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Packing Reflections

Time July 3rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, New Zealand | No Comments by

So here I am again, alone with my suitcase.

Except this time I’ve got no qualms about what to pack. I basically just have to gather everything in my room, stuff it into this bag and hope that it weighs less than 23 kg.

Looking at this job ahead of me I’ve realized two things:

1. I should have less stuff.
2. I’m just as unprepared to go home as I was to come here.

For all the weekend trips we went on I lived out of a small backpack filled with only what I needed for a day – that was usually an extra shirt and a whole bunch of snacks. Even when I spent three weeks travelling around the south island, I only brought a very small bag in addition to the backpack. Granted, I wore the same pair of pants for about a week straight, but I promise my standards of hygiene only go that low when I’m on the road.

And now I’m looking at all the crap that I brought over here and I realized that I only needed about a third of it. Something warm, something waterproof, and a good pair of shoes would have gotten me through this semester just fine. Why I thought it was a good idea to bring three sweatshirts and two pairs of heels remains a complete and total mystery.

Packing “stuff” isn’t the hard part of preparing to go home. For about a week now I’ve been struggling to come to terms with the fact that this semester-long adventure is actually coming to an end. I’ve come to love Auckland and New Zealand, and even though I want to see my family and friends back home I’m really not ready to leave. If it weren’t for my home school’s darn liberal arts requirements then I would be back here next semester in a heartbeat.

But my ticket is paid for and my dog is waiting, so I guess I’m getting on a plane whether I’m ready or not.

Cheers to a wonderful five months, New Zealand.


Second Time’s the Charm

Time July 3rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, New Zealand | No Comments by

I’ve been here for a while now. It’s only been about four months, but that was long enough to see most of the major spots in the north island and a decent amount of the south island.

Four months is also long enough to start seeing places twice, with the right company.

My mom came to visit Auckland for ten days, and I wanted to show her how amazing this country that I’ve been living in is. We spent the first week in and around the city. This was great, but for me the best part of living in New Zealand is going on a road trip.

So when the last few days of her visit came around, we packed a backpack, hopped in the rental car, and started driving south.

The plan was to tour the Waitomo glowworm caves before heading up to the Coromandel peninsula for the night. I hadn’t seen the glowworm caves yet and they were on my bucket list, but Coromandel was actually one of the first places that we took a weekend trip to. It was one of my favorite places that I’ve been to in all of New Zealand, so I was excited to revisit it.

The caves were incredible, and the endless green, sheep-speckled hills that surround what seems like New Zealand’s only road (highway 1, takes you anywhere and everywhere) never get old. But seeing the Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove for the second time was pretty special (especially since this time I wasn’t the one paying for gas).

Sitting at Cathedral Cove with my mom, I was proud to have studied in New Zealand. This is a wonderful country like no other in the world, and I relished being able to show my mom a small part of what makes it so great.

So even though it was a repeat trip, Coromandel might have been even better the second time around. I wish that I could share New Zealand with everyone I know, but they’ll just have to settle with looking through thousands of landscape pictures and listening to me talk about it for the next several months.


To the Cape!

Time June 22nd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, New Zealand | No Comments by


Picture 1 of 15


Cape Reinga is the northernmost tip of New Zealand, known for its picturesque lighthouse, giant sand dunes, and 90 mile beach (which, by the way, is not 90 miles long. It’s not even 90 kilometers). I didn’t know I was going until 24 hours before we picked up the rental car, but this spontaneous trip was one of the best weekends of the semester.

At least, it was after the first night.

We started the drive at about 4:30 pm so that we could get to our “holiday park,” sleep, then wake up and have a full day ahead of us. This was all fine, until it was time to sleep.

In case you’ve never stayed in one, a holiday park is not luxurious. Essentially, the five of us were staying in a metal box with just enough room for the bunk beds. Which is fine, because we’re all on a pretty tight budget at this point in the semester.

The place was BYOB (bring your own blankets) and I SEVERELY underestimated how cold it was going to be, and of course these tiny metal boxes did not have any heating. So I spent the first night shivering under my duvet cover (just the cover. Not the duvet. Somebody tell me why I thought this was a good idea), wondering if I should pull down the curtains to use as an extra blanket and silently cursing the tiny metal box called a “holiday park.”

But finally the sun came up, and the next day was spectacular.

After breakfast we drove straight to 90 mile beach, which isn’t your typical lounge in the sun, read a book and dip your toes in the water beach. The point of going to this beach is to drive on the sand alongside the Pacific Ocean from the very bottom to the very top, and it was so much fun. We sped, we ghost drove, we waved to the surfers, and we blasted music the whole way. Hanging out the window and pretending to be Beyoncé in her Formation video is not optional.

