New Year, New… Zealand?

They say you should ‘begin as you mean to go on’, so when I found myself at the airport on January 1st I couldn’t help but think that I was starting the year perfectly. I’m one of the very few lucky people to have a ‘month off’ from their year abroad and I say that in inverted commas because the year abroad is basically one giant holiday so it’s not like any of us NEED a break. Still, the opportunity to speak English guilt-free for a whole month in New Zealand was one that I wouldn’t be turning down any time soon!

In case any of you don’t know, my Dad recently landed a job in Dunedin as a doctor and a university lecturer and moved out here around about the same time that I left for Russia. Although it was a big transition, we were all supportive of the change mainly because we now have a New Zealand holiday home for the next few years! Oh and ‘cause my Dad scored his dream job… yeah, that too… 😉

Got my Papadum back!

Papadum excelling in his new habitat

The one thing that I wasn’t prepared for was the length of the journey. I mean, I knew it would be long but I had no idea that it would be 2 whole days long. This was our itinerary:

✈ Birmingham -> Dubai –> Bangkok –> Sydney –> Christchurch –> Dunedin

Luckily, we were able to fly business class as my Dad’s work covered some of the costs and this made our lives 10 times easier. To top it all off, we flew with Emirates so you can only imagine how luxurious the experience was! There’s champagne on tap, world cuisine served on fancy plates, fully flat beds, huge TV’s with gadgets and free designer products on each flight. Plus, there’s a complimentary chauffeur service from your house to the airport and you can relax in the lounges between each flight – Living the dream!

I am a huge fan of flying and I’ve never had a problem with standard economy class (I’ve even been known to take the limited space in my stride by falling asleep on strangers laps) but I must admit, this was the best in-flight experience I have ever had and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity. Still, business class or not, I doubt New Zealand will be a country that I’m visiting regularly on a student budget… Why oh why is it so far away?!

Livin' the high life

I’m so fancyyyyy

Upon arrival in Dunedin, the first thing that I noticed was the landscape. It’s just green and blue… EVERYWHERE. Mountains and hills and rivers and lakes and streams and sky – it’s so beautiful and this was just the area by the airport! My Dad has a great apartment in Roslyn (with a terrace! – My inner sunbathing goddess is rejoicing) and it’s just a 5 minute drive from the city centre – win, win.

Drive home from the airport

A gorgeous drive home from the airport

So far, I don’t have a lot of interesting stories to tell due to the fact that I spent my first 4 days here with my head in a bucket, dosed up on medication and resting in bed. I think it was my body screaming, ‘SLOW DOWN AND GIVE ME A BREAK!’. I’ve been living out of a suitcase since June, changing my diet and lifestyle routine drastically every month and being subjected to all sorts of different climates/conditions so it was bound to happen sooner or later. Luckily, I’m totally recovered now and ready to start exploring.

I have made a pact with my parents to take it easy, though. Some downtime away from being social 24/7, staying out late, stressing about uni work, trying to memorise Russian vocabulary etc. etc. All I want is good music, good books, good views, good people and some sunshine 🌞 and New Zealand seems to be the perfect place to do just that – I’m so grateful!

Kinda hard not to relax with this on your doorstep!

Kinda hard not to relax with this on your doorstep!

On the same topic, I also attempted a (sort of) ‘digital detox’ when I got home from Russia. Instagram and Facebook are my guilty pleasures BUT I did delete Snapchat, Twitter, Whatsapp and WordPress hoping that I would spend more minutes of my day being present and less of them glued to my phone screen…

This explains why these posts have only just appeared on my blog. I didn’t stop writing; I just used the old school pen and paper method for a while and thought that I could type them up later. So, that’s what I’m doing right now on a lazy afternoon in the sun… it’s actually quite therapeutic! I do apologise for being away for so long, especially to the people who regularly check back here to find out what I’ve been up to. Have no fear, my monthly updates will resume now, especially because I have some awesome travel plans for the year ahead… so stay tuned!

In other news, my Dad has just created a Facebook account. It’s all very new to him and he hasn’t quite grasped the concept of it yet. These are my favourite Manju quotes so far:

‘I can’t accept this person as a friend. We are just acquaintances. We just worked together for a few years, I don’t think we are friends. Shall I decline them?’

‘Why is this laughing smiley face crying? Is it happy or sad?’

‘Why have you tagged me in this photo? I know that it is me in the picture you don’t need to tell me.’

‘What is all this nonsense on my screen? Why are people posting constant updates about what they’re doing?’

Um, Dad… that’s kind of the point.

Being educated in the art of Facebook

Being educated in the art of Facebook

So, he may still have a way to go but maybe this can inspire us all to take up something new this year? Photography, mandarin lessons, yoga, banjo playing or even something as simple as connecting with family over social media… We’ve got the world at our feet! 2015 – Are you ready?

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