Previously, this was a blog mostly to harass my poor friends and family with the details of my life. Don't worry-- that will continue. However, I'm also going to use this as a terrible forum for dialogue about green tips and eco-revolutions. Hopefully it will be helpful and entertaining...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Second Week at Massey...

Sadly, with fewer photos...

Nevertheless! We found a fantastic yoga place in the Square, and have decided to do yoga once a week. Furthermore, on Thursday, Becca and I did some rockclimbing at the indoor wall. It was fun, though a bit challenging because the instructor just kind of told us to "go at it"... Then we ended up playing "football" for awhile with John Francis and some kids from his hall. Great fun, but I spent the next three days recouping. In honor of that, I got a gym membership and will be starting up a physical regimentation... or what not...

At some point midweek, we went to a lovely little coffee shop called Muffin Break... and low and behold what the painting in the corner said: I think if I were a woman, I'd wear coffee as a perfume --James Dean
The fact that the original JD said it, made me insanely happy... and the quote reminded me SO of Matt and Zach!!!!!!

Friday night, Bri made a marvelous stirfry dinner and then we went down to the Celtic for a short time. Saturday, almost everyone was gone, so I went to the Manawatu Turbos (rugby, but the national, not international version) game. They played Auckland and got CREAMED. It's the first time that Manawatu has had a rugby team in a few decades. For some reason, the best cheers people could come up with were:
"TUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS"
and
"GO THE TURBOS!" (yes, not GO TURBOS, but go THE turbos... it was hilarious)...
Their colors are, incidentally, green and white so a lot of signs around say GO GREEN, which in my mind was fantastic (J E T S JETS JETS JETS...)

After the game, where I was freezing the whole time because Saturday was one of the coldest days since I've gotten here, I went back to my dorm to warm up. Then John Francis came over and we went to the on campus MuBar to watch the All Blacks CREAM Australia and win the Bledisloe Cup (no, that doesn't mean the end of the season... I really don't know what it means except yay winning!!!). Sunday I mostly got some work done that I had been putting off forever...

So it was a very relaxed weekend, which was nice, and very cheap, which was even more nice. Probably the last of those that I will have for awhile now...

This week, I've already officially signed up for the Alpine Club's Ice Climbing Instructorial (...that's not a word...) weekend two weeks from now and am slowly accruing the many many warm items needed for spending 48 hours on a friggin' mountain. We also went out to eat dinner at Halkairna's, a Turkish restaurant. They had the BEST hummus I have EVER eaten. The falafels weren't bad and the smell and place overall was FANTASTIC...

Here are the falafels:


And here are all us lovely girls eating up our food










As of Friday (which is also Tyler and my's one year anniversary! O SMOOCHIKINS!!!), I will have been out of the states / in New Zealand for ONE ENTIRE MONTH!!!! I cannot believe how quickly the time is going... Four more months...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

South Island Dreamin'


Thanks to some master planning, here are current ideas for the South Island trip:

Christchurch
Moeraki Beach
Sunrise at Lighthouse, hopefully with PENGUINS!
Boulder Beach
Dunedin
Chocolate Factory
Baldwin Street (steepest road IN THE WORLD)
Otago Peninsula
Queenstown
Milford Sound Coach and Daytime Cruise
Nevis Bungee
Fox Glacier Helihike
Hokitika
Green Stone Beaches
Greymouth
Sunset on “Dead Beach”
Picton Ferry

First Week in Palmy

With all the sheep, you'd think it would be FILLED with knitters! ... and perverts...
(thanks for that thought, Papa Steve...)

Well my first week of real school has come and gone and it's already Monday (for me) and I just now have the time and decisive ability to blog about it.

