Monthly Archives: March 2011

My First Day in Auckland

Flashback: February 15th, 2011

More than 24 hours later than we left our homes back in the US, we finally landed around 8am in Auckland.  The got through baggage claim and customs seamlessly (when I claimed the chocolates I had, the man said, “ooh! very nice!”)

We got a cab to take us to our apartments.  We knew the address, but otherwise we knew nothing about where they were, and neither did our cab driver, apparently.  But after one long and expensive ride later, we found the apartment building.

The two ladies who work the front desk are so nice and helpful! It was wonderful to have them welcome us into our new homes (though they did break the terrible news that we did not have internet yet…..)  We got up to our apartment on the 7th floor. Our living room:

The dryers here are pretty expensive and not that effective, so our roommate set up a clothesline for drying.  It’s actually very homey!  Our kitchen:

We looked around and settled in a bit, but we tried not to get too comfortable since we had about a gazillion things to do.

Our first mission was our bank accounts.  It was an easy choice of which bank to go with: The National Bank is the only NZ bank with an ATM on campus.  Plus, the most helpful woman in the universe helped us set up accounts.  Due to the sheer volume of study abroad students that come to Auckalnd, they have a very nice system there and knew exactly what to do to help us.  But our banker when above and beyond just being helpful, she even helped us figure out which phone to get AND set it up!

It’s comically basic lol.  We needed a local phone number to set up the account, so she told us to run across the street and get a 2degrees phone from the convenience store.  You literally get a phone off the shelf for $50 and it comes with a sim card and everything, and then you just load on money as you need it at the convenient store.  It’s 2cents per text, but its free to people with 2degrees, and mostly everyone has it since it’s so cheap!

So after we got our phones and bank accounts, we headed down to the Warehouse, a Wal Mart type place that is apparently the cheapest place to get all your crap.  We spent a long time figuring out the best value for bedding and toiletries. Then we hauled the load back home and settled in for real.  This is my humble room:

We relaxed for the rest of the night after the longest day ever.  Our first impression of New Zealand was that everyone’s number one pleasure in life is to help other people.  Everyone from the receptionists at the apartments to the banker acted as though their greatest goal was to help us.

I love it here.

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International Student Orientation

Flashback: February 16th-17th, 2011

Our second day!  When we got up, we made a journey down to Countdown, the supermarket in Auckland Central.  It is really big and newly renovated, plus we were able to get a lot of great stuff for pretty cheap!  It was quite a huge excursion, so we relaxed around the apartment for the rest of the day and decided to go out to dinner.  After doing some research in Hannah’s Lonely Planet guidebook…

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(basically our Bible for this trip) we decided to try an Indian restaurant, Satya, which is on K’Road.  We chose the two meals recommended in the book:

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This is dahi puri, which is a chickpea, potato, and yoghurt creation on a pappadam.  It had a very curious flavor that we weren’t crazy about first, but it certainly grew on us!  We also got the masala dosa:

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It’s a crepe filled with potato and onion curry, with three tasty dipping sauces!  This was SOOOO GOOD!  Plus, we got it all for pretty cheap!  We are definitely going to go back 🙂

The next day was International Student Orientation at AUT!  It was a really busy day, orientation started at 8:45am and went until 4:00pm.  It was sort of awkward because the entire program was geared towards students who coming from overseas to do ALL of their college at AUT, so it wasn’t exactly geared towards study abroad students.  The most exciting part was our break for morning tea, where we ate the most delicious cookies!  Mmmmm Toffee Pops….

We attended lectures about the types of campus logistics we were going to get done (most importantly, our ID cards, which we THOUGHT would give us internet, how silly of us).  But we also went to an Info Expo, where there were tons of different on and off campus stuff that we might be interested in, like free sports games and travel deals.  Then I attended two very boring lectures after lunch.  One was about insurance (which was useful, I guess) and the other was about the academic support service (which is for people who are learning English).  I was laughing to myself as the speaker started off by saying “since most of you are English language learners…”  We ended the day in a study abroad meeting, where we talked about all the funness of being a study abroad student.  We also learned about this company called GOOT – Get Out Of Town that is a great resource for us student travelers.

Later in the day, we went to get some ice cream with some people we met during orientation.

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This is my roommate Tim eating THE BEST ice cream they have.  It’s called Hokey Pokey and it is basically caramel ice cream with toffee balls.

New Zealand is delicious!

