This past week has been a blur of stress, frustration, constant searches online and bouts of getting lost and sweaty while running through most of downtown Wellington trying to act as my own salesperson (it’s like cold-calling with Disney ticket stores all over again, except it’s not nearly as easy of a sell)… but I got through it. I even got through back-to-back “trial shifts” for two different companies yesterday, which resulted in me getting a headache and nauseous. How people juggle two part-time jobs is beyond me… and let me just say that I have SO much more respect for anyone who works back-of-house hospitality. Running/clearing tables/cleaning up and working in the kitchen is not even remotely close to being easy. It’s probably the hardest work I’ve had to do, especially on Guy Fawkes Day (there was a fireworks spectacular which was like 1,000 times less amazing than anything Disney puts out, obviously), which meant the restaurant was bustling all night. Fun times.
I definitely jumped into my move headfirst, not the typical backpacker/traveler who wanted to explore. Instead, I’ve been on the job/career track, trying to do everything in my power to secure work so I can build up experience while abroad.
The hardest part of this move is accepting that a lot hasn’t gone according to my 20+ tabbed Google Drive “plan.” It’s been tough to make the right type of friends, I still feel like people back home were more friendly in OC (and also because I had such a huge variety of fantastic friends), the food is less than satisfactory (maybe I just hit up the wrong places, but man, when your best friend is an executive chef and you’re also coming from Disney, nothing impresses me to the slightest), and I’ve felt like a failure the more I got rejected from job prospects. Hopefully the stars will all align and things will work out… for now, I can’t turn back time on moving out here to live my dream, so it’s all upwards. I’ve tried to reassure myself that it’s okay to go off track of what was expected, but it is tough when you have certain expectations. Detours, hardships, missing friends, missing Maui, etc… a lot can’t be controlled, but I do know that each time I get through another hardship, I’m getting stronger and able to adapt better.
While I do have an iPhone now (thank you HEAPS to Peter, who graciously priority expressed the package and ensured that it wasn’t manhandled at customs), the data plans here are quite different than in America. A 1 GB data pack costs around $20 (and with the number of times I need Google Maps or e-mail, that 1 GB could be used up easily in a day). As a result, I try to snatch WiFi whenever I can find it or just screenshot stuff when I do have internet and go off that. I took everything back home for granted, so having to stretch my savings thin between weekly rent + monthly phonebills + food (my diet consists of crappy ramen since they don’t have Top Ramen here, and even that gets costly. Yes, I’m going to die of a heart attack, but at least I’m saving money) + travel (bus, airfare within the country, activities, etc.) is a huge wakeup call for me. I don’t have to pay for gas and car insurance anymore, but it can be a bit difficult to get around without a car (especially when the bus near us doesn’t run on weekends so I’ll end up walking to and from downtown as a 2-hr roundtrip). It’s definitely all part of traveling, but something I’m having to adapt to every day.
Last Sunday, I tagged along to a BBQ with the flatmates’ Weta friends (in Newtown). Chicken, sausages, vegetarian sausages, bacon-wrapped asparagus, salmon were served– everything was delicious (and far better than the food I’ve been buying for myself, since I seem to always come across the not-so-tasty things). Including myself and Mo, there were five Californians at the gathering (there’s never a shortage of Californians at a Weta function, since a ton of them are relocated to NZ, apparently). Their house was beautiful, nestled into the upper countryside (similar to my dad’s place in upper Kula) with a spectacular balcony view of a tip of the South Island and some rolling grassland hills with more homes below. We watched the breathtaking view of the sunset, and by the time we came out of the house, the night sky was adorned with twinkling stars (yet clouds were still painted on the midnight blue backdrop, which made it seem like a real-life version of van Gogh’s “Starry Night”). In moments like these, I think, “Wow, am I actually living here?”
I also had a chance to take the Wellington Cable Car up to the botanical gardens and Carter’s Observatory, both of which are amazing (and free) sites to see. There was a beautiful 360 view of Wellington from the top and I couldn’t get over how blue and clear the skies were– the clouds looked painted on. There is literally no smog here, and yes, the landscapes of Wellington are gorgeous! I’m so thankful to be living here rather than Auckland, since I really do fit in better in this city. I’m definitely going back to the botanical gardens multiple times since it’s so huge and full of lush greenery, flowers, an amazingly large play area… I could just go there on my own to relax and be content with life. So amazing. I’ve also seen Evans Bay at night (the harbor is so beautiful with all the lights), explore Hataitai a bit more, went to my first trivia night (our team came in second to last), been teased more than usual by Kiwis (they really love taunting Americans out here), and learned the bus system a little better thanks to a trusty compass and visual memory…
We’ll see where my journey leads from here. 🙂