Monday, December 13, 2010

Ain't None Left



I'm home from new zealand.
I have soooo much to post on and I can't even begin to think where to begin.
Either way, this song carries a great memory for me in Northland.
The first time I heard this song was in the movie Boy, which already means something to me. But when I heard it again..

I stayed at my friend Toia's place in Whangarei, which is an unbelievably beautiful area on the east coast, where it was humid and warm. That night, I lay in the bed she let me stay in feeling the breeze blow in from the doorway that had only a cloth hanging over it instead of a door. It was dark, but Toia's brother was playing music on the speakers that dominated the living room, neighbored by guitars, drums, and bass guitars. It was Toia's uncle's place, actually, and he was quite the musician.

I lay there thinking there was nowhere more perfect than this. The house was located on top of a steep hill overlooking the bay, with about 5 neighbors in the whole area, most of whom were family members. It was the perfect night-time temperature to feel completely and utterly comfortable. I looked at my boyfriend sleeping next to me and smiled. What else could I need but the beauty of Aotearoa, compassion of strangers, and love from my partner?

Life in Aotearoa is difficult to explain, but this night I spent at Toia's could easily demonstrate the laid back, beautiful nature of Māoris. I had just met her family that day and they offered us a bed to sleep in.
We sat on her back porch listening to music, drinking tea, and just talking about anything and everything. The grass was still wet from the rain that had passed on earlier that evening, but it was still muggy. They cooked boil-up for dinner, which is a sort of dish where greens and pork back bones are cooked in a broth. Delicious. To think that a family I just met could offer me dinner and a place to stay was more than I could have ever expected. To them, it seemed like nothing at all. I am still extremely grateful to Toia and her whānau for this.

I thought about all this as Toia's brother played music in the other room. Suddenly, this song started playing. I felt like I was going to explode from an overwhelming sensation of euphoria. The music, the temperature, the breeze, the company, the kindness, the beauty, everything. Everything was wonderful and I truly fell in love with Aotearoa. There really is nothing more I could need outside of that amazing country.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gutter Black


the song of the moment. this is the theme song to a show called Outrageous Fortune. This show is about "westies" or "bogans" who are pretty much just white trash. [[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westie_(person) ]] They drink cheap beers, have a lot of cars, get into illegal biddings, etc. Either way, the show is totally addicting and pretty 'outrageous.' It's very, very New Zealand.

I celebrated my first guy fawkes day! Though it really wasn't hyped up nearly as much as July 4th would be in the USA, it still resulted in plenty of fireworks going off everywhere across Palmerston North. Just in case you don't know what Guy Fawkes Day is, I'm really not sure I can explain it. All I can say is that it's usually celebrated with fireworks and bonfires. It was a fun night, but nothing too exceptional to report.

One thing I also wanted to bring up at some point (and was only just reminded by the posting of Outrageous Fortune) is that New Zealand produced tv shows are ridiculously cheesy. Though I'm addicted to Shortland Street now, when I first saw it I almost died laughing at how bad the acting, dialogue, and sets. Imagine American soap opera daytime television status.. but at prime time. Pretty epic, but I love it. I don't know why such a low level of drama is considered prime time television, but that is the way it is and I'm not going to question it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kickstarts

In New Zealand, pronunciations of Spanish words never ceases to crack me up. I can't exactly blame Kiwis, it's not like they're super exposed to Spanish things, but when they say Nicaragua as "nee-kah-rah-gyoo-ah" on national television, then I just don't know. Someone in the TV department could've told them how to properly say it? or even come close?

Exams nearly over, my education in New Zealand has just about finished. Sad to say, and I'm trying not to wallow in it, but I missed one of my exams. I thought it was Tuesday and it was actually Monday morning. I've emailed my professor and hopefully he will feel compassion, but who knows. I'll update when something is resolved.

I'm hoping to get 2 more tattoos before I leave, but that's still in debate.

Halloween, celebrated here to the most minimal degree, is at least respectable. If women decide to partake in a halloween party or situation, their outfits are comparatively modest and usually even really clever or scary. Not slutty and semi-formulated concoctions of lingerie. Looking through people's photos every year just gets me angry. Halloween should be fun and creative, not a competition to see how naked someone can get before getting ticketed by the police for indecent exposure. Unless it's a funny naked, which it hardly is, then I disapprove of unnecessary sluttiness. I'm not usually a feminist either. I don't know, it's usually too much and usually just so desperate looking. Women shouldn't have to feel the need to look like semi-low-budget porn stand-ins to feel sexy on a day of dressing up.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Over and Over Again

short post.

the grading system here baffles me. Though, I suppose it reflects a thought I had at some point in my educational upbringing-- if you know at least half the material, you should at least pass. And that's how it is here. A 50% is a C. Which makes a 65% a B. This shocked me when I received my geography project and saw 24 out of 40. I could not believe I'd practically failed a major project until someone informed me I had actually received a B. I don't understand this because it must mean that the standards or expectations for students are much lower.. but they also make it way harder to get A's. Because, not going to lie, I thought my project was pretty damn good. And to get a B on it was a BIT upsetting. And when this grade goes home, it won't say 'this grade was attained in a country where A's are ridiculously hard to get, so consider that when reading this student's grad school application'. It'll just be a B on my transcript. WHICH IS UNACCEPTABLE.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jah Rastafari

Now for a post about actual New Zealand things...

#1 introduction to Thanksgiving
I decided that since I'll be in Aotearoa during thanksgiving that I should have one here with my whānau (family) that I've got here. I think the best part is introducing everyone to foods that have no importance or are eaten commonly here. These include: Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, cornbread, biscuits, and (basically) Turkey. It was even better when questions like 'what does pumpkin pie look like??' and 'can we dress as pilgrims and indians??' were asked. I can't wait to have a proper thanksgiving dinner with kiwis. I've never made whole meals from scratch, but since biscuits, cornbread, and cranberry sauce don't exist here, it'll be exciting times prepping for that.


#2 savory baked goods
Another thing about Aotearoa is that the baked goods that mostly exist here are savory. Beef and cheese pies, ham scones... The baked goods that are sweet and DO exist, are really not very nice. The cookies are hard, cakes are called things like 'chocolate slab', fruit loafs are often topped with a strange pink frosting, and doughnuts do not taste like doughnuts should. Not to seem ethnocentric, but as an American lover of pastries, these pastries just don't cut it. Though I do appreciate a nice potato-top pie (hamburger meat inside, mashed potatoes on top), I like to keep my pies sweet and fruity.

#3 slang
I thought since I've been here for quite some time now, I've collected quite a bit of slang and haven't really posted about it before now.
New Zealand words = American translation

mean = cool
shot = thanks/cool
fully = totally
dear = expensive ex. "those sausages are quite dear."
tea = any meal really, but usually dinner
pudding = dessert
pissed = drunk
otp - on the piss = getting drunk
keen = willing ex. "I'm keen as to get pissed"
churr = no real translation.. hard to explain really, but sortof a farewell derived from cheers.
(adjective) as = hella (adjective) ex. "that salad was fresh as!"
snapped = caught ex. "he got snapped cheating on his exam"
suss = sort ex. "suss out who's going to be driving tomorrow"
heaps = tons ex. "there'll be heaps of food!"
feed = meal ex. "we're going to have a mean feed"
hard = word of agreement. ex. "that was awesome." "hard."
hardout = intensely ex. "She'll be studying hardout tomorrow"
lad = boy, male ex. "he's a big lad."
lollies = candies
nice = delicious
mince = hamburger meat
gap = leave ex. "let's gap it out of here."
cuppa = any sort of hot drink ex. "want a cuppa?"
fizzy drink = soda
flash = cool, expensive or neat ex. "that's a flash phone, is it an iphone?"
flog = steal
fringe = bangs (this being one of the must frustrating ones as I continually refer to my bangs as .. bangs.. and people give me odd looks because of it)
knackered = tired
crook = sick or hungover
capsicum = bellpepper
chemist = pharmacist
winge = complain

okay i'm sure that's enough, but hopefully that was interesting. It sure was interesting slowly learning what each of those words meant...
+ a bunch of cities have nicknames...
Palmerston North - Palmy
Wellington - Wellyz
Christchurch - Chch
Auckland - Aucks
Gisbourne - Gizzy
...

#4 preference for 'meatier' girls
I've noticed the men here tend to prefer girls who aren't all that skinny. I don't really want to say much more on this, except that I've noticed it and think it's interesting.