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Our First Weekend

Flashback: February 19th-20th, 2011

Last Friday, we went to the beach, Takapuna, which is just a 20 minute bus ride away!  Though it was sort of cloudy and “cold,” we still had an excellent picnic and stared at the view for hours.

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Can you blame us? Magnificent.

That night, we went to the Chinese Lantern Festival at a park right near our apartment.  We started off the evening by eating some delicious vegetarian Chinese food.

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Then we each had half a pineapple with Hokey Pokey inside for dessert.

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After sunset, we walked around looking at all the gorgeous lanterns all lit up.  They were huge and ornate, such a fun sight to see!

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We started off our first Saturday with a trip to the Farmer’s Market. For breakfast, we had a gourmet chocolate-almond croissant as a treat from an artisan baker, plus I had a ginger latte.  The produce was so cheap, so we were naturally very excitable, and stocked up for the week.  For lunch, we got a gourmet ham sandwich from the jolliest Kiwi lady ever.  I am not lying when I say that it was the most delicious ham I’d every tasted.

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Later in the day, we hiked up Mount Eden, which is just a 25-minute walk from our apartment.  The view from the top was incredible!

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That night, there was a meetup at Father Ted’s Pub for all study abroad students.  When we walked in, we were shocked to see our adviser playing lead guitar in the band!  We always have a good time at Father Ted’s 🙂

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Devonport Wine, Food, and Music Festival

Flashback: February 20th-21st, 2011

Aaaah, my three favorite things!

After FINALLY talking to my mom (and it was her birthday—perfect timing!) we hopped on the ferry and 10 minutes later we were in Devonport.  It was a really cool festival, filled with all sorts of different food vendors and New Zealand wineries.  Plus, there were two stages with funky rock music!

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She was quite the entertainer.  We had some really yummy artisan hot dogs

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with a glass of Pinot Noir as we walked along the beach.

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Then, for dessert, we got a cheese plate of pecorino and bleu cheese (that came with bread AND tomato jam—score!)

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while we sat and listened to music.  Before we left, we had another glass of wine

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(sparkling Rose for me) and drank up (the view) even more.

The next night, we decided to have a big night out to celebrate Hannah’s birthday and our new Kiwi life in general.  Ended up being one of the best meals of our lives:  We went to Parnell, “the creative quarter” of Auckland and ate dinner at Non Solo Pizza, another place recommended by Hannah’s guidebook (it’s NEVER failed us, and I don’t expect it ever will!)  We ate a glorious Sicilian pizza with olives and eggplant.

Then for dessert we had homemade gelato (chocolate and coffee) and sorbet (kiwifruit).

Oh! And an accompanying dessert wine, than was like limoncello, but made from mandarin oranges.  Not pictured: the bruschetta, which was literally the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten, I think.  It was insanely flavorful and decadent, we ate it so fast, I didn’t have time to snap a picture 🙂

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Devonport, New Zealand

Flashback: February 22nd-24th, 2011

Last Tuesday was the day of the earthquake in Christchurch.  Hannah and I spent the morning watching the news, tearing up at the devastation.  I had only been here a week at that point, but I’d already felt such a connection to New Zealand and a deep love for it and it’s people.  It’s just devastating.

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We spent the rest of the day stimulating the NZ economy by shopping!  All the young Kiwi girls have a pretty distinctive style that we covet, so we got a few items to attempt to look as cool as they do.

Later that night, we went to a free “Welcome to Kiwiland” BBQ that we thought was organized by this group dedicated to connecting international people with local families, but instead it was a Christian organization.  We felt a little tricked, but we had a good time all the same enjoying some free food and playing badminton.

In the evening, we did some karaoke at Father Ted’s.  We raised the roof during our performance of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”  Already practicing for upcoming karaoke nights.

Last Wednesday we got our final flatmate!  Ben is from northern New Zealand, and he’s already becoming a great friend.

Last Thursday, we went back to Devonport to spend a day exploring the town.  We started off the day by eating at the Stone Oven

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I got a delicious chickpea croissant and a huge-ass greek salad.  It served as good fuel for hiking Mount Victoria!

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After our hike, we treated ourselves to some of the most exciting chocolates I’ve ever had!

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We got four chocolates to share: dark chocolate chili, white chocolate honey, dark chocolate ginger, and milk chocolate strawberry balsamic.  We basically saw God.  After we came back down to Earth, we saw two museums.  The Devonport Museum (basically just an organized collection of historically significant antiques:

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We discovered a hidden reserve behind the museum, too!

