Friday, August 27, 2010

The All Blacks Game Weekend

So the weekend of the 7th everyone went to the All Blacks rugby game against Australia. Rugby is like, the sport here, and the All Blacks are the Maori team and they do the Haka at the beginning of every game which is like a traditional dance done to intimidate the other team - it's actually a little terrifying but really awesome. So everyone started pregaming for it at like noon, most people participated in a case race so we were all pretty sloppy which was fun. The game itself was really awesome, and we won so that was really sweet. And Sarah was awesome and painted our faces so we all got pretty into it and such. There really isn't all that much else to say about it other than I love rugby now even though I don't really quite understand all of it. It's so fun.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lake Matiri with the guys

The third time I went tramping, I went with Graham, Brian and Clay to Lake Matiri. This was probably the most significant experience I've had since I've been here, and it's something that I promise I will never forget.

We drove up on thursday night and camped in the car park before waking up friday morning to start our journey. We woke up and started hiking along a river, and although we hadn't really found a real trail, we followed this river for about two and a half hours thinking it was the right way according to the map we had. There was a lot of river crossing and bushwacking involved in the hiking during those 2 and a half hours, and eventually, we realized that we had been following the wrong river and should have crossed it at the bottom and followed it where it split back in the very that was a nice 5 hour detour including the time we spent going up it and then backtracking. Luckily we couldn't really get lost because we were just following a river, but unfortunately, on the way back while we were bushwacking, I stepped down onto what I thought was solid ground, but the tall grass made it pretty difficult to see what I was actually stepping on, and I ended up kinda falling through and really hurting my foot/ankle. It wasn't bad enough that I couldn't walk on it anymore, but it definitely hurt to walk. And since we were walking all over rocks by the river, there was very little flat ground which was what hurt the least to walk on. When we got back to the beginning of the river where we took our wrong turn, we stopped and had lunch and I really wondered if I'd be able to keep going. This was a pretty big cause of concern for me because it was our first day of a 3 day trip and I didn't want to make everyone stop just for me and ruin their trip. After lunch, we found the actual trail, and because it was an actual trail it was easier for me to walk on, even though it was still fairly painful. We only had about a 2 hour hike or so before we got to the hut at Lake Matiri. Once we got there, we dropped off our packs and stuff and headed down to the lake to chill for a while - it was so peaceful and absolutely gorgeous down there. We were hours away from any sort of civilization and it's one of my new favorite feelings to be in the middle of no where surrounded by nature and just feel cut off from the outside world and really be able to immerse myself in nature.

We hung out in the hut at night and cooked and made a fire and played cards and things, and then just went to bed - while I was sleeping I woke up a lot because my foot/ankle hurt so bad and I was convinced that it was hurt really badly and I was going to need to like, amputate it because I was freaking out so much haha but then I woke up in the morning and it wasn't quite so bad, but still in pain. We had breakfast and got going and I tried for a while to keep up and hike the trail with the guys, but it was not going to happen because 1. I don't think I'm fit enough to even make it up that 2 hour mountain climb in the trail, and 2. my foot was killing me and I really didn't want to hurt it more and injure myself so much that I couldn't do anything else active while in new zealand. Once I decided to go back to the hut, the guys said they would just keep going to the top of the trail and then head back so they'd be back to the hut by dark. Brian was nice enough to walk me down the mountain climb to make sure I didn't hurt myself worse and then I walked back to the hut alone. This was when I had my defining 6 hours of solitude in the hut before the guys came back. This was an experience I'd never been through before, and I learned so much about myself and my life. I was in a hut for 6 hours by myself, forced to have no human contact during that time because I was hours away from civilization and the only other people on the trail (Graham Brian and Clay) weren't going to be back until dark, and because it was in the middle of nowhere, my cell phone had no service and I couldn't contact anyone else. It was an incredible feeling to realize that you're completely unable to interact with any other people for an extended period of time, and you have to do what you can with yourself and your time. At first, I was a little discouraged because I was worried about my foot and I was missing out on the part of the trail that we came here for, but then I realized that I had 6 hours to myself, and I was in a hut with a beautiful lake view listening to the wind and the birds and I could do anything I wanted with that time. So I thought. And I sang. And I soul-searched and finally came to the realization I needed. I had been worried about my future and things in terms of what I would do when I got back from studying abroad and what career path I wanted and all that kinda stuff, and this experience really made me realize that not knowing is okay. And that I need to take every day I have and make the most of it and not let anything stress me out or ruin what could be a perfect day. I had always tried to live by the philosophy of live life to the fullest and make the most of situations and opportunities, but I never fully understood what that meant until this day. I had been thinking about how I only have a limited amount of time in New Zealand, and I have to take advantage of every moment I have because my time is limited and before I know it I'll have to leave. But life is only a finite amount of time, and I shouldn't be taking advantage of my time only in New Zealand, I should be taking advantage of my time every single day, no matter where I am or who I'm with, because nothing lasts forever, and nothing should be taken for granted. It was an incredible feeling, and I feel like I finally realized that I can control my own happiness and I'm not going to let little things get to me or ruin any of my time because life really is too short. And I decided that I'm going to get some sort of tattoo symbolizing that experience and feeling because I want it there every day to remind me what I felt like that day, and that I need to feel that way every day for the rest of my life.

