Productive Sunday

Sunday is typically a lazy day for me, but today it has been extremely productive and I absolutely loved every second of it. This morning some friends and I met at my flat around 9:10am to head out to Island Bay to go snorkeling for free since it’s Seaweek! All we had to do was pay for the bus, which was only about $8 roundtrip with my Snapper card discount. Snorkeling was amazing, I’ve never done it before (unless you count in a pool, which I don’t). I didn’t see many things because it was kind of foggy from the rain yesterday, but I did see a few fish and I even got to get super close to one! After snorkeling they had some snacks out, including hot chocolate and Tim Tams, so of course we had to try our first Tim Tam Slams.. GAME CHANGER! To those of you who may not be aware, a Tim Tam Slam is when you bit each end of a Tim Tam and dip it in hot chocolate, then suck through and pop the Tim Tam in your mouth (can you say H-E-A-V-E-N?!), so tasty. We all agreed that Tim Tams will never be the same again without hot chocolate.

After getting back and showering Court (my flatmate) and I headed to Newtown for a festival that was going on today. We each had a goal, I wanted a tapestry for my room and she wanted a blanket for hers. We originally waited for the free bus, then we found out it was running late and decided to walk with 3 kiwi first year girls and one guy from California (we met them while waiting for the bus). According to Google Maps the walk was only supposed to be about 30 minutes, but it was actually closer to 50, oh well. Anyway, once we finished the dreadful walk, we finally got to the Newtown Festival and there were so many tents with different things to buy, food, and music. I was starving so I told myself I wouldn’t buy anything until I ate. We looked around for a bit and Court found a blanket, but held off on buying it, and I found food after. Once we were eating we realized they were closing down most of them tents other than some music ones so we quickly left our new friends and rushed back to the tent with the blanket that Court wanted.. Thankfully it was still there. After getting her blanket we were pretty satisfied and feeling accomplished, expect I still didn’t get my tapestry, so we kept looking while people closed down their tents. When looking we ended up seeing our new friends again and finding where the bus home was picking us up from, but we still had an hour so we continued looking around. After running to New World (the grocery store), Court and I decided to go down a side street where music was playing, and the first place we looked had the most perfect tapestry for me, which was only $25, so how could I not purchase it?! Now I’m currently typing this in my bed with my brand new tapestry hanging behind/next to me! 🙂 I couldn’t be happier, today was absolutely perfect.. And productive.

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Syllabus Week

Things have been quite hectic since arriving in Wellington. Last week was o-week (orientation week) here at vic, so there was a lot going on. This week was syllabus week, also known as the first week of classes. It hasn’t yet hit me that classes are started back up because I haven’t had any work due, I also haven’t purchased any books because I’m in denial of how expensive they are and that it doesn’t make sense to get them online because with shipping prices it is pretty much just as expensive.

I went out to lunch with Sam and Amy from Education New Zealand on Wednesday of this week, it was really nice to meet Amy and catch up with them! I’m super excited to go to their office and meet the rest of the team, I’m so thankful for all of them. I also got to ride the Wellington Cable Car for the first time when going to meet up with them, that was cool as well. I’m actually looking forward for things to get settled and classes to really get serious this week because that means I can get into a routine finally instead of being all hectic constantly and not knowing what comes next. Hopefully my days start to settle down soon, but if not I can’t complain because I’m having the time of my life so far.

Hills Galore

Wellington is absolutely beautiful, I am in love with it. I was definitely the most nervous about my flatmates, but I love them all! There are two other girls and one guy (poor him), and we all seem to be getting along quite nicely. I’ve been doing a bunch of exploring of the city and it’s perfect. Everything is close enough to walk, and it’s gorgeous at the same time. I get the best of both worlds with the mountains and water plus the skyscrapers. The hills are definitely killer, but we all keep talking about how good it is for our bodies (it’s the only thing to get us through). Everybody is so nice, I’m loving every second of it. The one downfall would have to be the prices. I spent $30 on shampoo and conditioner which was definitely depressing, but hopefully I won’t need to buy anymore throughout my stay here. Food isn’t that bad, I just keep reminding myself that $10 is really only about $7.50 in the states. It’s definitely going to take some getting used to.

My room is kind of dull, so I’m working on getting some things to spice it up a bit and make it more welcoming. I was originally really upset that I wasn’t located in the houses because they seemed so nice online, but being here I’m pumped to be living in Waiteata (the apartments) because I not only get unlimited wifi, but an amazing view and I’m pretty close to everything! My flat has also been the meeting spot for everyone, so people are frequently coming over just to hang out, meaning I barely need to leave to see my friends (which is amazing for my laziness). I really want to get a beanbag chair for people to sit in, but it’s about $50 for that, way too much for only being here short term.

Things are going great, I couldn’t be happier. I registered for classes today and hung out with my flatmates at night, I honestly can’t be more excited for how much we’re getting along. I hope things continue to be this amazing, but then again I’m never going to want to leave if they do! I could seriously stay here forever, regardless of the extreme hills.. I’d get used to them.