88 kilometers later we didn’t think the day could get any better, but it did. Whoever decided that boogie boarding down giant sand dunes was a good idea might be one of the most underrated brain-powers of the 21st century. We rented boards, trudged up an enormous pile of sand, and threw ourselves down the steepest dunes we could find for the next three hours. It was like none of us had ever stopped being kids.

The sun was starting to set and we still had one last item on our bucket list, so we sped off (on a real road this time) towards the very tip of the cape. Here we saw the iconic lighthouse and the place where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. We could actually see a line of choppy waves that marked where two bodies of water collided, and just above this line the sun was sinking slowly below the horizon. It was a very peaceful end to an action-packed day.

Back at the holiday park we made s’mores in the communal fireplace and watched a movie. Thankfully someone lent me a blanket, so I was not completely miserable in our tiny metal box that night.

At the end of the day we collectively agreed that this trip might have marked the happiest we’ve ever been in our lives. But then again, we say that every other weekend in New Zealand.


A Week on a Vineyard

Time May 24th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, New Zealand | No Comments by

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The Little Things

Time May 24th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, New Zealand | No Comments by

At first glance, not much is different here in New Zealand. They speak English, eat all kinds of food, go to school, talk about Donald Trump, and watch their own version of the Bachelor – pretty much the same as the United States. However, after a couple months of living here some small differences stand out.

  1. Shoes are not required. I often walk around the grocery store (which is in the middle of Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city) and see people grocery shopping without shoes. I’ve also seen this is in at least two restaurants. No shirt, no shoes, no problem.
  2. The farmers’ markets. They are freaking incredible here. Not only is the produce big and beautiful, but it’s all locally grown and organic. Now you may be thinking, “yeah that’s what farmers’ markets do.” But I know that when I think of farmers’ markets back home, I think of the hefty price tag that comes along with this uptick in quality. However, in New Zealand, these plump fruits and vibrant veggies cost about half of what they do at the grocery store. When you’re a student on a budget, it pays to get up early on farmers’ market mornings.
  3. The “as…” mystery. It’s really common here for people to say “sweet as,” or “nice as,” when they’re describing something. But they never finish the sentence. The beach was “sweet as” what? The cheap take-away restaurant was “dodgy as” what? The essay you just turned in was “crap as” what?? They literally give you no point of reference for what their saying, and this linguistic trend just leaves me hanging time and time again.
  4. Tea time. This might be one of my favorite parts about New Zealand culture. During our program orientation and during the short time I worked on a vineyard I was on a schedule made by New Zealanders, and both of those schedules included two strict tea times per day. Essentially, halfway between breakfast and lunch everyone stops what they’re doing to have a cup of tea (or a cup of coffee) and a snack and chat with each other. And then they do it again between lunch and dinner. If you suggest to a New Zealander that tea time be pushed back, shortened, or ignored, they will give you a look that says, “Americans are crazy and I would be perfectly happy never to see another one of you again.” Tea time is no joke.
  5. Speaking of warm beverages, coffee. In New Zealand, filtered coffee only exists in the memories of exchange students and other foreigners. So if you’re coming here, either prepare yourself for instant coffee or bring your own French press.

Overall, the differences between New Zealand and the US are not extreme. Some of them I would like to keep (snack time twice a day? Yes please) and some of them I could do without (please wear shoes in the grocery store, I don’t want to smell feet while I’m picking up bananas). When it comes down to it, New Zealand is a land all of its own, and I’m glad this is the place I get to spend my semester abroad – even if it turns me into a tea drinker.


Ready for take-off?

Time February 17th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, New Zealand | 1 Comment by

My plane leaves for Auckland, New Zealand in less than 24 hours.

Am I finished packing? Nope.

Do I have all the documents I need in a neat little pile? Of course not.

Do I know what to do with my phone when I get there? Not really.

Honestly, the only thing I really have going for me in terms of preparedness is that my Chacos just arrived in the mail. And you know what? I’m not worried about it.

One of my closest friends spent last semester studying in Wollongong, Australia, and she’s been my go-to girl for study-abroad related questions. Earlier this week I texted her in a moment of panic, convinced that I am going to show up to New Zealand and be totally lost, lugging around two suitcases full of nothing that I actually need. And the only piece of advice she had for me was,

“That’s part of the adventure. It’s no fun to be over-prepared.”

