One Full Week as a Kiwi :)!

So it’s been one full week and a couple days change here in New Zealand, and quite honestly I couldn’t be happier with the way things are. Wellington is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! The city itself feels quite new and modern. My house is adorable, and all of my flatmates are wonderful. We are a house of 7 international students, and we are all from different places! We got England, California, The Netherlands, Cape Cod, Philadelphia, Hawaii, and of course New York all under one roof. Within the first five minutes of arriving in New Zealand, my flatmates invited me out to go to the Sunday farmers market. I literally threw my stuff down after my 36 hour commute, put on shorts, and headed out. The first impression I got of Wellington Harbour actually took my breath away. Being from Long Island, I am not stranger to beaches and water, but this is a new level.

Socially and Environmentally I am in absolute heaven, but I will admit, I had myself a good cry after the adrenaline wore off after the first few days. Coming to a new country, though not all that different than my own, is very over whelming. I have traveled in America, even Canada, and have never felt so disoriented as I did for a couple of days in New Zealand. Yes, New Zealand is an english speaking country, and some things do resemble America. However, there are enough differences between our countries to get a bit frustrating sometimes. Brands are a big thing. As someone who pays very close attention to ingredients in foods and products, it was very scary to not only not recognize most of the brands at the supermarket or the drug store, but also not be able to comprehend nutrition facts. This was very stressful to me, and took me a bit to adjust. I am still not adjusted to it. Another huge stressor for me is traveling while here. Wellington is no joke when it comes to it’s hills. Having no car and not a lot of experience with public transportation yet, I have been walking too and from everywhere. One day I decided to solo explore the city, and ended my day buying a bag of groceries that easily weighed 30 pounds. I got lost for 2 hours, walking up and down hills and hundreds of stone stairs without phone service or any good way to explain where I needed to go. Lastly, and perhaps most crucial to healthy survival here in New Zealand, is the recognition that living so close to the Ozone hole requires sunblock every day. I learned this lesson the hard way. As someone who chooses to fry in the sun without sun protection to get a better tan, you can imagine how sorry I was for not looking into this HUGE known fact amongst the Kiwis.

Adjusting to life here was not hard, it just took a few quick slaps to the face, and now a week later I feel much better. I’ve gotten Skype up and running, so I can see my boyfriend all the time, I’ve gained some navigation, and I am already planning some trips with my flatmates to explore this beautiful country!

Until next time,

Cheers!

Goodbye USA

During my last week at home before I left for New Zealand there was a lot I had to do. Since it was my last week I had to enjoy the food offered here that I is not in New Zealand. This included eating at my favorite restaurants, such as Subway, Panera’s, Chipotle, and my local Jamaican restaurant. I was not sure if this type of food in New Zealand, but I was excited about trying new food with going to New Zealand. I believe that if you are not willing to try new food, then you are missing out a lot of opportunities to do something exciting (sorry picky eaters). Since I will be away from my family for awhile my mother  made my favorite meals of Moroccan stew and chicken soup with dumplings. It was low key but I enjoyed it a lot.
To prepare for my stay in New Zealand I have made a list of things I want to do. What I want to do most is visit my family that lives in New Zealand. My grandmother was born in New Zealand, so there is a rich family history there that I’m excited to learn about. My family was also very excited for me to explore my roots. They had lived together in New Zealand for five years before moving back to the United States. My mom was very excited and she kept helping with ideas to enjoy New Zealand, and also helped me improve my cooking since I am not relying on my parents in New Zealand. My sisters gave me tips on how to get adjusted based off their experiences studying abroad in Venice and Trinidad. My cat though did not seem excited that I was leaving. In this picture she was resting in one of my bags, which is something she likes to do when she sees a suitcase, luckily there was no cat hair in my bag. 10994946_1775983652627800_2941727022195500077_n

The Trilogy Experience

Shortly after arriving at Stafford UniLodge, I found it easy to make friends with other exchange students. There were quiet a few events just for International students to gather both through VUW and Staffford. Before I knew it, I had a friend group consisting of other students from all over the world. We planned a trip to explore some of the North Island together by renting a car and purchasing tickets for “The Trilogy Experience”. This experience involved two cave tours (one was a glow worm cave!), a tour of Hobbiton, a tour of a natural geothermal park, and a Maori welcoming ceremony. We all had an amazing time and I’m so glad I was able to see these cool places and learn more about the Maori culture. I highly suggest looking into taking “The Trilogy Experience” as a weekend trip with friends while in New Zealand!