#5 candies
the "lollies" here are also quite different to the ones at home. More generally, it's gummy candies that are preferred here to things like skittles, starburst, and even chocolate bars. I find them quite tacky, but some can be nice. There are strange, old-fashioned candies like things called Redskins or Eskimos, which are basically gummy lollies in the shape of native americans and, you guessed it, eskimos. Pretty sure that wouldn't fly at home.

#6 P.C.
New Zealanders are way less "P.C." than Americans. I heard a commercial on the radio for an Asian restaurant with an Asian man speaking in an outrageously stereotyped Chinese accent. I couldn't believe I was hearing it on the radio, but everyone else thought it was normal. As well, there was a commercial on TV about erectile disfunction (And this wasn't playing too late at night.. maybe 8pm) and it showed two men with their pants down, hands up, playing the piano standing up... I'll leave that one up to your imaginations. Either way, Kiwis are not afraid to say or advertise what they want.

#7 Reggae
Reggae music is huge here (especially amongst Māoris). A certain connection was Rastafarian beliefs has been established and many sing about Jah and whatnot. However, I'm not too sure how aware of Jah and Zionism Kiwis actually are, as one of my friends once asked me 'what IS Jah?' Either way, I am a HUGE fan of Kiwi Reggae bands, as well as a Hawaiian reggae group called Kalohe Kai

This is 1814 (Who I saw at the Waitangi Day Festival in Auckland at the beginning of the year..) singing Jah Rastafari

Friday, October 15, 2010

Something In the Water

This post ... is dedicated to Kempy (Presley) Reweti and Terewai Rikihana.
They're the co-presidents of the Māori club (Manawatahi) and they are fabulous.

Kemp has such energy and passion for everything he does, which is incredibly infectious. While some are afraid to curse in front of his "wholesome" self, I feel more inclined to spew profanities and insults his way. He does so much for manawatahi, and even so much for all his friends. He gets excited about winning online bowling games and making front row for kapahaka. As accepting as he is, if he catches you with beer in his spa (watching his Sky tv) he'll kick you out. Kemp is one of a kind and I am so glad to know him!!

As for Terewai, she is easily one of funniest, easy to get along with people I know. She'll just find ways to make people laugh, and always finds a way to get me, especially when I'm in the zone studying. She has a long way to go in terms of looking like a gangster, but she's getting there. There's also the fact that she inspires me to pūkana and finish my assignments on time, which isn't something many people care enough to do. She has also done so much for manawatahi. Anyone who doesn't know tere should get to know her asap, because she is great.

These two are great friends that I've got and I would never have expected to meet such wonderful people. Since it's the end of the year, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the people that have affected my journey, and Tere and Kemp have both directly and indirectly affected my life so much that I can't help but make an entire post to their awesomeness.


Kemp getting excited about online bowling... or possibly anything, really.
Terewai inspiring me to pūkana
co-prezzies at atawhai (studying hard? ha)
FAMILY PORTRAIT hahaha

Kemp & Tere,
Thank you thank you thank you for being wonderful co-presidents to manawatahi, and for being two of the greatest friends I've had in New Zealand (or even the world)!! This is to the long nights spent at atawhai, ngā hui, spontaneous dances, games of tahi-rua-toru..., always having a mean feed for manawatahi, and just for everything you do and are!
arohanui,
Hera

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cool Me Down

I keep starting posts
and then they get accidentally deleted..!

First, I want to dedicate this post to Manawatahi.
Much of what has been going on in my life lately has been a direct result of Manawatahi, and I could not be more happy about that.
The Māori student association at Massey has literally made my experience here in New Zealand a thousand times better than it could have been otherwise.
I've really been able to be immersed in Māori culture, I've made the most amazing friends (and boyfriend) that are practically family now, and I've been allowed to partake in things that I could only dream of being involved with.
I owe so much to Manawatahi!

I learned a whole kapahaka bracket (Māori song & dance.. and haka) and not only performed it, but performed it at a competition.. and we got 2nd place! I had to learn the poi for it, and I pushed myself to know it well enough to perform, and that was in a matter of 2-ish months. The poi is deceivingly hard.
I also went to an event called Te Huinga Tauira (basically a Māori student get together) where 7 or so universities attended. It was a wonderful experience where I got to stay on a marae, practice my Māori language, and meet more awesome Māoris.

I also visited a place called Castle point, and stayed at a beach house just south of it which was pure new zealand. It was at the bottom of some big hills, right on the beach full of big rocks to climb and wild waves. Basically just a street of about 10 houses lined this beach, and that's how I've found many beach areas around Aotearoa exist. Which is, in my opinion, the perfect type of place to be.

Also witnessed my first legal lesbian wedding, which was also in a marae. That was fun. I love that New Zealand has legal homosexual weddings. It's interesting though that it was only in 1993 that a Human Rights Act was passed that made discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation illegal. From there NZ has come quite a way in a matter of years.

Not sure what else to mention... but at least here's an update.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No Other One

I know I've been severely overdue for an update, but I just wanted to write a quick little incident that happened today.

I met a lovely girl today who, upon trying to find out more about me, had this conversation with me...

"So what made you come back [to NZ]?"
"I dunno. Just liked it I guess"
"Just wanted to come back to your roots?"
"What?"
"Both your parents are Māori?"
"oh, no, I'm Filipino."
"So... You're not Māori at all?"

which resembled a certain conversation I had at home with my then manager...
"Your last name doesn't sound Mexican...!"
"No, I'm half white."
"Oh, so your mom is Mexican?"
"No, my mom is Filipina."
"So, your dad is Mexican?"
"No, my dad is white..."
"So... you're not Mexican?"

The ethnic ambiguity never ends. I have to go to Europe now to see what they think.

I guess I can update quickly and if I have the time, I'll come back and post more.
Jess's dairy farm was awesome. I milked cows and went to a giant farm expo, which was beyond awesome (All I have to say is "TRACTOR RACES"). After, I went to Mike's who lives on the West Coast (REPRESENT) in a little town outside of Stratford, which is pretty much middle of nowhere. We went to beaches which were beautiful and we watched both seasons of United States of Tara. Lazed around the last bit of vacation, which was very well needed.

This semester I'm taking (if I haven't already mentioned) Māori language 1B, Māori custom, lore and economics, Field Work in Human Geography, and Anthropological Enquiry. I've still maintained my participance in the Māori club, which I'm enjoying... I've started cooking a bit more, but not really.

Since I've learned Māori language, I've realized Tagalog is pretty similar grammatically ... so I'm starting to learn Tagalog! Success. Maybe now I can really actually be Filipino and people will know it..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

my short film!



And, anything else to say?
My friends Ariki and Iwi keep saying they'll watch the world cup with me, and everytime they fall asleep about 10 mins in. fail!
I've been relaxing completely to the max past few days. sleeping, eating, talking, world cup-ing. Going to Tokoroa in a few days to visit Jess at her dairy farm. Cows!

I know I have things to mention about other things I've been thinking about with New Zealand.. but..

Friday, June 11, 2010

Calling and Not Calling My Ex

FINALS ARE DONE! (err.. exams.)
I took my final Māori language exam today and it feels fantastic. I stayed up literally all night watching the world cup games, and ended up sleeping through basically all of the France vs. Uruguay game. It was a fun night of Joe yelling obscenities about Mexico and my new friend Roger and I going nuts when Mexico (finally) scored.

Speaking of the game, it was absolutely ridiculous. The amount of missed opportunities, for BOTH teams, was depressing. Mexico can play so much better than they did and they should have won that game no problem. I will admit South Africa kicked it up before Mexico did and deserved that beautiful goal they got, but Mexico should have seen that and gone full-on after that... I can't comment too much on the France game, but the fact that it, too, ended in a draw (at 0-0? really?) was an upsetting end to the first two games.

I went into my Māori exam with an hour of sleep, which really did not hinder my abilities to spank exams' butts. My geography exam had an opportunity to let loose my aggression towards subtle racism in western education by taking apart an exam question that asked 'Explain what older people do to avoid social and spatial exclusion,' to which I began my answer with 'the only way to answer this question is through a Western, Capitalist viewpoint because in many non-Western cultures, the elderly are cared for and respected. Hence, the elderly would not need to find ways in order to avoid social and spatial exclusion. It is only because of this capitalist perspective that since the elderly are no longer doing 'labor' they are no longer contributing to society and are thus rendered useless.' Something along those lines. I then went on to answer the question, but I just had to point out that by making it such a general question and expecting everyone to read it thinking it applies to all peoples is wrong.
My Treaty of Waitangi exam was bull, not even going to discuss it. And my Anthropology exam, on the best subject in the world, went well but I'm afraid I may not have written enough. Oh well, it's over now!

