Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Letters to the Editor

This appears on p. 51 of The Critic issue 18 (put out Monday the 28th of July). I will attempt to not make spelling corrections:

"Dear you know who you are
Where are my pants? I know you took them. They were a nice set of pants or, to be politically correct, jeans. What am I doing to do now without my lucky jeans? How else will I preform my dance at the clubs? Talking about places where you can dance, to the guy next to me in the urinal at the bowler last thursday can you please not stare at my dick. It gets uncomfortable and makes the conversation awkward. Also, is there anything else happening at university except for the great marijuana cock fight (can you spot the theme in the letter)? It's all we seem to hear about these days. Why not focus on the fact that the Gum Mix lolly packs have got smaller yet the price has remained the same (disclaimer: I can't remember what the older price was but the new one is quite high). I will now return back to my sitting in the libray and stearing at nothing in particular.
Sexy Finn
P.S. What the fuck does P.S. stand for? Why not just use 'Thought we were finished but you are wrong!'?
P.P.S That was a rhetorical question."

That was the best one. But I must share a couple more:

"dear anyone who comes into st davids lecture theatre late, please shut the door quietly or you can fuck right off.

The lack of spacing there really increases the rage factor. St. David's Lecture Theatre, if you were wondering, is probably the biggest lecture theatre on campus (and a lecture theatre is just the Kiwi way to say 'lecture hall' or 'classroom').

This is the last letter I will share from this week. It's pretty existential:

"Dear Critic,
Oh how glorious to be described as 'the drinking man's crumpet' (21.7.08). When you are a woman of a certain age, being thought of as crumpet of any sort has to be a plus, even if your attractiveness increases with the level of said drinking man's blood-alcohol. The beauty of alcohol, when you have me for a companion, is also that the more you drink the less need you feel to make sense of any of my pronouncements. What I do wonder, sometimes when I am alone and sober, is what sort of a crumpet am I. Crisp, but not burned would be my preference, but my perception may be dulled by all that social drinking I have been forced to endure in order to be appreciated.
I would like to delve into my favourite topping too, but that might be misinterpreted. Unseemliness from crumpet past its use-by date is just plain embarrassing.
Yours sparingly
Elspeth McLean"

The Critic, by the way, is a the weekly student-produced magazine. It is very popular (and the only one of its kind). It can be witty at times, but recently it is almost entirely about the campus marijuana fiascoes (I will certainly cover these at a later date). Hope you enjoyed this, and if you did I will look at the Critic regularly and find some good stuff to post.

Beaches and Film Festival

Yesterday I walked to St. Kilda and St. Clair Beach with Gavin. It was about 40 minutes from the Octagon. They are really the same beach but for some reason have different names. It was raining but it was beautiful. The poles at St. Clair really do look quite cool. There was also a signpost reminding me how utterly far from home I really am. Gavin needed to be back at the Octagon at 4 to meet Amy for a Film Festival movie. I waited with him until she showed up (which wasn't long) and then they talked me into seeing Man On Wire with them (it wasn't hard, I was sort of interested anyway). I got the 5 movie festival pass for $50 which will save me maybe $5 in the end. Any money is good money! The movie was most excellent. It was a documentary about a Frenchman who wirewalked between the Twin Towers during the '70s. After that, I walked home to cook dinner. Amy and Gavin went to a kebab place but I felt I should stay in for dinner. I made pesto pasta (delicious!) and Amy's friend Michelle (she's also Ashleigh's flatmate) texted me about seeing a film festival movie at 8. It felt at first a little overwhelming to see two movies in one day, but I realized I had already paid and had an hour to work on my Māori Society essay. So, I went and saw A Complete History of My Sexual Failures with Michelle and her friend Laura. It was also extremely good. I walked probably around 15 km in that day, and got a blister, but it was worth it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I've Been In New Zealand For a Month!

I can't really believe it. There are only 3 and a half months left! It feels like it's going by so fast. I need to start getting out there! I mean, I have done plenty but there's so much more I want to do. Not having a car makes it a bit more inconvenient to get out there - the bus routes are infrequent and kind of limiting. Also, the price of them adds up, although each one is not too pricey.

