Bittersweet 

My trip is coming to an end as I prepare myself for dreaded finals…

I’m at the point where I’m reflecting back on my trip and most importantly, thinking about the things I want to take home with me. Because even though I’m leaving the country, there are parts of New Zealand that will never leave me. And I’m sure some of you will give me heaps of shit for it (Yup, I used heaps. Say something!!!). And because I’m so fond of lists, and finals are coming up which stresses me out and drastically increases the number of lists produced per day, I figured it just made sense.  

1. Keen. I love keen. Make fun of me if you want, but it’s coming home with me. 

2. Craft beers. This is a huge one, because since I’ve been here I’ve managed to write two essays on craft beer for my food and eating class which has given me so much inspiration…to drink.  Hehe. Not to mention, I got to go to the pub with my classmates and professor for our last day of class. I’ve gotten to try so many amazing beers since I’ve been here, and am sad that I won’t be able to try them all before I leave. Although I’m certainly bringing some home. Some of my favorites: 

 

Local Craft Beers

 
3. My love for sheep. 

4. And cows. Especially cows. 🐄

5. An appreciation for hiking and exploring. While there are amazing sights you can see just by driving up to them, there is nothing more rewarding than having to work to see them. Especially if you almost died in the process (OK a bit of an exaggeration, but being stuck underwater is FREAKY). 

Rangitikei River

6. An appreciation for how amazing the stars really are. Because really, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so incredible. 

7. Cooking! And baking! I’m hooked. Turns out I’m not as bad as I thought, either.  

8. A love/hate relationship with owning a car.

It also tasted great

9. My love for ginger beer.

10.The ability to relax and take a day off without feeling guilty.

11. An understanding of what other countries consider proper portions.  

 

A Portion of Pancakes…

 
12. A fat, crooked pinky. 

13. A better understanding and appreciation for Maori culture. And proper pronunciation… 

14. So many amazing photos and stories.

 

Tongario Crossing

 
15. My fear of birds. And yet I’m torn because I had great plans of being a crazy ole bird watching lady. 

16. The knowledge that America has a rugby team…and they’re apparently not half bad…. Who knew! 

17. Chocolate…. Ugh. I will never eat Hershey’s again. 

 

Whittakers Artisan Collection

 
18. My wanderlust soul. Because I’m already planning out my next big adventure.  

 

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One Sheep Two Sheep Red Sheep Blue Sheep

There I was, innocently hanging out in a paddock alone. When out of the blue, a herd of wild sheep went rampant and started running after me. I did my best to fight them off, but it was one on one million and I was severely outnumbered. Punches were thrown, torches were lit and just when I felt I might make it out unscathed, a sheep started charging at me, knocking me to the group where I landed on my pinky and completely dislocated it… 

Before & After

But really, I was playing netball. A sport I had never heard of, either.  It’s sort of like basketball except you can’t travel with the ball, and there are no backboards. It seems to be primarily a women’s sport.  Without even knowing what it was, I signed up for the social league. Turns out, it’s a ton of fun. And after having a couple lessons on how to properly shoot the ball I’ve actually ended up scoring a few points for our team. 

Including right after I broke my finger, I might add. My teammate passed me the ball and I clearly caught it wrong. Immediately I knew something was amuck, but figured it was just jammed so I turned and shot the ball and scored, of course. Then, I looked down and realized I actually had eleven fingers instead of ten. It was pretty nasty looking. 

Before & After

I hurried off the court and went to the front desk where they offered to call me an ambulance.  That alone was pretty shocking.  If you called an ambulance for a broken finger in America I feel like you would get laughed at. Not to mention, my mind immediately went to “no way, they’re so expensive and my insurance is definitely not going to cover that.” 

I was trying to get out of going to the hospital all together, because I was afraid of how much it was going to cost. Turns out, it didn’t cost me a penny. Six x-rays, laughing gas, a local anesthetic and a doctor to pop my dislocated pinky back into place seems like it should cost upwards of a few grand.  And no, I didn’t have to wait a million hours to see a doctor because of universal health care. I actually waited less.  That could have also been because the doctor saw my X-ray and thought my pinky was hanging off so he rushed to get me back so we could amputate it. 