So I’m sitting here in my chaotically messy bedroom with a half-full suitcase and I know that if I left right now, I would be laughably under-prepared for a semester abroad. Not just because all my socks are still in the laundry, or because I can’t find an umbrella in the house to save my life, but also because I have no idea what to expect out of the next five months. And when Ellen told me that it’s not the end of the world to show up to a new country unprepared – that it may actually make my experience more memorable – I embraced my nerves and my anticipation for the upcoming semester. As far as “stuff” goes, I can always find a Target (or whatever the New Zealand equivalent of a Target is) and pick up what I need. But for me, the most important thing is to be mentally prepared to show up unprepared and take on the adventure of studying abroad.


Spring Break Down Under

Time December 6th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

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The End

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

Here it is December 5th.  I just got back into the States a week ago today and I can not believe it is already over.  Since being home I’ve seen family and friends and they all ask me that one simple question, “How was it?”  I wish the answer was as simple as the question.  My common response is how unreal it was and what a beautiful country New Zealand is.   However, that doesn’t seem to do it justice.  Living abroad was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  All the good times, tough times, and everything in between ultimately made me so happy to have had that experience.  Being abroad for five months teaches you a lot about the country and yourself.  I have gained a new perspective, made new friends, and have found a new home in the world, despite it being thousands of miles away.  I plan on going back to New Zealand at some point; I definitely want to see it in their summer time.  (It was tease leaving when it started to get really warm out and then coming back to the Northeast where there is snow on the ground this morning.)  But, if I never do make it back to NZ, I’m satisfied with my time there and what that time meant.  If anyone is reading this on the fence about studying abroad, the least you can do is just submit an application.  Go through the process, look more into your country, talk to people who went.  Prepare as much as you can, but remember there’s only so much you can prepare for.  It will be new and maybe uncomfortable at times, but that’s part of the experience.  Don’t rule out study abroad without giving it some serious thought, because looking back, I definitely would have regretted not going.



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.


Piece of Home

Time November 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

I was lucky enough to have a piece of home with me to travel with for a couple weeks. My older brother and I went to Auckland where we did the famous SkyJump, visited the aquarium and also checked out Waheiki Island for some zip lining before heading back to Wellington. While in Wellington, we took the Seal Coast Safari to see the seal colony at Red Rocks, and hiked the iconic Mount Victoria. The next weekend we traveled to Queenstown where we bungee jumped and saw the beautiful Milford Sound. We took a cruise around the sound and saw many amazing waterfalls and animals, such as New Zealand fur seals and dusky dolphins. 


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 »


The Top 5

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

Well, campus here is officially in study mode.  Everyone is locked in the library or another study space for hours on end.  Most of the finals count for like 50% of your grade so it’s pretty important to do well on them.  Just as important studying is, I want to make sure I’m soaking in my last few weeks in New Zealand.  Last week, I visited Mount Cook/Aoraki and hiked the Kepler Track.  These definitely cracked the top 5  NZ experiences so far and I definitely recommend making trips to both.  It’s kind of weird writing this post because I think it’s my last one…?  I feel like I should be reflective and get all sobby about leaving NZ  in a few weeks.  But I’m not going to do that.  I’ll just give 5 pieces of advice for those lucky enough to enjoy this country next.

  1.  Aioli makes everything better – What is Aioli, you ask?  Pretty much garlic mayonnaise and let me tell you, this is a gift from God.  That thing goes with sandwiches, cheeseburgers, chips (fries), etc. Definitely going to look into getting some back in the States.
  2. Be Open Minded – I considered myself a pretty open minded person before I came and I think that served me well in coming here.  Try new things, get outside your comfort zone.  It’s strange at first, but it may be one of the cooler things you do in NZ.
  3. Get Outside – That’s almost a given.  New Zealand scenery is by far the most beautiful nature I’ve ever seen in my whole life.  Even the views from the road will take your breath away.  Nothing is more picturesque than a million sheep grazing in a green field with snow-capped mountains as the backdrop.
  4. Road Trip – One of my best memories is spending a week in a campervan touring the North Island with friends.  Sharing a living space as small as a van teaches you a lot about what you need and don’t need.  It also shows you really don’t have to shower that often!  You learn a lot about yourself and also about the other people you are “vanning” with.  Also, you get to see some of the sickest things in the country.
  5. Positivity is Key – Alright, a little deep on this one, I’m sorry.  But this is probably the number one thing I’ve learned while being in New Zealand.  As great of a country it is, you’ll go through some rough times.  Everyone does, it’s just part of it.  There are some things you can’t control, but you can always control your mindset.  Being positive will help you get through anything and once you do overcome it, you’ll be a better person.


