If you don’t already know my name is Abby and I'm in my fourth month on placement in North Island, New Zealand. I thought a good topic to touch on would be how to deal with time difference and the challenges that come with being ahead of everyone at home.
Home away from home
First arriving in New Zealand my flight got into the airport mid-day which at first, I believed that was the best time to arrive because I would be able to see my house for the first time. A Bath student at the placement currently collected us from the airport and we went home being greeted by the placement organiser who we had been emailing all our questions to before getting here. Not having to worry about more travel allowed for instant comfort. We also weren't alone and could ask questions if we had any. However, it soon hit me that I hadn't slept more than 3 hours in the last 24 hours and staying up till at least 8pm was going to be a long shot. So, I would aim to arrive at 4/5pm or in the middle of the night so it's dark and you will be able to sleep more easily.
Being welcomed by the staff at our placement
We were very fortunate to already have a very good network of people that could help us get settled and show us round our home area. The first place we went to being the shopping centre to get some food because the airplane food is not anything worth telling people about. The next week was a hard one to get through. It's hard to tell when you are tired, hungry or wanting to get up and move when you have jetlag. It was helpful going through the same feelings as 5 other people. We kept ourselves busy by exploring our local beaches over the first weekend. One tip would also be to try and get your eating schedule back to normal since you are training yourself to eat in the middle of the night essentially.
Our work organised a mihi whakatau the day after we arrived which is a welcome in Māori where we had to introduce ourselves and then meet all the staff members of Harbour sport and our managers for the first time. Then food (kai) was brought out as a process of showing respect and care. In my next blog I will go into more detail of the Te Ao Māori. This allowed us as a group to take in the fact that we were here, and it was the start of our year in New Zealand. It was an awesome experience to be welcomed into Aotearoa.
Settling in period
Our work gave us total freedom for the first month which allowed us to organise our own meetings with all the project team managers and all the different sections of the company for example Heathy Active Learning, GRX, Coaching, Activasian, Women and Girls, Pacifica and loads more. Any area that we were interested in we could go along to the events and meetings. This flexibility was weird since we had come straight from second year at university which was full on with presentations and assignments. Doing what we wanted to do was new and exciting.
Video calls from home
First arriving we had less things happening as we were all trying to find our feet so calling home was the top of the priority list. Updating friends and family about anything new that was occurring. Now with work being busier and events coming up in the next few weeks finding the time to call home is more difficult. I would suggest setting up a time every week when you have scheduled to call and check in. For my family I send photos every few days of anything funny or just random daily life snapshots because they like to know. With my friends I usually send voice messages asking how they are and use apps like Bereal and Instagram to keep up to date with anything that goes on. I have also called them in the middle of the day NZ time because they are coming back from nights out and it is always funny to be at the other end. A few of the girls do newsletters to send to grandparents of photos and little diary entries of funny memories for families to know the little details.
Building a friendship group whilst being aboard
With the 6 of us already not knowing each other we had to get used to our own company and living with new people again. It felt a bit like a dulled down version of freshers. Being together it’s quite hard to branch out again but a good chance for us to meet new people is by doing sport and getting on well with work colleagues. We have also been very fortunate to work in the same office as 3 other Bath students doing a Volleyball New Zealand placement and 6 doing a placement at AUT. We get on really well with them and have done a few group trips to Rangitoto and Piha. Two of them also live with 3 kiwis who have been showing us around and joining us on our day trips to new waterfalls and beaches.
General Day to day
To help with the complete flip of life is trying to keep a sleep schedule when you first arrive. You must try and force yourself to stay up and then sleep at a normal time to get your body into the mix. What helped me settle in was getting into a fitness routine straight away. I started looking for a sport team to join and I landed with in the social volleyball league for the winter season from July to September. This was every Wednesday which kept me accountable. I was consistent at the gym for a bit however I enjoy hiking and exploring outdoors more so most Sundays as a group we try and get a good walk in by finding a new place to go see.