Wow, I can't believe I've been in New Zealand a whole week already!! It seems like so much has happened since I arrived!
Monday was my first orientation session for Study Abroad and Exchange students. A group of us met at the office in Student Village and walked over to the orientation building together. This was my first encounter with the group of Americans from Austra-learn who have become my friends. They all knew each other already from spending a week traveling around New Zealand and doing tourist-ey things. As we walked over to the orientation I learned a little about some of them. After orientation, I had to formalize my enrollment in the college. This involved going to the Student Center in the library, picking my papers (classes), paying my insurance fees, and getting my student ID card. After orientation, I went by bus to The Base, a mall on the other side of town. I got a cell phone and a hair dryer. I was happy to finally get a cell phone so that I could start getting numbers of the people I was meeting, and I can stay more connected. Monday night there was a Student Village orientation that was just about how to keep ourselves safe while living in the dorms. After the meeting, I asked some of the Austra-learn kids if they wanted to hang out, and we had fun getting to know each other better.
Tuesday, I had a meeting with Contact FM, the college radio station here on campus. The station is nestled simply in a storefront with two microphones a computer and a sound board. The only way for students to get involved is to be a DJ on the station, so I am going to take that opportunity. I will most likely be able to do a specialty show and play my own music off my computer. The station seems to be run by professionals, one of which I got to talk to at my meeting. She told me about the alternative club downtown, Static, where many of the shows Contact FM endorses are put on. Tuesday night a group of the Austra-learn kids and I went to the city center to a bar called Shananigans. Since it was a Tuesday night, there were mostly just older locals there. The bar had a relaxed feel and we all enjoyed ourselves. There is an outdoor patio with a fireplace where we ended our night.
Wednesday was the International Student Orientation. There was a much larger audience than the first orientation. We were given lots of useful information about traveling, classes, and facts about Hamilton. I learned that Waikato means Long River. After the orientation, there was food in the lobby of the building where I met a couple of people. I came back to my flat to find a new person moving in! He is a Kiwi, 22, and in his first year at University. He was working at a supermarket, but he wanted to change the direction his life was going in so he decided to enroll in university. Then, since it was a rainy day, a group of us went back to the Student Village Lounges and watched movies. Later at night, we ended up going to a fish and chips stand to get some food. I ordered a 5 dollar meal and got a piece of fried fish, "hot dog" similar to a corn dog, and two potato fritters along with chips (fries). The food arrived wrapped in newspaper and we were told by my kiwi flatmate that this is a typical practice. We took the food back and watched TV in one of the lounges. It is interesting to see the kinds of things that are on TV. Although there are a lot of American shows, there are also New Zealand based shows. While we were watching TV, there was one very graphic drunk driving commercial that played repeatedly. This was interesting to see the difference between American and New Zealand media practices.
Thursday, a couple of friends and I went to go find some white clothes for the Paint and Foam party taking place the next night at the Warehouse. It was fairly easy to find the clothes we needed. We went back and I cooked dinner and got ready to go out. Night life is big on Thursday night in Hamilton so a group of us went into the city and checked out the different bars and clubs. Most places play American music or dubstep.
Friday was the orientation for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, which is the school that I am studying under while I am here. There was a plethora of information given involving library resources, scholarships, how to succeed in classes, etc. I was interested to learn that I will be using MHRA citation instead of MLA. Classes are divided into a lecture, where you are expected to absorb the information, and a tutorial where you are expected to share your opinions. Friday was the night of the Paint and Foam party. We donned our white apparel and went to The Outback, a bar in the city center. At midnight, the paint "dropped". They used paint guns to spew colorful paint all over the jam-packed dance floor. There was also a foam pit outside that was filled with sudsy bubbles. By the end of the night everyone was a slippery mess covered in paint, but it was a lot of fun.
Today I tackled some laundry and did some grocery shopping. Tomorrow I am planning on taking a trip to Raglan, a beach a couple hours away. I can't believe I've been here for a week already! It seems like a whirlwind, but it's been such a great time so far!