I am officially in Dunedin! (And, still trying to figure out if the proper pronunciation is Dun-EE-din... I referred to it as DUNE-i-din before I left, but that was just plain ol' wrong.)
I was pretty sure I wasn't even going to bother unpacking my bags after I arrived; turning right around to go back to New York seemed perfectly reasonable. That is, until we started to land and I finally caught a glimpse of Dunedin for the first time.
This place is a masterpiece. I really can't put into words how beautiful the mountains are - tall and soft looking, yet covered with scratchy patches of evergreens, hugged by the ocean on one side. I've been trying to figure out what this place smells like, too. The humidity is crazy. I think I'm just adjusting to so much moisture in the air, but I can't help but wonder... is this what the air smells like when it's... clean? Is there that much of a lack of smog and other pollutants that is smells differently?
And guess what else? The people here are as kind and generous as I've heard. The tales of random acts of kindness committed by kiwis are not just a legend after all.
You see, I passed by dozens of opportunities to exchange my U.S. Benjamins for some cold hard kiwi cash. But, each time I passed the foreign currency exchange kiosks I reasoned that I would stop at one later. In Auckland, I found my departing gate to Dunedin and figured there was enough time to go back to the exchange that I passed before we started boarding. A 'no re-entry' sign to that part of the airport put the kibosh on my plan, however. So, when I arrived in Dunedin I asked the older gentleman at the information desk where to change over my money because I needed to pay for the taxi to take me to campus. He explained that they didn't have any currency exchange kiosks, BUT he was planning on going on "holiday" to the U.S. and would be happy to go to an ATM to take out enough New Zealand dollars to match the exchange rate for the American dollars I would give him. Sweeeeeeeeeet!
Now, I'm settled into my room, I set up a bank account and I started getting the ball rolling on some paperwork I need to get a student ID (read: a means of getting a user name and password so that I can have internet in my room). After dinner I will be off to La La Land to make up for the serious lack of sleep I've experienced lately. More to come!
Here are some pictures... don't know what they are, but I'll hope you admire them nonetheless...