Kelsey: Clubs, trains and futbol

July 10, 2011

First couple of days in Dunedin:
Leaving the warmth of the KiwiPaka is something I would later miss very very much but at the time we were all very excited to finally get to our home university town! There were two different flight times and I was put on the later flight time so we were all getting ready to go through security, getting rid of our food and pouring out our water (others were either pouring out their wine or drinking it…). We get to the airport and we get up to the lane, the ticket attendant asks us our name, gives us our tickets and points to where our gate was (there were only 4 in the whole airport) and that was it! No security, no ID checking, nothing! And my favourite part was that instead of walking through a windy tunnel to get on the plane, we got to walk outside and take the stairs up to the plane! Not many other people were excited about this, but I sure was! We had a layover in Wellington, where we found some random free wi-fi (see earlier post) and spent most of it checking our facebook, e-mail and writing blog posts! Another 2hr flight and we were finally in Dunedin! The airport was in the middle of mountains and we were just in awe of how beautiful it was. We were driven in a taxi to our flat and that was it, we were finally on our own!

My house is so cute and even closer to campus than my apartment in Minneapolis is (I didn’t think I could get any closer!). It is a 4 bedroom house, with 3 of them upstairs (including mine) and one downstairs. There is just one bathroom (that is split between the toilet room and the shower room), a laundry room upstairs with the bedrooms. Downstairs there is a cupboard under the stairs (Harry Potter anyone?), and the kitchen and lounge area. We have 2 leather couches and one fabric couch, a TV and DVD player and one closet. The kitchen is pretty small but it hasn’t been a problem because we have a pretty big pantry closet. Unfortunately my “flat” (what they call student houses here) is about a 5-7min walk from most of my friends so we have to really plan our meet-ups and I’m usually the one who has to walk in the cold, but it’s also nice because I’m really close to campus and far away from all the crazy party flats. 

The first couple of days were pretty busy with orientations and then us girls going into town to check out the shops and restaurants (a lot of delicious Indian food has been eaten!). We learned very fast that Dunedin was much colder than it was on the North Island, so much of our first purchases included: extra blankets, thick socks and thermal shirts. We made a joke that we no longer care if we look “cute” we just care if we stay warm! The nights were, to put it lightly, miserable. The first few nights I wore 2 pairs of leggings, sweatpants, 2 pairs of socks, thermal long sleeve shirts, another long sleeve shirt and a sweatshirt and sometimes with a scarf, and I would still be shivering. I realized after the 3rd night that I didn’t have a personal heater that I was supposed to have, so I went to the office and got one for the rest of the semester. I am still getting used to the cold but it’s getting better. 

The university really helps the new international students meet others and do fun things so they set up a few things for all of us to do for free. The first was they set up an international meeting at a bar downtown in Dunedin, so a few of me and other AustraLearn girls went about an hour late and about an hour later we were all yawning and went home around 10pm. The next day we had tickets for a train ride through the mountains, which was SO so beautiful. After the ride they gave us NZ’s version of a “BBQ” which is really just coleslaw, salad and meet that was made on the grill with ketchup and mustard on the side. Nonetheless, it was delicious! Saturday morning we decided to check out the Dunedin Farmers’ Market, which is supposedly to be the best farmers’ market in NZ, and it was so interesting. Since it’s winter here, not much is in season besides like apples but other things included; broccoli, potatoes, onions, honey, pears, all kinds of meat, bread and various other food stands where you could get everything from waffles and crepes to fried tofu. My friend Anna got this steamed bun that she let us try and they’re super good so I plan on going back next Saturday to get a package of them for cheap and freeze them for dinners later!

Sunday was one of the funniest days to ever happen to me. My friend Anna texted me saying that she was going to go play some soccer with our other friend Victoria’s roommate and she invited me to play along, and so I said yes thinking that a pick-up game would be fun. I met up with them and we started walking towards this park, all of us in our long leggings and thermal shirts with tennis shoes ready to play and we get there and see another group of girls, who I assumed to be the people we were playing with. After standing there chatting for a bit, we see some official looking people asking if people have their “boots” (cleats) and “shinnies” (shin guards) and asking what position we play. Finally, we ask if this is more than just a pick-up game, and sure enough, we were recruited to play for the school’s club teams! But since we had stood there for a good 15 min before, there was no real turning back so we just all went with it grabbing random boots and shinnies to put on and getting assigned positions. Anna was the only one who played striker (forward) so she was put with the Varsity squad while the rest of us were put on the Seconds team in our various positions. We then piled in random cars and were driven through the mountains to where we would be playing soccer. The area where we played was absolutely gorgeous! It look as though they had taken a space in the middle of the mountains, flattened it and put up some nets. But we didn’t have much time to look around because they shuffled us into the dressing room, gave us our jerseys, shorts and socks to wear. Soon after we were all in uniform we started to do our warm ups, which were very similar to the one’s I used to do while playing for my high school, so the entire time me and Victoria were just giggling and kept saying “I can’t believe this is happening right now!”. They started saying the starting line-ups and they said my name but I didn’t have cleats yet (and I was a bit nervous!) so I declined starting. But it didn’t take more than 15 min to get me in for almost the rest of the 90min game! Our team ended up winning 12-0 which is just the cherry on the top to such a funny day. Overall it was SO much fun to get suited up again and play (and not have my knee hurt! Victory!) for a team, so I told the coaches and stuff that if they needed people to fill in again that I would be up for it! We met up with Anna after both of our games had ended and it turns out that Anna kicked so much butt for the varsity team that she got recruited to play with the team for the remainder of their season! That was like the whip cream on top of a hilarious, but awesome, day! We ended the day with dinner at Anna’s, which was couscous (which I had never had before) and it was SO SO SO good!

Always a new adventure in New Zealand!

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