Yesterday highlighted why we should get a car. We went out to the Otago Peninsula on a bus. We got off at Portobello, but there was no connection to Taiaroa Head because apparently that only goes on weekday mornings. Also, to get to the castle you need to get off at an earlier stop. I hadn't actually realized how big the peninsula is. It is quite different from what you expect when people talk about it. It is not at all easy to just walk from one place to another. Taiaroa Head is some 11km from Portobello. Not an impossible walk, but quite the return journey. So we instead found a nice hiking path of sorts and went into the hills. Then traveled towards the beach - two of us (me included) didn't make the beach. The other three did (they had split off before) but only by getting a ride (15 minute drive or so!). We saw some lovely farmland, and some cool birds. The walk was peaceful and scenic. We ate at one of Portobello's two dining establishments.

Today I mostly cleaned and did chores. Even in New Zealand, you gotta do it. I also made it to the Farmer's Market yesterday. I love the Farmer's Market. Gavin and I are planning to walk to St. Clair beach tomorrow. It's definitely doable, many people I know have done it. It looks to be about 5 or 6 k. Should be fun! Also, I just found out that Google Maps has a Beta version of Walking directions now! Pretty cool.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Summary of My Week

It rained all week. And got progressively colder.

Monday: Decided to buy a car Tuesday. Then decided not to.
Tuesday: Did not buy a car. Had my first day of Maori Language.
Wednesday: Had my first day of bone carving! Went to Velvet Burger for dinner because my power was out.
Thursday: Had a Mexican dinner with a whole bunch of cool people. It was delicious. Then went out to Robbie Burns, The Monkey Bar, a Kiwi house party, and the Bowler. It was a fun night indeed.
Friday: Slept in a huge amount. Got 2 sweaters at an opshop for $7. Saw the Dark Knight!

Tomorrow I plan to go out to the peninsula. The rain is supposed to continue at least until Tuesday. Joy!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Te Anau and Milford Sound Weekend

After a week of the fresher flu (it wasn't the flu, that's just a catchall term), I finally got out of Dunners, which was good because I was getting a little bit of cabin fever, if you will. I went with Karin and Becky to Te Anau. Our original plan was to do a day of the Kepler Track. However, Becky and I having been sick all week, and having a slight desire to be touristy, we changed our plans. Karin and I booked the bus and the hostel a mere 2 hours before the bus was leaving. There were actually only a few seats left, so we were pretty lucky. It is the off season so I guess it's a bit more reasonable to do that (except in Queenstown and Wanaka which are at the height of ski season). We hopped on the bus at 1:55 PM after getting lost on the way to the Intercity office. We couldn't sit together. I ate my Subway sub on the bus, despite rules against food (no one really cared). There was a 30 minute 'break' not long before changing buses at Gore at a cafe. We got into Te Anau after 7, so it was dark. We got pointed in the direction of our Backpackers (it was the Lakefront Backpackers, so not too hard to find) and checked in (there was a bit of confusion when we found out our first room didn't have enough beds left but we got some beds eventually). Then we set off in search of food. Of course, it being the middle of winter and an extremely small town, the supermarkets close at 7. There were about 3 or 4 restaurants actually open, some exorbitantly priced and some moderately priced but not cheap ($15 meals). We ended up going to an Italian place called La Toscana. I got pasta with spinach and cream sauce with pine nuts, it was extremely delicious. Then we walked back to the hostel to try to plan our activities for the next day. The hostel was really nice compared to our flats - it had some heat and the common rooms had a fireplace! Using the internet, we decided we would do a Milford Sound cruise and then the Te Anau glowworm caves, and we booked online. We then talked to some people in the lounge and discovered that the glowworm caves were geologically unsound.

