Days two and three of our Dunedin adventure were very smooth. I spent some time in the International Student Office filing some paperwork, got our lease signed and paid for, and had a chance to meet with Dan Bendrups to talk about their department and what I’ll be doing for the next six months. After a grand tour of the facilities we got spent an hour talking about my Ph.d. proposal, and the possibility of changing the topic to something more related to my interest – Hawaiian language and its significance to Hawaiian music. While my proposal was to research the change in transmission modality of k?k? k? h?‘alu (Hawaiian slack key guitar), Dan was very open to my changing it as the significance of the Rapanui language to Rapanui music is also a research interest of his, and we seem to agree on many issues in this area. I believe it will be a more challenging topic as well.
Marie and M?lia spent most of day 2 at home, and we wondered back to the market for more rations after my meeting with Dan. Food prices seem comparable to prices in Hawai‘i for most items, at least for things that are grown and processed here. Given the exchange rate this means we pay about 75 cents on the dollar for food. However, the price of imported and manufactured items seems significantly higher, which is understandable as the New Zealand dollar buys less from abroad. We visited what is probably the largest retail complex in Dunedin , the Warehouse, and dropped a few hundred on housewares and essentials.
There are many things that are slightly different here from what we are used to in Hawai‘i. We have no rubbish service in Kurtistown, and simply drive to the dump every week or two to deposit our refuse. In Dunedin you buy bags ($6-8 per bag depending on size) which are approved by the city and then collectors pick them up off the sidewalk on Mondays. It really makes you conscious of squashing down your boxes and cans, and makes you take packaging into account when you purchase things at the store. Recycling is also mandatory, and we were provided with some containers for leaving recyclables outside to be picked up at no charge. They are quite specific about what goes in there, and everything is expected to be thoroughly cleaned.
Another difference is that we prepay for electricity, kind of like pay-as-you-go mobile phone service. You pay by the kilowatt hour, and your account credited up front. If you run out of funds you may get a few days grace but otherwise the power is shut off. Fortunately a phone call can get it restored quickly. Electricity cost is about 20 cents per kilowatt hour.
We’re hoping to get an Internet connection in the next few days (this is being posted from a dinosaur Windows machine open for student use at the International Student Office). Once we get connectivity we’ll post some pictures and maybe video clips.
It’s hard to get to sleep at 9 when the sun is still out!