It wasn’t until hours later when we were visiting the Dunedin Public Library that we realized just how horrible that little vibration had been. People were crowded closely around a small television set, grimly watching as a teary-eyed reporter tried to shout over the noise from a nearby burning building. The images showed emergency personnel desperately trying to evacuate those who were trapped inside.
As we stood for a moment of silence at our international orientation meeting this morning, I realized how much of an outsider I was. This awful event was bringing New Zealanders together from all over the country, and while I can sympathize with the situation and also shed tears over the fallen buildings and lives lost, it’s just not the same. I wondered if this is how international visitors in the U.S. felt during Hurricane Katrina or even 9/11. Any human being can understand and participate in the waves of shock and sadness that follow such devastating events - but as a foreigner, there’s still a sense of detachment. It’s like attending the funeral of a friend of a friend. You can offer condolences and hugs, but mostly you just stand in the back and watch sadly as those who really knew the deceased mourn and lean on each other for support.
My heart goes out to those affected by the earthquakes of the past six months, and I was glad to learn that the University of Otago will be offering support and relief services to refugees and those on campus who knew someone in the Christchurch area.
On a much lighter note, I have also attached several pictures from my adventures around Dunedin during the past few days. My flatmates and I have slowly been locating the necessary things - like the grocery and thrift stores. It’s amazing that I can find just about everything I need within a twenty-minute walking radius - as opposed to the thirty-minute driving radius I have at home. It’s been a joy learning my way around and I’m glad to get my bearings before the culture shock sets in too heavy :)
[Ducks in the Botanical Gardens - a small reminder of home]
[Fresh strawberries that I found at the Farmer’s Market (YUM) and eggs from the grocery store - which they don’t refrigerate. Odd]
[Path through the Botanical Gardens which I take to get to the nearest grocery store - sorry for the sideways view]
[Also Botanical Gardens - specifically the rose garden]
[The Monkey Bar - officially the first nightclub I’ve ever visited. Of course it was in a church...]
[My UniFlat on Leith St. which I share with my five flatmates]
[The pretty path I take to campus, just a three minute walk away]
More to come! Once I get them off of my friend’s camera, that is...