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NZ Food Part 2

Time June 1st, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

If I were to pick one of the things I’m best at, eating would tie with first alongside procrastination. As such, I find that one of my favorite forms of procrastination is cooking; I’m essentially getting the best of both world.

Cooking here in New Zealand is a bit of an experience, predominately because of the lack of supplies. Both because I was only gonna be here for a few months and because of the price inflation due to NZ importation rates, I limited myself only to cooking essentials; a few herbs and spices like garlic powder, cinnamon, curry, and cumin. You can only image how dull that became after a while but so far I’ve been able to survive. The Asian market around the corner has been a godsend. Everything is so much cheaper, especially the fruits and veg. I’ve find myself eating fresher foods which has been very delicious.

At home, my cooking style is very sporadic. I only tend to follow recipes if I have a specific goal for my dish, like making carnitas or spicy korean pork. When it comes to items like fish and chicken I let my imagination take over and pretend to be master chef concocting something new found and surprising to the pallet. This is mainly why I don’t like cooking for others; no matter how it turns out I’m gonna eat it, and I especially don’t want people eating my food if it doesn’t turn out well. At the same time, this is why I love cooking. It’s very much like a science or potions class, mixing and matching in order to find a new groundbreaking food discovery. You can literally taste your achievement, it’s just that much better if it’s delicious.

Having only a few ingredients, my creativity is limited. I still love spending time in the kitchen but I think I’m rarely completely satisfied. I blame Gordon Ramsey and all the Kitchen Nightmares episodes I’ve watched, they’ve made me too critical of my food.

For those college students that are going or will be off meal plan, my advice is to cook in large portions. This has been an amazing time saver for me, being able to pop leftovers in the microwave as opposed to making a meal from scratch. The only downside is having to eat the same meal almost every day. You also have to be careful to look at expiration dates and plan your meals ahead of time. I have almost lost a few pieces of chicken and vegetables due to expiration and too much of a cross over with pre-prepared meals.

One of the hardest things about cooking for one’s self is the shopping. Not the actual process, I actually quite like shopping at the grocery store and thinking about all the possibilities, but the temptation that comes with it. When you’re walking down the isles and see that bag of chips or candy on sale it’s just so hard to say no, especially when your’re trying to eat healthy. Somehow they just magically end up in your basket. Not knowing the metric system can also be seen as either a positive or negative. You ultimately tend to overeat since you don’t know what 100 grams of cereal or rice looks like, but since the calories are in kilo joules it’s alright because you don’t actually realize how many calories you just ate; very similar to calories not being a thing during finals season. Carrying all your groceries home tends to be a drag as well. You come to appreciate the storage capacity of a backpack.

My time eating abroad has been a rollercoaster. I’m constantly fluctuating from eating healthy to eating junk food as a reward for eating healthy. Do I miss the food from the US? Yes, very much so. There are so many more options (turkey is not a thing here) and it’s also much cheaper in the US. But I also think that New Zealand is more efficient at providing fresher and more natural products, at least for the prices they’re charging they better be. I already know that the first things I’m going to eat are bbq, apple pie, of course mexican food, and maybe craft macaroni and cheese ( I’ve been craving that for some reason).

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The Food of New Zealand Part 1

Time May 21st, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars, New Zealand | No Comments by

My long awaited blog post. I’ve been wanting to write about food since day one but have been holding off for as long as I could.

When one thinks of New Zealand, food is probably one of the last things that comes to mind. When asking kiwi’s what the dish of New Zealand is there really isn’t a definitive answer. They don’t necessarily have their own style of cuisine like the French, Germans, or Italians do. If I had to pick a dish that Kiwis do better, I would have to say meat pies. This and fish and chips are some of the most widespread, beloved items; but being from New England the fish and chips are never as good as what I get from home. I do have a fondness towards meat pies though. Whether its influenced by the tenderness of the meat and the flaky crust or my love of Sweeney Todd, I can never get enough of them.

With such a diverse population, Auckland has heaps upon heaps of different styles of restaurants. Unfortunately for me, my budget is limited but even still I somehow find myself consistently rewarding my study efforts with food. I am most consistently eating Japanese food, I just can’t seem to find a satisfactory Japanese restaurant at home so I’m making sure to take advantage of that. I have eaten more than my fair share of sushi and ramen; it’s affordable, fresh, and most importantly, delicious!

Next to sushi, I tend to splurge on pizza and the occasional hamburger. There is a spectrum of pizza, at the bottom is the $5 personal pizza places scattered around town. These will satisfy a craving but aren’t necessarily the most delicious pizza. For one, at least for the place I visit, they don’t put sauce on the pizza! Essentially it’s a round cheesy breadsticks. How you can call it pizza without sauce, I’m not sure, but even still I buy it; the appeal of crispy baked cheese for affordable prices will draw anyone in. At the top of the tier is Sal’s pizza. This pizza is the closest they have in New Zealand to the pizza that can be found in the States; cheesy, very big, and with sauce. Even though it’s not as good as our pizza, it’s resemblance to home helps to cure those small blights of home sickness, also so much cheese!