The next morning, our Taiwanese roommate left an hour before we had planned to get up. This disrupted my sleep and I was not entirely thrilled. I need to remember my sleep mask whenever I go places. We got up and walked to the Info Centre to see if our bookings were through. It was just in time for the coach to Milford Sound to take people to the Pop Inn Cafe, which is where we, too, got breakfast. We then boarded the coach. It was more crowded than I'd expected but we were each able to get a window seat and not have anyone sitting beside us. The bus was shaped weirdly and the seats were angled toward the windows for maximum viewing. It was quite foggy/cloudy when we set off, and we couldn't really see the Murchison Mountains by Lake Te Anau. We were going through a beech forest just as the fog was clearing (right around when we entered Fiordland National Park). Eventually the bus stopped at the short track by the Mirror Lakes, which beautifully reflect the Earl Mountains. We then continued on, stopping also at Lyttle Flat (by a river), an area by a dramatically huge peak (Christina's Peak, I think?), The Chasm (where the Cleddau River has carved its way down through soft rock, an amazing sight), and at the entrance to the Homer Tunnel (which is somewhat terrifying, by the way). We finally got to Milford Sound after an absolutely amazing tour of Fiordland (at least the part along Milford Road). It was raining by this point but vision was not really obscured. Mitre Peak stuck out in its iconic shape. It's absolutely breathtaking, and I read that the Maori see it as a symbol of manliness. We climbed aboard our blue three-masted ship, the Fiordland Navigator, and claimed our free picnic lunches. We had time to eat before the boat departed. It was a two-hour cruise, and we saw many stunning waterfalls (a bonus of being there in the rain - most of the waterfalls are only there when it rains), fur seals napping on the rocks, and simply beautiful terrain. We got almost all the way out to the Tasman Sea. We stood out on deck in the rain for a large part of the journey, soaking in the views. The captain steered the boat right up under some of the bigger waterfalls (because Milford Sound is actually a fiord, carved out by glaciers, it is deep all the way up to land). This was one of the most amazing experiences I've had so far. I even got a sticker and put it on my Kathmandu water bottle. We got completely soaked, but it was worth it. The coach didn't stop on the way back, but the area was still stunning. We got back into Te Anau at about 5 pm. It was a 7 hour journey and truly incredible! We went out to the Chinese place for dinner, and hung out with people at the hostel, notably Caroline (who studied abroad in Sydney last semester and was my age and traveling for a couple weeks in NZ) and Jill (who was from Nebraska but had worked in Hawaii for a while on a cruise ship and was road tripping with a friend she had worked with on the cruise ship) and that weird guy (he was Kiwi... not much else known other than that). The English guy from the night before had left, pity, he was cool. We attempted to put together a puzzle that had come out of a bag and had no picture. Well, I just sat there looking through my guidebook to make my list of places-to-go-to (there's way too many). They actually made a surprising amount of progress, and by the time Karin and I called it a night (Becky was on the phone somewhere) it had been discovered that it was a castle of some sort.

We woke up early (7 am) to catch the 8 am bus back to Dunners. The bus trip was uneventful, except the driver, Robin, decided it would be a good idea to tell us all about every feature we passed (prisons, airports, nonexistent railroad tracks), which was annoying since I and everyone else around me was attempting to sleep. THANKS DUDE. Also we stopped for lunch and everything I ate was nasty. Other than that, not much to say. We got back in Dunners at about 1 pm, just in time to put down my stuff and then go straight to look at Greg's car in the North East Valley. That turned out to not take as long to walk to as I thought. We test drove the 1992 Nissan Bluebird (that's right, I drove!) and I don't want to get into it too specifically, but we have not bought it yet and it seems unlikely that we will. Seems like a good car though.

Why I Didn't Post All Week:

I was sick. That's pretty much it.

Oh, I did tour the Cadbury Factory on Thursday. That was quite cool.

Monday, July 14, 2008

All Blacks Game and Mt. Cargill

This weekend I decided to stay in Dunners to watch the All Blacks game. Unfortunately, I was unable to get tickets to actually go see it at Carisbrook, but I watched it at a pub, The Bowler, which is quite nearby. Just before it, my friends and I tracked down some face paint (easily available at the All Blacks store near the Octagon) and decided that the Octagon would be kind of lame to watch it at (the screens were quite small). We put black and white stripes on our faces. The Bowler was pretty quiet until just before the game, but it was warm and had big screens. It was my first time watching rugby, to be honest, but I really enjoyed it. Well, except for the fact that we lost in the last few seconds. It was quite tragic. We tried to go All Blacks stalking afterwards, but Amber forgot her passport so we ended up just getting some chips and going home.

