Breaking through the Writer’s Block

     The first of the many blogs to come, this one was the trickiest to start. My name is Ashley Peters, and I am an Environmental Geoscience major at SUNY New Paltz, trying to get over a bit of writer’s block. However, once this blog is posted, I’m sure the others will come more easily.
    Amid working full time over the break at a local grocery store in my town, finishing up tedious projects around the house (such as completing the task of painting the upstairs), and cooking/baking the promised treats and dishes for everyone, my winter break has been quite busy.  Fortunately, I have still found some time to research and explore the much anticipated Curtin University, near Perth, Australia, where I will be staying for the next five months.  Through books, movies and the internet I have tried to familarize myself with some history, politics, geology and culture/lifestyles of Australia, Perth and Curtin University, so that I am not completely ignorant when I arrive overseas.  I realize; however, that a great majority of what I will learn will not be encountered until I am actually there and interacting with everything around me.

     The last few weeks have been especially busy, as I have begun to really prepare for my trip.  Both physically and mentally strenuous, this is only the prep, and therefore only the beginning of what is to come.  At this time, I am free to say that I am prepared for almost anything, and am more than willing to take this new step in life, so that I may embrace all of the new experiences to come, both the fun and exciting, and the difficult and scary.   

     For the meantime, I still have a great deal of tasks to finish and loose ends to tie up at home before I begin my estimated 33hour journey.  Tonight some friends are coming over for dinner, so I have a lot of cooking and preparing to do before then!  Until next time…~Ashley

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

The City of Sails

1 day left in New Zealand.

Today was an eerie repeat déjà vu of my first day in the country. After an amazing New Zealand style breakfast of eggs, sausage and bacon, and four hours of conversation with Franesca’s mom, where we explained the importance of tipping American service staff, we drove to central city Auckland and walked around the harbour. The weather was overcast, chilly and rainy, identical to the weather I experienced on 4 July. I saw my hotel again and took nearly the same harbour walk I did 4 months ago. This time however, I was able to head to a pretty sweet bar I had seen on my last time here. After a drink, we headed back to Francesca’s for an incredible classic New Zealand meal. Roast lamb, potatoes, kumara, pumpkin and vegetables. Yum. Now its some Rhys Darby (Murray from Flight of the Concords) stand up comedy.

Pretty soon I’ll be taking Maggie and Emily to the airport. These will be my last goodbyes in New Zealand; a sign it’s actually coming to a close. But then, only a couple hours later, I’ll be meeting my dad outside of customs! As much as New Zealand will be tough to leave, spending the next three weeks exploring Australia and Fiji with my dad is going to be fantastic. I’m so pumped and I can’t wait to share my time with you while I’m there.

– Liam

Auckland Skyline from the Harbour Bridge, North Island, New Zealand

Goodbyes. For real.

3 days left in New Zealand.
Last day in Wellington.

I cannot even begin to describe how I feel right now. Its 4AM and I just said “Good Night” to Natalie for the last time. These past 4 1/2 months have absolutely flown by and I wish I could scrape a few extra moments in Wellington before it’s time to leave. But alas, time is not so kind.

I spent the last 20 hours packing, cleaning, shipping packages & gifts and enjoying the company of my best friends here in Welly. Tonight began the true sense that this incredible experience is coming to an end. While a few people have already departed, including Kevin (who is off on a trip that will take him from Singapore to Hong Kong, Venice to Dublin before flying home in December), it almost seemed as if they would be back. It was tonight, when I said a final goodbye to a kiwi friend, that it all hit me. Harder than a ton of bricks.

I realised in that moment that it would most likely be years before I see him again, if we were even so lucky. Someone I’ve seen at least four times a week for four months will no longer be present everyday. It’s a cruel irony that friendships can build so fast. In one sense, it’s fantastic. We can easily assimilate into a new environment and feel comfortable. But it makes it so much easier to be hurt when the time comes to head elsewhere.

Tomorrow, I leave Wellington.
Tomorrow, I say many more goodbyes.
Tomorrow’s going to be an emotional day.

And with that, I bid you good night.

– Liam
Wellington Harbour, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

Spring Cleaning

5 days left in New Zealand.

In order to get my housing deposit back, I need to have a clean house. My hands smell like cleaner. The soap has completely dried out my hands. I saw things I didn’t want to see.

Positive – It was raining.
Negative – I’m really leaving.

– Liam

350 Climate Change Protest, Parliament, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

Finished

7 days left in New Zealand.

Today, I sat my last exam at Victoria University. I’ve successfully(?) finished my academic career here in New Zealand and it can’t feel weirder. First, I don’t ever think I’ll be finishing a fall semester in the first week of November while putting aloe on a sunburnt arm ever again. Second, I have been here for over four months and it feels so much longer.

Four months is a tiny amount of time in one’s lifetime and yet, these four months will forever remain vivid (I hope) in my mind. So much has happened in these 120 days and yet I feel as if they have flown by. It’s sort of like Freshman year al over again. A bunch of people thrown into a new environment and have to try their best to get through the first semester. The 2007 Fall Semester flew by and so did that of 2009. Time flies, especially if you’re having fun.

Cheers,

Liam

Wellington Harbour, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

UV Rays

8 days left in New Zealand.

Sunday’s forecast for Wellington: 60 degrees & sunny.
Monday’s forecast for Wellington: 55 degrees & rainy.

And of course, today had to be spent studying. However, I did attempt to get as much studying outside as possible. And for the first time ever (and probably the only time), I got a sunburn while studying for my fall semester exams. The weather here is getting better and better but its even better in Australia and Fiji, making me really excited for what will be the hottest November of my life.

But for the moment…its back to the books and some aloe on my arms.

Till tomorrow,

Liam

Beach at Dusk, Catlins Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Thin ‘n’ Crispy

9 days left in New Zealand

Today, I had an absolutely fantastic classic New York style pizza. One of the things that can instantly remind me of home is a thin, crispy piece of dough with tomatoes and cheese on top.

The weather is still fantastic and of course, I’m still studying.

– Liam

Sommes Island