Much like my quest for authentic Mexican food, which I long gave up on, I have been trying to find a quality burger. I have been to the top ranked burger places in Auckland and still haven’t been satisfied. My search is for the following: Fresh buns, a nice array of toppings including bacon, a runny egg (not required), but mainly a juicy well seasoned, medium rare patty. Every place I’ve been to has nailed both the toppings and buns, but not the patty which Is most important for me, it’s what makes the burger. They either, overcooked it/ haven’t really seasoned it, or simply cook flat patties. It’s kinda sad but I do have high expectations seeing the amount of cattle that are around New Zealand.

I blame the travel channel and food network for my obsession with food. They’re too much of an inspiration, both raising my standards of expectation and always making me want to eat. Most people would say sightseeing and adventuring around are their main focus of travel, but for me, it’s the food.  Yelp and tripadvisor are my guidebook to all the best eats and I’m very gracious to them.

I can keep talking about food for ages but doing so has made me hungry….

Part 2 to follow shortly.

Time to scavenge through the cupboards.

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Yes, Study Abroad Does Involve Learning

Time April 30th, 2015 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars, New Zealand | No Comments by

My classes are as follows:

Pacific 110: Pacific Music and Dance (We got to learn a Samoan dance and are learning hula kahiko right now! It’s awesome!

Maori 103: Introduction to Spoken Maori

Maori 190: Kapa Haka

Maori 230: Te Kete Aronui (A material arts class. We pick an artifact and work all semester to recreate it!)

When people ask me why I chose to come to New Zealand, my reply is to learn and experience Maori and Pacific Islander culture, as is reflected in my classes ^. My pursuit of knowledge has taken a different route while here. Yes, as an anthro concentrator there is overlap with the topics I’m learning about but that wasn’t my intention when I decided to take these classes. In reality, I’m not approaching these classes from an anthropological perspective, dissecting the reasoning for certain actions for the hula or haka, etc., but out of a want to learn and experience the growth that comes with the knowledge being passed along. Many of my fellow exchange students that are in these classes don’t recognize the opportunity they are being given and the importance of the information being taught. We are learning things that are held very close to Maori and Pacific Islanders, some things that are considered sacred, and it is being passed along by individuals that are highly respected in their perspective communities. Not many people can say that they’ve had this opportunity. These ideas are easily forgotten, especially by American exchange students who aren’t as capable of understanding/recognizing this. Knowledge is so readily commoditized in today’s society that you easily forget and lose sight of the mana (power, prestige) behind it. My plea to those reading this is to reflect on the opportunity you are being given within academia and the power behind knowledge. Don’t moan and mumble when you’re getting a bit tired from practising your hula steps, you’re lucky that you are even getting to learn it in the first place.

On another note, this semester is completely different from any others I’ve had class wise. Every class I’m taking is practical; I have never gotten so sweaty or dirty in class before. And my mind has never had to remember so many songs and choreography. I am constantly hopping around from singing and dancing in Hawaiian to speaking Maori, my brain is slowly starting to get a bit overloaded. On the flip side, none of my classes have readings which is great and I have learned so much. The knowledge being passed along is something that you couldn’t read in a book. Although I do miss my Mayan archaeology, I am going to hold what I’m learning close to my heart for the rest of my life which makes it that much sadder that we’re over half way finished with the semester…

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The Pros and Cons of Independent Travel

Time April 21st, 2015 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars, New Zealand | No Comments by

The past week was a hodgepodge of travel and adventure that opened my eyes to the awe inspiring nature of both New Zealand and, well, the world. Sometimes you just forget how amazing and diverse the planet we live on is and I was justly reminded to appreciate that. Granted, you tend to forget such things after living in behind a computer screen in the middle of suburbia for so long. What promoted said adventure you may ask? The two weeks of no classes that is our “mid-semester break” did. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was like the university gods somehow predicted when we would be at our wits end with the heaps of work we’ve been dealing with and would need the time to recuperate and satiate the urge building up inside all the students on exchange to travel. Read More »

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The Transition

Time March 16th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars, New Zealand | No Comments by

This post has been long overdue, but finding free time to play catch-up while in a amazing, new setting is much more difficult than you would think. A lot has happened since my last post. I experienced time travel (for some of you reading this I’m in the future right now, just try and wrap your mind around that one), spent a few days amongst rolling hills at Shakespear park, but I would swear it was actually Southfarthing, and experienced a bit more time travel during our visit to a Marae/ recreated Maori village.