The next morning Amber, Kate, Helen, and a girl named Kana and I headed out for Mt. Cargill. We left at 8:30. The walk to the trail itself takes a little over an hour, and takes you by Baldwin Street - the world's steepest street! The trail is quite steep, and takes 1.5-2 hours to the top. The view is absolutely breathtaking. Coming down is much quicker, but we were really sore afterwards! I guess we'll be getting into better shape... In all it was a 6 hour hike!

quite steep
Baldwin Street

The city I'm calling home for 4.5 months

One of many spectacular views from Mt. Cargill.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Guide to Kiwi Slang

Sure, you can find these several places on the internet. But are any of them written by me? Also I will tell you how much the words and phrases are really used, and how I know they're real.

chips = French fries; confirmed by seeing and hearing it a whole lot. However, the term fries is also used occasionally and it is understood what fries means.
crisps = potato chips; confirmed in the supermarket and at Takeaway's. But chips is sometimes used and this can be a bit confusing since chips should mean fries.
biscuits = cookies; confirmed at Coupland's Bakery among other things. Again, cookies can be used as well and is understood.
sweet as = excellent, cool, wonderful; confirmed by everyone using it all the time. Derived from phrases like "sweet as honey" but everyone just says "sweet as". Can be used as an exclamation or in a sentence as in "That movie was sweet as".
chemist = pharmacy/pharmacist; confirmed by exactly one pharmacy calling itself a chemist on George Street. At least in Dunedin most places are actually called pharmacies so this seems to be less widely used.
cheers = thanks, goodbye; this is an extremely common phrase. If you move out of someone's way in the street they might say cheers, or after you buy something in a shop, or just anytime really. Can be either thanks or goodbye or both at the same time.
ta = thanks; I've heard people saying this but not quite as frequently as cheers. It may just be less formal, not used as much with strangers, I can't tell yet.
keen on = wanting to or interested in; my Kiwi flatmate certainly uses it a lot but I can't figure out yet if it means "I will do X" or just "I want to do X" or I'm interested in X". I think it's more like "want to".
rooting = having sex with; confirmed by some soap opera or other [it was Outrageous Fortune]. Haven't heard anyone actually using it, but then again I haven't been talking to Kiwis about sex.
kia ora = hello, thanks, you're welcome, lots of other things; confirmed by the guide at Tamaki Brothers Maori Village, and also by it being used fairly frequently. A Maori phrase literally meaning "be well," it can be used however you want, really.
flash = excellent, wonderful, fancy; my Gender Studies lecturer used it in the sense of "I wasn't feeling so flash this morning." On the soap opera Outrageous Fortune (which is fairly unwatchable) they used it in the sense of a nice restaurant, a "flash restaurant".
entree = appetizer; confirmed on menus everywhere and by Auntie Jane. Quite confusing to Americans. What we call an entree (main dish) is called a main here. Makes heaps of sense to me (the French word entree means entry or entrance so why wouldn't it be an appetizer?).

More as they come to me.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Car looking and Mexican disaster

Today I slept in, then destroyed a bagel (I forgot to cut them in half before I froze them so I had a thawing disaster, but I still got to eat most of it...) then cleaned up some of the mess around the lounge, then went and threw a frisbee around with Amber, Kate, and Helen, and we looked at a bright orange car for sale nearby which is pretty cheap but the registration and warrant of fitness are both set to run out fairly soon and that really ups the price of the car, realistically. So I dunno. There are other people who want in on the car but I'm trying to make sure that no more than 5 people pay for it, because if you paid for it you should have access to a seat for every weekend trip if you want, that's only fair, though of course probably not everyone will go every time, so other people could pay for gas IF there's an extra seat. Hopefully that's how we'll do it. Anyway. I helped my flatmate with a play reading just now, so I got to meet two of her friends which is pretty cool. I dunno what to do before dinner (my power ran out so I'm typing this in the library) but it's really nice out so maybe I'll just walk around. I am feeling tired for some reason... well I did stay up until 3 am so maybe it's just that. And I have a bit of a headache. And I went into a liquor store for the first time ever! It was called Liquor Land. I got a 4 pack of fruity drinks. I'll keep you updated on how the Mexican food is and if we manage to find a car! The Mexican place we went to for dinner... was not so great. My burrito was fine, but not exactly what you would expect, and $15. Have you heard of a place in DC called Taqueria Poblano? Apparently this place was modeled after it. After that we stopped at a dairy for ice cream (yum!) and then went to Amber's flat and made pavlova, a Kiwi dessert. We played some cards, hung out, it was chill. I had a wicked headache for a while but it subsided after taking Tylenol and drinking loads of water.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Clubs and Socs Day; Marketplace

