Hey everybody, I have finally been able to get access to a computer, so here I am.
I have been in New Zealand 3 days now. I still can't believe it. It is so surreal. Everything has gone pretty well. The flight over was pretty gruelling; I got to the airport in Atlanta Sunday around 12:30pm and didn't get to Christchurch until Tuesday at about 2am Atlanta time (which is 7pm local time). I was exhausted. Five planes. I lamost missed the one to Sydney from San Fransisco because my flight in Denver was delayed an hour and a half. But everyhting worked out pretty well. All my luggage got here fine.
I got to see the sunrise in Sydney. That was pretty amazing. I have to say the flight to Auckland was the best. While we were flying over the Pacific all you could see was this sea of clouds. It was beatiful. Then coming in for the landing in New Zealand you could see the rocky shoreline surrounded by fog. I've never seen anything like it. I'll post the pictures as soon as i get them developed.
The place I'm staying is pretty cool too. Its called University Hall; I'm staying in the flats and I have 4 flatmates. I've only met Kestrel and Yence (not sure if I spelled his name right). Kestrel is from Vermont; she is a really cool chick - we get along really well. Yence is from Germany and the other two are Kiwis (but I haven't met them yet). By the way, a Kiwi is what they call people from New Zealand.
So far I've met a lot of Americans - a lot more than I had anticipated. I hung out with a lot of them last night. They're a lot different than me so its kind of wierd sometimes. Awkward I mean. There are a few that I have a lot in common with and can talk to, but for a lot of them, all they want to talk about is how many beers it takes them to get drunk. Thats another thing, drinking is a huge part of the culture here. I mean when I went to the University Hall welcoming get together, they gave us beer. The head of hall gave us beer. I was surprised (all of the americans were surprised), but it seemed to be completely natural. And you only have to be 18 to drink here. Thats probably why a lot of Americans come here.
It was shocking to a lot of people that I don't drink. One of the resident supervisor guys took us out to town last night to go to some of the local bars and clubs, but he took us to his house for a few drinks first. I got a sprite. I mean I wasn't the only one not drinking alcohol, but it was funny the way Mike (the RA) treated me at first. When I said I didn't want anything he came up to me and asked what i wanted again, he even stooped down (I was sitting) and asked me, like he was sorry for me or something. I mean I really don't have a problem with drinking, but I do have a problem with getting drunk, and thats the main reason they drink here. But I must say I had a really good time hanging out with them. Only a couple of the guys got drunk (including Mike) but me and Kestrel and a couple of the other girsl kind of stuck together and hung out. Kestrel isn't really a big partier or drinker either, so thats good.
Kestrel and I actually had a really good conversation over lunch yesterday. She was asking me about my religion and about what I believed. (She doesn't really know what she believes in yet). So anyway it was really cool, and different, for me to talk to someone who really doesn't have a clue what Christianity is. Every time I would say something, she would ask what I meant by it. Like she didn't undertand what "following Jesus" meant or what "conviction" meant. So I really got to explain about who Jesus is and what he's done for me and my family. She was really curious and thought it was really interesting.
Right now I'm just trying to be a good example of a Christian. I haven't met anyone else yet who is a Christian, and honestly I'm scared of everyone else rubbing off on me. I mean I want them to impact me in a lot of ways, but not in the ways that will compromise who I am in Christ, who God wants me to be.
So I guess those are the high points of whats going on over here. School starts Monday. Scary. They teach a lot different here. We'll see how it goes. I'll keep you posted. I love you guys!