Written by Julia Franquesa ’18
This blog post is written in response to Julia’s fall 2017 3-week trip to New Zealand with Professors Acacia Parks and Douglas Brattebo.
As we traveled to each New Zealand city throughout our journey, I couldn’t help but notice the shocking differences between them. It is as if you step out of one world and enter another, becoming immersed in what seems to be a completely different community.
One of the things I first notice when comparing the cities is the drastic difference in architecture. Granted, that such differences can be allotted to location, but it also reflects the character of each individual location. Auckland for instance, held our gaze with tall skyscrapers and shiny buildings, a bustling city that sometimes seemed to have no rhyme or reason in terms of its inhabitants. It was a great melting pot of people from a variety of ethnicities, with a large chunk of the population being tourists. Personally, I found it to be a bit too chaotic, making it difficult to notice the smaller details of the city. I felt as though I was stunned and distracted by Auckland when we first arrived, not yet truly feeling like I was in New Zealand.
Wellington was a surprisingly different city, and I must say I enjoyed it more than Auckland. While it also had a multitude of buildings, they were plainer and less eye catching than the skyscrapers from Auckland. It was less modern and had some finer details in terms of architecture; buildings had intricate etchings and I found my eyes to be more easily drawn in by the sights. Unfortunately, we didn’t spend much time in Wellington so I don’t feel as though I was able to truly experience the city.
Christchurch had perhaps the most drastic difference of any of the cities we visited, and while this may be in part to the earthquake they suffered 6 years ago, I believe another reason is that the community itself is quite different. The South Island was more rural and the cities were less engrained in tourism, holding a stronger focus on their inhabitants. A majority of Christchurch were houses and restaurants, clearly attempting to increase in population. The inner city itself was still heavily under construction, but one could still see the light in the re–growing city. A passion and pride of Christchurch lives on stronger than ever, and as such this location felt less like a city and more like a smaller town with a strong sense of community.
Lastly, Dunedin was a bit of an oddity when it came to a comparison to the other cities. Its buildings were not extremely tall or modern like Auckland, but they also lacked the finer details like what was found in Wellington. It was a city that fell somewhere in between, and while it seemed as equally strong in community as Christchurch there was a definite focus on tourism as well as its own inhabitants. To me, Dunedin seemed to be the happy medium between all the key aspects of the cities we visited. While seemingly hectic at times, I like the fact that we moved a lot throughout the entire study abroad trip as it allowed us to experience many aspects of New Zealand. Every location we visited was different and I believe that if we had not traveled as much as we did, then we would never have been able to regard our visit as experiencing the whole country, but rather only as part of New Zealand.