A Recap Of The BCOP

So apparently Wifi is capped in New Zealand, and what a pain it is to come by (when found it barely even works). Thankfully campus has wifi, so now that I’m moved in I can finally blog again! First I’d like to begin by saying how much I dislike delayed flights!!!! The All Blacks were on our flight to New Zealand and because my flight out of D.C. was so delayed I didn’t get to talk to them or anything, but I was on the same airplane as them for 12 hours, and in the same baggage claim as them and made eye contact with a few, so that was cool.

I had an amazing time at the bridging cultures program through ISA. We started off day one of our adventure in Auckland, which was interesting. I honestly felt like I was back in Dublin at times because of the small shops and cafés/restaurants they had. I’m really glad I didn’t decide to study in Auckland though because the city is just so large and it’d be annoying to walk around everyday. Anyway, we got to go to Mt Eden, which is the highest point in Auckland and absolutely beautiful. After that we went on a walking tour of the city and had a group dinner. My friends Carol, Sydney, and I explored Auckland after and watched the sunset over the ocean (absolutely breathtaking).

On day two of our adventure we drove to Rotorua and got to take a 45 minute pitstop in Matamata (also known as Hobbiton). Unfortunately we didn’t have spots booked for the exhibit, so I’ll have to go back at a later date. Upon arrival in Rotorua we went to a Skyline Luge. Leave it to me to bust my butt on the advanced level and cut myself up.. how typical. I had a blast, though. The view was absolutely gorgeous from the top of the mountain we got to luge down. After the luge we headed to Lake Tkitapu and Lake Rotokakaki (aka blue and green lake). None of us brought swimsuits which was unfortunate, but the lakes were still beautifully clear! After that extremely long day we got to learn the famous Haka (yes, the one known because of the All Blacks) by a very nice guy named Tiki. It was pretty cool learning what the words and motions mean, and why it is even performed. I had no clue all the history behind it, and it was awesome being able to dress up and actually perform it! This night was definitely one I’ll remember for a lifetime.

On day three of the bridging cultures program we went to the Redwood Forest where trees from California were planted. It was pretty cool because they were so large and there were many fern trees included in the mix. After the Redwood Forest we went to the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Natural Spring! First we saw the Mud Pool thingies, which were super intense because the mud would just bubble and basically explode once they got too hot. Next we went to the stream and it was interesting because one of the streams were hot and the other streams were cold. Naturally, I had to pee before going in, and of course I busted my butt yet again walking up a hill to get out of the woods from peeing (leaving an almost identical cut to the one from the luge on the opposite leg). Later, we went to a Tamaki Village for the “Living Māori Village Experience”, which was incredible! I even got to play a game and I beat 3 out three other guys and won overall, that was pretty exciting. Then we had a big feast and ate a traditional hangi dinner that they prepared for us. It was definitely an amazing way to finish the bridging cultures program.

The last day was stressful because a lot of us ended up having to pay $200 for either an oversized bag or checking an extra bag because the NZ airports are more strict than the US ones. After that struggle it was obvious that we probably could have just carried on the extra bags we checked because they didn’t weigh them like they told us they would (which is very frustrating), but it is what it is. It sucked saying goodbye to some of the friends we made who were staying in Auckland to study abroad, but at least we have a place to stay if we’re ever up exploring that way! I was definitely sad to go, but also extremely happy to get settled in Wellington.

Today’s The Day

Time has definitely flown by these past fews months. It still seems so unreal that I’m actually sitting in an airport waiting for my flight to California, followed by my flight to NEW ZEALAND! Per usual, I procrastinated and didn’t really start packing until late last night, so I’m currently running on one hour of sleep. Of course, I tried to pack absolutely everything I would ever need for 6 months around the world and the bag I checked weighed in at 63.5 pounds this morning. Needless to say, I hectically called my dad to come back and save me by taking some stuff home. Not sure how, but I managed to ditch 13.5 pounds and get that baby down to exactly 50 pounds (just in time to make my flight)! On top of that, my plane was delayed about an hour this morning, which caused me to miss my second flight, so that is why I’m anxiously awaiting my new second flight to San Francisco.

There are rarely dull moments in my life, so I guess I should have known something like this would have happened. It’s definitely been one heck of a morning. I can’t lie, I’ve totally made myself at home on these airport chairs that look oh so comfy but feel hard as a rock after sitting on them for three hours. We board in 20 minutes and I couldn’t be more excited, just one more flight after this and I’ll be living my dream!

24 Days Out

Time is going by rather quickly, but it also seems to be dragging on at the same time. It’s hard to believe that in 24 days I will be in California waiting to board a plane flying halfway around the world. My anxiety keeps rising as I think about what to pack, that seems to be the hardest part because I don’t want to forget anything! I’ve also been stressing about spending money. Although the scholarship helps out a lot, I am being realistic in the fact that I may never get to go back to New Zealand again, but I am being unrealistic in the fact that I want to do everything while I am there. It is expensive to travel, as I am quickly learning, but I know it will be well worth it.

My travel agent is currently setting up my spring break trip around Northern New Zealand and then my Sun Seekers tour on the Eastern Coast of Australia in July! I’m pumped for both of these experiences, just anxious about finances. It’ll all work itself out, hopefully! But like I often say, everything happens for a reason.