University: School started the third week of July, so I just finished my first 6 weeks and even finished all my midterms and assignments! It's crazy how time flies, and even crazier that I'm so far along in my semester while my friends at home haven't even started yet. So I have class Monday-Wednesday (pretty great schedule, I know) that starts at 9am each day. I'm done by 5pm at the latest and that is only on Mondays, so I pretty much get everything out of the way in the morning by noon most days. Since Emerson isn't accepting most of my credits as actual classes, they are all going back as transfer elective credits which luckily works for me since I came into college with a surplus of credits
. That said, the classes I am taking are incredibly random for the most part since it didn't really matter for me. However, even though they don't really count towards anything for me, I was still interested in taking marketing classes while I was here so I'm taking 'International Business' and 'Innovation and Entrepreneurship'. I'm also taking two random classes for fun called 'Drugs and Society' and 'Exercise&Fitness: Myths and Reality'. My 'Innovation and Entrepreneurship' class is definitely going to be the most difficult because it's the highest level class I'm taking, but it'll be really cool to learn about the way things work here. I also fully intend on coming back here one day and opening some businesses and making baaaank because so far, we've noticed that New Zealand is about 10 years behind. School is really different here though - there is almost no emphasis on classwork or even attendance, there are few essays and most of the learning is self-taught, but the biggest and scariest thing is that finals at the University of Auckland are worth 50%+ of your grade. In one of my classes, my final is a cumulative test at the end of the semester and it is worth 65% of my grade...I'm a little nervous, to say the least.
In New Zealand, university is only 3 years long as compared to 4 years like it is in the US. As far as my classmates, they are very international for sure. There are a lot of Asians because of our proximity to the continent, but there are a good amount of people from literally all over
. It seems like most students live at home while at university in New Zealand as opposed to the US where we all tend to move out and change cities. There are also very few universities in New Zealand in general since the population of the country is so small. Inevitably that means that the size of the universities are pretty large, so schools with less than 7,000 students are somewhat unheard of here. Emerson has about 4,000 students and the University of Auckland has about 40,000 so it definitely is a huge change for me. Sitting through classes with over 100 other students is so strange because it's nothing that I've ever experienced. It's equally as strange to not have roll call for attendance, nor have a professor know most students by name or at least by face. Now that I'm halfway through, I can definitely say I've gotten pretty used to the way everything works here. I'm still debating whether I like it better or worse than the system we have at home but either way, it is what it is.
Living Situation: First off, to leave my building and go anywhere at all really, I have to go up my choice of 3 very steep hills...so I get a mini workout every single day. Anyways, I live in a university-owned apartment complex known as the Number 14 flats, since we live at 14 Whitaker Place. I live on the top floor of a 4 story building which is pretty old, and slightly ghetto - but in the most endearing way possible of course. I've come to actually love it a lot, and I've met most of my friends just from living here which is so great. Mostly, I've met tons of other internationals. I'm really happy with the complex to be honest, it may not be as clean and fancy as other places but it's really open and college-y. I've heard other buildings - especially one called Parnell - is full of basically just Americans and I'm thankful that I'm not living there. There are definitely a good amount of us Americans here, but luckily there's a lot of people from everywhere along with us
. I've made friends from New Zealand (harder than you'd think...), Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Norway, and France just to name a few. It's really nice to be able to meet so many different people from such incredibly different places. My flatmates are all from Malaysia and though they aren't necessarily the type of people I would hang out with outside of living, they are very nice for the most part. None of them drink or enjoy going out or really like doing the same kind of outings as I do, so they all tend to kind of retreat to their rooms pretty often but it's okay. All three of them are girls who are first years but around the age of 20 or so. It can get frustrating at times when they are just speaking to each other in Malay, but I've started to get used to it. I know they aren't doing it on purpose, but you could imagine being surrounded by it so frequently...or woken up to it in the late night or early morning. One is Wai Ling, originally from China I think...she is okay. Fatin is adorable and super nice - she is Islamic or Muslim so she has some strict religious things going on which can be difficult to live with, but I manage. For example, none of my guy friends can really just walk in and I have to warn her if any of them come over - if even for a few minutes - because she has to put her burqa (headwrap) on. It's okay though since I tend to spend most of my time in my friends' flats anyways. She has recently taken up baking with her friends and I have fun chatting with them every now and then and tasting some of their creations
. The third one is MX and she is awesome. She is always so full of energy, very bubbly, and eager to chat so I look forward to bumping into her around the flat. I've been having her teach me a few words and phrases in Malay so that's fun for me also. She also enjoys watching Japanese anime so she's been trying to teach herself some Japanese...she taught me how to say idiot the other day! Hahaha.