Yesterday was Clubs and Socs Day at the Clubs and Socs Building. I immediately found the juggling club (well, they're quite obvious because they're the ones juggling) and rushed to sign up - until I found out that it costs $20 to do. Then I backed away slowly, and signed up for the Tramping Club which is $30 but that's okay since it means you get to hire their equipment and go on their trips. I went inside to see more clubs and found Amber and Kate. Amber told me I shouldn't join the tramping club but should instead go in for a car with her, Helen, and another girl. That sounds like a fantastic idea, I said, though I already kind of joined the tramping club. Oh well. Kate talked me into signing up for Polynesian Dance with her which doesn't start until September. Then I went upstairs to see the other clubs (all of them cost money!) and got made to feel really guilty by all the activist groups.

I hung out in the library uploading photos much of the day - I'll incorporate them into the blog at some point or other. I had my first day of Anthropology of Health which is a two hour lecture once a week. It seems really interesting. It also has a tutorial once a week, which I had this morning. I stopped uploading photos for dinner, then finished my readings. I was going to go to Tim's place to partake in the 'quiet drinks' and socialising but I felt too awkward just going into his house uninvited (no one answered the door) so I went and baked cookies at Toroa instead with Kate, Helen, and Amber. They revealed to me loads of weekend plans which I would miss if I went on the tramp on the Kepler Track. So now I have a hard decision to make.

Today there was a Marketplace by the Union building as well as a snowboarding ramp? It had fake snow of course - it's decently warm out. I got a bone hei matau for a gift for someone, and looked in vain for University of Otago sweatshirts (argh!). There were a lot of people selling used clothes. Maybe I should go back and look more.

Going out

After talking to you: went to check out the market again, which was closed, so I watched the skiing and snowboarding dudes for a bit, and saw a couple people I knew, and then walked back to my flat and read my book some and then had dinner (pasta with bread n butter). then i went to yoga at 7 with helen and it ended up being 2 and a half hours long! we thought it would be an hour or something. it was good though, im considering going regularly though maybe not. it's $3 a lesson, which is really not bad if you think about it. I think I may join the juggling club after all, after realizing it's really the best way for me to meet Kiwis which is one of my goals here. Then I changed and dropped by a house party at Brianna's which is quite close to my flat. It was really just people drinking, and doing shots, I was just there to meet up with people so we could then go to the Monkey Bar. Brianna's Kiwi host tried to force Kate and I to drink, but we escaped, and the other people were going to come later. So we went to the Monkey Bar, stopping by the jazz night at Robbie Burns on the way to check it out. The jazz music was really good; we think we may go a bit earlier next week. I saw my flatmate Sarah there as she was leaving. At the Monkey Bar we each got a Bacardi Breezer, you know, one of those girlie drinks that are delicious, and mine was orange and yummy. At first there was a guy playing live and we weren't sure we would stay but then he stopped (his music wasn't danceable, it was just mediocre covers of rock songs) and they played their usual odd remixes of songs (for instance last week they played a remix of Take Me Home Country Roads, so I really do mean they're kind of odd). Anyway, I finished my drink and we were getting ready to go an hour and a half after coming but then Helen, Becky, and Karin showed up so we danced with them for a few minutes. Helen was drunk in a hilarious way and she hugged us when we left, which set off a chain reaction of hugs. While dancing, an absurdly drunk guy grabbed my waist and I just looked at him and he backed off, and went on gesturing creepily to himself... on the way back Kate and I were really hungry and almost stopped in Subway. You would understand the fact that I probably WILL go in Subway before I leave if only you knew how ridiculously amazing it smells every single time you walk by. I mean, there are other restaurants around that smell quite good as you're walking by, but none radiate such an amazing aroma as the Subway nearest campus on George Street. Also they have a "sub of the day" which is only $3.90! And it's open late. So one day I'm not going to be able to resist, and you'll have to just forgive me, but hey it's popular here so I guess you could say it's become part of Kiwi culture. I still won't go in McDonald's or Starbucks. Then I almost got a muffin from the Night N' Day, which is the 24 hour convenience store, cuz I got an apple cinnamon one the other day and it was SO GOOD but I resisted, and ate food I had in the flat instead. I am so proud of myself! It's really helpful to drink at least just a little, to fit in, because there's basically no one who doesn't drink at least a little. The drinking culture here is, well, insane. It might just be uni students, in fact it could just be Otago students, but I don't think so, because of certain television ads and the age of people you see in bars and drunk on the streets. Oh I have also found out it's perfectly legal here to carry realistic replicas of firearms, due to some costumes some people have been wearing. Interesting!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Wonder...