Back to the world cup, I'm extremely disappointed at how unpopular soccer actually is here. Despite the fact that the All-Whites are in the World Cup, no one really cares and considers soccer to be a 'poofta' sport, unlike rugby, which is pure, 100% manly manliness with man sauce on top. I was hoping to come to a country that would celebrate the World Cup the way any European-based country would -- but, sadly, I am left to the night-owls of Atawhai Rd who stay up at odd hours of the night to watch the games with unrelenting fervor. Which, actually, is the way I'd want it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

All the Things You Are

Happy!
Exams almost over, and my film was definitely a success. Maybe not deep or symbolic, but just the way I like it -- funny and straight-up. I'm no good at thinking abstractly and once I get my film online, you'll see what I mean. The topic was "mihimihi" which is a Māori introduction, generally including things like a person's heritage and where they come from. Sometimes I wish I could make really "original" artsy art, but I make what I make and there will be those who appreciate it for what it is, and I'm glad.

I'm sad I'm missing out on the new LA craze -- food trucks. I love how LA has food crazes. I love LA, basically.

I love NZ, too, though. I've been experiencing more of it lately as I've been staying at farms and driving up to Tauranga for long weekends. Chasing cows/sheep on a quad-bike has easily been one of the highlights of my life. Dream come true, for sure. Also, visiting Jess in Tokoroa on the way down from Tauranga and trying to touch the dairy cows was extremely fun. Exams are weirdly formal and pretty much the whole grade is based on this one exam. I miss midterms and final projects that helped save your grade from bombing exams!

In terms of analysis of kiwi culture, I've been reading a lot of things about the fact that the world is becoming homogenized and a singular, american-like culture... and this seriously worried me before I came here because it wouldn't really be like leaving America. But, I'm seriously finding that there are still core differences in culture and habits. Even though the media is the same and certain preferences for food (like McDonald's) are the same... The fact is, the way this media and food is taken in is completely different from how Americans take it in. I can't exactly say (having not actually talked to anyone about it) how said media/foods are interpreted, but I can imagine it's something to do with the fact that American television/movies/music are often about a place kiwis can't identify with. So I suppose it can't exactly mean the same things as it does to people from the areas in the movies/songs.

Anyway, the point of that was that I'm glad I'm experiencing a culture different from my own. Though there are a lot of similarities, it's nice to find the differences too. Like meat pies!

And following that note, it was SO weird to hear the song 'California girls' by Katie Perry because... Why would they play that in NZ? I just don't understand how certain songs like that, which are clearly particular towards a specific American location, can succeed in a country like NZ... It made me proud to be a CA girl, but to hear it here was just weird. Especially since practically no one here can relate to it! The media shouldn't be promoting foreign pride, it should be playing songs like 'TARANAKI GIRLS' ... hahahaha you know, or something along those lines. But that's a whole other discussion about American domination in things like media (and even though it's not creating a homogenous culture, it's certainly pissing me off).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Amari Szi Amari

Finals coming up!
Apparently "finals" is an American term. I forget this too often when I say things to friends like 'Oh, I have to study for finals' and they respond with things like, '...oh. Exams.' and I don't even think about it until much later.


Also, I realized that those of us from So Cal almost never forego fashion for functionality. Our weather is never harsh enough for us to think 'Hmm I'll wear the jacket that actually keeps me dry and warm.' We will mostly always go 'Well, this jacket is cute and will keep me dry if I keep out of the rain as much as possible, and it really won't rain for more than an hour, so yeah...' and because of this, we never really purchase functional clothing. Hence, it is extremely difficult to find functional clothing, and that is why I have come to New Zealand unprepared for this wet, cold lifestyle. It was pouring rain today and what did I go to school in? My snow jacket. Because I had nothing else that would successfully keep me dry and warm. Also, I lost my umbrella... I wore my polka-dotted rain boots, which got quite a few remarks about how 'cute' they were. Again, fashion before functionality. I can't say for sure yet, but it seems like the general rain boots worn here are gumboots- normal black boots.






I've been really happy with my friends and experiences. I still find myself in interesting situations and am always happy to be there, no matter what. Tonight was a night all on its own. It started with Nick, Jess's, Emma and my friend John doing chatroulette, which (in case you don't know) is the dirtiest random video chat website ever. You get randomly hooked up with someone else who has a webcam and the intention is to chat and get to know random people. However, the outcome is many, MANY men masturbating and demanding 'tits.' This proved hilarious for my group because we simply made them feel as uncomfortable as possible by calling them names, showing horribly lewd images, and Nick making funny faces at them. It was awesome. After that, I went for a swim at the lido center with John and nothing feels better than getting a good exercise.
Following this was the social Volleyball semi-finals which Manawatahi took part in. I'm not nearly good enough at volleyball to have put myself into the game, but I sat and cheered on the Māori club that has so graciously accepted me into their whanau.

Manawatahi on kiwiana day (I'm in there behind the girl in the Leopard shirt) performing 'Te Ahu A Turanga'





Though they lost, we had a grand old time. We played an informal game between ourselves and then played a good game of basketball. I partook in both of those and genuinely made a fool of myself, but played hard nonetheless. Worked up another sweat, and was running on no dinner. After that, John, Ariki, Iwi, Joey and Kendra were keen on going to a local pub to watch a rugby (league?) game between New South Wales and Queensland. I was taken along and had an entertaining time until I was too bloody exhausted and had the loungies pick me up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Turn it Round

It's getting particularly frustrating when the languages I know are constantly being jumbled in my head.
Spanish and Māori are often trouble areas as words sound so similar, I'll start writing my Māori homework in Spanish. As well, I go to a Māori tutorial Monday nights where our tutor encourages us to learn Māori words through association with hand movements, or as she calls it, sign language. This proves problematic as well because I start to throw in my ASL hand movements with Māori words, which becomes even more bizarre.
It's entirely frustrating when I actually try to recall the Māori word for something and all that is ramming me inside of my head is the word in Spanish.

The other thing I noticed is American humor is entirely and utterly different from Kiwi humor. I find shows like Community and movies like Step Brothers as hilarious, but many others find it mundane and slapstick. I would never consider Community slapstick! Witty, clever, random- Yes. I recently remembered the beauty that is the Bud Light Real Men of Genius commercials and thought I'd share some with my Kiwi friends, but I thought against it because I figured it wasn't their type of humor. Tragic, I know, because the Real Men of Genius commercials are actually genius. There should be a commercial about Mr. Real Men of Genius Commercial Writer.

So, every week that I actually do my anthropology readings, I am constantly surprised. This week's reading discussed how Marriage Sex Manuals from the 1920s-1960s used cooking to maintain women's roles as household objects. One particular excerpt from a book called Technique of Marriage written by Mary Borden (1933) compares women leaving the kitchen to impending communistic doom. Should women leave their homes, it says, and work in "Quick-lunch counters," then home cooking will soon be lost forever and families will go to the local "communal dining hall" and be fed the same food all the time. Amazing. I love blatant, outrageous propaganda.

I'm currently in the process of making a short film about the meeting between a Mexican student and a Māori one. Each character regards the other as being of the same culture and awkwardness ensues when a hongi(touching of noses) is attempted. I'm not sure how successful it'll be (as I'm trying to avoid dialogue) and whether it'll even be interesting... But it's all I got for now so there it is.

Speaking of Māori culture, I recently went to Māori graduation, which was easily the best graduation I've ever been to. For each graduate that had family sitting in the audience, or even just a friend who cared enough, there was a song and/or haka done for their success. It was particularly exciting to hear the different hakas, waiatas (songs), and people coming together to express congratulations. Usually after the name was spoken, the family would begin singing or someone would start the haka and to some it may seem like this would take forever to get through a graduation, it made it 1002984029x more bearable. Instead of the typical name, name, name, name process, it was name, explosion, name, song, name, explosion, etc. Excitement the whole way through. I want to actually be Māori now to have a haka at my graduation, and to even have a graduation as light-hearted and involving as theirs was. I even did a haka with my fellow art students, which was exciting for me because I was actually doing what I'd been watching videos of for months before my arrival into this wonderful country. One thing I found exceptionally interesting was the fact that 10 years ago, Sir Mason Durie (a very influential and important Māori educator) claimed that by 2010 they were hoping to have 25 Māori doctorate graduates... and this year, they made it to 55. That made me really happy.


I can't think of anything else, but I'm sure that's a sufficient post for now.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lost Coastlines

"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand, there is no going back."
I have been thinking about this quote a lot lately and it seems to ring true. A little dramatic, maybe, but still. Whatever, going home is quite a way off so won't think about it now.

