Backpacking Through the North Island

During the first part of my backpacking trip I went through all of the North Island. I stayed in Rotorua, Auckland and Paihia and I got to see the surrounding area. New Zealand is a very beautiful country with how it is not built up with new houses, and the effort that is made to preserve forests and wildlife preserves. I did a lot of traveling through the bus service, which was cheap and it also gave me more viewing of the beautiful New Zealand country side. Each place offered different parts of New Zealand that are important to see when visiting New Zealand.IMG_0296

The hot springs in Rotorua.

In Rototrua, which was my first stop traveling through the North Island, I got to see the hot water springs. This was really cool to see because I got an idea of of how New Zealand was formed from a volcano. It was also really cool to think that walking around the hot srpings that I was standing on top of lava, which also showed how it something happened to the area it could create some serious damage. I learned this when I visited the Maori village, and there was a hole in the ground, which led to hot spring water coming through the ground and closing off areas.


Skyline of Auckland!

My next stop was Auckland, which is the biggest city in New Zealand. This was very different for me because I stayed in Wellington, which is a small city. There was a lot to do here, but I had to walk around more then I usually do to find everything. I got to walk around the port, which was cool to see all of the boats, and I got a neat skyline of the city at night. The next day I checked out the war memorial and I got to visit the University of Auckland to see how this university was different from New Paltz and Victoria. This was a very big school, but it was very neat to see it. At the end of the day I went an international food court that made Middle Eastern food and I got myself a mean plate of food.

IMG_0332 During my bus trip!IMG_0342 On the beach!IMG_0360


First time on the Pacific!

The last destination I went to the North Island was Paihia. This was first town through the Bay of Islands, which is the most Northern part of New Zealand with many beaches. Here I just walked along the beach and ate fish and chips. It doesn’t seem like much, but I had a great time because I love swimming on the beach. New Zealand also has the best fish and chips, so I was lucky to find a cheap place, since it is very expensive here.

Hiking the Fuegian Andes

December 17, 2014- Wednesday (Ushuaia)

I woke up around 6:45AM for breakfast, which for me consisted of bread and cornflakes. I’m really looking forward to today’s hike in the Southern Andes (Fuegian Andes). Around 8:30AM the group met in the lobby of the hostel and prepared to leave for the hike up to Laguna Turquesa. The road we took up had amazing views of the Andes all around.067On the way up we stopped at an outlook spot to take pictures; while there a couple of people, who were probably local artists, with a dog were setting up a booth with handmade jewelry. From there we continued on our way up to the trail where we would begin our hike.

The hike up was very steep and muddy, much more difficult than I expected. It had rained last night so there was mud everywhere, and it wasn’t long before we all had some trace of mud our clothes. Once we cleared the tree line there were spectacular views of the mountains on the other side of the valley, and the view at the top was even better (but i don’t know how much better it could get), definitely well worth all of the hard work. At the top we stopped next to a glacial lake for lunch and a rest.

LagunaAfter eating, we took advantage of the amazing scenery to take a few group photos, after which we began making our way back down; this ended up being quite interesting. The path seemed steeper on the way down, and much more slippery, almost everyone slipped at least once, at least two people ended up knee deep in mud. After a very muddy and steep decent, we made our way back to the hostel.

After some down time we decided to visit the Museum about the history of Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego. Due to Ushuaia being separated from the mainland it used to be home to a prison for the most dangerous criminals, a prison that, thankful, has since been shut down.  Around 7:30PM we went to dinner at Isle de Chocolate once again, a place that has become a favourite of the many students on the trip. While on our way back we stopped at the supermarket, which I found very interesting compared to the supermarkets in the states, it was much smaller, but still had a wide selection.20141217_213623 On the way back to the hostel we were accompanied by a dog, there are local dogs that wander the streets and are essentially members of the community. The dog followed us all the way back to the hostel and stood outside for a while after. I felt bad leaving him outside like that, but we couldn’t bring him inside. Anyway, tomorrow is going to be the most exciting day yet, the day we finally get on the ship and start making our way to Antarctica. 

