The first thing I noticed as I walked outside, a thing I always take care to note when I arrive in a foreign country, was the smell. Where India smelled of jasmine spices and humidity, New Zealand's scent is dominated by the sea, with undertones of loam and green plants and the faint perfume of flowers. After taking in the smell, I spent some time admiring the trees we drove past, further evidence beyond the accent of those around me that the long wait was over and I was actually, finally, in New Zealand. Many of the trees are scraggly, with wizened trunks and branches and crowned with tufts of greenery. Some of my favorites are the massive fern trees, several of which grow in my host family's back yard.
There are still a few things I am getting used to. Taps turn on the other way, lights flick down to go on instead of up. Most of all, though, I still have a visceral nervousness about driving on the left side of the road. Everything is fine until we go to turn the corner or go around a roundabout. Then, suddenly, years of enculturation kick in and I want to clutch at the window of the passenger seat as my mother does when I take corners too fast. I was really excited to try Fish 'n' Chips, a New Zealand specialty, but found it to be a bit too greasy and a bit too fishy for my tastes. (One would think I would have seen that latter one coming a long way off...) Finally, the bakeries are amazing! What an assortment of savory snacks, unlimited to sweets as bakeries in the states tend to be.That will be a hard readjustment to make.
More later. I love everybody back home and I'm already missing you terribly. I thought I wouldn't notice my homesickness for a while, that the excitement would keep it at bay, but no such luck. I am excited, and I am having a wonderful time, but I already can't wait to see everyone again. Hugs to everybody!!