To finally update you on everything that has happened since April 7, I went to Tonga, had a weekend getaway to Taupo with the Loungies, and owned at uni.

The trip to Tonga was a non-stop adventure. From the night Zach and I checked into the hostel with an enormous kiwi bird attached to the roof of the building to the 11 hour long bus ride back to Palmy, it was the epitome of adventure. So, Zach and I check into the hostel near the airport (since we have an early flight and don't want to muck around with buses) and decide to walk around this middle-of-nowhere city in the middle of the night. We get some Mango Lassi and Naan at a randomly open Indian restaurant. Go back to the hostel where weird bathroom noises are abundant and pure, utter strangeness is everywhere. PS. the first time I walked into my dorm, there were two french girls in bed with their lacey underwear all over the floor. Definitely interesting.
We get to the airport at 5am, check in and watch the sunset from a window while waiting for a gate to appear for our flight on the notification board. Unfortunately, 2 minutes before boarding time, no gate shows up. But, there is another flight to Tonga at exactly the same time and that flight has a boarding gate, so we figure it's the same flight and we head to that gate. Once we get there, we see our flight has a gate, and it's on the completely other side of the airport. We walk back, about 15 minutes after initial boarding time ... and they haven't started boarding. Typical New Zealand.
Land in BEAUTIFUL Tonga to wonderful, warm humidity and clear, blue skies. The airport is about 5 minutes long and we have to be driven to the domestic airport, which was a decent drive away. The domestic airport was about 2 minutes long and we get there to find out our flight to the smaller island of Ha'apai has been cancelled because the only plane they have is broken. Zach and I settle for having to stay on the main island for a night and excitedly wait for a shuttle to pick us up, when the woman behind the desk comes out to us to tell us 'we found a 6 person plane and since I'm special, I get to pick who goes on it.. and I'm picking you two!' So, we get on a 6 seater plane and fly to Ha'apai! Scary? definitely. Awesome? No doubt about it. Zach says it was because I'm brown she liked us, but whatever it was, we were glad.
Land in Ha'apai to an airport that is half a minute long. We try to get a hold of our transportation guy, but he thinks we aren't coming anymore because our flight was cancelled and was off diving. The airport workers were leaving since our flight was the last, and they decide to just give us a ride on the back of their truck to where our guy was. We wait outside his office for about 5 minutes until he shows up and tells us to go to the local grocery store to get some food to munch on when we get to the (even smaller) island of Uoleva. The grocery store has close to no actual groceries in it, except for instant noodles, crackers, and corned beef.
We take a speed boat to Uoleva and our 'guide' lets us get off over a coral reef to snorkel for half an hour. We arrive on the island greeted by a one-armed man who owned the 'resort.' He wasn't expecting us, so there was no dinner, but we were quite happy with having a bonfire built on the beach and hearing stories in broken English from the one-armed man. We watched distant lightning storms dance on far waters and gazed at the endless starry sky above us. It was the most beautiful night.
The next four days consisted mainly of laying on the beach, swimming in the warm waters, laying in the hammock, eating green coconuts, and eating fresh fish/lobster for dinner. The woman who cooked for us was the daughter of the one-armed man and she had some fantastic stories to share as well. One day I decided to walk around the whole island, which was probably a mistake, but fun nonetheless. I found crabs and wild cows and a random rain storm. It was an extremely difficult walk and I was really hungry, but getting back to fish and lobster dinner made it well worth it. On the last night, however, Zach and I were staying up just talking, and it was pitch black because it was really cloudy. We were sitting under our porch and suddenly
When we went back to the main island, we waited in an empty airport from 6pm till 3am. We watched movies on my laptop and a woman who worked there (the only one at the time) brought us cardboard boxes to sleep on. Oh, Tonga. We finally got on our flight and made it back to Auckland where we had a hard time figuring out how to catch our Naked Bus back to Palmy. We had to catch a local bus to the Manukau City (Manukau City=South Auckland=Compton, apparently) and we waited again for the bus to come at 8:15am. The bus didn't get there till about 8:30, however, after we had more than convinced ourselves we were stranded in Auckland.
The bus was horrendously long, but as it turns out, my friend Marcus was on the same bus and we found this out in Rotorua where we spent the rest of the bus ride sharing lollies and stories of whatever. Made it back to Palmy alive.

The trip to Taupo was equally as nice.
I suppose this trip requires an introduction to the loves of my life - Emma, Mike, (big) Jess, (little) Jess, and Nick.
Emma is the most upfront, sweetest, mom-like bitch in the world. She's got the fiercest look, the most photogenic face ever, and the things she says are as random as they are perfect.
Mike is my sassy gay friend. He stays up with me at night watching television shows on my laptop and we always, always have a good laugh. Not to mention, he's hot hot HOT.
Big Jess and Nick are lumped into one as they are THE couple. People talk about those couples that are perfect, but you never really see them... Nick and Jess are that couple. They've got true love and it's the kind that makes everyone else happy around them. Nick is a loyal, hilarious friend and Jess has a heart of fuckin' gold.
Little Jess is basically my girlfriend and I love her. She's innocent and bitchy at the same time, which makes hanging out with her awesome.
It started with a drive in a rented Air Force van to Taupo mostly in the night time. We got to Emma's bach and just lounged around, but got there kinda late in the evening so we went to bed soon after. The next day involved some more lounging, making pancakes on the most un-non-stick cooking devices ever, taking model photos and overall laugh-inducing activities. It was little Jess's birthday that day so the two Jesses, Nick and I went to Taupo's geothermal baths while Mike and Emma stayed at the bach to cook us dinner. The thermal baths were FANTASTIC, but full of creepy old men meandering in the waters like crocodiles on the hunt. In hopes of warding them off, little Jess and I started discussing our recent "sex change surgery" in hopes of convincing them they were actually checking out ex-men.
We went back to the bach to find the most amazing dinner prepared for us. It was a beautiful evening following a beautiful day and there was nothing more we could ask for. The night followed when little Jess's friends from high school came over to party with us in celebration. Little Jess and her friend Shaunnie, however, got drunk much too quick and the night ended early for them. The rest of us sat around finding forms of entertainment in burning cards, exchanging jokes and stories, and eating Jess's chocolate muffins given to her from her mother.
The next morning was perhaps most interesting for me as it was Anzac day, similar to the American Veterans day or Memorial day. Since New Zealand is so much smaller, the holiday is a much more celebrated event where those in the service gather at around 5.30 in the morning and march through town to a ceremony where they bring on the dawn with a speech and service about something to do with the Kiwis who served in WWI and WWII. It was bizarre for me to wake up (after 2 hours of sleep) and gather with a large group of military people as well as family members of said military people and possibly other randoms. We marched alongside Nick (who is in the Air Force) and somehow sat through the bizarre service held at Taupo's town center. The march was led by a bagpipe band, which I think says it all.
The rest of the day involved absolutely nothing except lounging around watching trashy American television. We drove home in the late afternoon and discovered the most amazing sunset that reflected beautifully on Lake Taupo. The drive back was full of singing along to old 90s music as well as Disney movies.
Definitely one of the best trips I've had in my life, and I can't wait to see what other experiences I have with these people I so dearly love!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Eyes as Candles

I'm back in Auckland.
My day in Taupo was fairly interesting, but more not interesting.
It was raining the day I left and during the bus ride it was difficult to take pictures because of the water-stained windows. The interesting thing was that for about half the trip, it was practically a one-lane road and windy as hell. Then it was raining really hard, started hailing, on a windy, hilly, one-lane road. It was awesome. The landscape is beautiful though and really reminded me of California, which was comforting.

Taupo is a beautiful town lakeside to a giant lake in the middle of New Zealand. I got picked up by a woman who worked at the hostel I was staying at and the hostel was actually about the size of a somewhat large house. I shared a room with two Israeli girls who didn't say a word to me except 'is it okay?' (to turn on the heater) one girl was really pretty though.
On my first half-day there my lovely, sexy and wonderful girlfriend Jess B-block came down to visit me and took me around Taupo (there wasn't much of it). We kicked it in the classy McDonald's for about 2 hours with her friends Jake and Ellen (I might be remembering these names wrong) which was entertaining. We walked around to look at food places and little trinket stores and Jess totally shouted me a scone, which was DELICIOUS. She made me devour every thing they gave me though (in terms of all the jam and cream) because it was a 6 dollar scone.
I went back to my hostel and studied te reo Maori like a true gangster.