First Week!

This week in Japan started of with a lot of traveling throughout Tokyo. On the second day of my study abroad, me and a couple of friends decide to explore Shibuya! We did a little shopping in Shibuya 109 and then on the top floor we decided to eat at a restaurant where I had omurice for the first time. It was soooo good and I can honestly see this becoming one of my favorite meals here while in Japan. Afterwards, we decided to wonder around for a bit and then headed to Shinjuku. There, we went to a gaming center and played DDR and took some purikura photos. I had always thought purikura photo booths were a bit weird but after trying it out I can see why a lot people think they are fun. Not only are the photos fun to look at but you also get to design them to be funny or cute. Plus the photos make you eyes REALLY big (at least they made my eyes look big haha).



Omurice! Yessss!

Omurice! Yessss!








DDR with friends!

DDR with friends!

The following day, we decided to head out to Harujuku. One thing I can say about Harujuku is that it is SOOO CROWDED. I have never seen so many people in such a small place! Not only is it hard to move around but it is also difficult to shop or stop by a restaurant since everything is so packed. None the less, Harujuku is a very interesting place to go to especially on Sundays. There, you can see many people dressed up in different types of costumes. If you walk down a few blocks, you can go through Yoyogi Park where you can see all types of performances. We had the chance to see the Rockability Dancers, a group of people who dress up in biker outfits and dance in Yoyogi Park. Their performance was so interesting, seeing as I haven’t seen something like that before.

So many people in Harujuku

So many people in Harujuku










Afterwards, we headed over to Meiji Jingu Shrine, which is really close to Yoyogi Park and Harujuku. Not only is Meiji Jingu pretty big but it’s so beautiful! After wandering around the shrine a bit, I decide to buy a Omamori which is a charm that supposedly suppose to give you good luck. I’m not much of a believer in charms but it was cute and I’d always wanted one. We’ll see how well it works this semester.


Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu

DSC00729 DSC00740

I still have a few more days before orientation and classes start, so I’ll probably make the most of my time exploring Tokyo some more. But so far, I’m really enjoying my time here!

Week Before Travel

So tomorrow I begin my big journey through New Zealand and I am super excited. I will be going through eight different cities and I will be checking out what each city has to offer. There was a lot of work put into my whole trip with everything. I had to balance out the time between cities and make sure I could fit in everything.
The week before I left was very hectic with having a lot of work due. I made it through the week but it was a little stressful. In New Zealand they give a couple big papers through the trimester rather than the United States having you write a few small essays for the first half of the semester. There was a lot of writing for the week, and I had to sacrifice some days to put towards my work. But luckily I made it through and I did not have to pull any all nighters.

Through my trip I will be traveling through North Island one week, and the South Island the following week. This will also be the first time that I will stay in a hostel and it will also be the first time that I take the New Zealand public transportation on my own. I am very excited for this opportunity and I am excited to see what the future has in store for me.

Pasifika Love

One thing that really interested my in coming to New Zealand was studying race relations here. I am a Black Studies and Sociology major and through classes I take for my majors I study race relations mainly in the United States. I wanted to see and compare race relations on New Zealand to the United States. Something that I have observed that I found interesting is that there are many different ethnic groups inNew Zealand, due to the many surrounding countries. There have been some ethnic groups that I have never been exposed to, such as Pacific Islanders. Throughout my time I have met many Pacific Island students and I have become very close with them.
I met many of my friends from going the Pacific House, which is called the Pasifika Haos. Here I have been exposed to their culture, and I have learned a lot about them. Not only do I get exposed to Pasifika culture, but I also get exposed to more Kiwi culture through the day. I get to learn about some of the different languages they speak, such as Samoan, and they like to tease me by speaking Samoan knowing that I have no idea what they are saying. But I enjoy it because it exposing me to a new culture, which will allow me to learn more. This is all part of the study abroad experience with hearing a different language and learning about a new culture.                                                             IMG_0252 Went to a rugby game with some new friends! GO HURRICANES!!!