So first, last Sunday, in preparation for the schooling that would soon be upon us, we made a big, American brunch: scrambled eggs and french (ha) toast! In fact, it was the first time British Rob had EVER had French Toast. Bri cooked everything and it was fantastic. Becca spilled a glass of water before we even got to the eating part. So this was the food we ate:


And this was about 15 minutes later:


So, onward to class descriptions:
-Physical Geography is really interesting. I like the prof for this module (almost every course I have is taught by like 4 prof's, one for each section) as he is humorous and a nice guy. so far the topics have been kind of bland, but the overall picture of long term and short term climate change is really really interesting. we have our first lab this week and it looks scary but enjoyable...
-SOILS!!! I LOVE THIS CLASS! I seriously might become a pedologist. It is so so so tres interessant. it's awesome taking it in New Zealand because farming is such a large part of the culture still that people really recognize that there is so much to soils, and how diverse they are and how different uses require different soils. So I am going to look into that as a career option.
-New Zealand's Natural Heritage. As Dad says, "if you don't take at least one course that has the name of the nation in the course title, you're not really studying abroad"... or something like that... But yeah this is another really cool course, basically about the geography and geology of NZ. We get to do a 20-page case study where we go out into some land (like in a refuge or a park or whatever) and write down EVERYTHING about it -- flora, fauna, soil, rocks, all that. and then we analyze it and stuff. So that is headed straight to my "let me into your graduate school" folder!
-East Asian Religions. OH SNAP! It is taught by an American guy named Doug which is pretty awesome. He is uber laid back, and the course consists of two papers and one written final. We are learning about confucianism, buddhism, and taoism in china, tibet, and one other country that I can't remember right now. I'm especially happy because (a) I've always wanted to know more about those religions and cultures and (b) I'll be closer to Viki in thoughts when she comes back from Thailand and I am jealous of her religiousosity there.

On Wednesday we had CLUB DAY, where in I have elected to join the Massey University Alpine Club. The first meeting is tonight, but the basic premise is that for fairly cheap we get to go out and do stuff like ice climbing, repelling, skiing, and partying with fellow alpine members. For me, this is very exciting. We also can spend $5 and then for the entire semester be able to rock climb at the Massey gym with instructors for free on Tuesday and Thursday nights!!! I am going to be a fantastic athlete soon!!!

In other physical news, Becca, Bri, and I may start doing yoga for only $10 a class down at the Square in Palmy.

So what else happened in New Zealand this week??? Well, I practiced eating at the dining hall...
It is like the commons, so I get a meal combo. I can get EITHER lunch or dinner every day (meals don't carry over). Generally I get dinner. I can also pay money for lunch. I think I could also get breakfast, but that is the easiest meal to prepare so I'm not going to worry about that. ANYWAYS, there are three places to eat from:
one is a pasta and pizza place (generally has noodles plus a veggie sauce or a meat sauce; also can get a slice or 2 of pizza with french fries), an asian place (rice or noodles with veggies or meat), a "home" type place (fried fish, etc-- haven't eaten there that much), and another place I can't remember because I haven't eaten there either... Anyways, in addition to the combos you get a cup (which I drink water out of, as much as I want) and a roll and butter and a dessert that usually is half fruit, half pudding or something, as well as a salad and/or coleslaw. Yesterday I ate a plate of pasta with white sauce, which was okay considering I don't
like white sauce. Today I had fried noodles with veggies and tofu, which was decent. The food is pretty good overall. Nothing horrid.

However on Sunday night, there was a fire alarm in the middle of dinner so Becca and I had the pleasure of standing outside for 20 minutes well our food got cold...


Moving backwards, on Friday night, Becca and I went to a fairly good poetry reading that was part of New Zealand's Poetry Day, sponsored by Montana Wines (which apparently means free wine at all the functions...) On Saturday, we went out with Jackie and saw her play Netball, which was interesting-- like basketball but without contact. Then we tried to go to a Kia Toa rugby game but unfortunately managed to miss most of it... On Saturday night, we went to the on-campus bar, called the MuBar and watched the All Blacks REPRESENT against South Africa. Next week is the Bledisloe cup, so that will be exciting... After the game we watched a band called Deja Voodoo play at the MuBar as well, and they were quite decent-- great live show.

So that was my first week!!! More to come I'm sure :)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Drinkin' in Palmy

Furthermore, you are probably asking yourself, Kayleigh you have been at Massey for a week now, what exactly have you been doing all that time?