Woke up the next day and got a ride to town at 10am. I found out about huka falls and arranged for a shuttle pick up at 11:45, so I walked around a bit and purchased a wool sweater from a thrift store because it was so unbelievably cold. Went to huka falls, which was a part of the Waikato river which condenses really tightly for a bit which leaves roaring rapids. It was quite beautiful to look at. Afterwards, I went back to town and sat by the lake for about 2 hours, because I'm the type of person who can sit and do nothing for hours and never get bored.

Caught the bus, took a lovely trip up to Auckland with a beautiful sunset against a beautiful landscape and came into nite-lite Auckland, which gave me the same feeling of driving into SF at night. Love! So now I'm enjoying Auckland at Stefan's house because his parents are so kind to take me in for a few nights... Getting tattooed tomorrow!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lately

#1 I've been hanging out with a lot of people younger than me, which has not happened since Junior year in high school. And by younger, I mean a year - 3 years younger. Even just a year younger is weird for me. I'm so used to my 25 - 35 year old friends... But, it's working out. Age is just a number, after all. But being able to say things like 'I'm older than you' is really not a sentence I'm used to.

#2 Had a mean Māori weekend. Watched River Queen and Whale Rider one night (well, and Whale Rider like 4 times in one day). River Queen was a movie about the Taranaki land wars (I think) and how a pakeha woman was caught between supporting her colonial 'family' and the Māori she was beginning to respect and love. It was really poorly directed & edited. Whale Rider was as nice as ever.

Went to a Māori family party on Saturday night which was really interesting. A pitbull chained to a car parked in the front lawn, tons of family members everywhere -- some sleeping, some eating, chatting, drinking -- and hangi! Hangi, if I haven't mentioned it before, is traditional food cooked in the ground. Truly delicious. Walking room to room meeting family members and hearing them talk about the events of the day and night before was particularly great. One particular event was when random "FOB" islander guy came strolling up to the party, naked save for a blanket he wore around himself, and partaking in it like he was a part of the family. The house was small, but cozy with old wallpaper and high cielings. A single hallway led through the center of the home to a small kitchen at the end, with about 3 rooms on either side of the hallway. Mattresses were strewn across the floors of nearly every room as all the family members would occassionally pass out or lay together to watch television. It was especially warming to see all the children huddled around the television with the elderly members behind dozing on the couch. I played some boxing game with my friend Jerrau, his brother and cousin.

Afterwards, I watched Once Were Warriors, which was intensely intense. For those who have not heard of it, this movie was about domestic abuse and problems with urban Māoris. It was bloody, violent and depressing... but a rather good film, I'd say. Next day (today), watched Boy. Boy was another film about Māoris and it was both quirky/humorous as well as poignant and emotional. If anyone saw Eagle vs. Shark, it was the same director. It was REALLY good and I hope at some point it shows up in America because friends back home should definitely see it. Very good!

Tomorrow I'm off to Taupo then to Auckland where I'll be getting my Horse of Rohan tattoo, and then to Tonga for 5 days! Will update then.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Alive With the Glory of Love

How do I get up and leave here in 8 months time?

How do I go home and start where I left off?

As Frodo so eloquently put it, 'How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back?'

I'm obviously exaggerating but to a certain extent I believe it. I feel like this New Zealand experience is completely different from most university students who up and go to another country. They usually already live in dorms and have moved out of home to go to University. I, on the other hand, had never left home before, never been away from the comfort of my mother's cooking for more than 2 weeks. And suddenly, at the age of 20, I transplanted my life from home to a country halfway around the world. I started everything over! This feels like a new life that I started all on my own, and after a year it'll really start to feel like my own. Now, how do I just leave that behind?
I guess I really gotta start loving where I am and what I'm doing. I mean, I'm already loving everything that's happening. I've been homesick, but soon this will be home.

I've made some truly fantastic friends, whom I am extremely grateful for having had the privilege of meeting. You all know who you are and thank you for making my life here worth calling a life. Without you guys this would still be a vacation, a temporary existence before going home to the US. You've truly helped me to live here. (:
yuppp my neighbor are the beesssstttt [: white white white!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Land of Make Believe

Something I never thought I'd actually do: Fly to Tonga and stay on a beach fale.
Something I'll be doing in 2 weeks: Flying to Tonga and staying on a beach fale.
I was planning on doing the South Island for my 2 week break, but then my (Best) friend (EVER) Zach said he was going to Tonga for a week, I knew I couldn't let this opportunity pass.
Before I left for NZ I was really intent on staying in one of the Pacific Islands for a bit because I really wanted to see more Islander culture than just Māori... But, I convinced myself from it because of prices and not wanting to go alone.
However, when I found out that Zach was actually going I knew I had to! It was a sign! And really cheap!
Total cost for about 5 days of Tongan adventure =
$290 US round trip from Auckland to Nukualofa (Tonga)
$90 US one-way from Nukualofa to Ha'api (smaller island in the archipelago)
$121 US round trip boat ride to beach fale, 5 days of meals and stay, and round trip taxi
so, ~$500 which, I think, is WELL WORTH IT!

Another point of excitement for this upcoming break:
Finally getting my horse of rohan tattoo on April 8th at 11 am.
I've been planning on this tattoo for about two years now and I'm more than excited to get it because 1) I've been craving a tattoo for ages and 2) the artist is really good.

Also, going to Taupo for a day! Which probably isn't that exciting, but I'm always up for something I've never done before and doing it alone is always an adventure for me. I was just going to take a bus right up to Auckland but decided an 8 hour bus ride didn't sound appealing.. so I'm stopping in Taupo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Constant Knot

short post --
I noticed something I really don't like about the kiwi accent is the way they say things like 'known' 'grown' etc.
they say it like 'know-en'. That really bothers me!
and the other day in my Food & Eating class, we were discussing risk and fears about food, and part of the lecture was about terrorist infiltration of food... and the lecturer went on to say something along the lines of '...but then terrorists attacked here.'
Which really surprised me because I expected her to say something like 'America' or 'London' or something... I thought this was strange. As far as I know (and I'm fairly certain I'm correct) there have been no terrorist attacks in New Zealand.. so essentially, kiwis should have no fear of terrorist bio-attacks? Strange.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Off by Heart

This past weekend was bizarre but awesome.
Friday I woke up hells of late for art class but went. Had lunch with Wiki first which was more than entertaining as I attempted to teach him Spanish. Then went to class for a bit, came back and chilled aaaaall night with Toia, Tiaki and Grant (for a bit). We got pizzas, chips and watched Mean Girls in Toia's room. Awesome night.

Saturday I went to town with Wiki to look for a dress (I'm going to a FORMAL DINNER for the military with him) and there was absolutely nothing. We walked all through the mall, through the square and found ... nothing. So we had lunch at a cafe off the square and chilled in a park for a bit. Then I bought Toia and Tiaki a box of Tui and left to do some homework with TREVOR! I don't know if he's reading this, but he's the best! The Lounge Crew (Jess #1, Mike, Emma, Nick, Brendan, Jess #2) picked me up from Trevor's to go to a flat warming party where we decided to be somewhat social and met some people. As we were leaving I saw this brown kid and assumed he was Maori so I said to him 'Ka kite!' to which he smiled and I said 'or is it Ina Hora?' and he said 'I'm not Maori!' I know how he feels.
We drove off to FERGUR KING and had a mean feed. I went to town after WITHOUT the Lounge Crew and met Toia, Shayna and Trevor at High Flyers. Danced till 3am when it closed and went home with Shayna, Jerrau (army kid) and a random South African dude. Needless to say, it was COMPLETELY random. We sat on the swingset that overlooks some part of Palmerston North and talked for a while then we all went to sleep (at around 5-ish).

Sunday, I woke up at 6:45am to go to Wellington. Got picked up by Wiki around 7:30am and had a great, early morning drive through the country. Walked around Wellington eating unhealthy food and shopping for a dress. Had a PERFECT DRESS experience as we went into the last shop and found a dress in black and a size too big that I liked.. but I asked if there was the same dress in purple and they said 'only in a size 8' which I thought might be too tight, but I'd give it a shot... and it was PERFECT. Successful trip. Then got Movenpick (YES) and sat in a park where the breeze was blowing, sun was shining, sausages were sizzling and reggae was playing. It was pure and utter comfort. Took a nap, got up and went to (Cafe Ice .. it's spelled some crazy way I don't remember) and I got a neat little gelato milkshake thingy. Walked back to the car and went to Wiki's house for a bit (more for Wiki to steal groceries). Then I DROVE ALL THE WAY HOME! Driving again for long distances felt so amazing. I was one with the road and rockin' it (even though it scared me half to death most of the time being on the wrong side of the road...). Made it home and did some homework and went to kapahaka and class today.
I am completely in love with New Zealand!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Time after Time

I'm really proud of myself for the budget I've been living by.
I was expecting to spend about US $50 a week and so far I've been living off of around US $26.
Great success.