Is it normal for people to be outside, drunk, and raucous at 7:30 AM on a Wednesday? I hope not.

I did find out that today was the Cook-a-thon, not that I know what that is, but it involved people being dressed up in costumes and started at 7:30.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Grocery store and 24

I found the grocery store, the Botanic Gardens were beautiful, I made myself delicious pasta with meat sauce for dinner, the lecture I went to was shitty and we left early, and we ended up just hanging out in the common room at Toroa (the international house) and getting muffins from a nearby convenience store that's open 24 hours. I got an apple cinnamon DELICIOUS MUFFIN. Toroa is wonderful. It has heat that you can actually use, unlimited internet (not wireless, but each room has a place to hook up ethernet cables... the internet is more expensive but... i think it would be worth it), a great common room with a pool table, SKY tv, a foosball table, and it has activities you can do. I wish I had chosen to live there! It IS true, though, that you're less likely to meet Kiwis and get into Kiwi culture, and it is a little bit like you're being taken care of, I hear, which could get kind of annoying since I mean, you're a college student. Also it's a bit further from campus than most uni flats. So there's pros and cons to everything. When it gets warmer I probably won't wish I lived there. BUT RIGHT NOW I DO!

and then:

Anthropology of Health looks SO INTERESTING!!! And I met a girl from Canada and a girl from the US (who's been going to Otago for 3 years now) in the class, and there's a girl I already know in it! Cool stuff. I am torn about the weekend: there's the tramp with the club, or loads of cool stuff with my friends. There's doing some cooking, going up Mt. Cargill, going to the beach, going to the farmer's market, and watching the All Blacks game at the Octagon. There's also a uni flats social at the Cook. So it seems like there's a ton that would be good to do here... also, I don't have a space for the tramp yet, don't know how much it costs, and they're only taking 12 or so people so I don't even know if I can go.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I did not have class on the first day of classes

Well, classes started today... but not for me. I don't have class on Mondays or Fridays. Sweet as! So, instead, I found the classrooms where I will be having class (quite an easy task) and ran some errands.

First, though, I had a $3 lunch at OUSA which is put on by the Hare Krishnas. It's vegetarian (maybe even vegan) and they give you HEAPS of food. They had pasta and apple crumble today. The pasta was not too exciting, but decent, and the apple crumble was delicious. I went with Helen and Kate and Alex. While waiting in line, I met Charlie and Anissa, who seem really cool. After lunch I signed up for the Starting Maori Language class and then Anissa and I walked to Unipol to sign up for Bone Carving. So we will both be taking that at the same time, which is cool.

I seem to see my flatmate's boyfriend Tim a lot when I'm walking around. That seems sort of unlikely since it's such a huge university but it's really cool that I do see people I know. I bought the book for Maori Society at a discount bookshop up on Great King Street near McDonald's. I saved about $17, so that's nice. I then went and got fruit from New World and popcorn from Countdown. Countdown is further away but a bit cheaper. If I get a card to get their deals it will be even better priced. I'll have to look into that. I didn't get dinner stuff because I wasn't sure when this whole flat cooking will start. I need to find that out. I also went to the Albany Street Pharmacy to get a thermometer (I have no fever! hooray!) and cold medicine. Somewhere in there I took some pictures in the Octagon. I really wanted to get up to the Botanic Gardens but it's dark now so I think I'll hold off on that.

I looked up my classes on Blackboard - it looks like the final exams are worth 50% in all 3 of them. Intimidating! Also, my anthropology class looks challenging. I'll have to write essays for all my classes. Ah well, it is school after all. I don't know what I'll end up doing this evening.