INSTAGRAM

I have created and instagram account JUST FOR THIS STUDY ABROAD SEMESTER! See more videos and pictures of this study experience on your computer or on the go.
If you have an instagram account, you can follow me @studylikeakiwi
If you don’t have an account but would still like fast easy access to tons of pictures and videos of New Zealand and life in Wellington, check out my account at http://instagram.com/studylikeakiwi
Thank you, and enjoy! 🙂Monkey Creek, NZWellington!

I highly recommend using juicy tours. Good prices, good humor, and whole lot of fun!

This is the very sweet cat that lives at Victoria Univeristy. The vic cat can be found right on the walk up to Uni!

This is the very sweet cat that lives at Victoria Univeristy. The Vic cat can be found right on the walk up to Uni!

Accommodation, Making friends in the Hall

I chose to live in the Stafford UniLodge during my trimester abroad. I was lucky enough to be on the ninth floor with a bit a view out to the harbor, which made for awesome sun rise and sunset pictures!
The layout of the room is three private bedrooms that share a kitchen/dining/living area and a bathroom. There was nothing terrible about this accommodation, in fact I met my really good group of kiwi friends here! The only cultural oddity I found was the lack of dryers in NZ. Apparently it’s not uncommon to air dry everything so a drying rack was provided as well as bedding and pillow to “hire” (rent).
Unfortunately, there were a few down sides to living in Stafford UniLodge… First, it is at the bottom of a very very long and big hill in order to get to Victoria University Kelburn campus, where most first year classes take place (20 minutes of walking about, unless you walk everywhere and you’re used to large hills). Second, it is a little far from Courtney Place (the main night life street) but there is a free van set up by the university to drive students back to their hall for free!
Overall my experience as a hall resident in New Zealand has been great! I truly suggest to anyone studying abroad here to go to activities offered in the hall to meet kiwis! This hall had many international events at first, but it was hard to truly jump into the culture here when I was only with other exchange students. As soon as floor or hall activities were available I signed up and met a wonderful group of kiwi friends. IMG_3850View from Stafford UniLodgeCooking in the hallA night in with Kiwi friends :)p

Exploring local streets, First day

Sunset from my appartment in Stafford Unilodge

Sunset from my appartment in Stafford Unilodge

I Live near Parliament!

I Live near Parliament!

Yesterday we landed in Wellington around 11 am. I have never met so many friendly people in a CITY before! Luke and I wandered around (with a map of course) and found a local supermarket similar to a Price Chopper back home. As the day went on we found out that the street parallel to us, Lambton Quay, had many shops and places to eat! Clothing here is very expensive ($120 for a simple sweater!) so I am hoping we will find a less expensive shopping area for when we need to buy things. My apartment has two windows that look partly out at the ocean and partly at other buildings but I am thankful I am on the Coast side of the building. I can’t wait to discover more of what this city has to offer! Kiaora!

Can’t wait for Wellington!

Soon I will be leaving the country to study/ live in a place I have never been to. I have planned for this for so long, It doesn’t even seem like I’m about to leave. I can’t wait to see what this mysterious place called Wellington is like. I have such high expectations for this place from all of these pictures and information I have been receiving. I really hoped I packed all of the right clothes and general “college stuff” for a whole semester! Am I the only one who rethinks what they are packing a billion times until they’re literally walking out the door to catch that flight?1468732_10201569212190956_7824797696574242274_n

USA! Yay?

Kia Ora,

Its been 2 weeks since I’ve returned home to the States. And what a couple of weeks it has been. Adjusting back to American time and culture was both really difficult and really easy at the same time. So let’s discuss the pros and cons of being back in the U S of A.