The rest of the trip was fun, but the whole weekend was definitely defined by those 6 hours of solitude I had where I really figured things out for myself. It was easily the best part of my time in New Zealand thus far, and I love that it was when I was completely by myself, and I know that I don't need anything other than myself to make me happy and keep me going. That was something I really wanted to get out of my experience here, and I couldn't feel better about it.

The last day on the way out, it was raining and we thought our car would be stuck in the mud and we had to do this crazy river crossing where I'm pretty sure I would have been washed away if we hadn't all crossed together like you're supposed to. It was pretty epic and awesome, and a good end to our tramp that weekend.

2nd time tramping - Mingha Trail

Okay, so backtracking a lot since I've been super busy and haven't written in here in forever, but I'm gonna try to go over all the highlights so far that I haven't written about... so the 2nd time I went tramping I went with Monique, Shannon, and Heather, who are all kiwi girls in the tramping club. We went on the Mingha Trail in Arthurs pass, and I woke up in the morning and was super hungover from the night before and debated even going because I felt so awful. After almost throwing up on the car ride there, especially because the roads here are super windy and such, we got there and I figured out that hiking/tramping is the greatest hangover cure I've found yet. It was pretty cold since it's winter and it was only like 8:30 in the morning, and as soon as we started walking I immediately felt fine, which was pretty ridiculous to me, but definitely good to know now. We hiked for a few hours and took pictures along the way, obviously, and since we knew we were only doing a day hike, we had to decide how far we wanted to go and when to turn around and such. We ended up stopping by a river and doing some slight swimming in the freezing cold water and then sunbathing there and eating lunch. It was pretty cool being able to swim and be fairly comfortable laying out in the sun in just bras and underwear when we could see snow capped mountains behind us. It was really nice to take our time and have some fun while we ate and rested before we turned around to head back. I realized that I prefer tramping with just a few people because it's easier to get to know people and it's a lot more laid back than when you're with a big group and you're constantly hiking with different people and not really spending too much time with any certain people. The Mingha Trail in Arthur's Pass was also a really pretty trail and it was a beautiful day which made it so much better. I also learned that having dry sweatpants, socks and slippers in the car to come back to after doing river crossings in freezing cold water is one of the greatest feelings.

Tramping is definitely one of my new favorite activities, and I love the feeling of being away from civilization and in the middle of nature and just breathing it all in and really appreciating how naturally beautiful our world is. I have definitely gained a new appreciate for my surroundings and the incredible nature that encompasses this country. It's absolutely astonishing how beautiful it is here...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My First Time Tramping!

