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End.

Time December 2nd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

Alas, my semester abroad has come to a close. In fact, it’s been over now for a few crazy, holiday-filled weeks. I must say, it’s been absolutely wonderful. As great as it was to be abroad, I truly missed my family and friends back home.

I feel like the “culture shock” of re-entering the states is either severely delayed or a lot less shocking than I expected. I’m not shocked at all. I feel almost overwhelmed by love and affection in a way that I am now much more grateful for, after having spent so much time on my own this past semester.

I honestly believe that time strengthens bonds, and the 4.5 months that I was away strengthened all of my relationships back home. I feel so lucky and so loved.

My last week in New Zealand was hard. Unfortunately, it was heavily affected by the weight of the election. I felt a constant need to be surrounded by people who understood how I was feeling, yet all of those people were across the world. It was much harder for me than I ever would have expected to be alone at this time in my life.

And suddenly, it was the end.

I packed my bag, dropped off my key, cooked the last of my food, drank one last coffee, waited for the shuttle.

I got on two planes, hardly missed the earthquake, slept a few stiff hours in a middle-of-the-middle seat, came back through customs.

The next day, my flight from San Fransisco to Hartford got rerouted, leaving me with a 40-minute layover in Houston. The flight from San Fransisco to Houston got delayed due to mechanical difficulties and I was sure I would miss my flight and have to spend the night in Houston. Fortunately, they pushed back the departure time of the second flight, and I made it home safely at midnight on November 14th.

One checked bag, one carry-on, one handheld item.

10 flights.

Countless hours in a car.

One abroad experience.

Goodbye New Zealand.

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The Last Wisps of Beauty

Time November 9th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

It’s unbelievable to me that I leave in four days. This semester has gone by in a flash and yet, at the same time, it has taken eternities. Now, with so little time left, I am filled with both excitement and sadness. During my exam period, I was lucky enough to travel around the South Island and see the most incredible places. However, it was also during this time that I began to do some more exploring of Dunedin. Within the last few weeks, I have spent more time in the “Botans” (Dunedin Botanic Gardens) than I did all semester. I let myself get lost among the flowers, trees, and birds. As it is (finally) spring, the flowers are in full bloom and are stunningly beautiful. I can’t help but occasionally take a moment to close my eyes, hear the sounds of the birds and smell the sweet life of the plants around me. These little things are filled with just as much beauty as the grand glaciers and crystal lakes.

If there is one thing New Zealand has taught me, it is that there is beauty everywhere, in everything. Sometimes you just have to search a bit Read More »

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Centering, Connecting, and Creating with Coffee

Time October 24th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

I am in a chair. It is a wooden chair at a gleaming wooden table, lit up by the adjacent window. Outside, cars whoosh past, birds scavenge for food off the sidewalk, students hurry past leisurely couples, backpacks tight against there backs. Soft music plays in the background. Sometimes it is Hozier. Sometimes it is Sara Bareilles. Always it is calming. Always it is good.

This is my seat.

During my first two months at the University of Otago, I traveled around town, with the goal of eventually getting to every cafe. After a while, this goal became futile, as I discovered that some cafes were much more enticing than others. I had favorites, and I didn’t want to risk spending money on a coffee that wouldn’t compare.

Soon enough, the workload for school increased, and my favorites (RDC, Modaks, The Perc, Morning Magpie), though wonderful, didn’t meet all of my needs. It was at this time that I started coming to Governor’s Cafe. Prior to this time, I’d held a grudge against Governor’s, as I thought it was too close to school. In my ideal world, there wouldn’t be other students at my cafe, which would allow me to forge my own way through the semester. However, I soon learned to appreciate how close Governor’s is to campus, along with many other things.

Let me tell you why Governor’s is so great:

  • It has wifi (necessary for most of my work)
  • It is only a twenty minute walk from my flat (not close, but only five minutes farther than the library)
  • It is open until 7PM on weekdays (and as a student, sometimes studying must be done later than 4PM–when all the other cafes close)
  • The coffee is fantastic (especially the mochas)
  • There is a $6 coffee + slice/scone/muffin deal (anyone who knows me knows I can’t resist a good deal)
  • No one seems to know about the upstairs room (meaning I’m often able to study alone)
  • The food is good (although, being a broke college student, I haven’t had the opportunity to try much of the “real” food)
  • They have a “Buy 4 coffees, get the 5th free” deal (AGAIN with the deals!!)
  • They know me (seriously. They all know me now because I come here so often)

Governor’s has become MY place, here in Dunedin. It is my place to come and drink coffee and talk to the workers and read and write and draw and study and FaceTime my parents and edit my brother’s college essays and socialize with friends and procrastinate doing my homework. It is one of the few places where I can always count on feeling at home. Humorously, the man who owns the place is American–he’s from Colorado. I never even registered his American accent until Holly, my friend from class who works here, mentioned it to me. I think I was too intimidated by him to notice his accent… let me explain:

One Sunday, I came to Governor’s to spend the day studying for a psych test. I got the $6 deal and ordered my mocha and one of the savory scones. “Can I have my scone in like, an hour, though?” I asked, in as charming a voice as I could muster. He just looked at me.