   

The doctors and nurses were so friendly. He actually laughed at my finger because of how distorted it looked. I thought that was a nice touch. Thanks, doc. Eventually we got around to jamming a few fat needles into my swollen finger, getting me all giggly on laughing gas I think just for fun because it totally wasn’t necessary, and popped that sucker back into place. And yes, I heard it pop. Overall, my evaluation of New Zealand health care? I’m quite fond. 

To end things on a happier note, here’s a picture of some cows.  

 

Planes, Trains and… More Planes

“We are now boarding New Zealand flight 8522 to Palmerston North. Please make your way to the boarding area now, or at your convenience.” So you know…Finish up your leisurely stroll in the outside courtyard. Maybe have another beer. But whenever you’re ready, no pressure… Hop on the plane.  Take your time though, we don’t want to rush you. 

Being in the New Zealand airport made me realize how extremely paranoid, unforgiving, and untrusting Americans are of… well, everyone. 

We got into the airport in Nelson, New Zealand after a few days of traveling around the South Island about an hour and a half before our plane took off. Really, we could have showed up twenty minutes before our plane took off and made it without having to rush.  We didn’t have to go through security. At all.  No one asked us what was in our bag, no one wanted to look at us naked through a screen, we didn’t even get asked for identification. We checked in online earlier that day, walked up to the gate and got on the plane. No hassle. Nothing. 

Fortunately, the exhausting airport security paid off when we got in the air. 

  

We were nervous about carrying a box of matches on the plane, so we disposed of them before we showed up to the airport. But that definitely wasn’t necessary. We could have carried an entire bottle of shampoo and not been harassed. It’s really quite revolutionary. In fact, I did carry a full water bottle.  And I didn’t even fill it in the airport… GASP! It’s blasphemous, I know. I was feeling rebellious. 

We didn’t only get to fly over the islands,  but we had the opportunity to kayak through them.

  

 

Everything about the South Island was as beautiful as I’ve been told. Even the long bus rides were enjoyable. They say the grass is always greener on the other side… 

  

Everything really blew my mind. The house we stayed in we booked through Airbnb.  Initially, I was a little nervous about staying in a random stranger’s home. But when we met Jamie and she fed us homemade scones, honey from her bees and jam from her fruit trees… I knew I was in heaven.  

 

Everything about Nelson drew me in. I’m awaiting the day I get to go back. 

Travel Culture 

My favorite album to listen to when I’m traveling is Swidden by Blackbird Raum. 

A huge benefit of living in such a small country is that it encourages you to travel.  Not just within the country, but to far away places (which is really everything in my book).  Any town you visit that has a grocery store also has a travel agency.  In most towns, you will have multiple shops advertising the world.  Even on campus, we have a travel agency constantly advertising to students to get out of paradise. Im pretty sure it’s a ploy to get everyone to understand how good they have it here. 

The one thing I’ve done here more than anything is travel.  Out of the nine or ten weekends I’ve been here, I’ve left Palmerston North at least eight of them.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Palmy.  But one of the reasons I love it so much is because it’s the perfect place to travel elsewhere.  It’s pretty central. And since its a small town it can get repetitive to go see the same bars, the same shops and the same scenery (even though it’s incredibly beautiful). 

  

With all this traveling, I’ve picked up some traveler traits I’ve come to live by and love.  Sort of a travel culture. 

1. I’ve never appreciated public restrooms more.  Even the gross nasty ones where strangers request your presence to partake in unspeakable activities. Not just for peeing though. Also for brushing your teeth, washing your hands or face aka makeshift showers, changing your clothes, etc. 

  

Thanks Adeena for sacrificing your dignity for my blog.

