I made it! Hello new home sweet home, New Zealand. It’ll be a while until I actually get to call this place home, since my semester won’t actually start until mid-February. But for now I’m staying with a lovely family (thanks for the hook up, okaa-san) and it feels homey. My flight got in to Auckland a bit early at 11ish, and I got through customs and biosecurity with ease. I was worried about my precious wooden spoons but alas, I had nothing to fear. Until then I got to hang out with okaa-san and friends until they left an hour before me at 2. She’s actually going to spend Friday night in Wellington, which means I get to see her again! It also stopped me from my usual teary breakdown, which was a super plus. She did manage to go out in style though; as we said goodbye and hugged and she started walking off, I hear her freaking out, “Oh, kawaii! So cute, Liz, look Liz! So cute!” and I have no idea what it is. Alas, there’s a white baby sprawled out wiggling on the floor.
Now in a post ages ago, I believe I mentioned our battle of who’s cuter, Japanese or white babies. As an already non-fan of small creatures, this wasn’t easy. But god I have seen so many ugly, lumpy, wack-eyed white babies and so few weird Japanese babies that I’m a fan of the latter. Okaa-san, on the other hand, finds white babies cute af and thinks poorly of Japanese babies, citing her own son as an example (whew, that’s gotta hurt). So after she called me over to the cute thing she said, “Look at the baby!” in english before switching to Japanese for the “see Liz, it’s a white baby. I told you they’re always cute, I mean look at it! Way cuter than Japanese babies”. Ugh, fine, it was cute but nothing special. To make it more fun, the woman with the kid just looked happy but confused. I don’t think it helped when I conversationally/explanatorily told her “it’s cute” as I walked away. Skizzles from Liz, always off-point. Sigh.
I had about 30 minutes of down time after that, where I was happy to find that despite sucking in Japan, my cell service is back on track here. So while I still can’t make calls or anything, more internet access is always a good thing. Then it was plane time, snooze time and alas, I woke up in Wellington! When I got off the plane I scanned around for the family who’s looking after me now, but I didn’t see them. Turns out they were waiting just at the gate, but I had a hat covering most of my blond hair and they weren’t sure it was me. They found me at the baggage carousel though, where they loaded my luggage on a cart and drove me to their home. The mother also did a lovely job of pointing out hotspots and cool buildings in town, which was a nice view to get as we made our way through the center of the city.
Their home is absolutely gorgeous, and they’re the nicest people ever. The father brought my bags up for me, and I got to shower (adios, plane grossness) before a lovely home-cooked dinner of oyakodon, which is Japanese and tasted like I was back with okaa-san and otou-san, ahaha it was so nice. The dish is also in Korean culture, even if it has a different name (I’m not sure that it does), which is a fun fact I didn’t know! There was also home-prepped kimchi and miso soup (they’re Korean kiwis and super cultural explorers!!). All so delicious, plus cookies-n-cream ice cream with lychee for dessert. Oh man it was so nice, they’re so nice, everything is just dandy!
We also got chatting about a lot of fun and random things, like international politics, the goods and bads of capitalism, the globalization of the world, the prominence and reception of Spanish language/culture in America . . . it was just a loaded night. I really liked it. Sophia, the family’s daughter who okaa-san had taught Japanese to when she stayed here with them as a school teacher a decade or so ago, is also awesome. Tomorrow we’re going to a Duolingo Bar, where you write your languages and name on a name tag then go mingle. It’s like the app come to life and sounds freakin’ cool! She’s also excited to learn about American culture (she’s never been) and I’m more than happy to hear about Kiwi culture, so I think this is the start of something beautiful. She was also just super excited for me to come and hugged me when she got home, so that was a really nice welcome on top of her parent’s kindness. I’m in bed now ready to pass out, so thanks for reading and I’ll keep you updated.