My mentor, Wes, told us it would take one month before the newness of our surroundings would give way to the extent that the problems of everyday life would make their normal appearances again. He was right. What this means for us, I think, is that even though we’re in our little corner of sheep-covered paradise on a small island way down in the south Pacific, busyness has found us. The lack of new pictures in the last month on our camera is proof!
WHAT HAVE WE BEEN DOING since our last post (way back on Feb 18)?? Tons of stuff! Just not the kinds of things you see people doing in New Zealand in travel magazines. Normal life has resumed, and then some. Still, it’s New Zealand, and sometimes we wake up to views like this:
One of the major themes of the past month has been that of Steph going full-time for a 5 week work project. We’ve been so thankful that she has been able to bring her job with her to New Zealand. A few other PhD students’ spouses had a pretty difficult time finding a job when they first arrived since, as a university town, Dunedin is so saturated with people looking for jobs, so it’s been wonderful she didn’t have to go through that process. Also, knowing we had Steph’s job for a certain number of hours took a lot of the guess work out of what we could and could not afford while settling into life here. Most of all, though, I think the job has made the transition much much easier than it otherwise would have been for her, simply because there was fluency and familiarity in how she spent her time each week and didn’t have to learn a new work system. It’s been such a gift!
For my part, it’s been very good to get into a regular schedule of researching full-time. Soon this will translate into writing, but for now it’s hours and hours of reading and thinking. It can be pretty abstract. Below are some pictures taken on one of the walks we took after the workday. The trail took us very high on the hill to the south of our house and provided some pretty beautiful views.
One of the absolutely astounding things that you just have to experience to understand is how much difference a sunny day makes here. I would say the average temperature during our time here has been somewhere in the ballpark of 62 or so degrees. What’s crazy is how warm or cold it is indoors, depending on whether the sun is out. If you have two days that are both 60 degrees and on the first day it is sunny, we’ll probably get close to 70 inside. But, if it’s 60 outdoors and cloudy, we’ll easily be down to 60 degrees or less indoors (in summer!!).
There have certainly been some days that it is warmer outdoors than indoors, and we’ve learned to bundle up with multiple layers (and sometimes scarfs and gloves) while working. (Again, in summer!!) Occasionally, when we see that our neighbors have started a fire, we’ll fire up the wood stove.
The past 3 weeks in particular have been very social for us. We’ve had a number of good friends over for dinner. We’ve even had our first visitors from the states! Back in August (or Sept…) we met a really neat couple in the Denver area who said they were going on a tour of NZ in March. It was so good that we were able to connect with them while they had an overnight in Dunedin. Here’s a picture of Hap and Judy:
One funny story that came out of the time involved Leonard. Leonard is an elderly gentleman from England who was traveling around NZ on Hap and Judy’s tour with his daughter before visiting his grandson. Hap and Judy said Leonard had become somewhat of a popular fellow on the tour; people were always hopping up to help him up and down steps and such. To make a long story short, it turns out Leonard had traveled all the way from Britain, and was touring with our friends from Denver, to visit his grandson in NZ, who happened to be our neighbor, Tony. At the very moment we put all this together, I looked up and saw Tony smiling and waving at us from the bar area of the random, downtown hotel we were at. Dunedin is a small place. Here’s the really cool part: Leonard is 93. 93 and traveling to (almost literally in his case) the complete opposite side of the globe to visit his grandson. That’s cool.
It’s been back to real life, with colds, coughs and car troubles. But it’s still been a blast. Here’s a couple pictures of the train station and a train ride I was able to go on as part of my ‘new student orientation’.
And this week we had the chance to go see the NZ national soccer team (the All Whites) play against New Caledonia. It was the first time the All Whites played a game in Dunedin for 25 years, and it was fun that it was a world cup qualifier. I can’t imagine a scenario in which we’d get to see a game of this magnitude in the States and only pay $15 for the tickets! The game climaxed with a winning goal in extra time that sent NZ through to the next round. A good time was had by all.