Sophie and I slept in this morning and had a relaxing day. We walked into town and saw Invercargill. It isn't very big - more like a cute little town with many cozy shops. We walked around for a bit just seeing the parks and the shops. We stopped into Pak N' Save and then went to see her mom at the Polytechnic Institute where she works. It was pretty cool to be inside of another school in New Zealand. Her mom drove us back to their home and after a while we had dinner. It felt weird to sit down and have a dinner that is not "college." We had a good time talking about the differences between the US, the UK and New Zealand. After a while, her parents went grocery shopping and we both changed into pajamas to watch TV for a bit. While watching, we were both checking our emails when I found yet another fateful email from the university. Unfortunately, the uni is closed until AT LEAST March 14. This is a lot later than the expected date of February 28. It's very unsettling; they say they are doing this in part to give students and professors a time to de-stress but they do not understand the amount of stress that they are causing for international students. Many of my friends in other programs are considering transferring to Auckland or other universities. My flatmate Liz was forced to transfer with her program and she told us today that she is so upset and wishes she could come back.
Also, we received another email from the university saying that they are forced to give up the Ilam apartments to house the individuals that are coming from Australia to help out with this mess. We talked about it at dinner and although we agree it is a really nice thing, it is awkward to have someone else living in our rooms with all of the personal belongings we left behind (clothes and such). The university says they may change around flats and such when we return if they still need the accommodation for the Australian volunteers. If our flat gets split up, we will all be very upset. It was bad enough losing Liz. I hope that they will just place someone else who didn't have a full flat in her room. This whole situation has caused so much unneeded drama and chaos.
Sophie and I got in touch with Mike who is heading to Queenstown within the next couple of days. It is about a two hour bus ride from here so Sophie and I are thinking of catching up with him and Kevin to then explore for a while before we return to Christchurch. We have some time so we might as well make the best of it since they will probably take this time away from our breaks.