&#39;ll give children who haven&#39;t had the best start to their lives a chance to be successful. &nbsp;I love to play soccer, surf, go on backpacking trips, and eat delicious, healthy food. &nbsp;I&#39;m hoping to meet new people, explore as many places in New Zealand as I can, and gain cultural awareness through my experience abroad. &nbsp;I&#39;m ready for some new adventures and in New Zealand, those aren&#39;t hard to find.</p>

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