When you up sticks and move house, it can be quite daunting. You need to settle into your new surroundings, make friends and figure your new community out. From local shops and services, to the best places to hang out.
This all seems to be a little more daunting when you move to the other side of the World. However, I have now been resident in Christchurch, New Zealand for a little under 1 week, and I am loving it so far. Although I fear that I am very much in holiday mode, rather than ‘life (I am here for at least 1 year) mode’.
I am due to commence my job in 4 days time, so hopefully I will settle into ‘life mode’ shortly.
As some of you may have realised; Christchurch was hit by several earthquakes from September 2010 to February 2011, and these have destroyed the central city; known here as the CBD (Central Business District), as well as coastal suburbs.
For this reason, many people have left Christchurch, and there is a cordon around the whole city (known as the ‘Red Zone’), to protect the public from unstable buildings, which have the potential to collapse, as well as uneven road surfaces.
I completed my very own tour of the CBD, and it is like a whole other world. You can suddenly go from being in an area with no damage whatsoever, to total devastation.
Walking around, and seeing all the damage is sad and very strange; it is like a ghost town, or like places are frozen in time, with cafes having coffee cups and plates still on the table. It gives you a real insight into that fateful day.
My parents happened to be travelling in the city just 1 week prior to the Earthquake, so these photos are quite disturbing to them, as they saw a beautiful and functional city, and have memories of being in certain places.
Prior to travelling to New Zealand, there was a strong aftershock, and this has led to smaller aftershocks since. My flatmate was very comforting and told me not to worry.
Since I have been here I have experienced 3 aftershocks. To be honest, they don’t feel as bad as I was anticipating. The biggest has been 5.2 magnitue. It felt like a bit of a jolt, then a 10-second shake. The house just sways with the quake, nothing falls of shelves or anything and it is over rather quick.
Many of the people I have met so far have been positive about the shakes, and there is is a real community feel about. Although some I have met are shocked people are moving to Christchurch, a lot of people are leaving everyday, which is understandable. if you have lived with over 12 months of strong and random shakes, being told that you have 8 months to leave your home, and having damage in your neighbourhood.
I am quite fortunate in that I am in an area which hasn’t been affected at all, but it could well be
Life appears to just go on here. I was in Westfield shopping mall this week, and looking around it was just felt like a normal, busy Saturday with lots of shoppers. I do hope that the city remains positive and strong.