Stay abroad in Christchurch - A shaky review, September 2011    

von Andreas Schwegler 


Despite the fact that many friends tried to convince me not to go to earthquake capital because of the latest happenings there, I felt brave enough to go down under. It was a long lasting dream for me to come true and finally there was no disappointment at all.


Arriving in Christchurch I was picked up at the airport by my lovely host family. Driving through the suburbs was quite shocking for me, there was devastation all over the place. Roadwork’s, detours and broken homes as far as you can see. It`s unimaginable if you don’t see it with your own eyes. The city centre is completely destroyed and no one is allowed to step in, except for the demolition workers and builders. Christchurch city is gone; nothing seems to be the same as it was before. For the people who still live here they have had to adapt their lives to the circumstances. But it`s the Kiwi way of live to make the best out of it.


People; they are different down here! It was winter when I reached Christchurch and people were still wearing shorts, t-shirts and jandals (we know it as flip flops). Unreal, isn’t it? Also when the snow came there was no reason for them to change their clothes. The snow reached Christchurch at the same time as I did. “It never snows in Christchurch” were my host mothers words, but it happened twice whilst I was here. Maybe a bit of Swiss influence!

My second occupation, beside school was travelling the south island. The countryside of New Zealand is stunningly beautiful. The nature stands in no comparison to what I have seen before... just awesome. In certain areas it is quite similar to Switzerland but much more spread out. I recognized it, when we were driving from the east to the west coast, and the journey took us “just” 4 hours, and it looks so close on the map. You can travel for hours without seeing a house or another car....


Aftershocks; another big topic! They call it an aftershock, when the magnitude of the quake is smaller than the main quake itself. We`ve been struck by several aftershocks every single day. The funny thing was, after an aftershock the people started guessing the magnitude and the location of the quake. Since the first earthquake hit Christchurch on the 4th September, 2010 almost everyone has become an earthquake expert.... but for a Swiss guy without any earthquake experience. It was not always fun for me, in fact at times I was a little concerned. The biggest aftershock I felt was a magnitude 5.0 in the middle of the night. My thirst thought was that my host father had come into my room and shaken my bed just for fun... but it was a massive aftershock which nearly pushed me out of my bed. The whole house was shaking and the windows rattled intensively. In comparison to the three “biggies”( they had a magnitude 7.1 and two of 6.3 on the scale) it actually wasn`t that big but for me it felt like the world was going under. The funny thing is, you do get used to it and after a few weeks I was into the game of guessing as well. Or, I guess to say it in the Kiwi way I had just “hardened up”....


My stay abroad was a shaking good experience and will rattle a long time in my memories. → Schnappschüsse