Through going to the Pasifika Haos I have attended many events that are hosted by various Pasifika student groups, such as the Pasifika Students Council, Samoan Student Association, and Cook Island Association. One part of their culture that I loved is that they enjoy feeding each other, so I have had many meals at the haos. I have been exposed to any Pasifik food yet, but I do get to understand why they feed each other. It comes from their beliefs that everyone is family to them, so therefore, they should treat everyone like family. I am very happy that I met these people, because I have built strong friendships with many of them.                                                                                                                                            Some of my friends that I have from being at the Pasifika Haos!


We’ve Arrived!

So my first week in Japan has been fun-filled with new events and new experiences. Despite the fact that it was my first time on a plane, my flight went by fairly easy and I can definitely say that I enjoyed it. Even though the flight was 14 hours, I found myself staying up for the whole ride! I was so busy watching movies and enjoying the view from my window, that I didn’t bother to sleep. Thankfully, the lack of sleep didn’t effect my ability to navigate my way through Narita Airport once we landed. Before the trip, my friend and I decided that we were going to stay at an Airbnb apartment, seeing that we had a late flight and it was going to be nearly impossible for us to check into our dorms before the check-in time. The place we stayed at was in Ikebukuro, and so we decided to take a bus from Narita Airport to Ikebukuro since we both had luggage. One thing I would suggest to those studying abroad, especially those studying abroad in a city: DON’T bring anything that you cannot carry by yourself. It’s difficult enough trying navigate your way in a foreign country. You will only make it worst on yourself by lugging around very heavy luggage, so packing light might be the best option.

The view from my window seat

The view from my window seat


Outside Narita Airport waiting for the bus









Coming from New York City, I had initial thought that figuring out Tokyo’s train system would be a fairly simple task. I’ve been taking the train back home since I was in elementary school, and so traveling by train is something that I’m very familiar with. While I won’t say that Tokyo’s train system is very difficult understand, it is something that takes some work figuring out. Unlike NYC, Tokyo has several train companies that run on separate train lines. Furthermore, there is a difference between the train line and the subway line, so you have to figure out the specific train route from your dorm to whatever place you are going. But after a few days of traveling back and forth from your dorm to different parts of Tokyo, you’ll definitely get a hang of it.

First sunrise in Japan!

First sunrise in Japan!

The following day after we arrived, we had to make our way from the Airbnb apartment in Ikebukuro to our dorms using the train. In Tokyo, you buy your train ticket based on where you’re going, so the price varies from destination to destination. I had to put my Japanese skills to the test and ask someone how to order the tickets for the train, but people are super nice and are willing to help if you ask! We had to take the train from Ikebukoro to Shinjuku to meet up with another friend, so the ride was only one stop. I can definitely say that you can easily get lost in Shinjuku station. There are so many twists, turns, ups and downs, that you just kind of have wonder around a bit before you actually find your train. But eventually we made it to our dorms after walking around for a bit in Shinjuku. I was so tired that I wanted to take a nap, but my flat-mates in Izumi International House decided to invite me out to go shopping and so I decided to save my nap for later. I’m glad that I live with such cool people and I can’t wait to hangout with them more this semester.

My room in Izumi International House

My room in Izumi International House

The view from my balcony

The view from my balcony








This semester in Japan seems like its going to be really fun. I can’t wait to get out and explore Tokyo some more!

So Much to do and So Much to See

With being so close to the city of Wellington, which is the capital of New Zealand I have been to the city a lot. There is so much to do for me there, and I love it. This is very different with having nothing to do living in a smal town, and having to take a bus just to get to the nearest city when I am at New Paltz. Everything is within walking distance, which is great because there are so many neat opportunities for me. And I am also getting a lot of good exercise for myself with all this walking and climbing these steep stairs.

