Friday, 25 October 2013

Semester B

Even though I’m technically only half way through my year abroad, as of thursday evening I'll have finished my first semester here! (a mini milestone) Everyone here is finishing classes, handing in final papers – basically the academic year is packing up and people are shipping out, cue  lots of emotional facebook posts coming thick and fast from my block mates about how amazing their year at university has been. All this got me thinking I should do a post to, kind of commemorate my time at Student Village. I still have another semester in New Zealand and I have all my travelling to look forward to, but once the summer is over I’ll be moving into Orchard Park so this is my last time in my room here and my last week here. So this is my summary of my time in Student Village:

People are very friendly. They're also very casual and laid back, which is nice even if a little weird at times as they are 'very' laid back when meeting new people (within an hour I knew everyone's life story and deepest secrets)

Along with this laid back attitude came the laid back dress. Shoes are completely optional in NZ (people go to the super market, shopping centre, lectures, cinema, park etc. all barefoot)

Asian food is everywhere in NZ, particularly sushi, and I’ve been hard pushed to not have sushi every day.

Because of the huge amount of Asian food outlets here I’ve become reasonably competent with chopsticks! (very proud of that)

‘tights’, ‘stocking’ and ‘leggings’ all mean different things here, which was very confusing. (Leggings are called tights and tights are called stockings, but then sometimes stockings are called tights…)

I have watched a ridiculous amount of films here – Kiwis certainly love their ‘movies’, and going to the cinema here is much cheaper than back home (on a Monday it's $7 which is about £3.50)

Everyone says 'sweet as', 'aye' and 'bro' at the end of every sentence for no real reason.

I've become so much more patriotic, England isn't perfect but moving away has given me some major perspective and looking at it objectively we have so much to be proud off which we just don't see or appreciate when you live there (I'm sure that's the case for most countries...)

Disaronno isn’t available in the NZ.  I don’t need to tell you how painful that has been to stomach!

Flip-flops are called 'jandles' and swimming costumes are called 'togs'

There are a lot more bugs, which I really don’t appreciate.

They’re also A LOT more birds, which is kinda nice, accept when they wake me up at 6am by sitting on the bush outside my window..

Avocados – they are on everything here. literally everything, and spaghetti - they put it on pizza?!
Pumpkin. I have never seen so much pumpkin in my life. 
On that note, beetroot (or ‘beets’) are on everything too – particularly burgers?

Roads, oh how i've missed well paved roads - half the roads in NZ are gravel and a lot are just packed dirt.

The stars are so clear here – I’ve never seen so many beautiful night skies (and apparently they get more beautiful on the south island)

Trains, sounds silly but they don't really have trains in NZ, they have 2 as far as I'm aware of. I miss being able to take the train anywhere.

Going catered sucked, me and George spent half our time complaining about the food and as a consequence I developed anaemia (since iron wasn’t a high priority in the vegetarian option)

Also the strict alcohol rules are rubbish 

I know we moan about health and safety, and in some cases it's taken too far, but I've missed basic health and safety rules.. The hot pools? death trap. Roadworks here = terrifying 

There's a lot more racism which has been hard to hear and get used to hearing on a daily basis - there's also lots of swear words which we rarely, if ever, use in the UK which are used in everyday conversations here.

Everyone owns a farm, or almost everyone. Which is really cool, and different since I don't think I know anyone back home who owns or works on a farm.

There are almost no vegetarian options anywhere.

Whitakers and L&P

Everything seems so new here, I must have gotten used to all the old building in Lancaster, but it's strange to walk around entire towns and see no old buildings. 


One week until we set off and we still haven't bought a car or a tent - not leaving it til last minute or anything.. EXCITED!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Pink Hair!

In preparation for summer travelling I decided to dye my hair pink, well the ends of my hair not all of it!  I bleached the ends of my hair first and I actually really liked the ends of my hair being this light brown/blonde, so much in fact i kept the blonde for a couple of weeks - today I finally got round to dying the blonde pink and I really love it! 
The blonde ombre 
 And the PINK
The other day I was having a break from studying and I think being stuck inside all day made me a little crazy so I experimented with my hair..
 I really miss having a bob...

 don't ever let me dye my hair blonde or get my hair cut like this... not a good look!
Just got back in from 'dessert night' at Iguana and tomorrow we're planning to go to half-price cocktails at Easy Tiger  (we realised there's lots of deals and offers we haven't made use of so we're trying to squeeze them in before semester ends)
Today me, Cara, Axel and George booked our hostel for Wellington - ridiculously excited to go travelling!!! 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Midnight Update

Matt just text me, he was driving home from work and saw a Possum! So i threw on some shoes and ran out to finally come face to face with the much talked about New Zealand Possum! 

My verdict? SO CUTE!

In New Zealand they're seen as a pest as people basically kill them on sight, and the way people had described them to be I was basically expecting a giant rat. As it was it was a mix of a squirrel, mini kangaroo and a little bit like a cat! 

