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...

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


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


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.

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.

Monday, February 1, 2010

day 1

It's 6:40pm on February 2 and the first day of my stay in Auckland, New Zealand.

The flight was relatively painless, pretty uncomfortable, but I was able to sleep through the majority of it.
Landed in Auckland and went to drop off my luggage for the week so I didn't have to haul it around and ... completely ridiculous mistake #1 -- left my wallet on the counter.
I didn't realize it until I got to the bus that took me to the city and couldn't pay the fee. It was glorious running back into the airport to find my wallet still sitting there, thank goodness...
and yes, I KNOW how ridiculous it is, you need not remind me...

took a bus from airport to the city. The ride from the airport went through a sort of ... middle-of-nowhere type area with big fields and storage buildings.. we passed construction workers wearing board shorts and stubbies (American male short-shorts haha)
The bus driver went off his route to drop me off closer to my hostel. I was extremely grateful because the shortened walk I had to take was still a hell of a walk...
I dropped my stuff off in my room and decided to just walk around Auckland. I walked down Queen St, which is the main drag for downtown Auckland. A bunch of nice boutiques, but overpriced (of course) and I carried on. I realized I was extremely hungry and started a search for fish & chips. Having reached the end of Queen st. at the waterfront, I found a Westfield mall which I entered and found a place for fish & chips. Ate alone and looked at the people passing by.
Walked back to my hostel through another route and it started to rain. I got kindof lost but found my way and once I got back to my hostel, I fell asleep in the common room. Upon waking up, there was a guy sitting in a chair adjacent to me. He then realized I had awoken and asked if he could turn on the television. We then chatted for a bit about his own immigration to NZ from India and etc, etc. I went back to sleep again and woke up to him and a Maori girl playing pool. I sat watching TV and she eventually sat down next to me. We then started chatting and played a few games of pool and it was all great. We walked around the city and got some groceries and then I came back and here I am.

Already some new friends and experiencing Auckland. The dorm is small but I like it.
The country feels familiar but so very different.. I'm trying to make it on my own so far and it feels like something else is running me while I watch from afar. I can't believe how much I've done in this day so far and maybe on paper it seems short but for me this is more than I could have ever imagined for 12 hours in a new country by myself.
Things I've noticed that are different:
Non-disposable items. When I ate at the mall, I was served on plates with metal spoons and a mug. no throwing that away. I stopped by an ice cream shop and asked for a sample of green tea ice cream -- I was handed a metal spoon which he took back after I tasted. I suppose they're way better at not throwing things away...
Well my laptop is going to die and I haven't been able to find an adapter so I'll be updating more soon! till then...