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After we explored that a bit, we went to the Navy Museum, which was brand new and very moving (a New Zealand Navy Base is located in Devonport.)

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Then, we hiked up Mont Head, which was full of all sorts of creepy tunnels to explore!

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To finish off our fun-filled day, we relaxed on Cheltenham beach, which at low tide had comically shallow water as far as the eye can see!

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Here is Hannah basically in the middle of the ocean.  See how far she is from the shoreline?!  That’s Mount Head in the background.

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Back to School Week!

Flashback: February 25th-March 2nd, 2011

On Friday we had our school of education orientation.  Again, this was sort of pointless because it was geared towards first years who would be getting their diplomas from AUT, but it was still a good introduction to what the education classes would be like.  We met some faculty, learned where to go if we need help (with anything!), and got our textbooks.  The most memorable part of orientation was that as one professor was welcoming us to the program, he told us to turn to the person next to us and say:

“You are already a great teacher.”

Of course, it was Hannah who I turned to.  It was a very emotional moment for us (I teared up, what else is knew?) since we have already been through so much together and supported each other immensely since we started our teaching career, but we’d never said anything like that to each other before that is so fundamentally encouraging…and true.

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After a relaxing weekend at Mission Bay, a beach just a 10-minute bus ride away

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which is know for it’s iconic fountain (it was so pretty, and little kids were swimming in it!)

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We had our first week of classes!

Monday was our first Education class, which is about Literacy/Reading.  Our professor is awesome, and I can tell that we are going to learn a lot about the process of learning to read.

Tuesday was our other Education class, which is about Math! Our professor is sort of nuts, but in a good way (I think!) and we are going to learn about The Numeracy Project, which is the math program used across New Zealand.

Wednesday we had our Introduction to Maori Culture and Society course, which is pretty self-explanatory.  The coolest part is that it is located in a traditional Maori house.  I can’t wait to learn more about it!  My other Maori culture course is right after that, in the same room, and it is about leadership.  We will be learning about the qualities that make a good leader, and learning about some important Maori leaders.  It’s the most popular course for study abroad students, and my first impression is that it is going to be really fun!

In other news…

  • We’ve been enjoying free food feed to celebrate the first week.

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“Mexican” food, according to Kiwis is baked beans…?

  • We taught our Kiwi roommate how to play beer pong (he was a natural).
  • We went back to Father Ted’s for Trivia and Karaoke night (doesn’t get much better than that!)  Our team, called “The Kiddie Table,” didn’t do too bad, but there’s definite room for improvement!  Hannah and I were also disappointed to learn that they did not have Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” which we’d been practicing for karaoke (for you, Geoff!)  But we’ve got big plans for next week…
  • We get out of class late on Wednesdays, so we went to a Malaysian restaurant across the street from our apartment instead of cooking.  We stuffed ourselves with scrumptious stir-fried noodles dishes and decided we had a new weekly spot!

And guess what? You are all up-to-date on our adventures so far in Auckland.  But no worries, I expect there will be plenty more to report in the (near) future!

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Apparently it’s cold today…

Just waiting for the elevator

Just hanging around the apartment

Hiding...

Found you!

It’s in the 60’s today (Fahrenheit, of course) and all anyone is talking about is how it’s “so cold!” and “like winter has started already!”

whimps.

Upon asking our Kiwi roommate how cold it actually gets here, he said, “Oh well it gets really cold, but never cold enough that, you know, you need a jacket!”  as if the craziest thing he’s ever heard of is weather cold enough to need a jacket.

We had a fun time explaining (with the help of my iTouch temperature converter!) that where we go to school, it can be -10 degrees Fahrenheit PLUS wind chill in the winter, but up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit PLUS 98% humidity in the summer.

If this is as cold as it gets while we’re here….then I could definitely get used to this!  Sunny, breezy, and 65 degrees…..aaaaahhhh…..

Does your busride home from school look like this?

Does your bus ride home from school look like this?

Also, a question from Mr. Beasley (aka Geoff)!  “Out of everything you have had so far, what has been the most delicious to eat in New Zealand?”  MAN that’s a hard question!  My entire meal at Non Solo Pizza in Parnell was absolutely to die for.  bruscetta, sicilian pizza with olives and eggplant, homemade coffee and chocolate gelato and kiwi sorbet. YUM unforgettable.  silly thing is that it isn’t even “New Zealand” food.  But it was AWESOME!

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