Well, I will tell you dear friends! I have been mostly getting to know the other international students, the campus, and the city of Palmy. We have had three days of orienation which has been helpful if a bit repetitive... We have also gotten to meet some locals down at the bars and the restaurants. All of the serving sizes are so small here and the food tends to be almost Asian in its desire to mix tastes that Americans just aren't used to. So we've been working on trying out inexpensive food so that if we don't like it, it's not a big deal. There are NO Mexican places here (like most of NZ) and only a few pizza places. TONS of Chinese, Thai, and Middle Eastern places though. We also found the best bars to just go and relax in. I've been drinking some beer and cider and just enjoying the friendly atmosphere. My favorite place is the Celtic Inn, which has awesome live bands...



We have also enjoyed a smaller bar called the Stunned Mullet. The first nigh
t we went in, we stopped to take a picture with the sign and almost got cussed out by the bartender, because people *probably Americans* kept taking pictures of the sign and not coming in. But all was well, because inside we met some locals who invited us to see a local Rugby game. Which we did, and it was awesome. However, I didn't take any pictures because it was FREEZING. Unfortunately the team we were cheering for did not win (interesting tidbit here: the word "rout" like "routing for"-- however you spell it-- actually is slang for having sex... but i think i accidentally used it anyways...)

These are some of the people I've been eating and drinking with...

Becca, Bri, and me at THE FITZ


And just for Cowboy, here is just me at the Fitz











This is Bri and I wit
h yummy cider at the Celtic:





and Becca:






and Rob, who is from the UK. Cheeky monkey.











So that is all that is going on down here on the other side of the world... Tomorrow classes start so my night life will seriously decrease, but my boredom will subside a bit. And I will leave you with this...


HUZZA!!!!!!!

Settling In...

To my room, which is fantastic. You are probably saying, well Kayleigh, what does it look like? Here you are my darlings:


It's not the greatest picture, but it was the best I could do. It is large and I've put the bed directly next to the water heater in the corner, so I can snuggle up to it like a cat... but without burning myself...


Also on the bed, and this picture is in honour of Miss Julia, are Sir Stuart Wellington and Eeyore:


And in honour of Gertrude and all my other Yarn Crafters, a picture for you:


Yeah, that's right. I took up an entire drawer for my knitting and crochet!

McHardy Hall faces the main part of campus and my window phases the oval, which means "cricket field" but they don't like to call it that...


And finally, the lovely plants just below my window which make me cheery because one of them will be filled with flowers soon:

I have filled the room with my small amount of things but it is cozy and has lots of closet space, so all is well...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Blog Update and Goose Video

I just changed my site so you can comment even if you are not cool enough to have a blog like me :) Jk!!! But much more interestingly, check out this video I took of a goose at rainbow springs!!!! Percy followed us around and amused me very much in his walking style. So check it out if you are bored :) 

video

Coming soon: pictures of campus! And possibly a short video tour of some of my favorite places...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Meet Palmerston North

I have now arrived at Massey U! HURRAH!!! The bus ride down was fantastic! It was really sad saying goodbye to the bunches of fantastic people that are going to Auckland, but it is so exciting to finally be HERE, where I’ll be staying for FIVE MONTHS! Look at the capitalization, people. It is obviously a big deal.

Bus Ride from Rotorua to Palmerston North

Our bus driver was Lauren aka Stella, and she was absolutely marvelous. There was only four other AustraLearn kids going down to Palmy with me, but we had a good time on the bus. We drove past Lake Taupo, and it was so windy that it looked like the ocean:


We also drove past what I think Lauren said was Mount Doom… Does anyone recognize it? Anyways, it was absolutely beautiful and we all kept sighing. For example:


We also stopped and BEHOLD A RAINBOW! Lefty informed us that rainbows happen all the damn time in New Zealand, but they are still insanely gorgeous:

CAN YOU BELIEVE THERE ARE ACTUALLY PLACES ON EARTH THAT LOOK LIKE THIS??? NO YOU CANNOT BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT HERE! Why not come visit me, eh? JK guys :)