I'm glad I've finally seen one, it makes me even more sad about how they're seen in New Zealand now though since I've seen one in person. 

(I did want to get a photo but they're nocturnal and it was just too dark to even try and get one without using flash and scaring the poor thing)


I was ridiculous excited today because after getting up early me, Axel, Cara and Jesse jumped in the car and went to see the home of Hobbits! First order of the day was deciding if the indicator was safe to drive with after Cara crashed it a few days ago...
(yes that is water in the actual light...)
After deciding it was all good and that Axel and Cara just needed to get some orange duct tape and sort it out later (apparently thats what they do in the USA) we set out, not in exactly the right direction as none of us had a map and our internet was down at university and on our phones (we got there in the end, and with time to spare). It was a really scenic drive, as most drives are in NZ and we got to the Matamata information centre in under and hour ready for a bus to take us to the Hobbiton set.

We had an amazing tour guide who managed to keep our group, mostly, together and give us lots of random facts, including a crazy story about girls eating hundreds of plums for half a second of footage
The best bit about hobbiton was by far the crazy detail but into every aspect of it. All the leaves on one tree were individually repainted with nail varnish because Peter Jackson thought they were a shade too light; entire trees were planted, dug up, replanted and then dug up again! Apple trees had every leaf and bud picked off and then alternatives were wired and glued into place, and people were even paid to wear hobbit feet and walk around hobbiton for months before shooting to make it look lived in!
Possibly my favourite hobbit hole, but there were a wealth to choose from!
 Hobbit Hole 1
 Hobbit Hole 2
 Hobbit Hole 3
Hobbit Hole 4
 Hobbit Hole 5
 and I lost count of the doors as there are over 30!

And a hidden one
They were all very pretty and every one had the same detail put into them

I still can't get over how much thought was put into it!
 The vegetable patch (which they do pick and often serve in the Green Dragon)
One of the signs - so cute!
 Bilbo's fake young oak tree
me outside Bag End!! 
The view from Bag End
Jesse taking a picture of the view at the top of the hill
 One or two of the doors open as well so we got to peak in (Jesse photobombing here!)

Our first sight of the Green Dragon over the bridge!

A water mill on the way to get our free drink at the Green Dragon
 We all loved these signs - Smoke Ring Contest on Tuesdays!

 There were a couple of open fires which made it feel super cosy
 Enjoying our free drink, made extra tasty because we managed to get armchairs by the log fire

(click on the picture to see it larger as small-scale doesn't do the rolling hills justice!)
The second speed bump came when we got off the bus at the gift shop and I realised I'd left my purse at the green dragon! It was found straight away and they brought it up on the next tour bus so it wasn't a huge inconvenience, in fact, because of the wait I got chance to take this beautiful shot! I saw it on the bus when we were heading to Hobbiton but there wasn't time to take a photo and I'm so glad I managed to get one.
It's typical of a lot of New Zealand's North Island landscape - lots of sheep, lots of hills! 

I can't wait for summer travelling!
Only a few more weeks and a ton of exams to get through now!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Waikato River

Since I first crossed the Waikato River (probably on my second day in New Zealand) I really wanted to walk along it but every time I had a free day it was cloudy, or I forgot, or something got in the way. Well the past week the weather has been GLORIOUS! It has really started to feel like summer so Saturday I had a much needed lie in then set off to the river, it took a bit longer to get there than I thought, about an hour, as some roads were closed and not knowing the area that well I had to walk the long way round - when I finally got the river I was surprised to find it all paved really well (better than most of the roads actually) and there was a memorial park too!
 Starting off my walk by trying to find my way down to the river

 Memorial park

 You can just see the plane at the end of the path

 There were lots of really nice places to just sit, soak up the sun and enjoy being next to the river

 I came across this sign after about an hour of walking and so i set off on a hunt for the promised 'Wellington ST Beach'!

 I found so many little benches along the way and I can't wait to make use of these spots

 This part of the Waikato river was beautiful and it felt like I kept stopping every 5 minutes to take pictures but I just couldn't resist it was so pretty!

 I had to take a picture of this house as I thought where it was situated was so interesting
 I can only imagine the views from the house were pretty beautiful

 Just as I was becoming sure I'd either gone the wrong way or wellington st beach didn't exist the path opening out to grass with this giant tree and....
 On my right I find the 'beach'! It was tiny, but it had a mini pier, sand, sunbathers and water so I guess that qualifies it as a beach - very cute!
 I was surprisingly tempted to take a dip since the sun was beating down 
(probably not the wisest decision to go at midday)
 The Victoria bridge on my way back from wellington beach
And finally the view from Victoria bridge  

It was a lovely walk and I'm really glad I finally got to explore the river - I know it's going to a place I visit regularly. Campus can sometimes feel a bit.. claustrophobic which seems weird as I never found the campus at Lancaster that way but the past few days I've just really needed to get away from people so escaping to the river was just what the doctor ordered!