“Sure.” He said, unaffected.

“I’m sorry for being so difficult.” I chuckled, hoping he’d smile and make me feel better about being so difficult.

“It’s really not that difficult.” He said, totally stone-faced. “Just come up here when you’re ready.”

And I did. An hour later, I went back up to the counter and was like, “I’m ready for my scone!” He just shook his head and went to the back to warm it up for me.

After that day, I was terrified of him. I really thought he hated me for being an annoying American customer. Turns out, I was wrong. He must’ve been secretly charmed by my dorkiness because now he always smiles and talks to me when I come in.

But that’s just it. They all know me, here! When I come to Governor’s, I don’t get treated like a stupid, obnoxious, American tourist. I get treated like a regular. I get treated like I belong here. They expect me and I love being expected.

Governor’s has become my place. It has become the place that I will miss the most when I leave. Obviously, I am going to miss more than just one coffee shop–I will miss the adventures and the people and the beauty of New Zealand as a whole–but as a singular, specific, entity, Governor’s is the place I will miss the most.

So thank you. Thank you to every person that works at Governor’s Cafe. Thank you to every wonderful mocha, warmed muffin, and slice that I swore I would save half of for later and then ate the whole thing anyways. Thank you to this chair next to the window and outlet upstairs, where I have spent numerous hours studying, writing, drawing, and reading.

Thank you, Governor’s, for making a home for me in New Zealand.

gov1 Mocha + Muffin gov2 Mocha + Vegan Apple Loaf me-in-gov Me in my chair with my mocha and food governors-chair My Spot

 

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Adventuring Around the South Island

Time October 18th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

In the midst of my coffee drinking, singing, and studying, I have gone on a few adventures around the South Island. Each place is more stunning than the next. I constantly find myself questioning how it’s possible that there can be more beauty in the world–and even more, how my brain can continue to process it. I worry and wonder whether any place will ever seem as beautiful, now that I have experienced New Zealand so intimately. Below, I’ve attached photos of a couple of the places I’ve explored recently. Lucky for me, I’ve made a handful of friends who enjoy taking pictures as much as I do, so I never miss out on opportunities to take pictures of beautiful people IN all these beautiful places. Enjoy! Read More »

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Singing With Kiwis

Time October 5th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

I am a singer. I’ve been singing my entire life and I consider it to be a major part of my identity. However, in the context of school, I am a science major. Back home, I am a member of an a cappella group and I participate in student-run theater. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to get involved in music while abroad, but–luckily–I was wrong. All semester, I’ve been involved in a paper called “Musical Theater Voice.” Class each week involves taking voice lessons, choosing songs, and singing them. My final examination is a concert, in which I will perform four songs (yes, THIS IS FOR CREDIT). The paper also involves a weekly GROUP class, in which a large group of us learn, sing, and (sometimes) dance to full-cast numbers from musicals.

I think this paper has been very enriching for me, both as a course and as a cultural immersion. I am the only international student in the group, and it’s been so special for me to intimately get to know a group of kiwi students. I feel as though the American abroad experience can be somewhat limiting in who you get to know, as international students tend to mainly interact with each other. This course has made it possible for me to truly befriend a group of Kiwi students and they are absolutely wonderful.

3girls Fiora (left), Sam (right), and me before our lunchtime concert

 

We had a performance a week ago, in which we performed a handful of group and solo numbers. My small group performed a song called “A New World.” The six of us had worked on our harmonies and blending for weeks prior to the concert, so it sounded incredible the day of. The large group numbers came together nicely–practically everyone remembered the choreography! I could feel the support of the group around me, and it filled me with warmth. It just proves that music can bring anyone together, no matter where you come from.

perf The final pose from “I Got You,” one of the major group numbers

 

After the concert, we all met up at Eureka, a cafe/bar right next to campus. We sat and ate chips (fries) and wedges (wedges) and the most delicious brownies. The conversation centered around the weird little differences between America and New Zealand. For instance, our desserts at home are served with whipped cream or ice cream, as opposed to whipped cream or yogurt. Along with that, an “iced coffee” at home would be cold coffee with ice in it. In New Zealand, it is a blended drink made up of coffee, ice cream, whipped cream, etc. No wonder it costs so much more!!

brownie The most delicious brownie ever (and yogurt) at Eureka

 

If I appreciate anything from this experience, it will be the people I’ve met and the things they have taught me. Living in another country is only half the battle–to really immerse yourself in the New Zealand lifestyle, you must befriend the people.