Last weekend I went on an overnight tramping trip with the tramping club, and it was basically the best thing ever. I absolutely loved it. We went to the Otehake hot pools and it took us about 5 and a half hours to get there from the beginning of the trail, and about 4 hours to get back the next day. We left campus at like 8:45 after waiting around for a while and drove about 2 hours up near Arthur's Pass to the trail. The trail we took to the hot pools was pretty sweet for the most part, and full of lots of different terrain. We walked on grass and normal land for a while up to our first river crossing. I really liked river crossings, even though the water was super cold and it would make my feet numb for a while afterward. They were a lot of fun, and made it seem like a more exciting trip since I'd never done a river crossing before. The deepest it ever got was up to my waist, which wasn't too bad. We walked mostly through like, the rain forest kinda trails on the first day. We stopped at a lake to have lunch and I found it amazing how I could get so hot walking through the trails and take layers off and literally after not even a minute of stopping to have lunch I was freezing again and needed to put my layers back on. After lunch we kept going and I was with a bunch of kiwis who have been in the group for a while and knew what they were doing. However, we still managed to go the wrong way and follow the flood route instead of the path we meant to follow. This made the trip way more exhausting and way more interesting overall. We were on the flood route for probably about half an hour before we regrouped and tried to figure out if we should turn back or keep going. We talked for about 5-10 minutes about what would happen if we kept going or if we turned around and what the best option was. We had to think about how much daylight we had left and how far away from the regular trail we were and how far away from our destination we were, and it was definitely good to experience what happens when something goes wrong on a trip. We decided to go back and ended up following the wrong markers for a while until we found the right ones and got back on track. It was pretty exciting for me since I'd never been in that situation before, and I felt safe enough since I was with people who knew what they were doing and we'd talked about how we had two tents and food in case we didn't make it to where we were going and needed to camp somewhere else, so we were covered. The flood route itself was kinda crazy - it was incredibly steep and was full of tree roots that you had to climb up and down using your hands and feet. It was incredibly exhausting but a lot of fun, but I was really glad to be back on the normal path once we made it back there. After that there were a bunch of river crossings and all of a sudden the hot pools appeared. I expected them to be farther from the freezing cold river, and it still doesn't make much sense to me how these steaming hot pools could be so close to a freezing cold river that flows into it - kinda crazy... it felt so good to finally get into the hot pools after a really tiring day of being cold and wet for the past 5 hours.

I really liked that we got to a place where you can't possibly go unless you hike for 5 hours, and that we were 5 hours away from any sort of civilization. I also liked that we all had went into it knowing we were going to be dirty and smelly and wet and cold and that was just all part of the fun. I felt really at home in the middle of nature far away from everything - it was an awesome feeling. This is something I knew I'd love to do, and I couldn't be happier that I'm here doing it. I'm so excited to go on more tramping trips while I'm here. I loved how incredibly gorgeous the scenery was and how great it felt to know I made it through a 5 and a half hour hike keeping up with a bunch of the kiwis who do this all the time. I loved everything about it =)

Laying in the hot pools and eating dinner and having some drinks and looking up at the clearest sky I've ever seen with the most stars I've ever seen was also pretty incredible. It was awesome to see a whole new pattern of stars that I'd never seen before, and it really made me further realize that I'm on the other side of the world.

The camping part was fun too, but sleeping in the freezing cold wasn't the easiest thing for me. I didn't sleep very well at all but figured that was all part of the experience so I didn't care all that much. The walk back in the morning was even better than the walk there too, since we took the river route and basically just walked along the river for the first half of the hike. It was fun constantly going in and out of the river. It was pretty cold but after going in the first couple times it really didn't even feel that cold anymore. It was also a lot prettier on the way back because we were out in the open and could see the river and the mountains and just everything surrounding us rather than just seeing tree roots as you carefully picked your steps in the forest. The river was also insanely clear and it was soooo pretty. I also liked that we could fill up our water bottles in the river and drink it since it's so clean. I love how clean New Zealand is, it's awesome.
Overall it was an awesome experience and I can't wait to go on more trips and see more of this beautiful country. I think I'm going on a really long day hike with a couple of the kiwi girls from the club this weekend, so hopefully I'll have that to write about next time. =)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Christchurch fun!

So I'm already struggling with writing in this as often as I should haha but I'll definitely try to work on it.

In the past week I've done a lot of walking around the uni and downtown Christchurch which has been fun, and I've done plenty of drinking which is a big part of their culture here. The cop who talked to us at orientation (the one cop for our entire university...) kept talking about how new zealanders are champion drinkers so I'll have to learn to keep up, although I don't think I'll have too much of a problem.

The University seems really nice so far, and aside from the cold and sometimes rainy weather, it's pretty here and I like it =) I'll have to take some pictures of campus to post on here once I decide to just walk around more with my camera.

