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!

American Feet on Belgian Streets

Bienvenue! Welcome to Belgium, the land of chocolate. If I had known how many chocolate shops we would have seen today, I would have started counting at the beginning of todays journey! And it’s only our second day in Brussels. Yesterday, we arrived in Belgium in the afternoon, we met our host mom, Judith (also known as Maman), and her daughter Angélique. Both are wonderful! Ema and I live together in Judith’s house with two other girls: Erica (of Washington) and Domenica (of Ecudor). This morning, we scouted out the grocery stores of our area: fresh fruit, muesli, and chocolate spreads galore! Later, after lunch, Becca (our third European adventurer whom is living with another host mom) found her way to our house and we “headed into town.” We set out around 2pm with the goals of finding our school campus (check), finding our internship locations (no check), and finding the city center — or what is actually known as Grand Place or Market Square (check). By the end of the day, we had found our specific campus building, learned how to use public transportation, and saw the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula and Market Square — so much beautiful architecture!

flowers

The above orange trees caught our eyes.

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Tigger, the bicycle.

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St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, much larger than its luxurious front entrance.

market square

Not sure about this building yet, but it’s green! We will be given tours later this week.

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Another beautiful building, not sure again, but we will soon find out!

That’s all for now, there will be more to come from these already sore feet!

Katie

PS. Below are some photos of beautiful Ireland flying above:

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What’s on Your TO DO List?

Packing.

One of my least favorite tasks when embarking on a journey, whether it be for a weekend or four months, is packing.

This upcoming Monday, I will catch a bus down to New York City with Erin (my sister) to stay with Conor (my boyfriend) for a little less than a week before catching my plane with Ema and Becca (my two fellow “European Adventurers” — so we’ve dubbed ourselves) for Brussels, Belgium.

As of right now, I believe I have everything I’ll need, but of course, I’ll never really know until we get there!

Check back in later next week for pre-departure updates (and pictures of yummy food)!

Katie