Oh, and a quick summary of my weekend:
Saturday, the weather was terrible and so my Mt. Cargill plans were canceled. We had a gathering at Karin's (48 Grange) where we ordered pizza and watched the second Matrix movie. Karin's house is really nice. We discovered that a large pizza at Domino's is much much smaller than what you expect. Sunday I went to the Otago Museum at 3 after having slept in and wandered around a bit, and then went out to dinner at Tokyo Garden, which is alright but the chicken was fatty. When I was going to bed on Saturday night, the lights went out as I was brushing my teeth. See, we have prepaid power and it cuts off when it runs out. I decided that instead of trying to work out how to add more power in the dark, I'd wait til the morning to clear it up. Sure enough, I was the one to add $50 to the power - and that will hopefully be all I pay this month.

First Bowler Karaoke outing

I went to karaoke just now!! It was so much fun. It was at a nearby pub called The Bowler. You get a free beer if you sing in the first hour. Karin and I sang Wannabe by the Spice Girls. It was SO much fun. We got a free beer... Karin gave it to me because she had already gotten drinks, and so I sipped at it a little (when you get beer here it comes in HUGE servings, at least a pint, and these came in handles, which i think may be more than a pint) until the other people at my table were like "are you actually going to drink that?" and i was like, no, im only sipping it, have as much as you want. for beer, it was decent tasting which was why i continued having a couple of sips. It was a beer called Tui which has lots of ads that end in 'yeah right' all over the city. I have to take a picture of this one, I don't remember what the actual Tui ad was, but someone spray painted on it: "Jesus Saves. Yeah right." and we're terrible but we find it hilarious, just the way it's done. Actual ads include: "We shouldn't, we're flatmates. Yeah right" so you get the picture. Anyway so yeah, I won a free beer! WOOO! haha, I was kind of excited because of the whole 'free' thing, but not as much because of the 'beer' thing. If it was free food, I'd have been happy. I've been really hungry all day for some reason. Anyway, we think we're going to do karaoke every Monday if we can, it's so much fun. And it was SO crowded, it was ridiculous. It was fun watching other people and singing along. Other people in my group put in requests for songs but did it too late so their songs hadn't come up by the time we were ready to leave. Tomorrow there's an open mic night, which you may recall I went to last week, and I want to hit it up again cuz it was cool. It's so different: Dunedin has a NIGHTLIFE!!! Including the massage parlor above the Peaches and Cream adult store lol I wanted to tell you about that too. Oh yeah and I heard my neighbor/fellow-orientation-goer Sean may or may not have gotten arrested today for smoking pot. And yesterday he got punched in the face at a party. Not a good couple of days for him, I guess. So that's my night! It is fun to hang out with cool people.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Grange party and observation

So I went to Karin's at 6 as planned and we waited for others to arrive then ordered 3 large pizzas from Domino's... they turned out to be in fact much smaller than what you get in America so that is a lesson learned... there were 8 of us sharing it too. But it was only about $3.80 each, so oh well. And everyone got 3 pieces. We watched the Matrix Reloaded which turned out to be pretty cool then played pictionary. I was on a team with Alex (Garett) and for some reason he chose the name 'Jesus Squad' for our team. It almost worked, we almost won but he wouldn't say 'zoom lens' instead he said 'zoom lenses' a bunch of time. SO CLOSE! On the way back the weather was much better (no wind OR rain!) and Helen and I passed a bunch of groups of Kiwi students (gasp!) and they were wearing MUCH LESS than us. I guess that shows you right away who the international students are - the ones wearing coats. The Kiwis were wearing TSHIRTS or at most long sleeved tees. AHHH! I guess you get used to the weather. Anyway, I may be going to the museum tomorrow. If you ask, what museum? I shall say, the Otago Museum, which is across the street from the library. And it's free!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Taieri Gorge Train trip

Today international students were able to take the Taieri Gorge train for free. The train left at 11:30, so Kate and I walked down to the train station at 11. The walk is not far, and the train station is a beautiful building. It's near the Cadbury Factory. We got onboard and the train departed. It went pretty slowly. We went to Hindon, going through the Taieri Gorge and some beautiful countryside. When we got there, there was a barbecue set up for us. It was good, though not exactly what you expect from an American one (not entirely surprising). I guess it is the 4th of July, so a barbecue is fitting. It was cold, and we got back on the train and came back. We got candy for answering questions about New Zealand and had to fill out a survey. It was raining/sleeting/hailing when we got back. It has been windy and cold all afternoon. I got mail today though, which is great. I got my EFTPOS card, a postcard from Rachel A, and a letter from Jeff! It was so nice finding those things in my mailbox.

train engine
The train we were on.

