Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

My Posts

{photos, text, video}

Home

Time July 30th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I’ve been home from New Zealand for 3 weeks now and everything feels “back to normal.” I miss the friends I made and I think about them all the time. I have stayed in contact with many of them and plan to keep that up! I helped keep the sadness of leaving away by surrounding myself constantly with friends from home. I’ve been able to see a lot of my friends from home and catch up and hear all about what I missed while I was away. Nobody particularly cares to hear much about New Zealand and that’s fine with me – I didn’t expect them to want to hear much about it. Of course everyone asks, “How was New Zealand?” and I give the short answer of, “It was amazing/awesome!” but there isn’t much to say beyond that because explaining everything would take hours. The best way I have been able to make people understand is to talk about how I made a whole new life there with real best friends and then it was suddenly taken from me in a flash. Suddenly it’s gone. It was not a vacation – I hate when people refer to it that way. It was 5 months of real life with real school and real people who are now my life-long friends. It wasn’t just some free vacation. I worked really hard to get myself there and pay for my time abroad. I earned it and I made the most of it and I couldn’t be happier about the time I had there.

This past weekend I met up with a study abroad friend in Cleveland and we drove to Maryland together to see 2 of our friends from New Zealand. I stayed at the home of one of my flatmates from New Zealand and it was amazing to see her again. I am glad we were able to make it work so soon after being home!

Traveling in the future will be that much better now that I have friends all around the country and all over the world. I can’t wait to keep traveling. I can’t wait to go to Spain and visit some of the friends I made there. I can’t wait until my friends visit me. Despite having to leave my friends in New Zealand, seeing them again has given me something awesome to look forward to! :)

Share

Fiji!

Time July 9th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Fiji was amazing. It was so beautiful. The water was so clear and so perfectly blue.

The first night we stayed at Smuggler’s Cove hostel near Nadi airport. I ended up getting sick from I don’t know what and was throwing up the whole next morning. We got on a ferry at 8:30am and travelled 4.5 hours around the Yasawa Islands and finally got to our resort. We stayed at Blue Lagoon Beach Resort and I am so glad we did. It was sort of expensive but we stayed in a dorm room to help cut costs. It was a beautiful resort and I had zero complaints. The food was always delicious and the beach in front was amazing and had a huge coral reef.

One morning we did a mountain hike around Nacula Island. This was a mostly uphill hike for 3 hours and one of the hardest I’ve done in such scorching heat and humidity but it was well worth it to see the amazing views!

After the hike we visited the village and saw a traditional dance before we went to the market and were able to buy hand-made necklaces and rugs.

Snorkelling the reef was my favorite part of our stay. There were so many pretty fish and we even got to see some baby stingrays and some neon-colored fish! Besides all the extra activities, we just spent a lot of time reading on the beach. It was really nice to just have all that time to relax after a stressful finals period.

 

We had a 10 hour flight from Fiji to LA and then a 10 hour layover in LA before the flight home to Cleveland. I finally got home at 6:30am yesterday and have been keeping busy with friends since then!

 

Share

“How Lucky Are We to Have Something That Makes Saying Goodbye So Hard?”

Time July 2nd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I give up on updating about my break trip. We saw pretty much all of the South Island. We went to Queenstown where I bungy jumped and ate Fergburger. Bungy Jumping was my absolute favourite experience in New Zealand so I highly recommend you do it if you come to New Zealand! Even if you are terrified – it is so much fun.

We explored Fiordland National Park and went on a cruise through Milford Sound. The next day we made our way to Invercargill and then Stewart Island. It was really cold on Stewart Island so it would have been much more enjoyable in the summer. Wanaka was beautiful and we had a great hike at Mt. Cook. We had a minor set-back 100km outside of Christchurch when a rock flew up and cracked the winshield but Student Safe insurance covered it so it was no big deal.

Since being back from break, I have been spending time with my close friends just enjoying everyday life in Wellington: Going shopping at the markets on Saturdays and Sundays, celebrating birthdays with surprises, cakes, and balloons, getting Cafe Eis gelato and half-price food, seeing town at night, and watching movies in the flat. I have really grown to love the people I have met here and watching them leave one by one is heartbreaking. I have been trying to savor every moment. I really just can’t wait to see them all again. Now I have an excuse to visit Spain! My plan is to save as much money as possible over the next few years so I can travel. Allison and I want to take a trip through Europe.

