Greetings from New Zealand!

I’ve been travelling for six days, and I’ve already experienced so many new and amazing things.

From driving on the left side of the road, to taking a dip in natural thermal water pools, and even trying marmite (the New Zealand equivalent of vegemite)—this has been a week full of firsts.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Although I anxiously await the day we can use teleportation to beam ourselves across the globe, we don’t yet have that luxury. Getting from Arizona to New Zealand meant over 25 hours of travel.

I was so glad I had my Cochlear™ Baha® 5 Sound Processor wireless accessories charged and ready to go. Being able to hear made the trip so much better!

Airports

It started at the airport, where I used my processor’s Made for iPhone capabilities to stream music straight from my phone to my processor. The security lines seemed to move faster when I could time my steps to the beat of my favorite song. Since it was the last time I was guaranteed Wi-Fi for a while, I downloaded a handful of playlists so I could keep listening without using international data.

My Cochlear™ Wireless Phone Clip came in handy when my mom called, wanting to check in and make sure my sister and I successfully navigated security. I was able to talk on the phone hands-free, with the accessory clipped to my shirt collar, as I walked to get coffee from the other side of the terminal.

Once we boarded the plane, I realized I could connect my Mini Mic 2+ to the screen in front of my seat. I didn’t need the headphones they provided, because I was able to stream audio straight to my processor!

The flights were long but uneventful. I read a book, watched a couple of movies, and slept as best as I could in a chair that only tilted back about 2 degrees. Even when I slept, I kept my processor on so that I would make sure to hear the flight attendants when they brought the snack cart around.

Finally, after 25 hours of travel, the plane landed in Auckland!

Driving

My sister and I took a shuttle to the car rental center, where we picked up our ride for the next 10 days.

Thanks to research beforehand, I knew that New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road, and the driver’s seat is on the right side of the car, just like in England. I had watched training videos and knew what to expect from the new orientation.

What I had not anticipated, however, was that it would make it more difficult for me to hear my sister while I was driving. My left side is my “bad” hearing side, and so it was tricky to hear my sister when I drove and she sat in the passenger’s seat.

Thankfully, the answer was right in my pocket. I turned on my Mini Mic 2+ and asked her to clip it to her shirt. I immediately noticed a difference in the volume of her voice, and we were able to talk with no problems from that point on.

Unfamiliar Accents

I often struggle to understand conversations. I knew that would be an unavoidable reality on this trip, so before we left, I watched several videos narrated by native New Zealanders to become accustomed to the accent.

However, as soon as we got to the country I realized that watching someone speak directly to a camera—and being able to read their lips, with subtitles as needed—is different from having real-time conversations with people who speak quickly, sometimes quietly, and who are often not facing you directly.

I’m still figuring out the best way to hear and understand everything. Here are a few tips I’ve found so far:

  • It really helps to have a travel buddy. My sister has great hearing, so often I’ll ask her to repeat what someone said to us if I couldn’t hear it.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat themselves. I’ll often say, “I’m sorry but I’m hard of hearing, can you repeat that?” and I’ve never had anyone refuse.
  • Do what you can to adjust the environment. For example, if you’re having a great conversation but the room is noisy, ask to step into the next room or continue talking outside.
  • Make use of your accessories. The Mini Mic 2+ is great for one-on-one conversations—in fact, it can be a great conversation-starter as well!

Stay tuned for my next travel post, about how to protect your processor during your outdoor adventures.

Hei konei ra! (“Goodbye!”)

 

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Skylar Mason
As a journalism student, Baha recipient, and Anders Tjellström Scholarship winner, Skylar is excited to join the team at Cochlear as an intern to tell the stories of other CI and Baha recipients! She attends the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.