HELLO.

…from the other side (of the world). Thanks Adele. You da bomb dot com.

Fun fact of the day: the store titles here are straightforward.

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Case in point.

Dad would hate it here. (Sorry Dad, let me clarify). He isn’t a fan of waiting, especially when it comes to using those crosswalk signals. Rather than just pushing the button (am I the only one who needs to push it more than once?), Dad likes to ignore it and just continue walking. The thing is, it’s really not safe to do that here in Auckland.

On another, somewhat similar note: everything is backwards from what I’m used to back at home. People drive on the right side of the car. I wonder if they can sometimes turn left on red lights when it’s safe, and if the carpool lane is on the right side of the freeway.

After moving our luggage into the Kiwi International Hotel, we went on a stroll on Queen St (the main street that has anything and everything) and then had out first ISA session about getting accustomed to life in NZ.

Evan, Andrew, Alex, and I decided on some pizza after trying to find a not so expensive Thai place. Then we walked back to the hotel, but not before stopping at the nearby park.

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Played some giant Connect 4 (sorry for your losses, Evan & Andrew). It’s called 4 In A Row here, go figure.

We had our first Marae experience! A Marae is being officially welcomed into New Zealand by the native Maori. We went to the AUT Marae temple and Jason was the Maori man who welcomed us in. At first, he said everything in Maori, so we didn’t understand a word of what he was saying, but then he explained the meaning behind what he said. It was pouring when we walked in, and Jason said that rain is a sign of good luck. He also told us that the song he had sung to us was the song they only sing to students who graduated, as a sign of what’s to come. He also mentioned that we better graduate now. He’s a pretty funny fellow.

We were on the bus ride from the airport to Auckland that we had to sing a song at the Marae, and we picked Hakuna Matata. Jason said that was the first time that song had been sung in that temple. (I don’t know if you can call what we did singing, but yep, that’s what we did).

Then we hongi’d and had a hangi. A hongi is a traditional Maori greeting where you meet your forehead and nose with the other person. It reminds me of an eskimo kiss minus the moving. A hangi is the traditional dinner that’s cooked underground, mine specifically was vegetables.

After we were officially welcomed in, Jason taught us how to speak some Maori. Whanau (pronounced FAH-no) means family. I really liked learning about the Maori culture and the meaning behind why they do what they do. I’ll definitely be coming back to the temple, it’s peaceful and relaxing.

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