I leave for the airport in 3 hours. I said goodbye to one of my best friends 2 hours ago and I haven’t been able to sleep. I will be heading off to Fiji for 6 days. It’s bittersweet: I’m going to Fiji but I am most definitely not ready to leave New Zealand yet. I wish there was more time. But I know this is only the start of so many adventures to come. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Wellington has become home to me. I am tethered to this place and I know I will be back one day after I have the chance to see other places on my list. But I’ll be back, so I won’t say goodbye. See you later, New Zealand.

 

Share

Break Days 4-6

Time June 14th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After our amazing day at Wharariki Beach, the next few days were pretty uneventful. We drove to Greymouth the next day and met up with the rest of our group from the second car. We stopped at the Pancake Rocks but the weather was bad so it wasn’t that great. We got really cheap Dominoes pizzas (cheap on Tuesdays!) and played Euchre.

The next day it was still raining so we drove straight to Hokatika after making french toast for breakfast! We got advice from our backpackers in Hokatika to check out Hokatika Gorge and Lake Kaniere so that’s what we did. The gorge was beautiful and we took tons of pictures on the bridge.

We drove around Lake Kaniere and stopped for all the little hikes and lookouts. We went to sunset point to look for jade and watch the sunset. It was so beautiful. The sky turned so pink that the water looked really pink and the whole scene looked like Trix yogurt!

285

After dinner, we went to the glowworm dell and saw glowworms for free! So don’t pay for them in Waikato! Go to Hokatika to see them.

The next day, we drove to Fox Glacier and did a half-day hike for $109. It was worth it for a one-time thing. I wouldn’t pay for it again. But it was really pretty and we got to walk through ice caves and take tons of pictures.

We drove to Haast that night but we didn’t feel very welcome there. One restaurant we went to for fish n’ chips refused to serve us even though they were open for several more hours and there were other people eating there. As soon as they heard our American accents when we ordered, they turned us away. They ended up saying we could take the food away with us but they didn’t want us eating in their restaurant. It was really strange and probably bad for their business as all the people they discriminate against are going to tell their friends not to go there should they ever find themselves in Haast. Oh well! We still had a great time that day!

Share

Mid-Semester Break Trip Days 1-3

Time May 29th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The South Island was beautiful. Every place we saw was amazing. I’ll try to give a brief summary of each place, but feel free to skim.

Day 1 & 2: Picton and Abel Tasman

After staying up late the night before to finish packing (of course) after showing Rachel around Wellington a bit, we woke up early and caught a taxi to the ferry terminal at 7 am. we got lunch in Picton which is a small and cute little town. We picked up our rental car and realized that Elizabeth and I were the only 2 who could drive it because we are 21 and Kat forgot to bring her license…

The group talked me into being the first driver. It was really nerve-racking at first but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. We took the extremely windy scenic route on the way to our hostel, Kanuka Ridge. The windy mountain roads were nearly impossible. I was trying so hard to be passenger friendly while not going too slow so as not to piss off the drivers behind us. We stopped several times for pictures but were ATTACKED by sandflies. When we finally got there, we asked the hostel owner where to get good fish n’ chips and he sent us down the road to a food cart called The Fat Tui. They sold fish n’ chips along with gourmet salad burgers. These were giant burgers with an entire salad on top. It was delicious!

The next morning, we got up early, made breakfast, packed lunches and left for our day hike through Abel Tasman National Park. The hostel owner tempted us with water taxis that could take us far along the track to kayak or play with seals, but we opted for the free option of just walking there. We actually got really far along the track that day and saw so many beautiful beaches and landscapes. When we stopped on one beach to eat lunch I just sat there marvelling in the fact that, on Easter Sunday, I was eating lunch on one of the  most beautiful beaches in arguably the most beautiful country on Earth. How lucky am I? In that moment, I just felt so grateful, lucky, and happy. The moment was very surreal. Here is a picture of Apple Tree Bay, where we spent a lot of time relaxing, walking around, and taking pictures:

Here are some other Abel Tasman pictures:

This day was my 2nd favorite day of the entire trip. Everything was just so beautiful. This is the night I taught everyone how to play Euchre which started the craze that ensued for the next 2 weeks.

Day 3

Day 3 was the best day of the entire 2 weeks. We got to Shambhala which was our favorite hostel. It was a very hippie/relaxed atmosphere. There were stone paths everywhere and little gazeebos and meditation spots. There was also a private beach but we didn’t spend much time there because the tide was in.