One of the many gorgeous views on the train ride.

Class Registration; Monkey Bar

Today was course registration/approval. I finally decided what I'm taking: MAOR 102: Maori Society, GEND 102: Bodies, Sexualities, and Selves, and ANTH 323: Anthropology of Health. Hopefully those will be good classes, and will leave me room to take classes through Unipol and OUSA, which I want to do. I want to take OUSA's Beginner Maori Language course, and Bone Carving through Unipol, at the very least. I'm also interested in taking Basic Bar Skills (for those who don't know, ever since I was a barista for a summer, I've been interested in learning to bartend, since I know making drinks is not too tough and fun.

I also took a campus tour today - it wasn't really that informative. The tour guide really just walked around and pointed at various buildings, saying 'that's that building.' The only thing I really gained out of it was that there are several 24 hour computer labs that you can access with your door code, which I got today. So that's cool. I sat in the library for a while with Karin, Becky, Helen, and Kate. We were debating whether or not to go to the book store, but we didn't. Then we decided to go out to dinner, and we went to Hell Pizza which is a couple blocks north on Great King Street. We took the pizzas to Helen's flat, which is on Castle. It was quite good, and Helen had orange juice. Always delicious.

We all split up and took showers and then met at about 7:30-ish to go to the Monkey Bar for the International Student Party. The Monkey Bar is a really cool converted church on the corner of Great King and Hanover Streets. We danced for a long time. It was a lot of fun. That place has $3 drinks every Thursday from 8-12, so it could be a cool place to go on Thursdays, if one wanted to go out on that night.

Tomorrow I'm going on the Taieri Gorge Train, which is free tomorrow for new international students! More on that later.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Some random things I've noticed

-There are more Subways in New Zealand than there are McDonald's.
-The letter 'z' is pronounced 'zed'.
-The birds here sound a lot different.
-Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. You better wait for that crosswalk to turn green.
-Cheese is really expensive.
-There are clearly marked public bathrooms toilets everywhere. It's really great.
-Kiwis like to put pineapple on everything.
-Not surprisingly, there are lots of sheep. I was surprised, however, at how many cows there are as well.
-Meat pies are cheap and delicious.
-New Zealand is about as far from home as you can get - but it doesn't feel like it's far from home.
-If you're eating out, it's often more expensive. However, you don't have to tip, and tax is always included in the price. When you factor in those facts plus convert it to US dollars, it's actually about the same or cheaper.

Dunedin (that's duh-NEED-in)

I just wandered around town, trying to find where my Arcadia people are living. I located plenty of flats, but no one was home in any of them. It was actually quite pleasant out, I was dressed warmer than I needed to be. I stopped in the Dundas Street Dairy for a Telecom top-up, only to discover there were already 500 texts on the phone! Well, now I have 2500. No worries. I couldn't figure out how to get to the actual flats at Toroa, and besides, I don't know where Amber and Kate live exactly, anyway. As I was walking, I was thinking how Dunedin really is a lovely little city. I know it's much bigger than anything I'm used to, but at least right now it has more of a little city feel. The campus is beautiful. I live about a second away from the clocktower and the river. I was feeling a little pessimistic earlier about living so independently, but after talking to Jeff, feeding myself, and making plans for tonight, I am much more confident. There's that feeling of 'oh, it's cold and the days are short and I'm so alone' but it's just a feeling. I'm not alone. I have friends in Dunedin, and I have so much love back home. I must say that I'm fully becoming a scarfie - I've worn scarves often and even bought -gasp- more today! I need to get another sweatshirt or two. I'm currently attempting to decide on what classes to take. Two of them are certain: Maori Society and Anthro of Health. I can't decide on my third. There's Maori Language, NZ Politics, a gender studies class (bodies, sexualities, and selves), Music in Popular Culture, Love and Heroism: Religions of South India, Religion and the Internet, and Concepts of the Self. I think most of them would fit into my schedule. It's just up to me to decide. I promise I will actually update on my time in New Zealand up to now at some point, I am just not extremely motivated to since I need to wait for library internet to actually upload photos.