2. Restaurants that fill up your waterbottle are godsends. 

3.  Free wifi is like gold.   Use those 100mb wisely… 

4.  Hostels are really hit or miss.  Just set low expectations and you’ll never be disappointed… Right? 

5. Public bean bag chairs.  For your convenience.  

Sydney being adorable.

6. McDonalds is a home base because they supply many of the essentials stated above including public bathrooms, water, free wifi and a bench to sit on while I snack on my kale chips. 

7.Soreness is a daily struggle.  Sleeping on busses=cramped necks, plus those backpacks that are bigger than you are… 

8. Sleeping on busses is a skill. Especially because they smell. Those cloth seats may be comfortable but your nose is paying the price.  

 

At our finest

 

9. Petrol.  You think it’s expensive in the states?  Try NZD $1.85/ liter or roughly US $5.29/ gallon. 

10. Forgetting things is a part of life.  Let’s talk about some of the things I’ve forgotten: headphones, deodorant (I’m the reason the busses smell), credit card, passport, adaptor for phone charger, clean underwear (cause I’m freeeeeeee, freeee balllliinnn) 

Most importantly, one of the most valuable lessons you can learn is to take home with you wherever you go.  Because there is no other feeling like going home, taking a hot shower and curling up in bed.  I’m happy to report I can do that almost anywhere. 

Keen to Get Knackered In a Paddock? 

It’s cooling off a little in Palmy.  I actually didn’t open my window until around three p.m.  Don’t worry, it’s open now and I’m able to comfortably sit in my room and listen to the self titled album by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.  If you do turn it on, end before the last song… it’s obnoxious.  

So this weekend I had my first tramping experience.  What’s this, you say? Are you really that low on money?  No, in fact I’m not.  I am however quite keen on hiking.  We managed to scale the tallest mountain in the North Island: Mount Ruapehu.  For those of us who are Lord of the Rings fans, you may know it as Morodor.  

Mount Ngauruhoe AKA Mount Doom

Did I mention it’s also an active volcano?  The 2,797 meter tall (9,177 feet) stratovolcano remains one of the most active in the world.  The tramp was not an easy one.  

 

 

The climb down

 

After about four hours of hiking practically vertical, I felt like I was going to chunder. I was so grateful to have brought my jersey, because it was quite chilly.  We stopped and had lunch at the top looking out over the crater lake.  


The summit, steaming!

  

It was like a barbie at the top, because everyone brought a plate.  We hung out and were taking the piss enjoying some lollies before our tramp back down.  

  

The fog rolling in

 

The view from the hut we stayed in was just as gorgeous as the view from the summit.  We were able to get knackered, spin a yarn and watch the sunset over huge paddocks. My feet did get cold wearing my jandals, though.  So I put on some socks.  

 

Courtesy of Joey Reutman Photography

 

We set up our mattresses outside and slept under the stars. 

  

Courtesy of Joey Reuteman

 

In the middle of the night I got up to actually take a piss and accidentally got some on my sock.  I spent the next day walking around in one sock.  I didn’t want both of my feet to be cold.  Explaining that one to the gang was a riot.  Overall the weekend was sweet as.

 Sweet as?

 Sweet as WHAT?!? That’s pretty much how I reacted, too.  Actually, I reckon I was more flabbergasted that so many people were checking out and commenting on my rear end…  Until I realized this is just another way to say ‘cool.’



Just in case you didn’t catch all that:

Tramping- hiking               Keen- interested                

Chunder- throw up            Jersey- Sweatshirt 

Barbie- BBQ                       Bring a plate- bring food   

Taking the piss- joking     Lollies- candy 

Knackered- drunk             Spin a yarn- chatter          

Paddock- field                     Jandals- flip-flops                       



“Studying” at Uni 

The whole purpose of coming here is to study abroad.  Key word: study.  But honestly, I’ve been doing very little of that.  The best part about it is… It doesn’t really matter. 