I was reading The Little Prince in the gazeebo with Kathryn and Rachel saying how I could sit there in the sun all day and be perfectly happy when Elizabeth came up and said she was way too anxious/hyper to sit around all day and wanted to go find something to do. We obliged. We went and flipped through the little book that the owner had made. It said something like this: ‘If you are one of those crazy travellers who only spends one day at each place and is constantly moving, then you must go see Wharariki Beach. It is just a fifteen minute walk from the carpark past the sheep fields.”

Since we were exactly those crazy travellers and only had one day, we decided to follow this man’s suggestion since asking the locals had not let us down so far. So we grabbed our shoes and walked down the gravel driveway towards the carpark. We found a sheep field and wandered through it looking for this beach. There was nowhere to go, though. It was just the same hostel beach we had already seen and the sheep field was fenced in. We gave up and went back to the hostel and called the owner to ask how to get there. It turns out that you have to DRIVE somewhere first and then walk 15 minutes from the carpark. This crucial detail was left out of the instructions in the booklet. He told us it was a quick drive down the road and that there would be signs to follow. We hopped in the car and drove for about 20 minutes and never came to any signs. We were considering turning around but instead we stopped at a hostel and asked for directions. It turns out that this place was a ways longer down the road and on the other side of Farewell Spit. We decided to take a vote on whether to continue on or not. I voted no because we were using up so much gas and it was inching towards sunset. Luckily, I was outvoted and we went. Thank God because Wharariki Beach ended up being the most beautiful place in New Zealand.

The pathway to the beach from the carpark was a sandy trail through the wind-blown trees. The sand leading up to the beach was in waves that made us feel like we were in Aladdin.The sun was slowly setting behind the rocks causing beautiful reflections on the water.

The best part was group of seal pups playing in the small pools of water on the beach. They came right up to us and even played catch with a piece of seaweed one little boy was throwing to them. We spent most of our time with the seal pups.

It really doesn’t get any more beautiful than Wharariki Beach. The water was so blue and the sand was so perfect – it made crunchy footprints after each step. It was prettier than any picture of movie. If you travel one place in your life, it must be to this beach when the tide is out. There were hardly any people there which made it feel like a hidden gem. I don’t need to go back soon, but I would love to go back in 10-20 years and see how it has changed. I hope it never does. I felt like the luckiest person on Earth when I was there.

 

More posts about the rest of the trip to come soon!

Share

Seal Pups at Wharariki Beach!

Time May 1st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Here is a video I took at Wharariki Beach near Farewell Spit on the South Island. We went close to sunset and got to see seal pups playing in the small pools of water. This beach is still my favorite place from my trip around the South Island. Make sure you go there if you are ever lucky enough to visit New Zealand!

[quicktime width=”400″ height=”304″]http://www.ifsa-butler.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/1731-sarah-seal-pups-video.mp4[/quicktime]

Share

2 Months Left

Time May 1st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I have 2 months left in New Zealand. And then 1 week in Fiji (hopefully). I try not to think about it, but it was brought up because my flatmate Sarah is leaving in a month and a half and we were just discussing her plans. It’s really saddening to think about leaving this place where I’ve made a new home and these people who I call best friends. That’s exactly why we are doing our best to savor every moment we have left.

My flatmates and I get along so well. We have so much fun together and we spend lots of time together watching movies, going shopping in town, doing homework, and hanging out with the neighbors. We are hoping to get a camping trip planned soon!

It’s also weird to think about how everyone in the States is almost out for summer and I just reached the half-way point of my semester. School sucks in both hemispheres in case you were wondering. Being in NZ doesn’t make the essays and exams and projects any less stressful and frustrating. In fact, it is more stressful because you feel like you are missing out on so many adventures when you have to stay home and study. However, I have been able to find a really good balance of getting work done and spending time with friends/going on adventures.

I went white-water rafting with IFSA-Butler last weekend and it was so much fun! We got on a bus and drove for an hour before we got to the place and put on wetsuits. We split into small groups and rafted down a beautiful river. It was a little bit slower/less intense than I was expecting but it was a good first experience. I definitely want to do it again in the future.

I will post an update about my break soon. It will take me forever to post about it so I need to wait until I have a huge chunk of time. I also have some videos to post!

Share

Weekends

Time April 9th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past weekend with the IFSA Butler group was really fun! We went to Monsoon Poon and a Hurricanes rugby game on Saturday. The rugby game was really fun to watch even though they lost. It was such a high-scoring game and it looked like the Hurricanes were going to win there for a while. On Sunday we took a boat to Matiu/Somes Island to do some volunteer work. The island was so beautiful and I am so glad I got a chance to explore it. Here are some pictures from the weekend:

 

 

The past few weekends I have been spending a lot of time with my flatmates just walking around Wellington and hanging out at the waterfront soaking up the sun. We have also been getting really close with our neighbours. They know how to make us laugh until we cry every time they come over. Hopefully we will all be able to make a weekend trip somewhere together when we get back from break.  Speaking of break…it’s almost here! And we finally have our plans all set!

