I’ve been in New Zealand for 11 days (in Auckland to be exact) and so far it’s been interesting, laid-back but also tiring (probably my body coping with the changes), eye-opening and still surreal. It’s bound to get stressful once classes start. I don’t think I’ll be able to post regularly. For now, I suppose I can tell you my first impressions of NZ:
Everything is Expensive
I’m extremely fortunate to be here, barely shelling out my own money for living expenses because I am on a full scholarship. Thank goodness because everything is way more expensive than what I’m used to back home.
It really stood out how pricey it is when I got pot holders from The Warehouse, an “affordable” go-to store for most home and personal needs. The cheapest was 9 NZD for a pair. That is approximately Php 270! You can buy pot-holders for less than 1 NZD in the Philippines!
Every trip to the supermarket or any shops for that matter is a painful experience because my brain automatically calculates the Peso equivalent of everything.
I won’t even dwell on the cost of food and eating out. Let’s just say, masakit sa bulsa.
It’s so easy to blend in in Auckland. It’s a very diverse city home to Kiwis/Maoris, Pacific Islanders, Southeast Asians, Chinese, Indians, Europeans, etc. In my university alone, there are more than 6000 international students! I’m flatmates with a local from Christchurch, a Chinese girl from Japan and a Danish exchange student (who are all super nice by the way!).
Being multicultural means there’s an array of Asian supermarkets and dining places all over the city. I’m happy to find a Daiso here! It’s still more expensive than the Philippines/Japan but cheaper than most stores (a pot holder is 3.50 NZD huhuhu). They sell tabo! I love Daiso!!!
And since almost everyone’s from a different background and speaks a second language, no one’s judging your accent or grammar in casual conversations. University has higher standards though so I need to brush up on academic English.
Sunsets and sunscreen
All my life I’m used to the sun rising and setting at around 5 or 6 and that is more or less fixed throughout the year so my body gets a bit confused when it’s not yet dark past 7PM in Auckland. During summer, the sun sets in New Zealand at past 8PM. I also don’t understand Daylight Savings Time. Nonetheless, they have epic sunsets.
There is literally more sunshine in New Zealand in terms of daylight hours (longer days in the summer) and when it comes to UV rays. The sun’s harsher here! Wearing SPF is a must.
There’s the body clock issue too. I haven’t completely adjusted to the time difference. 5 hours is still 5 hours so I keep falling asleep around 2AM and waking up at noon or later.
There’s still so much to see and do in Auckland but I also cannot wait to explore outside this city! Itching to go to South Island actually but there’s time for that. I’ll be here for almost 2 years which is both scary and exciting!
I feel like I need to say something about the public transport and traffic in Auckland as those are the top 2 things I hate most about Metro Manila and why I wanted to get out in the first place. Auckland also has “traffic” but it’s nothing compared to Manila. Actually, I think most of the traffic/slow movement is only caused by stoplights and evident during rush hour when vehicles fill up the roads. Most offices close at 4 or 5 while shops close at 8 latest so that’s also different from what I’m used to in Manila.
I barely ride the bus and I don’t have a car or bike so I just walk all the time so no traffic for me! Yay! I don’t mind walking but a lot of the walks are uphill. Auckland is very hilly and it can get exhausting but hey, instant exercise!