I really like downtown Christchurch. It's only like a 10 minute bus ride away and there are tons of little shops, bars, restaurants and all those kinds of things. There's this really cool place called SOL square that has a bunch of little bars and stuff and you can just go inside and order a drink and then bring it outside and sit in the couches that are around and there are little fire places and space heaters and it's really cool. I'm a huge fan.

I didn't really do too much during the week other than explore and go shopping to get stuff to get all settled in like a hair dryer and alarm clock and things like that, but this weekend was awesome. Let's start with Friday night...

Friday night started after a fairly boring day of doing basically nothing other than grocery shopping and some walking around. Me and a bunch of people drank at my flat because my flat is basically just the place to be. I'm right on the ground floor so people are constantly coming by and just knocking on my window or coming in through the sliding door - it's a pretty sweet deal. Anyways, we were all drinking here, which is always a good time. My roommate decided to clean the vacuum hose and make a beer bong out of it, so that was pretty hilarious haha. After a while of hanging out at my flat, a bunch of us decided to go to the supermarket to get food for breakfast in the morning. This was a great bonding experience because after stopping at McDonald's on the way back, our car ran out of gas and we had to push it for like 15-20 minutes to a gas station and had to make it through a couple traffic circles along the way... it was exhausting but overall a great time.

Saturday we woke up and all had breakfast together - Chelsea and Sarah made some awesome coconut french toast. Then we went to the gondola and for a hike around there. It was absolutely amazing. It was so pretty and I took tons of pictures because even though I probably already had like 8 shots of the same view, it was too pretty not to take more pictures of everything. The hike was probably about an hour and a half to 2 hours long, and was so much fun. I absolutely love the outdoors and I love how gorgeous it is here. I can't wait to just hike everywhere and see more beautiful scenery everywhere I look.

After we finished our hike around the crater rim walkway, we sat down and had a little picnic with whatever food we had packed and then went inside and got a beer to drink while we watched the sunset. It was super pretty and the beer added a nice touch.
Then we went out into town and got dinner and went to the bar to watch the rugby game between the All Blacks and South Africa which was AWESOME. I'm like all of a sudden so into rugby. I guess being immersed in a rugby culture and actually watching a rubgy game and seeing how intense and awesome it is makes me instantly a huge fan of rugby and the All Blacks which is the Maori team from NZ. I bought a ticket with a bunch of my friends to the All Blacks vs Australia game in Christchurch in August. I'm sooooo excited for it =)

On Sunday I woke up and kinda expected to just have a chill day and get ready for school and such but then Clay and Chelsea knocked on my window and said they were going surfing so I obviously went along. It was a group of 8 of us and we got a 2 hour surf lesson and it was really fun even though it was pretty cold, but not terrible in our sweet wet suits. I was able to get up and actually surf on a few waves which was pretty sweet. The waves were pretty strong and definitely knocked me down a lot though. And who knew surfing was so exhausting. I'm pretty sore today...

Today was the first day of class, and I was pretty afraid I was gonna be late to it because I woke up at 6 to go to the bar and watch the world cup final at 6:30. It was such a good game and totally worth it to go to the bar and watch it, and luckily it finished in time for my to get to class.

I really liked my class today, and I'm really excited about it. It seems like it's gonna be about really cool topics and I'm really gonna enjoy it. And i found out that my only 2 classes (on just Monday and Tuesday) don't have normal finals so I'll be finished with the semester completely by October 15th which is insane...It's gonna be an awesome semester...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The first adventurous day of many

So yesterday we woke up early and drove 3 hours down to Rotorua. It was an extremely pretty drive and consisted of tons of cows, sheep, and other various farm animals all over the green rolling hills everywhere.

The first thing we did was head to the zorb, and it was so much fun. You had a choice of doing it wet or dry, and I was told the wet one was more fun so that's why I chose, even though it was winter and pretty cold to be outside in just a bathing suit. Then you got to choose whether you wanted to go down the straight hill or the zig zag hill, and I was advised to do the zig zag, and it looked like more fun, so I did that. It was AWESOME. It was totally unlike anything I've ever really done before and it's hard to even describe, but you basically can't see where you're going at all and have no idea what's coming next or when it's ending and you're just being sloshed around all over the place with no control over where your body goes. It was fantastic. And luckily they filled it with hot water so while in the zorb it was nice and warm, even though getting out was pretty freezing. Oh also I got run over by the zorb which was pretty sweet haha. I laid down on the hill with 2 of the other guys and we all got run over by it. Pretty fun.