My breakfasts are weet-bix with (whole) milk, a bit of yoghurt, and a banana.
lunches are either ham sandwiches or an apple, hard-boiled egg, muesli bar and wheat bread.
dinners include: bangers and mash w/ peas, steak and boiled potatoes/carrots w/ spinach or peas or both, chicken breast and rice w/ bok choy, or some meal with mince meat (this week it was spaghetti, which was not successful so I might move on to moco loco).
I bought ice cream once but I was trying to be frugal so I ended up with a really cheapie brand with ingredients like "animal and/or vegetable fats." Needless to say, it tasted like lucky charms (Zach and I came to this consensus) and that someone's grandfather was probably in the mix (Zach's realization).

I bought "girl guide biscuits" which are not nearly as delicious or entertaining as girl scout cookies. They come in two flavors - shortbread and shortbread dipped in chocolate. and the names of said biscuits? guide biscuits .. and guide choc biscuits. No thin mints!! As depressed as I was to find the enthusiastic little girl without such delicious things as thin mints, I still bought two packs (original and .. chocolate original). They're satisfying but nowhere near as nice as girl scout cookies.

Though this has little to nothing to do with New Zealand, it has to do with the fact that I cannot watch my regular tv shows .. regularly. I've only just gotten caught up on community and modern family, but am still missing out on Rupaul's Drag Race.

Can't think of anything else. Having trouble focusing on homework/reading.. but still getting it done! Worry not!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Everlong

The fact that I have no family, no life-long friends and no pancake mix in New Zealand is starting to hit me.
I'm missing my parents and have been dreaming of home. I'm extremely happy here but I keep thinking home is a drive away and I can get some Roscoe's chicken & waffles if I really wanted some. But, wait... no one here knows what chicken and waffles is...
As long as I'm busy I don't think about it. But, I'm not busy tonight. I should be.
But I can't focus on anything besides how far away I am and how little I have here. I'm starting a life from scratch, or from fragments of an old life. My expectations are constantly being changed and exceeded and let down.
'Can't I just sleep in my own bed for one night?'
My own bed. Where is my own bed? Thousands of miles away?
Is this bed here my own? Is it a bed to build a life around?
This all sounds rather silly as I type it out, but really... I guess it is rather silly. Just homesick, I guess. This is definitely typical behavior and I can't think of any other way to deal with it.
I've gotten so used to certain people and their way of being, and I get here it's like getting used to a whole new life. Well, it is a whole new life...
I'm not even making sense anymore.
Good-night.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

tangled up in blue

With sand between my toes, basking in the familiar warmth of a west coast sunset at an unfamiliar beach, home didn't feel so far.
I've gone to more beaches here in New Zealand than I have at home (that might be a lie.). The oceans are calmer and warmer. Less "maintained" and more rugged, black sand, driftwood beaches. They go on forever and are often void of people. My kind of beaches.
So far everything here has been good. better than good, even. FANTASTIC.
My housing is set up in one giant house and four blocks (blocks holding roughly 9 people each) and my block is full of really, really great people.

shoes are overrated here. Barefoot is the best option for most as they wander class to class, across a car park, or into a supermarket. I think this is one of the most fantastic things because it is the perfectly subtle way of showing how lax kiwis are. Following this, a lot of the people I've known here have little regard for things considered 'unhygienic' by Americans. Such as not washing fruits/vegetables, leaving things on dirty counters, not rinsing dishes when they have soap on them and just drying them directly, and I guess.. walking barefoot everywhere.

Classes have been requiring a lot of reading, but actual class time is nice because usually they're only an hour long and are usually with some pretty cool people. Lovin' my maori language class. I learned how to say Hello (Kia Ora) How are you? (Kei te pehea koe?) I'm good (Kei te pai) and I'm from Los Angeles (No Roa Angerea au). There's this thing called transliteration where you just make english names/words SOUND maori, since they have a different alphabet.. so Los Angeles = Roa Angerea.. but I kindof just made that up myself with my professor since there was no word for Los Angeles. I mean, I've learned other little phrases and tidbits but that's really all I remember off the top of my head... Plus, I've been going to kapa haka (...singing time?) on Mondays and Fridays and learning the chants and songs. I even learned one with moves (kinda like a hula). As well, making many maori friends (:

hmm.. Anything else? I've been getting used to things.. Slang, driving on the wrong side, meals... I still don't feel like I'm really in university, but I'm making an effort.. in between trips to the beach and laying in bed all day..

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

4 AM

Sleepless gliding
Over the city lights
Watch us flying
Over the streets tonight

Started school, which has been way beyond my expectations.
Monday was the Maori Studio class I'm auditing since my schedule is full. A group of people had gathered and they all greeted me as if I belonged there but once they heard me speak, in unison they said 'Oh I thought you were Maori!'
Class "began" by going into the Marae (meeting place) with all levels of the studio class and introducing ourselves (Though practically everyone else already knew each other) and most everyone introduced themselves in Maori. I was frozen in fear! What if the classes progress this way? Will I learn anything? I stood up to introduce myself, 'Hi, I'm Sarah. I'm from Los Angeles and I have no idea what anyone just said,' followed by a kind chuckle from the group. Relief.
The art class itself was different than what I expected, which was a modern art approach to Maori themes, such as Whakapapa (heritage) and Whenua (land). I'm hoping i'll still learn something about the cultural art.
I had my Maori language class which was really fun because we worked on saying the vowels right, which I never realized would be such a difficult task! But, for the most part they're just like spanish. Except for the dipthongs.
Geography is a very DUH class. it really is.
and Food and Eating = best. It is easily the most anthropological class I've ever taken! True, most of the anth classes I took at home were bio classes, so can't really discuss culture and whatnot, but damn.


I have so much to say and this post has spanned a few days of writing and each day I sit down to write more, I forget or am overwhelmed by everything I want to say ... I'll start a new post.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

x and y

A dream -- it's all just a dream!
I've been dreaming this whole time and I don't know if I'll ever wake up again.
My dorm had a competition yesterday to do a sort of .. treasure hunt of sorts, where we had to get a 'gnome' from a designated spot and take pictures of it with, for example, a policeman or getting a haircut, and at the movies, etc. Our 'gnome' however, was a penis pump.
This led to extremely interesting pictures to say the least. My group won best single photo! Will post this picture later on...
I've become rather good friends with Grant, Stephen (from England) and Toia. They're fuckin fantastic people. Toia cooks me food sometimes, Grant is just the best to talk to .. and, well, Stephen is just weird. (:
There's a guy named Barney at Ferg and he's the best person I've ever met in the whole world! We were playing taboo and when his team mate said 'oh this lady is famous' he yelled 'ARETHA FRANKLIN!' why? I don't know .. and when he got the word 'bladder' he said 'it's a body part! men have them! and some women, I think!' and he's a damn fantastic dancer. love him.
Been eating hot cross buns non-stop (yum yum) and working out practically every day (probably so I can maintain my hot cross bun eating habits). Still haven't really needed to cook for myself lately but I did have rice and beans with ketchup the other day. salad, too. I definitely used my pot to hard boil some eggs!
Not to mention the friends I've already become rather close with.. Monica, Kelli, and Zach.. I'm truly grateful to have them here with me (even if zach is only here for a semester!!)
I feel like I can't sleep most nights because there's just so much to think about from the day I just had and the people I've met, etc. I've become a possum, as Stephen put it, where I wake up in the night and sleep during the day. Except I don't even really sleep during the day (except for today..). Plus, how do you go to sleep in a dream?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Bloom

again with the posts...!
I have food and a pot and I've never felt so complete!
I can cook rice, which can be made with beans and then ketchup on top, salad on the side.. a perfect meal for me.
I have hot cross buns, which I thought was a childhood song based on a mythological object.
THEY EXIST. and are delicious.
I have soup and nutella and weet-bix.
I feel set for at least 2 weeks..
I think I am going to the beach tomorrow, as well as the gym.
I feel good.
Watched Valentine's Day, which was TERRIBAD! there was one moment where zach and I started laughing hysterically and no one else was.
[ having watched a movie based in LA, it was a strange sensation. Watching a film about home in a completely foreign country.. it almost felt like I was home again and I completely forgot all the students around me were kiwi (well, most). I really missed LA for the first time. ]
I've somewhat forgotten what the sun feels like as it's been overcast for sooo long.
I miss my puppy xena and my baby sunny.
I walked barefoot across a giant grass field in the rain chasing ducks today wearing only shorts and a t-shirt.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm On Your Side

