As I sit at the gate at the airport, there are hundreds of thoughts running through my mind. I see many unknown faces surrounding me, but I know they are feeling the same way I do. The feeling of unknown, but also excitement for the many adventures we have to come.
After a long, exhausting flight we walk out of customs to the smiling and welcoming faces of the Arcadia staff. They take us to the bus and our three-day orientation in Auckland begins.
Our Orientation was not just sitting and gathering information. We started with a beautiful hike around Auckland, which made me see the beauty of New Zealand immediately. The grass was so green everywhere with the incredible blue sky in the background.
We had the opportunity to explore the city of Auckland for a bit as well as swim in the Cheltenham Beach. I started to get to know more people on the program, and realized that they shared many of the same interests that I had.
For our second day of Orientation, we traveled three hours to Rotorua, which is a small town full of the Maori culture and geothermal landscapes. The town had so much personality and we got to explore it during our lunch break. In the afternoon we went to the Agrodome farm show where saw many sheep and cows and learned of their importance in New Zealand. We then went on a tour of the Rainbow Springs, and saw a real live Kiwi, the native bird of New Zealand.
After, we checked into our hotel we had more time to explore. A couple friends and I went and bought dinner and had a picnic by Lake Rotorua. It was very peaceful and the lake was absolutely stunning. After our dinner, most of the program went to the spa near our hotel where they had hot mineral pools and also a beautiful view of the sunset right on the lake. It was a great way to end the day.
For our last day of Orientation, we drove to Waiotapu, which is the geothermal park in Rotorua. The whole park was absolutely incredible. Everything was so colorful and breathtaking.
From there, we went zorbing, which was so fun. We went into these giant hamster balls filled with water and rolled down hills. It was such a cool experience that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else.
For our final night of Orientation we went to the Tamaki Maori Village where we were given a full experience of what the Maori culture is all about. It felt like a perfect way to end our Orientation experience.
The next day we said goodbye to the group of Auckland students and departed to Dunedin. I am all settled in my flat now at the University of Otago and cannot wait to explore Dunedin and the rest of the South island.