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Beauty Is Only 20 Minutes Away…

Time September 26th, 2016 in New Zealand | No Comments by

img_6533_0 Selfie with Cady and Meagan before our hike!

img_6666_0 Cady looking down at the Devil’s Staircase: one of the hardest downhills I have ever completed on a hike Read More »

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Spring Break on the North Island

Time September 7th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

Pictures from our trip around the north island! We drove a campervan (called Rhonda) to many destinations as we traveled from Auckland down to Wellington. Hopefully, these photos will give you a look into our trip.

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Views From The Catlins & Mt Cargill

Time August 18th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

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STUDY Abroad

Time August 18th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

I know it’s been awhile since my last post! Unfortunately, I was bogged down by my first real week of work. That’s not to say that my course schedule isn’t hard, but classes are done somewhat differently, here.

First off, classes are called “papers.” Let’s use that word in a sentence: “I’m taking four papers during my semester at Otago: ‘Gender and the Media,’ ‘Crime, Deviance, and Social Transformation,’ ‘Musical Theater Voice,’ and ‘Sensation and Perception.’” I’m lucky because I get to take papers in a multitude of areas. That’s another thing—unlike at my school in the US, students here choose a major (or more than one), and mainly take classes in those areas. For instance, one of my Kiwi Hosts is a neuroscience major and she is taking all science-heavy papers.

Another major difference is the number of assessments. Back at Wesleyan (my home school), I have homework due every week in my science classes. The homework assignments may be problem sets or moodle posts online but there is always something. There are also more tests, meaning grades are split up among more pieces of work (which makes it easier to get a decent grade if you don’t do well on one of them). At Otago, I have no problem sets, no online posts to make, and only three or so assignments per class. Because of this, I must work harder to do well on all of my assignments. Read More »

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Food and Drink in Dunedin

Time August 1st, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

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Coffee is the Cure

Time July 18th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

It’s bizarre knowing that I’ve now been in New Zealand for over two weeks. It feels like so much longer and yet I still can’t believe I’m here at all. In these past few weeks, I’ve climbed (and slipped back down) muddy mountains, nearly been blown over a cliff by the wind (not a joke—be careful along steep edges), and helped cheer The Highlanders to a 25-15 win over The Chiefs. I actually paid attention to the rugby game and it was a really exciting win, but I couldn’t quite sing along to “Sweet Caroline” when it came on because it will always be The Red Sox anthem to me. Read More »

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Not an Island Girl

Time July 5th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

A month ago, my family took a trip to the Bahamas because it was my brother’s “parent’s week” at The Island School, where he spent this past spring semester. I say this like we do a lot of traveling but I will tell you, when we travel—which is not particularly often–we don’t tend to go very far. I’m from Massachusetts and every summer, for approximately eighteen years, my family spent a week in Deer Isle, Maine, and two weeks on Cape Cod. These weeks were spent not just in the same places but—besides this last year—in the exact same houses. This is all to say that the trip to the Bahamas (over 350 miles from our house) was a pretty big deal.

While in the Bahamas, I learned something about myself.

I am not an island girl.

As much as I love the mesmerizing aquamarine color of the the ocean and the vast abundance of coconuts, I would rather hike up a mountain surrounded by trees and covered in shade any day. Part of this might stem from the nightmarish experience I had whilst in the Bahamas. While the rest of the parents and siblings worrilessly (is that a word?) enjoyed their week in paradise, I was eaten alive by tiny mosquitos (“no-see-ems” as my brother calls them). I know this might not seem so awful, but I was absolutely miserable. I couldn’t fall asleep because my body was so itchy. I had so many tiny red dots on my legs that it looked like a disease and any time something touched me, I flipped out, expecting it to be an insect. It was during this week that the world got back at me for being so young when I got chicken pox that I can’t remember.

I can’t deny, though, that the trip was beautiful. It was exciting and new and filled with activities. We jumped off a rock that must have been twenty feet high into the sapphire blue water. We did a “run-swim,” where my brother pushed the rest of us through thirty-or-so minutes of alternating swimming and then jogging (worth it but never again will I wear those sneakers). We drove across the island to the “Glass-Window Bridge,” which, for some reason, I always wanted to call the “Glass-Mirror Bridge.” We drank overpriced-but-worth-it-due-to-the-unbearably-hot-weather smoothies. All in all, it was a good experience.

I just think New Zealand is going to drop-kick the Bahamas when it comes to competing for my heart.

img_9380 The Glass-Window Bridge in Eleuthera, Bahamas

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