Hi everyone! As I mentioned in my last blog, I am the world’s best procrastinator. So, when I looked at the calendar and it was almost March, the stress hit. I have been in Christchurch for just about two weeks now and it feels like I have been here forever. Let me take you through my journey so far because it has been a TIME. Leaving was really hard, like, realllyyyy hard. I didn’t expect myself to be so sad to leave my family and my dogs and everything I was comfortable with because I had been looking forward to leaving for so long. This is basically the first time ever I’ve been far away from home and leaving my dad at the airport felt like I was never going to see him again. However, going through the security line with a super swollen face probably provided some amusement for my fellow travelers.
Once I finally got through the customs line and to my gate, I realized my flight was delayed. But no big deal, this happens all the time, right? Right?! Well, that’s what I thought, but I was sorely mistaken. My first flight landed in Chicago 5 minutes before the boarding time for my flight to Auckland began. I bolted off the plane and sprinted to the terminal that my connection was in. I accidentally left the airport and had to go back through security. I finally get on the plane and endured a 16-hour flight to Auckland. And let me tell you, after sprinting through the Chicago airport I realized that I should probably start working out again, talk about out of breath!! After arriving in Auckland, I realized my bags were still in Chicago and ended up missing my flight to Christchurch. It took the full weekend to get my bags back, so I made friends quick since I had to borrow their clothes. So, obviously, my trip was off to a rough start, but it turned around pretty immediately.
I met some awesome like-minded people from my program on our weekend trip to the beautiful southern alps in Springfield, NZ! On the first day of our trip, we went to Castle Hill, which is a beautiful rocky park where scenes from Narnia were filmed. After Castle Hill, we went to another park where we explored a cave! To end the day, we went back to the hostel we were staying at for the weekend and had a homestyle dinner cooked by the hostel. One thing I have come to realize is that since being here, I have completely lost all pickiness when it comes to food, and everything that I’ve had cooked for me has been incredible. That night, we explored the hostel and got to pet the farm’s Cooney Cooney pig and alpacas. I have truly never seen such a large pig in my life!
The next day, probably my favorite day out of the two, we planted over 150 native trees at a reserve and then went to Rubicon sheep farm. Planting the trees was actually really fun, and it was awesome to see the growing trees around us that past American students have planted. At Rubicon, I was in my element, and I think I’ve decided that in between undergrad and grad school I will be working on a sheep farm (preferably in NZ). I got picked to herd the sheep, yes, herd the sheep. I was running around, super out of breath, chasing ten sheep. Another girl in my program and I successfully herded 6 out of the 10 sheep together and the lesson was that humans are not good sheep herders, which is why dogs are used. The dogs were so well trained—they only listened to their trainer and definitely know more than a few more commands than my dogs at home. We also got to see a sheep get sheared, and I actually got to shear it a bit myself with hand-held shears. The last thing we did that day was go on a jet boating ride! I think that this might’ve been the coolest and most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced. The water was ice blue, because it’s water from melted glaciers; it looked like a scene out of a puzzle or a magazine. Just insane. The jet boat would do 360s and the views felt like I was in a video game, definitely a must do if you plan to come to New Zealand. Over the last week, I have just been settling into my apartment and getting to know the people I’ll be spending the next semester with. I haven’t been hit with a wave of homesickness yet, but I expect that to come soon. I am already planning backpacking trips and day trips all over both islands, and I’m so excited to tell you all about it. Thanks for reading and tune in in a few weeks for another blog!
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<p>Hi! My name is Caroline Wilcox and I am a junior majoring in Biology at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York! A little bit about me– I have three dogs that have my entire heart, and I work at a bakery when I'm not busy with school. I have spent basically my entire life in Rochester and am more than ready to see what life is like outside of my small town!</p>