October 29, 2013
Day two of Auckland!
I was able to sleep for a good 10 or so hours to make up for the lack of sleep the past nights, which was awesome. I woke up a wee bit (sidenote: I’ll purposely insert Kiwi jargon in my posts now, just for fun) disoriented since I haven’t gotten used to sleeping in a foreign setting yet, yet alone a foreign country. It always helps to have a stuffed animal by my side, though. 🙂 But it was a new day, a better day, another chance to explore without any work or conflicting appointments – in fact, it feels a bit liberating to not have a phone now. I know I’ll need one within the next week just to be more communicative with my job hunt, but for the three days of exploring Auckland and getting used to the city, it’s actually a blessing in disguise.
Another sidenote: When planning to move to a different country without a phone in tow, always prepare and research to the best of your ability beforehand. I admit to slacking off a bit in the last few months I was in California, mainly because I wanted to make the most of my time there and also have some alone time rather than overwhelm myself with all things NZ. However, reflecting back, it would have been nice to have laminated some maps and pinpointed some key places to eat, sightsee at, etc. rather than look like a lost puppy on the streets of Auckland. I ended up going south rather than north again, even when I looked at the map at least three times while walking in that (wrong) direction… I guess I’m just challenged whenever I look at a map or am stuck with anything involving directions. Probably not wise for me to ever become a driver as part of a profession.
I ended up walking almost everywhere I went today, which proved to be lots of exercise (other than going up Queen St., which had an incredibly steep incline). At the library, I spoke with someone from Belgium who helped me out with some good travel tips in Auckland and places to see. He also poked fun at how Americans tend to talk a lot and really fast (a stereotype which I clearly embody). I’m hoping that NZ will chill me out. I ended up taking a ride down to TVNZ from him in his camper van (yes, I know what half of you are thinking—what the heck. I trusted my intuition that he was trustworthy enough), so at least I understand the concept of camper vans a bit more. Nice little fellow; I’ve met more people traveling from different countries (Argentina, Belgium, Russia, Germany) than I have from NZ, but maybe it’s because Auckland itself is incredibly diverse.
I went to TVNZ to meet up with a lovely gal that I connected with on LinkedIn earlier in the year since I noticed that she was living in NZ and also graduated from UCSB. Turned out that she’s been living here for about three years since she stayed after finishing her Master’s in Wellington. She gave me a great tour of her building as well as the video research library that she currently works in (reminded me heaps of UCSB’s Film & Media Studies department). In times like these, this is when LinkedIn and social media is amazing—who would have thought that I could have met up with her if I didn’t have LinkedIn?
Afterward, I walked down to the Auckland Art Gallery since it was free admission. It turned out to be a beautiful three-story building with all sorts of exhibits ranging from historical to modern/contemporary art. My favorite exhibit was a colorful one that showcased different items segmented into a respective spectrum of the rainbow, as well as a corner display with origami rainbow boats and rainbow ribbon plastered on the wall. Definitely a color-lover’s dream art display! I was enthralled by how well-kept and different the museum is… it wasn’t quite like anything MOCA or LACMA showcases. The fact that it was free was a huge bonus, since most galleries are heaps expensive nowadays. The gallery was also adjacent to Albert Park, another beautiful park full of large trees, wide trails, beautiful flowers, and plenty of spaces to sit down and relax. I’ve noticed that there are always benches/places to lounge around in Auckland so far… and when you come across a park here, they’re full of beautiful trees and greenery, not dead/dry areas. I love it! I’m more of a countryside girl than a city girl, so I think I’ll fall in love with Wellington even moreso than Auckland, too.
I also caved and spent some hours getting more WiFi access at two libraries just to check e-mails. It’s extremely reassuring and comforting to read e-mails from my support network back home just because it makes me realize how this is my dream, and it’s mine to live… and that challenges will always make one stronger, as I noticed today.
After some more exploring, I wandered into the University of Auckland’s student center by accident. I decided to meander around just for the heck of it; the architecture of the international building was beautiful; very reminiscent of something in Oxford University (just not as elaborate). I attempted to mooch off WiFi in their library as well, but I wasn’t successful. I was a bit sad that I happened to blend into the student demographic… half of the people I see around Auckland are Asian or Indian, and I swear that 99% of that student library was all Asian. Good heavens. The fact that I had on a backpack and glasses didn’t help my situation. I already get mistaken for still being in college… ugh.
My evening ended with a lovely dinner thanks to my friend Meghan again; this time is what Thai food at a beautiful restaurant called Sawadee Thai Cusiine on Ponsonby Rd. There was even a mini waterfall/pond as well! The Pad Thai was delicious—probably one of the best I’ve had, to which I realized that the food in NZ is actually amazing for being so culturally diverse (it’s not like “fake” Thai food or anything). It was refreshing to talk to her more about adjusting to life here, limiting social media usage, cooking (or my inability to), how NZ is not phased by pop culture, celebrities, the entertainment industry, material things, etc., and the importance of being happy both professionally and personally. I’m so happy to have had her company the past two days, just because it’s always nice to have someone who can relate to you or help reassure you that things will turn out okay and that you’re not a failure for breaking down on your first day in a new country.
After dinner, I felt really satisfied with things and looked up at the beautiful Auckland sky before going into my hostel to take it in some more; the sky was painted a beautiful ocean blue color with just the right amount of puffy clouds scattered about as twilight fell onto the city. California really doesn’t have anything like that, so it was incredible to take in (and I cannot WAIT to see the stars at night in the South Island). There are so many things I have to look forward to in my next days and months here in NZ, so it’s vital that I stay curious and open-minded to doing all these things. It was in that moment when I looked up at the sky that I realized that I’m here, I’m really doing this, and I was meant to challenge myself by moving out here for a reason—so I better make the most of it, much like my college experience in SB!
Stupid Debbi moments while traveling: When exiting the Auckland Art Gallery, I slammed into the glass revolving door since I mistook part of the glass for being an exit. It wouldn’t have been as bad if I wasn’t carrying my camera and clunked it against the glass, making a loud sound… so happy that the glass didn’t shatter. I proceeded to run away in the opposite direction of the guy behind (like it would help—he totally saw my error). ALSO, I accidentally bought Colgate “My First Kids” toothpaste yesterday at a shop… I was only looking at the prices and brands and grabbed the wrong one. Well, at least I’m only getting a mild amount of mint flavoring now.
Random things about Auckland before closing shop for the night: The bathroom stalls (not so much the toilets… no one can top the fanciness of Tokyo’s) are similar to Tokyo’s and MUCH cleaner than those in the states; pigeons are incredibly fat (you can tell by the pudginess of their necks, haha); there’s obviously a huge British influence in all the stuff here (lingo, food, the way people drive).
This is my last night in Auckland for the time being… I have a couple hours to explore Auckland tomorrow and then I’m jetting off to Wellington at last! I know that challenges and obstacles will be prevalent throughout my adventure, but for now, this girl is a happy Hobbit (and she’ll be even moreso in Wellington, especially living 5 minutes from Weta Digital/Cave/Workshop, HA). 😉