Countdown: 14 days until departure

on June 29, 2010


Only two weeks to go until I'm sitting on a plane on my way to New Zealand. Time for another ABC with all kind of thoughts that cross my mind when thinking of that new phase of my life...

A - adventure: I've been away from home before even for longer period of times. Yet this time it's different because I don't really have anything I need to come back to at a certain point. There is no school or uni to be finished. As every new thing in life this timeout will be an adventure because I have no idea what it's going to be like. And above all - I have absolutely no idea what's coming next. Anything can happen. Everything is open. Let's do this =D

B - bank account: Got one in Germany which is completely free of charge and comes with a free visa card. Check out DKB - Deutsche Kreditbank. You can even get cash at ATMs workdwide for free. Still I'll need another account in New Zealand for my monthly pocket money as an aupair and taxes and such... Will probably chose ANZ bank because they cooperate with DKB.

C - Clima: Very different depending on what island you're on. It'll be winter when I'm arriving and compared to our winters the NZ ones are more moderate. At least in the north. The average temperature in the north will be 15 degrees celsius while in the south it's more like 5 degrees celsius. During summer time the north reaches temperatures around 20 degrees, the south is more like 15. And it usually rains a lot expecially in the winter.

D - Dollar: NZ's currency is the NZ dollar which currently equals 0.57 Euros so prices are always a little more than half of that amount in Euros. Easy to calculate :-)

E - Elizabeth II.: She is the Queen of New Zealand and therefore the country's head of state. NZ is still a constitutional monarchy - but with a parliamentary democracy. The Queen rarely ever plays an important role in daily politics. Those decisions are made by the NZ government. However Elizabeth II. still has a symbolic and ceremonial character.

F - Flight: It'll take 30 hours to get from Frankfurt (Germany) via Sydney (Australia) to Auckland (NZ). I'll be taking Quantas, the renowned Australian airline, and had to pay 1370 Euros including a rail ticket in Germany. The ticket is valid one year and I can chose myself what day I want to return to Germany.

After one night in Auckland it's on to Whangarei with Air New Zealand which takes about half an hour and cost me another 50 Euros. Fares for this trip vary a lot so check schedules for cheap flights.

G - guide book: As always the Lonely Planet is my absolute favorite. Haven't been able to read the one for NZ yet but will start doing so on the plane. Plenty of time to spend anyway :-)

H - holidays: NZ has typical Christian holidays such as Xmas and Easter. Special for NZ (and Australia) is Anzac Day on April 25th which is a commemoration for those who died in the service of their country. Very significant also is Waitangi Day celebrated on February 6th in memory of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document, in 1840.

I - internet: My host family has internet but I don't know yet how regular I'll be able to go online. I'm hoping for once a day at least for a quick check for emails. Also will have Skype so if you do too and want to keep in touch let me know your nickname.

J - job: With the Working Holiday Visa I'll be working as an aupair in Whangarei on the North Island. I found Pia and her family via the website newaupair.com. We exchanged a few emails, talked on Skype - and very soon decided it was a match. July 15 I'll be arriving at their farm where I'll be taking care of their two kids Lukas (4) and Eliza (6).

I've always wanted to work as an aupair. Twice in my life I had found myself a family and made arrangements, but something always messed up my plans. First it was the delayed letter from uni, then the surprising job offer. This time, however, it's all definite.

K - Kiwi: What comes to your mind first when you hear that word? Let's say the Kiwi is the national symbol of New Zealand. There are so many things a Kiwi can be - the yummy fruit that of course grows in NZ. It's also a bird - endemic to NZ - that has the size of a chicken and - watch this - can't fly! But "kiwi" is also simply the term for New Zealand's people.

L - Luggage: A backpack with 23 kilogramms isn't a lot. I'm still trying to figure out what I really DO need and what I can buy in NZ or don't need at all. How many pair of shoes? How many jackets, trousers, sweaters...? Heavy stuff will be put in hand luggage. Same goes for camera, laptop, ...

M - Maori: The indigenous people of New Zealand. Obviously there are more of them on the North Island so I should be able to get to know a lot about their culture in the first few months. They still have their own language which besides English is an official language in NZ. But I was told not that many people still speak it. The best-known phrase is "Kia Ora" which means "hello".

N - National Anthem: It's called "God defend New Zealand" and there are two versions - the English and - of course - the Maori one.

O - on foot: NZ is a country that yearns to be explored hiking. There are hundreds of walking trails ranging from a few hours to a few days. Do the Abel Tasman Coast Track along sheltered beaches and craggy cliffs or enjoy the panoramic views while doing the Milford Track (Lonely Planet). It's all up to you.

P - Population: There are four million people living in NZ. So you could fit all New Zealanders into Berlin. How freaky is that? After all the country is 270.000 squaremeters big. Both islands combined it stretches about 1600 kilometers from north to south - just as "long" as Germany is. As for the people - one in seven claims to be Maori.

Q - quakes: New Zealand once belonged to Gondwana, the "ancient continent". Today it's right between the Australian and Pacific plate and NZ belongs to the so called pacific "Ring of Fire" which leads to earthquakes (15.000 a year but only 150 of them are noticable) and volcanic activities. NZ has twelve fields with tons of active volcanoes. Mount Ngauruhoe is the one that was used as Mt. Doom in "Lord of the Rings".

R - Rugby: Number 1 sports in NZ. The "All Blacks" are probably the best team in the world even though they have only won he World Cup once in 1987 - it was the first World Cup by the Rugby Union hosted by NZ and Australia. Yet their balance is positive no matter against what national team they have played. The next Rugby World Cup will be hosted in NZ from September to October 2011. I don't know much about the rules yet but I'm defnitely going to learn - and maybe I'll try the game myself?

S - sheep: Yeah, we all know the funny jokes about kiwis and their sheep. But in fact there used to be 20 sheep for each New Zealander. Now it's only 12 sheep for one islander.

T - travel: New Zealand has always been on the list of places I wanted to travel to. The landscape is beautiful - not only after the "Lord of the Rings" was filmed there. Here you will find anything from green meadows to glaciers, fjords and sandy beaches, geysers, volcanoes, rainforest, mountains... I can't imagine someone not wanting to explore those beauties of our earth.

U - unique: Not only the landscape is stunning. Probably hundreds of animals are unique to New Zealand. You won't find them anywhere else. Also New Zealand doesn’t have any snakes, scorpions, bears, wild cats or crocodiles. There are spiders but none that can do lethal harm.

V - Visa: To get a Working Holiday Visa you have to apply online. More Information here.

W - Whangarei: The district I'm going to be living in while working as an aupair. Whangarei has about 70.000 people and belongs to the area northeast of Auckland called Northland. Its coastline is approx. 200 kilometers long. The area is known for its beautiful beaches and therefore a favorite spot for surfers. The must-dos include the picturesque Whangarei Falls and the Wildlife Gardens. Keith Urban, musician and husband of Nicole Kidman, is from that district!

X - X-perience: The year ahead will definitely be life-altering. Leaving the shelter of a secured working position, leaving your friends and family and everything you have behind will contribute to becoming more independent, mature and maybe even a little wiser. These experiences are something nobody can take away from you.

Y - yearning: I've always felt it, that urge to travel, to explore the world, get to know different cultures and different countries, meet new people. Couldn't stand it any longer which was part of the reason why I decided to take this step in the first place.

Z - (time) zone: New Zealand is close to the international date line and one of the first places on earth to start the new day. The time difference between Germany and NZ varies from ten to twelve hours depending on what country has daylight daving's time.

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