Good Things:

  • Getting to see my mom at the gate.
  • Real coffee. With cream. And Splenda.
  • Pizza. Real, delicious, 16 inches for $12, NY, thin crust Pizza.
  • Bagels.
  • Discovering Edam Cheese exists here.
  • Getting to see Kiersten after her first semester in college and baking xmas cookies to celebrate. Also, realising we ate 1/4 of the dough and made the cookies twice as big as they were supposed to be.
  • Christmas decorations with snow instead of shorts.
  • Visiting Delaware and hugging about 20 people I’ve missed way too much.
  • Continuing to hear “i hate you, you’re tan” and “did you lose weight?”
  • Rediscovering the amazingness of the people that I live with at UD.
  • Learning to play the saxophone. Again.
  • The speed of the internet. And it’s relatively low cost.
  • My dog still remembers me.
  • Diners.
  • Mom made a repeat Thanksgiving dinner. With Oma’s stuffing. It seriously doesn’t get better than that.

Bad Things:

  • My stomach CONTINUING to get mad at me whenever I eat. or drink. anything.
  • Realising that after being completely settled in with 3 people in a house, I have to start all over. With people who have been together since Sept. Luckily, I love them already 🙂
  • The obnoxious snail paced American legislative system.
  • Having to read the daily synopsis of Shortland Street rather than watching it.
  • Cold weather. (and yes, I know I said snow was good)
  • Everyone has the same accent as me. And now I chuckle when I hear it. For this, I personally blame Elizabeth Zucco, Lauren Baier and Maggie Ray. Maggie also gets blamed for pointing out the speed at which I talk. I am totally conscience of it now.
  • Newburgh < Wellington
  • No positive exchange rate. When I have a dollar, its just a dollar.
  • Speaking of money, a pocketful of coins is not worth as much as I have become accustomed to. Also, the money all being the same colour is really boring.
  • The fact that everyone I spent the last five months with is a minimum of a four hour drive away. And a maximum of a 22 hour flight.

I’ll update this if more things come to my mind.

Merry Christmas,

Liam

Sunrise, Oriental Bay, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

Back in the USA!

Last night I arrived back in New York after three weeks of traveling around Australia and Fiji. Being home is pretty weird. So far I’ve had a cup of coffee with cream (which was amazing let me tell you) and told my mom about 3 times she’s driving on the wrong side of the road. And that’s reverse culture shock for you. Right now, I’m incredibly jetlagged and I’m going to try to get to sleep at a semi-reasonable hour. In the next few days, I’ll be adding pictures to all previous blogposts, but to get a preview (and to read about Australia and Fiji), check out my personal blog here.

Kia Ora,

Liam

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So long Aotearoa…

Last day in New Zealand.

It’s currently 9PM here in Sydney and I haven’t slept in about 36 hours. But these have been some crazy awesome hours.

After a 2AM drive to the airport with Maggie and Emily, I hung out with them before they had to go through security, on their way to Brunei and Thailand. Then it was the waiting game. People were crowding through the arrival gates from San Francisco, Santiago, Apia and Perth. But all I cared about was NZ5 from LAX. Finally, I started to see luggage tags from L.A. and then, a bright blue Delaware sweatshirt appeared in the doorway. I cannot describe how amazing it was to see him. After days of tears and depression with people leaving, it was great to see someone I hadn’t seen in so long.

I got to show my Dad the smallest bit of New Zealand, but I think he loved every minute. From the view on top of Mt. Victoria to the beer at lunch, he was pretty happy with his 10 hours in the country.

Next we boarded our flight to Sydney and it was way harder for me to deal with than I had imagined. As the plane started off down the runway, I realised that I was going to take off from New Zealand and wouldn’t be there again for many years, if ever again. The memories will live vividly in my mind, and I’ll always be able to look at pictures, read this blog or chat with a friend about the amazing time we spent together in Aotearoa.

Two things are for sure: First, I’ll miss this country and the people I met so much. Second, my life will never be the same.

Expect more from Aus soon!

Kia Ora,

Liam

Best Beach Ever, Catlins Coast, South Island, New Zealand