Days Abroad: 3
Whew, what a whirlwind of three days! Day 1 was mostly spent on the airplane and transiting from Houston to Austin. I have done a fair few longhaul flights and this one was for sure the easiest one so far – flying Air New Zealand was an absolute breeze. Both Mother Bear and I arrived feeling rested and fresh; which was just as well because we only arrived in Austin 8 hours after landing. The whole atmosphere that we have experienced in the South is so laid-back; the airport was not a stressful place, everyone and anyone are up for a chat and are so friendly and helpful!
Clearing immigration was pretty straightforward, it just took a long time due to the sheer mass amount of people that needed processing and Mother Bear and I having to go through to separate lines due to travelling on different visas. I was quite apprehensive about immigration and customs due to Border Patrol and all the bad reports about flying into the States, but from our experience at IAH it was all so easy! All the systems work (in contrast to O.R.Tambo) and all you need to do is ensure that you have the correct paperwork on you. Mother Bear just needed her ESTA form and passport and I needed my passport and DS-2019 form (the infamous letter that I spent about 3 months stressing about).
We (somewhat foolishly) decided to drive from Houston to Austin in an attempt to see some of the country and to avoid doing three back-to-back flights. Unfortunately, with processing and getting our rental car taking four hours, most of sunlight hours that we had bargained to be on the road were gone and we drove in the dark most of the way. But the drive was pleasant, even in peak traffic, and allowed us time to process the massive size and scale of things here – everything genuinely is bigger in Texas!
Wednesday was spent navigating our way around Austin, shopping at Target, setting me up on a phone network and attending the UT v OSU men’s basketball game! I was in absolute heaven, getting to watch a game live after following NCAA basketball on t.v. for the last eight-odd years was amazing! For two directionally challenged individuals, Mother Bear and I are doing really well with finding our way around. It really helps that the locals are so patient on the road and very helpful and friendly elsewhere.
Today we moved me into my room at my hostel, explored campus a bit and went to hand in my paperwork at the Allergy & Immunisation Center. Judging from all the international students around me, it really pays to have all the immunisations and the TB Screening done before you go; it meant that it took me all of five minutes to have my medical bar lifted from my profile and saved me more paperwork, hassle and waiting around on this side.
Overall, Austin has a great feeling to it and I am so looking forward to the year, although I definitely miss the vibrant colours of Aotearoa already! I had a late night coffee last night and forgot to order decaf… As a result I am highly sleep deprived on top of the jetlag. So, I will include more details in my next post, for now enjoy some photos!