My room is massive which I am so thankful for - one of the biggest I've seen in the entire building so far! It's pretty great actually, and I've finally decorated a bit and made it feel pretty homey for myself so I'm doing well. My window is also a main point of social interaction as a lot of my friends tend to just come there to talk to me, or wake me up, or just wave hello. It's facing towards the main walkway and courtyard, so I can see everything and everyone from it. A lot of my friends live on the same floor as I do, so we all catch glimpses of each other all the time throughout the day which is really funny, and kind of creepy... Each flat has from 4-5 people and there are 23 flats I believe, so there are around 100 of us that live here. There are some kind of dumb, strict rules here that are relatively new from what I've heard. I guess the only one that really affects us continuously is that there is not supposed to be any drinking in rooms after 10pm, which is kind of ridiculous and pretty early. Right at 10pm, RAs and security guards start busting into rooms (literally...they just walk right in...) and telling people that they need to leave and put away everything
. We've tried bargaining with them multiple times and usually don't get too far, but it doesn't stop us from trying. It's pretty silly when you think about it - especially when there are RAs and guards who are younger than the people they are telling to stop drink like post-grads who are in their mid-to-late twenties. They definitely rain on our parade, but oh well, I guess we can't do much about it...though we'll continue to try.
Friends: Birds of a feather really do flock together, so a lot of my friends still end up being Americans but that is totally fine. I hang out with Kyle and Austin pretty frequently - Kyle is from Vermont and she goes to UNH, not too far from Boston and Austin I've mentioned before from my Arcadia group. We also hang out with Kyle and Austin's roommates quite a bit who are named David (from Holland) and Johnny (from Norway). Then there's also Molly who is also part of our original Arcadia group and she lives a couple floors down. Next door, there is Maeve and Lisi - Maeve from Dublin, Ireland and Lisi is from Germany - both of whom I also hang out regularly with. Down the hall is where my other friend from Ireland lives named Sunita but we've recently learned she prefers Suni, hahah. Across the hall is where Hannah and Teckla live - Hannah is also part of our Arcadia group, and I was introduced to Teckla through Taylor (also part of my Arcadia group and another whom I hang out with a lot)
. It's funny because Taylor and Teckla both went to high school with a girl I know from college, so the smallness of the world has been proven once again. Then there's Matt who basically lives with Teckla - they both came on the same program here, but both Matt and Taylor live in another housing building called Wellesley. My friend Sam lives a few floors down and he is an American/Kiwi since he grew up in the States but then moved over here and has been here since. Recently, I've made a friend from Canada (finally!) and she also lives on the floor below me - her name is Taylor. Also recently, I've become friends with Kim who is from New Caledonia. In the floors below us are our other Arcadia friends who we also see pretty often - Eric from Cali, Rachel from Alaska, and Christine from New York. Out of the 5 people from our Arcadia group that live in Wellesley, I definitely see Taylor the most. Dallas from Connecticut and Colby from North Carolina also live over there and I see them every now and then. I barely ever see Olivia and Molly F. except every now and then at the gym, but our entire group stays in contact pretty well and I really like them all a lot! Outside of all these people, there are all of the lacrosse girls who I end up spending quite a bit of time with and really like all of them. There are far too many of them to name individually though! My other friend from New Zealand who I met through Lisi is named Tary and he's hilarious, we played some pickup basketball the other day and it was a lot of fun! I am sure I'm missing people as well (please don't be offended if you're reading this and aren't in it...!), but I'm having a great time and meeting wonderful people that I'm so happy with. I'm very glad to know all of them and hope they stay a part of my life for many, many years.
It's been a while since I've updated my blog, and I apologize for that! I've been trying to assimilate into life here and start getting my routines together. So much has happened though, so I'll have to break down daily life into some sections. In this entry, I guess I'll talk more about my day-to-day happenings and kind of what I've learned around Auckland.