Kiwi is the term for a person from New Zealand. Over the past two weeks I’ve met a lot of people, both international folks and Kiwis. Initially I thought the natural landscape would trigger my writing reflex, but my time so far has led me to some incredible people. This post is dedicated to them.
Andrew and Joanne: the couple who introduced me to New Zealand
Andrew and Joanne are a middle-aged couple from the United States. Andrew is a Kiwi who moved to California when he married Joanne. Before boarding my first flight, I cried a gallon of tears, sad to leave my mother behind. Fear, sadness, and worry all overshadowed my excitement. But thankfully, Andrew and Joanne were seated next to me on my final flight.
I’m always curious about the strangers beside me on flights. Will they chat with me? Are they flying alone? Business or pleasure? Andrew and Joanne were incredibly polite, always passing my meal from the flight attendant and even getting me a snack mix while I was in the bathroom. Overall, they were great airplane neighbors. With three hours left, Andrew leaned over to me and asked if I’m travelling for vacation. He had a thick New Zealand accent that was hard to understand over the buzzing airplane. I explained that I’m studying abroad in Auckland for a semester. The three of us continued to talk about various things, including personal details and the country’s must-see destinations. I learned that they have a daughter at university in Hamilton and without hesitation, they gave me her email address to contact if I ever need company in Auckland. They were truly kindhearted people.
As we began to land, the three of us admired the hilly Auckland landscape from my window. There were luscious green hills rolling over and over into waters that had no clear coast. Amazed, a smile helplessly formed on my face; it wasn’t until that moment I realized I had made it to another country. My excitement returned as I dreamed about the adventures ahead, this time with more reality. It was all due to Andrew and Joanne.
Ryan and Alicia: the friends from Whitianga who shared their Kiwi lives with me
This past weekend, a group of IES Abroad students travelled to Coromandel, NZ: a district known for its stunning coasts and hot-water beaches, among other things. We arrived around 2 pm and decided to spend the rest of the day on a local beach. After a few hours of lounging and vigorously applying sunscreen (there’s a hole in the ozone layer above New Zealand, making the UV rays stronger than home), our group spotted a goat just across the beach. We hustled over to the the goat, Gary, and his aged owner. Two people, a man and woman, in their twenties also approached Gary. They were carrying bags of groceries that hinted they’re locals. Their names were Ryan and Alicia, and they had been living in Whitianga for a few years. My friend Frankie and I began chatting with them. After an easygoing conversation, we decided to meet up at the local pub later that night. There, we played multiple games of pool while cracking jokes, sharing stories, and drinking hard cider. We began to know one another; we all shared details about ourselves that made us feel connected even as people worlds apart.
Ryan was originally from Auckland. He grew up in west Auckland, an area he described as not the best place for an upbringing. He’s never left the country or been on a plane. Today, he drives trucks for a living and moved to Whitianga when he realized the lack of limitations of being a truck driver. He’s fascinated by American politics and culture. We had a brief discussion about our president but it quickly ended once we discovered a shared love for American reality television. Instantly, a simple shared interest transformed into a lively discussion.
Alicia was from Christchurch. Her hometown is visibly displayed through a beautiful, floral tattoo on her arm with the word “Christchurch” scripted above. I asked her why she was in Whitianga and learned that her house was destroyed in the 2016 earthquake. Not only did the earthquake destroy her home, it also delayed her nursing degree, which she hopes to continue when she returns to Christchurch. She and Ryan used to be a couple, but broke up about a month ago. She was unable to move back home due to the state of her house.
Ryan and Alicia were welcoming and inclusive. They told us details about their lives in an organic manner that I desperately tried to reciprocate. They were friendly to Frankie and me despite our differences. I’m a privileged American who has the opportunity not only to go to university, but also to study abroad. I’m here to learn and grow, and Alicia and Ryan accepted that. They shared local lingo, played pool with us, and even led us to beautiful beach spot.
When Frankie and I left them, I was sad. I didn’t want to leave Ryan and Alicia behind as a memory. I felt nervous that I didn’t share enough with them or wasn’t as gracious as they were. The ferry ride seemed unbelievably long but allowed me to understand the beauty of the past few days. Ryan and Alicia taught me a lot, and because of that, I am infinitely thankful. The two will never know how much I valued their presence and how I will keep our time together locked in my core for a long time.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Daphne Moskofides is an aggressive typer. Studying English and art history, she wanders Skidmore College often getting distracted by the wonderful fall foliage or impressively reading and walking simultaneously. Don’t worry though, Daphne loves the outdoors, ultimate Frisbee, and writing, so her dexterity and nerdy mind has got her covered. Will Auckland be the next location Daphne finds herself magically lost in? Stay tuned to find out.</p>