Then we went and got lunch at this cute place called the fat dog cafe and headed on to the next big adventure - white water rafting. This was also tons of fun and pretty exhilarating at times. I was in a raft with 5 other people in my group plus a guide and we were definitely the most fun of the 5 different rafts. We didn't have anyone who was afraid of flipping or didn't want to get too wet or anything boring like that, so it was a good group. We went down a couple little waterfalls and eventually went down a 7m tall waterfall, which was pretty awesome. We got completely soaked because the front of the raft basically just went down into the water and flooded the raft and such. We also had fun paddling back into the bottom of little waterfalls after the big drop which was lots of fun because it would push us down and get us all soaked. It was pretty amazing too how we were in super cold water but our wet suits kept us so warm. I had no idea wet suits were that good at keeping people warm, and it made it soooo much better.

Then we went to the backpackers hostile we were staying in and checked in. It was actually pretty nice and better than I'd expected. We had a 4 person room and it was all nice and clean so that was nice. We went out to a bar that we all had coupons to for a free beer and got that. I really liked the beer which was nice considering I'm usually not much of a beer drinker. We ended up staying there for a while and getting some food and a few more drinks which was lots of fun. Then we all went back to the hostile to change and headed off to the Polynesian Spa which had hot mineral pools and spas to relax in. It was really nice and relaxing, minus the awful smell of sulfur which consumed basically the whole town but was very strong at the spa. It was also nice that I got in for free because that was my prize for winning the Minties game we played on the bus - who can make the rectangular minties wrapper the longest by ripping it and such. I guess I'm a good problem solver. =)

- there were seat belts on the coach bus we took that we all had to wear. do coach buses even have seat belts back home?
- on the way to the zorb there were a bunch of cows just running on the side of the road next to cars. kind of awesome.
- New Zealanders are so friendly I love it. We ran into this guy at the zorb place that our camera guy Brian had met at the airport, and he needed a ride somewhere so without hesitation we just let him ride the bus with us and dropped him off on our way to lunch. I feel like Americans would not normally be that friendly. Our Australian group leader said New Zealand is the friendliest country she's ever been to, and so far I can definitely see why. I love how nice everyone is =)
- It's going to be weird getting used to using 1 dollar and 2 dollar coins rather than actual dollars. I don't know if they even make $1 and $2 in paper money because I've only seen coins so far, and it's weird to go through my change to pay for normal things.
- I'm definitely going to need to get used to being away from college park drink specials. All the drinks here are definitely more than $2 and it's probably gonna be a little rough. Also, I asked the bartender yesterday what prices were for mixed drinks and she asked "like in a bottle?" lol. Once I said like rum and coke she understood but it was pretty weird for her to not know what I meant by mixed drink. Also, although my rum and coke was $7.50, a sign for a red bull vodka said $12. Now that's just crazy...
- Also, people were talking about cigarette prices and apparently here they're like $12 a pack which I thought was expensive, but our camera guy said they're like $20 in Australia! I can't believe anyone would smoke at all if they had to pay $20 for every pack. That's awesome though because it probably helps deter a lot of people from smoking.
- On our way back from the spa we stopped at a little shop to get snacks and check out beer/wine and they had like, a mini one serving coke bottle for $3.00 and a 1.5 liter bottle for $3.80. The prices of things here are so strange. Needless to say I bought the 1.5 liter and felt pretty cool drinking from it as we walked back and people looked at me weird.
- I think it's pretty ridiculous that I wore my bathing suit 3 separate times yesterday and it's winter here and freezing. And it's going to be even colder on south island once I get there. It's still so weird to me that it's so cold here in July lol.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Auckland from the Maori Perspective

So today was day 2 in Auckland and we took a tour of it with Maori people as our tour guides. Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, and from what I learned today, they're prettyyy cool. It was really interesting learning about their culture and their history and hearing them speak in their language a lot throughout the day. I wish I could remember all the names for everything but they are difficult for me to pronounce and would be impossible for me to spell and are therefore pretty hard to remember everything unfortunately.