One of the biggest attractions that Wellington has is Cuba Street, which the best way to describe it as the Times Square of Wellington. On this street is where most of the restaurants are located and where nightlife is the most active. When I go out to the city at night this is the most interesting place to go, because there is so much going on with all of the college students and many of the local people. It is truly a sight to see. In Wellington there are also many museums to see including the Te Papa Museum, which is the national museum, Wellington City Museum, the Parliament Building, and many more. I have not been to all of museums yet, but I am planning on visiting all of them. The museums are very neat because they give a full history of Wellington and New Zealand. This helped get a better understanding of New Zealand, and I had a better idea of why the events that are happening now occur. One of the biggest issues going on in New Zealand is worker’s rights, because there is a change in the government regime people are afraid they will lose their rights as workers. This is shown with how stores are closed on Sundays, and people do not have to work overtime to make extra money because the minimum wage is high. The Cricket World Cup is going on in New Zealand right now, so here is a picture of the countdown!

IMG_0239I have also been to the beach several times and I have been on a hike. The beach is amazing with the nice weather, and it is a total 180 after being inside for the past few months from the cold weather to being outside in shorts and a t-shirt. I also went on a long hike that was very enjoyable despite being very long. The best thing about the hike was that I got to see the scenery of New Zealand. Looking at the hills and mountains reminded me of the Lord of the Rings movies, which took place in New Zealand, with the background scenery.IMG_0228

A nice picture from my awesome hike!


Welcome to my new home

IMG_0056My initial reaction when I arrived at Shannon was “Do we really have to wait in this line, I havent slept in 24 hours!” It really didn’t hit me that I was actually in Ireland until the next the day. The first day I was in a sleep deprivied fog. I still have random moments where it hits me that I’m in a different country. As a poor foster child from Brooklyn, I thought I would never see the day where I was able to afford to travel outside of the State, let alone the country. Other than being very tired the first day here, I was very excited.

Preparing for my trip

Preparing for my trip was a little frustrating. First, I had to make sure I found a ride to Newwark airport because who wants to take public transportation with heavy luggage?! Second, I had to figure out the right ammount of stuff to pack because I only have one free check bag and didn’t want to pay $100 per extra checked bag. I’m a poor college student. Third, I had to figure out a way to say goodbye to my Puppy Tessa. Most think I’m crazy because of how attached I am to her, but shes my daughter and I’ve never been away from her for this ammount of time. This was the hardest thing for me.


Overall preparing for my trip wasn’t easy but I got through it and now I’m in Ireland!


After two weeks of classes I have finally figured out what to expect from my classes. It is very different than the way classes are scheduled at SUNY New Paltz. With classes I have a lecture that meets twice a week, and then I go to a tutorial once a week. In a tutorial we meet in a small group and we discuss the readings. This week I had my first tutorial, and I enjoyed it a lot. It was more interactive betweens the students and professor, and I also got to know my classmates better.

One of the biggest academic adjustments for me was how they use different terms in names of classes. In New Zealand they do not refer to courses as classes, but instead they call them papers. This was an adjustment for me because when they said papers, I first thought wow they have a lot of course work. So throughout the week I thought wow there are a lot of papers that I need to write. But when students and professors kept saying papers it confused me, until I asked about it and they told me it was another word for courses.

Another adjustment is having all of my classes in lectures after being in small classes at SUNY New Paltz. All of my classes are lectures except when we meet in tutorials, so I’m in a different classroom environment. What also makes it different is how the professors are more relaxed with attendance and being on your phone in class. I was so used to being in classrooms where attendance was required and cell phones were not allowed to be used in class that I was amazed by how people were getting away with it. When students missed class they weren’t too concerned, which surprised me at first until I learned they do not take attendance. I did not realize that being in the classroom was going to be another culture shock.