I don’t know how Auckland became one of the most livable cities in the world, but living here as an international student, to me, has been a battle every single day.
Everything is expensive in Auckland, even a far cry from many European cities I’ve been to. Rent is more than 200 bucks per week (not per month) for a tiny single room in a suburb that takes me nearly two hours to commute both ways. Groceries cost me another hundred each week (I cook everyday). I also have to pay $210 for a monthly bus/train pass (how terrible the public transport here is another story). Oh, and sportswear, can you imagine paying $600 for a travel rain jacket?
To some extent it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to live without a car in Auckland. Supermarkets won’t deliver for most of the stuffs you buy. One time I moved to an unfurnished room in Mt Wellington and really needed to get something to sleep on. Since delivery wasn’t an option, my boyfriend and I ended up carrying mattress, pillows and bedding sheets all the way home for nearly two kilometers. When he left a few days later, it was just me wrestling with furniture shopping.
Auckland suburbs aren’t really pedestrian-friendly. I can make a long list of roads and intersections without zebra crossings, but the Panmure roundabout near my home is the worst. Trucks and cars would approach from God knows how many lanes, so either I risk my life crossing the terrifying traffic or waiting for the drivers’ mercy. In fact, I already gave up taking trains at the Panmure station after the very first time walking through that deadly intersection.
It’s never easy to live abroad especially when I come from a socially and politically different country that’s still dependent on ODA sources. But this unexpected culture shock made me question myself and my adaptability. Have I really grown up after surviving all those years of stressful work and five months in Europe?