Take Me Home, Country Road – A Taste of America in Christchurch

Thomas Nicklin

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Trump! Guns! No, this is not the sort of atmosphere that is found in the dry rolling hills of Santa Cruz, California, the posh coffee shops surrounding University campuses, the emotional security of Religious ceremony, or the meditative flow of the Bronx river – this is the real, unspoken beauty of the United States of America.

Santa Cruz. Source: Kristenhulberg.wordpress.com

As an American studying abroad here in Christchurch, there are two things that stand out as reminiscent of places I might consider home in the United States. One being the town of Sumner, with a natural landscape, surf culture and a bus system not too far from Santa Cruz, California’s. Another is the Avon River which is eerily similar to the Bronx River, as it runs through Bronxville, New York.

Bronx River. Source: Crazyunclemel.wordpress.com
Avon River. Source: nzfreed

Virginia, the place dearest to my heart, is quite distinct, but found its home in the now closed Orleans bar on Lichfield St. It was not the authenticity of the food at Orleans that made it reminiscent of the Old South. It was instead the knock-off Southern cuisine, capitalized in a new gourmet light that made it possible to envision finding the bar in Old Town, Alexandria – filled with beer, whiskey, wine, cigar smoke, chicken and waffles, blues music and armchair philosophy. Perhaps the lack of blues music and, in turn, armchair philosophy is what led to the fall of Orleans.

Two students on my study abroad program, IES Abroad, found a taste of Indiana in Christchurch. Tess Mullen, a student at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI for short), finds solace in C1 coffee shop here in Christchurch. She likes supporting the local coffee shops in and around Indianapolis rather than places like Starbucks. “I go back to the shops that make me feel the most comfortable (and have the best iced caramel coffees). So finding C1 in Christchurch made me feel at home again.”

C1 Café. Source: lostateminor

Savana Roach grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and attends Indiana University in Bloomington. Savana found home at Saint Teresa of Lisieux Catholic Church during their Stations of the Cross ceremony. “I loved it because I’ve never missed that annual mass, so I was happy that I didn’t let the tradition die while I was here, and every mass internationally follows the same kind of pattern so it felt like I was home in a sense.” These sorts of traditions can be a game changer if you’re experiencing homesickness.

If you’re from the East Coast, Mid West or West Coast of the US and want to feel at home – or a Kiwi wanting a taste of America and not wanting to pay thousands of dollars in airfares – there’s a place for you right here in Christchurch.