today was really pretty good.
woke up at 12pm to a comfortably empty block. Realized I missed the 'team building' activity for orientation but could not care less. Instead I chatted with my mom for a bit on skype, took a shower and ate a hamburger (made from a stolen meat patty, ketchup and wheat bread). It was too late to attempt to steal more free food from orientation so I tried to meet up Monica on campus for more useless lectures. As I got to the bottom of my hellish steps, I found a path that ran perpendicular to my usual path, and thought it would be a shortcut.. instead, I got lost in the bush and found some rather nice, peaceful spots. I was, however, trying to get to campus so kept moving and eventually had to walk across the river and climb up the bank to get to campus.
Finally finding campus, I made it to my lecture hall and made it in for the last minute of 'Intro to Uni' which I am VERY GRATEFUL I missed. I walk in, everyone stares, I grin widely at the lecturer and sit down. About a minute later, I realize it's about to end, and get up and leave again. It was a major success.
After this, I head to rotary court to meet up with Monica and Kelli. We chit chat a bit and decide to go to the next lecture, which is equally as useless. Afterwards, we have to finalize our schedule with the other study abroad/exchange students. In that session, we all introduced ourselves, and I found out practically everyone in the world just LOVES things to do outdoors. I was basically the only person who said something besides 'I love being outdoors,' 'I love doing things in nature,' etc. and when I say everyone in the world, I mean all Americans, because 95% of the people in study abroad/exchange are Americans.
Afterwards we attempted to have dinner in the dining hall, but Monica and I decided to just eat the food we had at home.. so we both went home.
After a salad at home and some chatting online, I finally met one of my blockmates (haha blockmates.. that doesn't make any sense!) named Grant, who seems an interesting chap, but didn't have much time to chat as I was headed down to campus for Maze Night!
Was too late to catch the same bus as everyone else, so I was all alone on a bus with a bunch of kiwis and tried talking to the girl next to me named Tessa. It wasn't an easy task and she was rather shy. Her friend was even worse... but we won't get into that.
Maze night was going to a corn maze which was horror-themed and was rather successful. I actually screamed! I went in with Monica and Kristine .. and two other kiwi girls I didn't really know. It was a nice use of time ... after, however, was terrible. We had to wait for nearly 2 hours for a bus to take us back.. the bus ride back, however, was fantastic.
zach and i really have a hoot when we're together. We met a girl with ridiculous eyebrows and it became a joke of focus for the night. She lives in the same hall as me, so we knew her and two others would be on the bus with us all the way up to Atawhai courts. The two others' names were L'il Dixon and Bookworm. Party bus.
We discussed the 'beauty' of kiwi people and found a strip club on the outskirts of palmy. Considering our perspective on nz beauty, we definitely decided to visit the strip club. We bad mouth so much. Upon arriving, we spotted a possum! but a kiwi (or ozzie, actually) possum, which is much cuter and lemur-like. We found the same party crowd we found the night before at atawhai courts (who are truly american assholes), so we went to fergie to see if we could find some lively people. What we found will never leave my memory...
We enter to a group of people playing poker, which looked like fun! Upon closer inspection, it was not poker at all. I said hello and met everyone and then asked what game they were playing. They were intensely socially awkward people and said it was a game about how well you know your friends... to which one person turned to me and said 'do you think [she] prefers blowing bubbles? or romance novels?' and i said 'umm blowing bubbles?' to which the girl said 'ARE YOU KIDDING? MY FAVORITE BOOKS EVER ARE LIKE .. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND .. AND.. ROMANCE NOVELS!' they all burst out laughing and I then realized that what was on the tv was figure skating... and that the only person watching was the weird Asian kid in the corner who had snorted like a pig the first time I saw him. It was easily the most bizarre scenario ever. Zach and I were trying to keep in our laughter and exited the room as quickly as possible and went back to his bungalo for a drink. We had a nice, long chat and thus concluded the day...
MAGNIFICENCE!

Monday, February 15, 2010





young folks

Okay, so internet magically started working on my laptop.
And here I am with another post about the long white cloud. So far, orientation has been pure crap. I slept through the whole thing today, except (unfortunately) for the last bit of 'inspirational motivation' which was a terrible performance by a man from Christchurch talking about all the problems of college and how to address them .. basically all the international students thought it was crap (since it was obviously aimed towards the freshmen).
Besides that, I've been making some friends. Surprising, I know!
I've met ... Kristine, from Norway but got her degree in Australia and is here for post-grad. Sabine, from Germany and undergrad with the rest of us. Ariel, from New York who loves sheep, which is why she came here. Jessica, from Maine, undergrad. Natya, from Germany .. don't know much hahaha. and Zach from Tennessee who is only here for a semester. Hilal, from San Diego, doing vet work. A few others here and there but these are the main group I've been kicking it with. Funny how most are American .. but I'm okay with that for now, I'm not keen to mingle with freshmen.
Tomato sauce dominates over ketchup here, which is bizarre. Obviously, being the huge ketchup fan that I am, I cannot deal well with this. I stole a bunch of ketchup packets from burger king last time I went and carry them around with me... I've still not felt like I'm really in New Zealand as I've mainly been talking to Americans and haven't been out in the kiwi lifestyle. I'm really tired right now and should be sleeping ... I hope this is a substantial post. In the past two days I've used a quarter of my allowed $25 internet... I hate NZ internet!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Reeling

Sorry there haven't been many picture updates...
Apparently New Zealand hates macs, so I haven't been able to connect to the internet on my mac... Will have to wait till I find an wifi spot on campus, but in my dorm the mode is through ethernet, which doesn't work ... for some reason...

umm so i changed my mind mid-post and am not going to finish this now...
I'm at my dorm, which is atop a hill and to get to my dorm, I have to walk through a damn forest. literally. the steps are hell. umm... well, yup.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Porcelain

This entry will be short, but I will make it add to it sometime in the future.
I'm in Otaki, the smallest town I think I've ever resided in.
The air is silent and sweet. Stepping outside, all you hear is the occassional car lazily driving down the highway 1, which is 2 lanes total. Inhale, and it's the freshest air. The only thing tainting this air is the aroma of fresh, green plants which surround and reside within the town.
Occassionaly a bird will cry in the distance, a song which I have never heard, and always something beautiful.
In the backyard of the house I'm staying at is a "proper bush," which is not a typical tree here and there forest. It is so thick and green that I cannot see much further than 5 feet away. The center of town has quite a few shops, but still certainly is not Rodeo dr.
There is a stream or two that run through the town and is untouched by the town, as opposed to the washes and creaks that run down concrete hallways specially designed for human convenience. The houses are made on large properties with few fences and wide streets.
my first full day here I was taken to the center of town then to the beach, which was the most gorgeous beach I have ever seen. It stretched on longer than a model's legs and was nothing but black sand littered with shells and stormy clouds. Pure, simple beauty.
There are beaches one vacations to, which are white and blue, warm and crowded. and there are beaches which are breath-taking. This was breath-taking.
Today consisted of driving down to Wellington through cloud-shrowded hills and vast coastlines. Visited the museum Te Papa which had plenty of culture and history, complete with interractive children's sections (which I found much more entertaining than the rest of it).

okay I can't think of anything else, but I'll write more thoughtful posts another time.
All I can say is I feel completely different and feel completely lost, yet happy.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

France Telecom

Yup, Auckland is great.
Can't believe a week has already passed and I am leaving tomorrow for Palmerston North/Otaki.

