I spent the spring semester of 2010 studying in New Zealand through the ISEP program. I used this blog to keep an account of my school experience and as a record of the adventures I found. Hopefully it can serve two purposes: to have kept my friends and family informed of my travels and experiences; as well as to serve as a reminder of how important the study abroad experience is, whether it's in New Zealand or not.

20 February 2010

First Weekend Without Jet Lag

Friday is market day on the concourse and marks the last day of orientation. We spend a few hours walking around to the different booths, collecting as much free stuff as we can, including some free food. We also enter to win some trips. Jessica and I get back and decide to take off for town to get some shopping done before the weekend bus schedule starts. We intend to go to The Warehouse to pick up some school supplies, but we get to a Salvation Army first where we manage to find binders for our class notes for $.50 instead of the $4.00 they are at regular stores. We have to stop at KMart to get notebooks though; something that takes 20 minutes because the prices are so high and we don't know how many pages we're going to need. Shopping in a new place with all new names and really high prices turns out to be quite difficult. 7:00 is the free pancake night at The Center. We wait an hour in line for one pancake each. While they were good, I don't think I'd wait an hour again. Luckily I hear that most other times people are in class when it starts, so there won't be such a line. Saturday dawns gray and lacking in buses. So Jessica, Sandy, and I decide to head to the beach when the sun starts peeking through. Unfortunately we all managed to miss the sign for the beach, but eventually we found our way to another one. Waitarere Beach is where we end up and almost on in the car. Just before the road turns into sand there's a sign warning us that "the beach is a road." So we watch out for cars while following directions to the ship wreck that's supposed to be somewhere along the beach. We pass it and only find it when someone we asked earlier about itwaves us over. He points out where about six feet of the top edge is still exposed near the back of the boat and then shows us where is family is digging out the bow. He tells us they were there a year and a half earlier and his grand kids were climbing all over a very exposed bow, now there's hardly any of it left. It was called the Hydrabad and if you're curious about it, here's a good site: http://www.waitarerebeach.net.nz/hydrabad.htm. We find a dead puffer fish as well and make some time to take a few comedy shots. We finish up our adventure by stopping for ice cream in a small shop on the beach where we also ask how to get back to Palmy. We in fact have to pass both beaches we considered going to before making it back into town. For the evening someone finds a "little black dress" party at a local pub. We grab a cab and head into Palmy to "The Office." Turns out, this place is filled with mostly middle aged people and doesn't quite fit our standards for somewhere we want to spend the evening. So we take off and go to "High Flyers" a place much more suited to the college lifestyle. Sandy, Nadja, Jessica, and I break off from the larger group and find a smaller pub area in the back of the club with pool tables. Throughout two games, we observe the local culture. Turns out the Kiwis are major fans of country songs and rodeo. Two big screen TVs are playing calf roping shows and every time a famous country song comes on everyone starts singing along. None us are very skilled at pool and so the two games take quite some time. Finally it's nearing 12:00AM and we decide to catch a cab back to campus. As we leave we catch the end of a fight taking place in the courtyard of the club. Turns out this is quite frequent. I'm not sure the night life here is all that much for me, but it sure is an experience. On Sunday several of us non-Kiwis take part in an Operation Friendship "Kiwi Experience." The first stop: a Kiwi home for refreshments. Unfortunately there aren't enough cars for everyone and it takes quite some time to get everyone to the house. Eventually we do though and before long we're heading out for our second stop: The Manawatu Gorge. I had been hoping for a nice trek through the gorge, but we're running out of time in the day and we end up with just a brisk twenty minute jaunt through a very tropical looking jungle area. Throughout the drive all I can think of is The Lord of the Rings. The gorge looks very much like the river that the fellowship is heading down just before the Orc battle where the company parts and Boromir dies. The third stop is the Turitea Wind Farm. More information on that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turitea_Wind_Farm. It has a great view of the surrounding area, though it is of course, windy. In the middle of the car park is a giant turbine, which you can hear swishing around, and if you stare up at it, you feel like it's about to topple over on you. Very disorienting. The surrounding hills are covered in white and gray windmills. While I think it's amazing and beautiful, my German friend, Nadja, is unimpressed as she lives with them all around her back home. Our final stop is at a local church (to some surprise from us as we had been expecting another Kiwi home) for dinner. They serve us fish and chips (quite different from what we eat in the U.S., mostly in the batter) and then finish it off with ice cream. They have given me so much free food thus far, I have hardly to worry about money or where my next meal will come from. All in all the day has been quite a success and if nothing else, I now know where to go for a good trek if only I can find a way to get there. Just you wait my gorge, we will meet again. We get back just in time for a hall meeting. Most of Rotary Court gathers in the courtyard to hear all the rules we've heard already about what we can/can't do, what fines we get for doing those things we can't do, and what the RAs are there for. They give out shirts for our court, mugs, and little Kiwi bird note holders. Soon after the meeting is over a group of us decides to head over to the volleyball court for a game to mark the end of our pre-class freedom. We play long after it gets dark and finally head in for the night at 9:30. Most people will start their Massey education at 9AM the next day.

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