Small Beginnings

Hello again mates! This is an official welcome to the vibrant Garden City of New Zealand! Not too long ago, a few of our closest blood and buds wished us happily away with bright dreams of adventure gleaming in our eyes. Now that we have been in Christchurch for exactly one month, I have to be perfectly frank as possible here– it’s been one heck of a rough start! I’d like to recap certain moments that have stood out.

Weather– Completely unpredictable. Four seasons in a day is officially a now proven theory tested early on. We were having one of those lovely, gorgeously sunny yet severely windy days that made you thankful for the abundantly natural warmth. The leisurely walk home from work turned into a flat-out sprint as the sky transformed into a gigantic, billowing ball of thunderclouds flashing long, brilliant pink streaks right above. We stopped under a bridge for all of two minutes to debate whether it was safer there until clinking chunks of ice changed our minds. A look after the storm revealed hail that were literally the size of golf balls.

Tremors– Felt my first one while concentrating DNA in the lab on Friday (a 4.3 shake). My first thought was that I’d broken the machine until a quick look at the ceiling indicated otherwise. Yup, time to pack our bags! Woke up to a second one on Monday morning that rattled the windows…poked Harold to see if he felt it and all I got was zzzZzZzzzZZzzzzzz. Thanks, confirmation accepted.

La Shack– Quick disclaimer. I think it goes without saying that I’ve been oh so spoiled. Homecooked food appeared every few hours, gas filled magically when low, heat & AC galore…all thanks to my lovely parents who treat their kiddies way too well. Anyway, you know that catchy Sugar Ray song “When It’s Over” from 2001? Hum that little diddy as you read this next part because all of that has just gone out the window.

We’ve got one of the oldest houses on the block! Without central heat, insulation, or double glazing, power bills are typically steep over here yet it’s still COLD. Always cold, as in break out our snowboarding gear to sleep at night next to the space heater cold. There’s no hot water at night which means that showers have to be scheduled. Our tiny room includes funky mildew carpeting, a ceiling cracked completely in half, a window with newspaper jammed into the edge and a door that doesn’t close or lock. On top of that, the landlady is just straight up bizarre, calls us Jen and Gentleman Harold. Notorious for burning plastic bottles and other bits of trash at night, she likes to ask intensely personal questions and go through our things. We have one roommate who is pretty cool and watches sports all day while the other roommate is a self-professed gambling addicted ex-con. Needless to say, we’re actively hunting for a new place.

Food– A moment of insight on Gchat with my sister.
me: u should come live w/ us
Amy: well only if you really want me to..
wait..you just want to eat me bc you have no food

We so hungee!!! Clearly she knows how dire it’s been, since not only is rent quite expensive in Christchurch, food prices are typically 2-4x higher (especially for dairy/bread/fruits/vege). Not unlike the piggly greedy Americans we are, our first encounter at a Domino’s had me feeling pretty stupid. Seeing that they had large pizzas advertised for 4.99 (score!), I yanked Harold inside and immediately ordered two. Fifteen minutes of patient waiting later, we were called up and opened each box to see what was in store: a small personal pan pizza. Sadness slowly made room for contentment as the tom yum flavor and pineapples made for a tasty pie. Lessons were learned after several similar encounters at cafes, restaurants, and fast food joints across town. Soon enough, the both of us wised up and are proud of the 20 stack ramen (Shin Ramyun style) sitting on our desk. That along with countless baguettes, blocks of cheese and cheap pate is slowly making my carnivorous blood boil (the sheep aren’t quite as cute anymore). It’s kind of hard adjusting slimmer waistbands to equally slimmer wallets since all of the food that we eat is quickly burned walking all over town. I’ve definitely dropped at least 5 lbs. and my partner’s bum is looking a little less plump each day.

In short, coming here was and still is very much an opportunity to continue working in biomed and most of all, learn what it’s like living away from NoVA and all the comforts of home. As expected, things in NZ are very different and definitely take some getting used to, but we’re quite determined to make the very most of it and explore as much as we possibly can. Despite taking fewer baths or eating a little less, I’m comforted by the best friend who is going through the exact same thing. You da best!

Words of encouragement in response to my googly eyes… “you’re not sexy because you smell bad.”

Fact of the day: The current USD$ to NZD$ exchange rate is 83%. Cheers!

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