Waitangi day.
My friend Oke and I went to the festival early in the morning when hardly anyone was there and I bought some Hangi (Maori food cooked in the ground) except it wasn't really Maori food.. haha just chicken, lamb, potatoes, sweet potato and stuffing.. it was still really delicious. Reggae bands dominated the festival as the day also falls on Bob Marley's birthday (plus reggae is just big here in NZ). I noticed a lot of 'gangsters' wearing LA Lakers jerseys and random city baseball caps. Love and HATE it. Another fashion I noticed was cut-off jeans (Tobias Funke would be proud). Men and women alike wore jeans that were cut, often just below the knee, and rolled up (Pictures will follow). The highlight band was 1814, which I suggest anyone who likes reggae to check out!
After the festival, Oke and I walked to Mission Bay, which was kindof a long walk, but it was a nice walk along the coast. We got to mission bay and immediately put our feet in the cool fountain. We walked to get Movenpick, which is STILL the best ice cream I've had in the whole of my existence. Watched Precious (WHICH WAS SO INTENSE) and then went to the beach again after we missed the last bus for an hour ... so the tide had gone out and the water was really shallow for a long ways out .. so we walked out to it (: and then decided to swim.. despite having no bathing suits. it was a super cool experience.. just swimming in the warm water in a city I don't live in with a girl I just met. Life.
After that, we went back to bus stop where we met two european kids who just turned 18 and were drunk.. they were trying to get back to auckland as well. Needless to say, it was an interesting time waiting for the bus.. Once we got to the hostel, we had Indian food made by some of the fellow hostelmates. Fabulous.
I have since hung out with friends Todd&Ariel, a kiwi/american couple who are two of the most fantastic people ever. todd is an animator and ariel can always make me laugh. it's good times with those two, since we watched Avatar and had Kapiti ice cream (not nearly as good as movenpick hahah). I have also played pool with two french guys named Fabian & Selim, both of which were cool guys but difficult to talk to... I mostly spoke to Selim and mostly in Spanish as he understood this better than english. I think I beat Selim once, and Selim&I played doubles against Oke&Akshay / Fabian&Suyog and we definitely won both games.. hahaha
I met Akshay and Suyog a day ago playing pool and I stole a bunch of music from Suyog. Akshay&Suyog and I then went to eat Turkish food which consisted of chicken, rice, ketchup and curds. Sounds gross? IT WAS AMAZING!
Today had chicken noodle soup with Oke, her boyfriend, Ariel&Todd in their room while watching Paranormal Activity. Afterwards went to a pub (my first time!) with Akshay&Suyog. Listened to rock music all night and watched the crazy people dance/make-out. Afterwards, we walked around the harbor a bit and found a cart with which to play with. The security guard did not like this and after me stepping off the cart, he shoved it as far away from me as possible and said to stop making the place look like South Auckland.
Best week ever. I can't guarantee that, but it was definitely one of the newest, most exciting experiences I've ever had.
Thank you, Auckland, for giving me such a pleasant welcome and such an intensely awesome new view on life. I think of Palmy now and fear it will not be nearly as great an experienec as I've had in Auckland... But, I'm sure it will be equally as intense and just as gratifying.

Friday, February 5, 2010

transatlanticism

the rain came in the night.
I met my first night of being unable to sleep. I lay in my bed staring out the window that framed the top of a tree and the empty grey sky.
I hear the sound of rain -- but it couldn't be. I focus on the glass and notice it is stained with drops of fallen water. As the reflected light off passing cars sways on and off my walls, I begin to think 'Where am I? What am I doing here?'
The rain is coming down harder now, slicking the roads and flicking the leaves on the trees as it falls to the ground.
A summer rain.
I feel so far away from what I know and the past few days have felt out of place, to say the least. Even though I'm enjoying myself immensely, I am already missing those I love and wish they were here.
Maybe I was back in Chicago. Or a few years ago when the thunder clouds from the dessert spilled over the mountains and doused us in warm summer rain. Or maybe I am in the southern hemisphere, in a country I've only dreamt about. Now I walk, half-awake, in this dream.. following plans I'm not completely certain I've really made.
This world is new, and wet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010





day 2 & 3

these days have been getting infinitely better.
I know it's a little ridic to be updating on every day .. but I feel every day is an adventure worth writing about... but, I'll condense it.
day 2
I went to the local "grocerette" to purchase shampoo and I bought 'scrumbles' a breakfast bar for children which is actually quite tasty. Went downtown to SKY CITY which is a really tall tower (the tallest in the southern hemisphere, as it were) similar to the space needle (actually exactly the same). While waiting for Stefan (my online friend lulz) to show up at sky tower, I was staring upwards at the people who base jump off... and this old British couple came up and talked to me. 'Has anyone jumped yet?' asked the woman 'oh someone just did' I said. 'I'll do my first jump at 73 years old.' said the man with a chuckle. 'No better time,' I responded. Our conversation continued a bit till they left for coffee.
After that, ate at MEXICAN CAFE which was pure crap. worst "mexican food" I've ever had... Purchased my first beer, however, which was quite an experience. I felt weird about it, but after showing them my driver's license and having them dispute whether to accept it or not, they did and I drank my beer. Victory was mine.
Left for somewhere just outside Auckland to go to the Auckland Museum, which had a BEAUTIFUL view. I got there on THE BUS! My first real experience with Auckland public transportation and.. I got change! Passed by a pick-up truck that is actually some sort of race car? it had a wing on it! and a billboard for 'Hung' which was a giant penis and balls in underwear. like bulging and everything... a bit much.

Reflection: The bus gave change, which I thought was the most amazing thing I've ever heard of. A bus? giving change? That would never happen in LA (and probably not USA in general). And yet, there I was, handing the driver a 2 dollar coin and getting 40 cents in return. There is much to be learned here...

As I ate, I thought about customs of eating and social behaviour and thought whether I was fitting in enough or not ... then realized I didn't care.

Being here is opening me up to more conversations with more people than I could have ever expected to have. The most interesting thing so far is people have been asking me 'So are you from around here?' as if my accent wasn't a dead giveaway. Maybe I'll start playing it off...
Talking to some of the kids in the hostel, they agree I'm not a typical American.
I DID, however, stumble upon a few "typical Americans" and right off the bat I did not like them. I thought perhaps this was my automatic instinct to dislike that which is like me, but yet everyone else I've talked to in the hostel agrees--they're loud, obnoxious, and snobbish.


DAY 3
I went to mission bay, all on my own, and on public transportation once again! I walked down Queen St. to Britomart (the Union Station of Auckland) and caught a bus heading to Mission Bay. As I walked out the bus was just about to leave but then he motioned to 'YOU WANT THIS BUS?' and I ran to it. The drive was beautiful, as the road it took hugged the coast and wound around the hills and bays. I got off at Mission Bay (a sortof posh venice beach? with no hippies or vendors.. maybe The Grove + Beach) and sat in the park watching children play in the fountain and boys playing rugby/cricket. I walked to the beach and sat enjoying the small waves and warm sand. Two old ladies came in their bathing suits and went straight into the water, yelling at each other and doing flips in the water. loved it. Listened to 'Saturday in the Park' by Chicago, which fit so, so well. There were sooo many shells in the sand, I made a little image out of them, but forgot to take a picture.
After I got up and walked to Fish Pot Cafe and bought some Fish 'n Chips (of course!). I was looking around for ketchup and found packets...for sale. The ketchup packets were 60 cents each. OUTRAGEOUS! I vowed after that moment to keep ketchup with me at all times to avoid paying such high prices. The fish and chips were delicious though! Then I went to the corner to get 'movenpick' ice cream. I thought I knew what ice cream was.. I knew nothing.
American ice cream does not hold a MATCH to this. It was the most rich, flavorful, delicious, creamy ice cream I've ever had. I'm going to be dreaming about it for the rest of my life. I will move to Auckland just for this ice cream.
I then went back to the beach front to enjoy the weather a bit more before I left. Sitting on a stone wall, two Asian boys came up to me asking to take a picture. I asked why and they said 'We are tourists and would like a picture with you as souvenir' how could I turn that down? I agreed and I posed as any Asian would .. PEACE SIGNS! they said thank you and left, even though I was not from New Zealand (and they knew this). It was truly the strangest event of the day.
I came back to the hostel and hung out with Oke (my Maori friend who lives here) and two other kids I met (Afren was the girl's name and I don't know the guy's) and we played pool. Then Oke and I talked a bit and started talking to this kid Todd who is from the South Island but studied here for the past three years. Turns out he is an ANIMATOR and is hoping to go to Cal Arts sometime in the future.. I then met his girlfriend (who is from Missouri) and found out SHE KNOWS SOMEONE I KNOW FROM LA. small, small, small world. I mean, what are the chances? Really? Oke and I and a few other kids watched the 3rd Pirates of the Carribean and thus ended my day.

Reflection: At the beach made me feel like I was still in California, just a part of it that no one realized was there and where everyone kinda talked funny. I didn't feel far from home at all and it was extremely comforting. The Asians, the tourists, the american ads... it all felt so familiar.
The potatoes I had in my fish 'n chips were so very different from the kind at home. they're ... thicker, i suppose in terms of .. I don't even know. but they feel very different. best fries I've ever had.
I don't know what else to say ... I guess this post is long enough...
you don't have to read it all, but I like keeping down everything that is happening.