By that, I mean I’m still going to pass all my classes and get great grades I just have to put in a lot less work.  The schooling system in New Zealand is significantly more lax than it is in the states.  For example: 

1. Class is not compulsory… Ever. 

2. All the lectures are put online so if you choose not to go to class you can listen to them on your own time.  Or not.  

3. We have an average of 2-3 assignments due for each class over the entire semester.  This includes the final. Most classes don’t have midterms. 

4. Which may seem scary, but my first paper is only three pages long. The prompt was basically to demonstrate that you know how to organize a paper… Really? 

5. The tests? You know exactly what is going to be on them. This is because they give you the questions throughout the semester. Literally, they say “I’m going to ask you this exact question on the final.”

6.  Our mid semester break is two weeks long instead of one. WHAT WHAT!! 

7. We also get a study week instead of a study… Weekend? Basically, another time for me to visit the South Island instead of study.  

8. We call it ‘uni’ here, not college (that’s what high school is called). 

9. You are generally on first name basis with all your professors. Or just ‘hey teach.’ Not really though.  I think that might still be rude. 

10. But you don’t call them professors…. There are different rankings of teachers: lecturers, assistant lecturers…  Other people who stand in front of the classroom and talk at you…. I haven’t quite figured out the rankings yet.  

11. Since you know what’s going to be on the final, you really don’t even have to do all the readings. Unless you’re genuinely interested in the topic. Or you’re a nerd (guilty as charged). 

In addition, Americans have an interesting reputation in the classroom.  I’m assuming it’s because we are all used to a much more strict and challenging school system.  I was in my Food and Eating class the other day (Yes, I am getting credit for this) and noticed a fellow American wasn’t in attendance.  She was supposed to be doing a presentation that day, so the teacher obviously noticed. 

She let us know that the student had emailed her and told her she was sick.  Her response was “I know she’s not lying because she’s American.  And Americans never miss class. So she must be really sick.” 

Later that night I went to meet up with a club on campus.  We were going hiking and not surprisingly the ‘sick’ student was there! The naivety of my professor blows my mind…

I’m off to climb an active volcano for the weekend! I’ll have pictures next week 🙂  

Oh and since I’m sure you don’t really want pictures of uni, here are some from our trip to Auckland this past weekend:





A park that is in a volcanic crater



Full Disclosure: The Truth About Paradise 

I’m on the overnight naked bus heading to Auckland for the weekend, jamming out to Fugazi’s album 13 songs. 

I’ve noticed my past few blogs have all been about some of the horror stories I’ve had since arriving.  I mean, I should be talking about all the incredible things that have been happening (which is… beyond belief, really).  But where’s the fun in that? So instead of looking on the bright side of things I think I will stick to my method so far and discuss everything that’s awful about New Zealand.  Its important you guys don’t get the wrong impression. Here goes… 

The wifi sucks.

I mean really sucks. Sometimes when I’m on skype my calls get dropped.   YEAH! It’s that bad. 

There you have it! That’s the extensive list of everything awful about New Zealand. 

What is really incredible is last night during the full moon we went swimming in a local river (with multiple waterfalls) and I didn’t have to worry about water snakes… because snakes were never introduced in New Zealand.  The hike to the river was lit up with glow worms, which was really magical. 



 In addition, there are no venomous spiders, scorpions, snakes or deadly land mammals.  Unless you get trampled by a herd of sheep, you’re pretty safe. And if you have a fear of flightless birds I guess it can be pretty scary here.  But other than that, there is really nothing dangerous here.  The people aren’t every scary.  You aren’t allowed to carry around  pocket knives, guns or even pepper spray.  However, I’m sure the majority of American women still hide it in their purses (it’s pink, so maybe no one will know what it is).  



On the bus ride up to the wind mill farm we asked some kiwis to come up with some things that are bad about New Zealand. They really struggled and setteld upon the active volcano that is about 1000 years overdue to erupt. There are no signs that this will occur any time soon. 



So, really the worst thing about New Zealand is that people generally don’t know how good they have it here.  I can live with that.