Other highlights I’ve experienced since orientation include:

  • Moving in
  • Multiple trips to the Countdown (grocery store) and The Warehouse (essential Walmart)
  • Lantern Festival
  • First Day of Classes
  • Sailing to and wine tasting on Waiheke Island
  • All you can eat Korean BBQ
  • Free Pizza
  • Multiple Movie Nights
  • Paintball and trampoline park with a whole bunch of Maori.
  • And more food (probably my top priority).
    • Side note: I’ve made it my personal mission to find the best Mexican food here in Auckland. It was a miracle in itself finding pinto beans, dried beans aren’t really a thing here, my roommates had never heard of them. And I thought I struck gold today when I found corn tortillas at the market. My hopes aren’t very high in this department though. I got excited today when I heard people talking about making enchiladas and then I saw them using flour tortillas…   (side tangent complete)

When I first arrived in New Zealand I felt a bit out of place. Orientation was an amazing experience but I felt a bit estranged; I was one of the only minority students with a far different background and upbringing than the others. Respect is something that has been drilled into me by both my mother and other native community members. Just the other day my mom sent me a facebook message saying, “remember to carry yourself well as you are walking in someone else’s homeland, so be respectful”. From first impressions and witnessing various microaggressions as well as cultural ignorance, there was a bit of work involved in finding the right friend group. Lucky for me, all the IFSA Auckland students are sweet as.

I pretty much see this whole experience as reliving freshmen year of university; all of us are just meeting for the first time and have no idea where we are or what we’re doing (more or less). Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy these sort of situations but the novelty of everyone actually thinking your a first year and the look of surprise when you say your 21 and a third year grows old fast. There area also heaps of fairly young students here. I had someone tell me that the Matrix was “before their generation”, that really threw me off… I really miss being able to walk around campus and seeing your friends everywhere. Uni Auckland is five times larger than Brown so those kind of things don’t happen that often. Slowly but surely I’m starting to hit my stride; filling up my schedule, joining clubs, etc. I keep forgetting I’m only here for a semester and I start to settle in for the long run, acting like I’m going to be here till I graduate. It’s just my innate college instincts kicking in.

All the Kiwi’s that I’ve met here have been so welcoming and helpful. All the Pacific Islander student groups here have taken this “lonely” native boy in and treat me like whanau, it’s more than I could ask for. It’s crazy how similar hanging out with Pacific Islanders is to hanging with native people, there’s so much laughter and love. When I’m with them I feel at home. But dang, they’re big. I feel like a true, short Navajo when I’m around them.

But that’s us for now. To build the anticipation, here are some probable future posts to look forward too:

  • Class updates
  • Food
  • Spring break travels :O
  • The Quest For Real Mexican Food
  • The Diaspora of Native Culture in Aeotearoa (pending proper motivation and time)

 

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The Road Goes Ever On

Time February 17th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars, New Zealand | No Comments by

The countdown is finally coming to an end. After years of hoping and yearning, I am finally going to New Zealand! For over fourteen years I have been living vicariously through Frodo and company (as I’m writing I’m actually in the middle of a Lord of the Rings marathon) and now I’m finally going to experience Middle Earth for myself! Of course, that’s not my only reason for choosing NZ. Growing up I heard my mom’s stories of her travels around NZ and interactions with her Samoan and Maori friends; I suppose that’s what planted the original seed to visit there myself and have my own adventure.

The impending journey hasn’t hit me yet. The past few days have been less focused on preparation and more so on relishing the remaining time I have to spend in the comfort of home. That being said, in my spare time I find myself searching for anything that has to do with NZ on the internet; there’s always at least one page open on my computer related to NZ. I can barely count the amount of youtube videos I’ve watched of Kapa Haka competitions (one of my faves) or about general life in NZ (I’m very guilty of practicing pukana whenever I look into a mirror). All of this is an attempt to learn about the local culture and hopefully not stick out too much as a “tourist”.

My goals for this trip are pretty straight forward. First is to meet and make friends with as many locals as I can, especially pacific islanders. From them I see the greatest opportunity to learn and also create a home away from home. The second, come back knowing how to do a killer Kiwi accent. And the third, as one of my favorite youtubers says, live the adventure. Seize the opportunity and make memories that you’ll never forget.

And thus I leave you with the perfect song for the start of any journey and the inspiration for this post’s title:

The Road goes ever on and on 

Down from the door where it began. 

Now far ahead the Road has gone, 

And I must follow, if I can, 

Pursuing it with eager feet, 

Until it joins some larger way 

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.

Also, side note, I’m still trying to figure out the tone for this blog so be prepared for possible turbulence ( I think that’s a good way of putting it).

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