Massey Uni
So far my only complaint is that they haven’t done so well with meeting us. It’s there spring semester, so most students are returning, but still! We basically got dropped at our rooms and that was absolutely it. Bri lives up in these cool little houses and she came down and sat with me while I unpacked so she wouldn’t have to hike around in the woods between campus and her flat by herself in the dark. I went up with her and she has a cool little space, but I like being closer—although I won’t get the sexy, toned legs she’ll have. Sorry Ty… Anyways, we couldn’t figure out the buses and no one was around to help so we called a cab. Bri, Jennifer, Matt, and I all went down to Palmy to watch the All Blacks game. The All Blacks are the NZ rugby team and coincidentally THE BEST RUGBY TEAM IN THE WORLD! We went ended up getting dinner at Burger King first as it was one of the only food places open. (Side Note: There are a ton of Asian food places here, and I plan to go to some of the Thai restaurants and think of Viki) Then we went to a bar called Icons and watched the game. We all drank Tui because it is the best beer in the world, and the All Blacks killed the Australian Wallabies (which is probably their biggest rivalry) and it was insanely awesome. Oh and the All Blacks do a ritual called the haka before each game. It’s kind of a dance that was developed out of the Maori rituals that were formerly performed before going into battle. You can see it here .

We also ran into a few Americans from Massey, one of who is leaving and one who will be around. After the game, us ladies were tired so we took a cab back. OH and we had the same cab driver both times, and he was uber nice and helped us find the good sports bar and was really nice about dropping us off and I love Kiwis so much!!! Oh and Julia: according to Lefty, NZ drivers are the worst in the world… I considered telling him to go to the DR, but I figured he’d tell me to piss off, so…

Wow, I was just interrupted writing this by two of my floormates, Kate and Jeremy. Kate lives just a few doors down and she just moved here from Hamilton, so she is almost as lost as I am. Jeremy was here last semester, so he is uber helpful. Anyways, it was just like The Floor because we were sitting in the hall talking for about an hour about nothing. Hurrah!!!

Back to what’s going on! Sunday, Bri, Jennifer, Kate, and I all went into Palmy to do some shopping. I got a bit of a feel for the town and found TWO YARN SHOPS! They were closed, but their existence makes me happy. I bought crumpets, jam, pita, and hummus, so hopefully that will give me decent breakfast and lunch—I can get dinner at the Dining Hall, which isn’t that bad. It looks a lot like the Commons at UMBC, actually. I keep feeling on and off a bit nauseous, but I’m chalking that up to completely different food and sleeping patterns as well as a tid of anxiety. So I guess that is all I have to say about everything, especially as I have probably used up all your interest in myself in New Zealand. Everyone email me and comment and send me love!!! I miss you all a ton!!!

NEW ZEALAND!!!

Well I am here! First let me say thanks to everyone that kept me in their thoughts and prayers and were supportive as hell! I really appreciated it and my travel time went fantastically. My luggage did not get lost, customs did not attack my luggage (two girls in my group got searched and had to wait like 30 minutes while they went through EVERYTHING, so I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that), and I ate and slept decently. I even got to sit with a nice guy named Dane who is in AustraLearn and will be up at Auckland University where I plan to visit him at one point or another. I also met a really nice girl named Allison who I might travel to Australia with after the semester ends. There’s also an awesome girl named Chambree who reminds me
of Julia because she is so nice and social!

We drove through Hobbiton!

YAY!!! I might take a Lord of the Rings tour at some point—they’re everywhere! Those movies took over the damn country as far as I can tell.


Right now I am still in that Honeymoon phase. Everything is amazing and beautiful. There are MOUNTAINS everywhere and it’s foggy and rainy (my favorite weather!!!). It’s a bit cold, but I packed my big jacket so I’m fine. I actually forgot a scarf, so I’m going to crochet myself a new one! Wow now I know why Julia’s blogs were always so long. It’s hard to write about all this in any kind of sense. From now on I am going to have a little heading and then a description of it, so people can skim easier as I now realize that I will be unaware to stay concise…

Bus Tour of Rotorua

Rotorua is the city we’re staying in and it is a geothermal hotspot
—all of New Zealand is, but Rotorua especially. The city has been based around tourism since I think the 1800s, specifically a place called the Blue Baths which is a spa that uses the water from geyser thingies. There’s all these places that are fenced off with steam coming off them, all throughout the city. I even saw one that was just in someone’s back yard. This is what they look like:



My favorite one was in a field where they used to play rugby and it just exploded like 3 years ago and destroyed the seating area—you can still see the handrails going into the geyser thing:



Supermarket

Yes they do have q-tips!!!

