The flight from Dallas to Wellington takes approximately sixteen hours. Three hours from Dallas to Los Angeles. Layover: four hours. Twelve hours from LA to Auckland. Layover: Two hours. One hour from Auckland to Wellington. Then, when you arrive in Wellington, if you left LA on a night flight, it’s morning, except you lost a day, so your internal clock is totally out of whack. While I’d love to say that the process is painless, who really enjoys an entire day’s worth of travel? If you sleep on the flight, at least you are coherent when the plane lands and you have to go through customs. But you still have this weird feeling of being displaced, or missing time. When I fly home, I will gain a day, so I’ll get two November XX’s.
My flights were uneventful– with the exception of the transfer in SFO, they were fairly simple. Unlike LAX, SFO connects its domestic and international terminals, so that you don’t have to go out of security and then come back in. However, as a result of this, if you are flying different airlines and do not get checked in all the way through to your final destination, you get to your gate sans boarding pass, and then have to reverse your footsteps to go out and check in.
Nevertheless, despite the confusion, I made it onto my flight and headed overseas to New Zealand. I slept off and on, and finally we were landing in Auckland, the major airport hub of New Zealand- I could not get a direct flight to Wellington. Out through customs, pick up bag, carry on bag is sniffed by fruit-checking dogs, through customs with bag, drop off bag for domestic transfers, walk to other terminal, short hop over to Wellington.
What I remember about landing in Wellington was looking out the window and thinking about how green it was– a vast land of green surrounded by water. And with that, we were on the ground, and I was off to find the person from Victoria who was meeting the new exchange students. We loaded up our bags (the “Super Shuttle” here is a passenger van and has a trailer attached to the back for luggage) and headed off to find everyone’s accommodation. It was wet and chilly- probably about 40 F on the first day. When we got to my building, the head RA let me in my room and then I unpacked, before being rescued by two girls from my floor.
I say “rescued” because it was virtually silent on my floor- most people were still on their winter breaks, and had not come back to campus. Clare and Charlotte came over and took me up to brunch. Unlike AU, students here can stay over the holidays and eat in the cafeteria for no extra charge- for us, we have to pay for holiday accommodation, can’t stay in our normal rooms, and meals are extra. The meal system is something different altogether- all meals are included whereas AU operates on a system of “swipes.” Irregardless, I spent a few hours with them, running lines with Clare, who’s in a play, and then headed back to my room and spent the rest of the day reading and figuring out how to get online, before heading out the next day to explore Wellington before classes started.