So the plan is to take the early ferry this Saturday to Picton where we will pick up our rental car and spend a few days in Abel Tasman. I am SO excited for this part of the trip. Abel Tasman is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL. Then we will head to Farewell Spit, Hokatika, Greymouth, then to Fox Glacier where we will take an expensive hike on the glacier. It’s $109 to hike this glacier but I know it will be worth it. From there we will head to Wanaka and spend the day before heading to Queenstown! This is where I will do a canyon swing or bungy jumping! From there we will go to Te Anau and do a coach and cruise through Milford Sound. I am so excited to see the sound. We get to see it by boat and van! The next day will be spend roaming around Fiordland National Park. Then we head to Invercargill and stay the night so we can hop on the early ferry in the morning to Stewart Island!!!! We come back the next day and go to Tekapo where we spend the night before heading to Mt. Cook. We will drive through the  night to Christchurch and hop a 7am flight back to Wellington. I will arrive back with some time to spare to get some work done before a really hard week with 2 essays and a test. It’s also my flatmate’s birthday that week so I need to get all my work done!

I am so excited for this trip. One of my friends from home who is studying in Auckland is coming with us as well! I will update you when I get back from my trip!

Cheers!

Share

Windy Wellington

Time March 15th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Wellington has been amazing so far. When we first got to our flats, we had a week or so before classes started to do whatever we wanted. I spent a lot of time exploring the city. There is always something to do! At first, going up and down hills constantly was quite a workout, but now we are all used to it so it’s easy.

If you ever come to Wellington, definitely check out the market on Sundays to get your fruits and veggies. It is all very cheap and fresh! We have fun going to the market every week and walking along the waterfront. Make sure you find the store Typo. It is my favourite store here. It’s a crafty/journal/scrapbook type store with so many cute things! Also make sure you visit Scopa and get their amazing hot chocolate. It is something you CANNOT forego!

Here is a view of part of the city from up on the hill where I live:

 

Since classes have started, there has been a lot less time to walk around but we are still managing to do quite a bit. We are planning to go to the beach this weekend since the weather will be so nice.

This past weekend we did and adventure weekend trip with Guy and Debbie. We took the ferry to Picton and took a train down the coast to Kaikoura for whale watching! It was so much fun.  Here are some pictures from that trip:

  Sunset at the Dusky Lodge

 

Currently we are solidifying our plans for mid-trimester break so I will update when we have those nailed down. We are visiting the South Island – mostly the west coast and central parts.

Share

New Zealand!

Time February 17th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hi everyone!

I am so excited to start my semester in New Zealand! I wish I could say I’m all packed and ready to go but unfortunately I’m only about halfway through packing. Maybe that’s the reason I feel a little bit apprehensive about the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong; I would not change anything. I am just a little stressed and not looking forward to the packing and the really really long day of flying and waiting in airports. But it will be SO worth it and I know it! I am determined to make this experience amazing no matter what happens. And it will be all by itself without me trying. :)

So here’s the plan: My flight leaves from Cleveland at 8:30 am on Friday and goes to Chicago. 2 hour wait then to LAX. 7.5 hour wait (UGH!) then I leave LAX for Auckland at 10 pm LA time which is 1 am Cleveland time (so that’s what it will feel like to me). 13 hours then I will arrive in Auckland for orientation! I think it will be 5 am the next day (the 19th – i skip the 18th and never live it!) when I arrive in Auckland. NZ is 18 hours ahead of Cleveland right now just for reference.

I’m am beyond excited to be going to what has been called the most beautiful country on the planet. I am such a nature lover and I make sure to look at the sky every night just to see how beautiful it is. I know I will be so blown away by NZ landscape and I CAN’T WAIT! New Zealand is also the adventure capitol of the world which is perfect for my adventurous spirit. I love being outdoors and getting to do activities outside. I love hiking, camping, kayaking, and playing sports! I can’t wait to get started on the adventure. This is a dream come true and I feel so blessed for the opportunity. It makes it that much better to know I have earned it. I have worked so hard both in school and with jobs and I am proud that I am able to pay for this opportunity all on my own. I can’t wait to update everyone on my adventures once I get there!

Share