The first thing we did was go to this really cool crater thing that used to be a volcano I think and also used to be a Maori village. I'm pretty sure they were saying that all the big hills around used to be volcanos, and they were all villages of different Maori tribes. They compared them to wedding cakes because they have basically like different layers which was built by the tribes as a defense mechanism for when other tribes would attack. They would attack on one level and if they conquered it, they would climb up the hill and over the next fence to the next layer to try to conquer that one so eventually they'd make it to the top and conquer the entire village. Pretty cool. The crater in the center of it was I guess formed by the volcano, and it used to be okay to run around in it but now there are signs everywhere says don't enter the crater, so they took away the fun lol. I really liked walking around there though and learning all about the history of it.

Then we went to the Auckland War Memorial Museum to learn some more about Maori history. This was pretty awesome too. I learned all about different parts of their culture. We also saw a Maori cultural performance and saw some of their traditional dances along with various fighting moves and things. It reminded me a little bit of Hawaiian dances and things at some points, but it was also very unique in other respects.

Then we ate lunch and headed out to the wilderness. =) We took this super long windy bus ride up this mountain, and I totally thought we went up most of the way but I guess we must have gone down just as much because we ended up at a black sand beach and I'm pretty sure beaches can't be like, at the top of a mountain haha but I was extremely confused... It was really pretty though and I ended up playing touch rugby on the beach with a bunch of the other people which was really difficult and tiring and confusing at first, but probably a good thing to get to know since New Zealand is a rugby kinda country.

Then we drove around some more and then hiked to a waterfall through the rainforest. This place is incredible and has everything from awesome nature and adventure stuff to city stuff to sweet history and man made awesome stuff I love it. The waterfall itself was really pretty and the path there was pretty sweet too. On the way back we learned all about different plants and stuff and heard a story about the Maori creation of the Earth which was pretty awesome.

Overall, this place is absolutely incredible. And if South Island is more is even better than North Island for nature and adventure stuff, I'm going to love it even more once I'm there. I really hope the next 5 months are like the past 2 days in terms of nature and things, and I can honestly already say that I absolutely picked the right country to study abroad in. =)

- They have outlet switches here...I thought my converter didn't work because I plugged something in and it wasn't charging and then I realized there was a switch, most likely to help conserve energy. So cool, why doesn't America have this kinda stuff?
- Also, the outlet almost broke my hair dryer as soon as I turned it on just because they use a different voltage here than we do, so I turned it on and I immediately thought it was going to blow up...
- I forgot to mention yesterday that my roommate for orientation, Claire, is also a redhead from Maryland. So hilarious.
- I wore boots out to dinner yesterday. It's July and it's cold and I'm wearing boots. Ridiculous.
- I heard my first New Zealand song - it's called take me higher by j williams. I liked it so that's a good sign. Even though most music I've heard here so far is American.
- The time difference still kinda sucks. I get super tired at like 6pm and wake up naturally at like 545am lol it's obnoxious.
- The calories and nutrition facts on foods are weird here and I don't understand what they're saying. I'll work on it.
- They have crazy food chicken flavored potato chips. They tasted a little like ramen noodles and overall pretty decent.
- When we were learning about the plants in the rainforest I ate a leaf that tasted like lettuce, and then put another kind of leaf in my mouth but didn't swallow it since we weren't supposed to and it kinda made my mouth numb. Apparently that one can be used for lots of medicinal purposes.
- I also found out that gingers in Australia are called ranggers...which comes from orangutan. I don't like that.
- I also saw a cat today and it made me happy =) and I thought of Tina. Miss you Tin.
- We had fish and chips for lunch with these awesome sweet potatoes that are native to here and they were awesome, especially when dipped in this awesome garlic mayo type dip. We saw a bunch of little pits by the crater that we used to do something with those sweet potatoes.
- I worked out a little this morning because I was naturally awake so early. Kind of hilarious, and I'm such a weakling. But if I'm hiking and walking and stuff throughout my time here as much as I have been in the past few days (which I am absolutely planning on) then I better be in shape by the time I leave.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First day in New Zealand =)

I made it here safely!!! =) And I am so super excited to be here. I'm in Auckland now on North Island, and so far I definitely like the city, but from what I've seen, of just walking around a little bit, I think I made the right decision to not be here permanently for my time abroad. But I might like it more once I've explored a little more and/or gone out here, we'll see.

