By: Lexi Prillaman, Soccer, Senior
Anybody that knows me knows that I often have trouble hearing what people are saying, both in the literal and rhetorical sense. I tend to be a bit slow when it comes to understanding a joke or something that’s being said facetiously. So, you can only imagine me sitting there on my first night asking my host family what time dinner was, and both look back at me laughing. Confused? So was I. Apparently in New Zealand, dinner is referred to as “tea.” You can imagine my confusion for the remainder of my time when my host mom would ask if I’d like to join them for “tea,” not truly knowing if they were referencing dinner, or the drink.
None the less, I started to adjust to the lingo after the first week or so. I found out that saying “trash” or “garbage” over there will only get you a giggle and a confused look. You must ask for the “rubbish bin” instead. Same thing with ketchup. Ask for “tomato sauce” and you’ll get their equivalent, a much sweeter sauce. Through it all, the accent I got to hear each day was what was truly captivating about their language. Picture a British and Boston accent mixed together, and you’ll get a New Zealander.
There I was, literally halfway around the globe, in this beautiful corner of the world about to begin eight and a half weeks of adventure. Mind you, it was nearly 45 degrees (that would be about seven degrees Celsius because, conveniently enough, everything was in Celsius over there) and I had already forgotten what it felt like to be in humid east coast weather. I’d later learn to appreciate the warm weather a summer on the east coast brings.
Winter season in New Zealand falls in May, June and July. The city I was interning in, Wellington (the capital), is often referred to as “Windy Wellington.” On the windiest days, the feeling is comparable to standing outside in the middle of a hurricane. The wind could be described as “blistering” on their worst days. There is something about the combination of cold temperatures and high winds that will make you want to sit by a heater all day long.
Aside from all of that, Wellington on a great day… you simply can’t beat it. Wellington sits at the very southern tip of the North Island, and is literally right on a harbor of the Tasmanian Sea. It’s surrounded by some of the most diverse landscapes in the world. Travel over the harbor on a 20-minute plane ride to the southern island and you’ll hit 1,500 square miles of sounds, islands, and peninsulas. Travel another few hours south and you’ll run into the most beautiful mountain range I’ve ever seen. The mountains on the western side of the island are part of the southern alps, so you can imagine how dauntingly breathtaking they are. Traveling north of Wellington will take you to some of the coolest black sand beaches, along with the most populated city in the country, Auckland.
Travel about 15 minutes outside of Wellington and you’ll hit a suburb of the city, Porirua. Home to Olé Football Academy.
I was fortunate enough to intern here as a media and marketing intern where I could see a different side to soccer. I worked behind the scenes each day and helped with writing news articles, promoting the academy through social media and oversaw a video project throughout the duration of my internship.
I was also fortunate to have a place to train throughout the summer in preparation for the upcoming season. Most days, I would wake up before work and do a gym or sprint workout with a group of college students back for the summer. I’d work during the day and get to train in the evenings. I got to train throughout the summer with a group of 17-20 year-old boys that were just as passionate about soccer as I was. Needless to say, the boys didn’t take it easy on me and I’m thankful for that. I left New Zealand a better “footballer” because of it.
All in all, this summer provided me with an opportunity to travel abroad while still working and playing. It was truly the best of both worlds.