And a kiwi asked me for the time and I got all nervous!!! But managed to answer! Yay me!!!




Rainbow Springs
This was an awesome nature conservatory. We got to see a goose that wanders around the park and was absolutely adorable, as well as a ton of fish and birds. All the time I saw birds I thought of Tyler, so it was really quite nice. We even got to see a Kiwi bird, but I couldn’t take a photo because they are nocturnal so it was in a dark area. It is supposed to be very good luck to see a Kiwi bird, as they sleep about 18 hours a day. Our bus driver, Lefty, said that he’s only seen a Kiwi twice the entire time he’s lived in New Zealand. I was also very brave and asked our tour guide about volunteer opportunities with conservation programs, and she pointed me towards the NZ Department of Conservation and even made a few calls for me. I am excited to check that out once I have less expensive internet!

Zorbing
FANTASTIC!!! Chambree and Lefty and I shared a zorb, and this is what that means: you hope into a huge plastic inflated ball with a bucket full of soapy, hot water in it. And then you roll down a hill. It sounds absurd, but it was absolutely fantastic. Chambree was screaming the entire way down. Just look at how wonderfully clean we looked afterwards.





The Maori Experience
This was really awesome, even though the whole time I
was thinking about what Viki would say from a master anthropologist point of view. We went to a village of the native Maori people and saw some of their dance, songs, and way of life. Then we got to have a hangi (feast) and I HAD PAVLOVA!!! Pavlova is THE Kiwi dessert, and it’s kind of a meringue. Very very yummy. I also ordered my first legal drink: a Tui. It’s a beer and it’s fantastic. Does everyone remember how I don’t like beer that much? Yeah well that’s crappy beer. All the beer here is so good! Why didn’t you people tell me??? Tyler? Matt? ZACH? Anyways, the funding that bought me this beer was thanks to Kristi :) and it was yummy and I even took a picture of it...


AMERICAN DAY
All of us AustraLearn folks went over the International Dateline 
and completely missed the Fourth of July! So, to make up for it, our fantastic Lefty threw us American Day! We all went to the 2 Dollar Store (yeah TWO DOLLARS! HA) and bought costumes. I was a Military Commando guy and Chambree was a biker chick. I found most of Chambree’s costume and put on her fake tat’s, so I am extremely proud of both of our costumes. Lefty dressed up as the Statue of Liberty, but he looked a bit more like Shrek or the Hulk…

Anyways, it was fantastic and afterwards Chambree and I hit the hot tub for a bit. It was really nice that we got to have an American celebration and we all really appreciated it.

Waitomo
This was probably the coolest part of orientation. We went caving. It’s called repelling (I’m probably spelling that wrong) in the states, and absailing (again with incorrect spelling) here in en zed. Chambree and I went at the same time, and we chose to do the “wet” option, which meant that we got to absail down two waterfalls as well as one really long, dry cliff. We were down in the caves for almost four hours. Chambree explained a bunch of geological stuff to me because she’s been caving before, and then the guides explained the same stuff later and I felt like a genius because I already knew it all! This was me absailing down one of the waterfalls:


I think I look pretty damn calm! Oh also there were glow worms in a bunch of different parts of the cave, and it looked like glow in the dark stars on the ceiling. It was really a workout too, and my abs and arms are still a bit sore from it. It’s definitely one of the most fantastic things I’ve done in my life.

So, orientation was absolutely marvelous and definitely worth my money. I met a ton of great people, and I now have Allison to go to Aussie Land with and a bunch of people that I will hopefully see a few more times in NZ and some when we all return to the States…

Here is some of the best NZ Slang:
Shrapnel = coinage, change
Togs = swimsuit (and we’ve been yelled at for saying swimsuit)
Uni = college
College = high school
Hostel = dorm (in addition to regular hostels)