I figure I'm gonna write about the important stuff and then add little sidenotes about things on the bottom that I don't really feel like fully explaining or whatever.

So I was able to sleep a lot on the plane thanks to the sleeping pill I took =) But before I did I met this nice older New Zealand couple who sat next to me. They were super friendly and had accents which was fun, although the woman was slightly hard to understand which scared me a bit haha. I was super excited once I woke up and we only had like 2 hours to go and they were serving me breakfast lol and it was a pretty cool view out the window. I'm so excited to explore everywhere and just go on so many adventures here =)

Once we got here and went through customs and got our bags and things, we went to the hotel to go over the itinerary for the day, drop our stuff off and wash up quick. I walked around a little bit with a few of the girls and saw some shops and things until we went back to the hotel where everyone met up. From there we walked down to the harbor where the ferry was and took it over to Devonport, which is a harborside suburb of Auckland. It was my first taste of the nature side of New Zealand (as opposed to the city we walked around in) and I absolutely loved it. We took this short little hike up this hill that was apparently part of Maori fighting grounds long ago. There was this military tunnel type thing on part of it which was pretty cool too. I had lots of fun just walking around and exploring =)

Now I'm back in the hotel and finally showered which felt so good after the longest travel experience ever, and I have some down time until we go out for dinner together. Luckily I was able to sleep on the plane so I'm not completely exhausted and jetlagged because it should feel like 1am like it is back home. Instead it's almost 5pm and I skipped an entire day. Kinda crazy going from June 29th directly to July 1st.

I guess that's enough for now and maybe I'll write more after dinner. I really need to make a habit of writing in this all the time so I can remember everything =)

- I had a super long day in the airport, but I guess it didn't feel too long because I was so excited and anxious and not really checking the time much
- I finally found people after like 8 hours alone in the airport haha, and I'm happy to say everyone seems nice =)
- First excited New Zealandy thing - all the flight attendants have accents! =)
- Our cameraman looks like Jack Black, kinda funny.
- On of our tour guide guys, Tommy, went to uconn - isn't that so bizarre? He studied abroad in Auckland and ended up just transferring here and now he's about to establish residency, pretty awesome. He also just lies and makes things up sometimes when he doesn't know the answers to things... now I can't trust anything he says lol He's fun though, and was a Psych major, so that's cool.
- Our group is soooooo separated by gender it's like we're in 7th grade. There are 4 guys that all just stick together and all the girls just kinda talk to the other girls. So funny.
- The cars are backwards! And the roads are backwards! Funny how I noticed the cars first when looking out the window that didn't realize until afterwards that we were driving on the wrong side of the road compared to normal...
- I saw a middle aged man on a razor scooter. i hope that's the norm here cuz that's awesome.
- I'm in room number 1313 in the hotel and the lobby floor is 6, so naturally i'm like wtf where's floor 1 with my room on it, and before I can press a button the elevator goes down a flight and a guy gets on. I ask him what floor 1313 is on...and he was like...13... hahaha so I'm such a silly American.
- The hallways of this hotel are too narrow to drag both bags behind me... kind of a pain lol.
- The hotel room is super cute but pretty little all over. And it's got a little kitchen and I guess common room and a door to the bedroom unlike American hotel rooms. And the beds are on wheels.

Monday, June 28, 2010

And it begins tomorrow...

So tonight is my last real night in the U.S. before the next 5 months in New Zealand... kind of ridiculous. I'm pretty sure I packed everything but I'm slightly terrified I'm forgetting something, but I'm sure I can get whatever I need over there too.

I have my first flight from New York to Los Angeles tomorrow morning at 10:30 and then I get to enjoy the longest layover of my life in LA while I wait for my flight to Auckland at 11:40pm... probably gonna be one of the longest days of my life but well worth it =)

I'm feeling pretty much every emotion possible, and it's kind of awesome. It's interesting to feel so many different things at once. I guess I'll feel lots of new things once I actually get there too... I can't wait. =)