UCEAP Orientation


Mr. Xiao's Dad dropped me off at YHA Auckland City (the hostel that would be hosting over 50 University of California students) and I checked into my unsurprisingly mediocre room at around 9 am. It featured such luxury items as one outlet positioned about an inch above my roommate's bed, a tiny towel rack (no towels - though luckily A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy taught me to always bring my own), and a questionably lumpy blanket. The blanket proved beyond mediocre, however, considering the window (which had one job to do) failed to keep out the frigid Auckland air. Let it be noted that at this point in my journey I would take my jacket off only to shower.

Around lunchtime, I met another EAPer in the hallway and we went out to eat and explore. The highlight of the day was walking to Mt. Eden, a dormant volcano in the middle of the city.

Very stairs wow

Big crater

Other side of big crater

Orientation officially kicked off that night at a dinner where all the California students were encouraged to mingle. The basic conversation went like this:

"Hi I'm Natalie what's your name?
Where are you from (implying which UC)?
Which school are you going to here?
Cool, cool. Very cool."

Sometimes if things got serious I would also ask, "What do you study at home?" It was thrilling conversation. 

The following four days consisted of many talks about NZ, like what "the wop wops" means and why NZ still uses the queen as head of state even as an independent country. I still don't get it. There were also heaps of kiwi activities for us to participate in. This included a visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Waiwera Hot Springs, and Sheepworld. Yes. There is a place called Sheepworld and it is wonderful.

There was a greenhouse next to the museum and it housed some very interesting characters.

Can this be the next "ayy lmao" meme or what?

Maybe I shouldn't have told this one to shut up.

And this is possibly the best name a fernery could hope for. By the way, companies in New Zealand get a huge kick out of ending plural words with "nz" if the opportunity presents itself.

 Bonding with the locals at Sheepworld.

I forgot to mention this trip was made in a party bus. Yes. Like prom night, except with sheep. This was our view from the party bus upon returning to the city.

The orientation was bittersweet, because I met some radical people that are studying at different NZ universities than me. At least this means I have incentive to visit some of the other cities! Orientation ended with a nice dinner in Devonport, a self-proclaimed "beautiful, historic village by the sea." On the walk to the restaurant, I saw more of my favorite things:

The end of the orientation also presented a daunting prospect: two weeks to travel around New Zealand before the commencement of the semester. This meant that in less than five days, I had to make travel arrangements with people I didn't know for two weeks. I managed to join a group of 10, and we were due to pick up our two rental cars the following morning. Planning for many days of malnutrition to come, I feasted.

The end of orientation marked the start of the third segment of my adventure: the van days. 

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"And it's the wonders I'm after, even if I have to bleed for them." - September Morning Bell