So I think that’s a wrap.  If not, I’ll write another one and be back at it with something else to say.

Cheers to you, New Zealand and all that you have taught me over the past 5 months.


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



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 »


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.


The Treadmill that is New Zealand

Time October 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

It is officially October here, which means there are officially two more weeks of classes left!  Exams go for a month after that, but even still, the semester is coming to a close!  I absolutely can not believe I’ve been here for a little more than three months now.  Time has just flown by.  People ask me if I’m ready to come home at this point or if I just want to stay forever.  Honestly, it’s a mix of both.  My time in NZ I have left kind of feels like I’m on this treadmill going really fast and I’m trying to keep up with it.  I still have so many things I want to do and see, but so little time.  For a country as small as New Zealand, there sure are a whole lot of things to keep you busy.  This past week I visited Queenstown for a few days, but even in that time, I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to do.  It was an amazing time hiking and exploring the area, but there is always something more to do.  I’m fortunate enough to have my dad come visit and travel with me for a few weeks after exams end, but even during that time, there will be so much of NZ that I don’t get to experience.  That’s ok though.  There will always be something else, something more you want to do, but time (and especially money) sometimes doesn’t allow it.  But that does not mean I can’t come back here and pick up just where I’ll leave off.

At the same time, I’m excited to go home and see my family and friends.  This study abroad experience, although it went by fast, was a long time away from home.  I think it’s longer than the time my friends in Europe will have.  It’s crazy to think about I started my travelling in late June and here it is early October already.  When November comes, I know I’ll be ready to see my family and be home.  FaceTime and Snapchat are starting to get old.  I’m excited to see everyone back home in person again.  Nothing against New Zealand, but five months is a long time.  So to answer that loaded question I posed earlier, I’m both ready to stay in New Zealand for longer, but also ready to come home.  It’s a strange mix, but encouraging.  It means that I have to make the most of the time I have left and that I already know I want to start planning my next trip back!


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 »


Becoming a Wellingtonian

Time September 19th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

Settling into my new home in Wellington could not have been an easier transition. The small city has a nice feeling of home, and my flatmates are all incredible. It was amazing to find spectacular views and wild life only a short walk or quick drive away from my house. I spent the first couple weeks exploring the city and hitting popular attractions such as Mount Victoria, Westpac Stadium, and Cuba street. 


Spraang Breeeeaaak

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

Last week, all of the Uni students were off for spring break.  It’s still weird thinking spring break is in August/September, but then I realized I’ll have TWO spring breaks this year, so I can’t complain.  Students travelled all over NZ to get a look of some of the greatest things the country has to offer.  I knew a lot of people who traveled to the north of the South Island to Abel Tasman.  That place is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in the country, which was confirmed when my flat mates came back from there and showed me their pictures from the beach tramp they did.  A few of my mates and I decided to do something a little different.  We figured this would be the best opportunity to travel to the North Island and see what’s happening up there.  We wanted to be adventurous and what’s more adventurous than renting a campervan and living/traveling in it for a full week?!  Let me tell you, this was one of the coolest experiences of my life.  Not only did we get to see the beauty of the north, but living in a van with four people was mean (Kiwi for cool, good, etc. I hope I’m using that right).  Everything is so tight you have no choice but to get to know the people you’re with and lucky for us, we all got along, no problems at all.

We started in Auckland and picked up our van, which we eventually named Rhonda because every car needs a solid name.  Then we began our trip going north to Matakana where we were able to take in an incredible sunset on a beach.  We travelled back down the east coast, stopping at Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula, which is better than advertised.  We continued down the coast driving through Tauranga and then moving inland through Rotorua and Taupo, three amazing places that I wish I had more time in.  We finished up in Wellington on Friday afternoon and were able to experience the Wellington Night Market and try some pretty unique food.  We flew back from Wellington to Dunedin on Saturday, exhausted, smelly, but with some of the best memories we’ve made since being in New Zealand.  Going back to school this week was not easy after such a great trip, but it definitely reignited the travel bug and I can’t wait for my next adventure!


If you want to read a more detailed version of my trip, check out my other blog .  In the next few days, I’ll be putting up a day by day break-down of where we were and what we did .  Cheers!


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.


Not a coffee lover

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

The other day I went into one of the millions of little cafes they have in little old Dunedin.  Now, I am not a coffee drinker by any means.  The only “coffee” I like is an iced mocha caramel coffee from Dunkin Donuts and I only get that on a rare occasion.  For some reason, I feel the need to order coffee whenever I go into a cafe or whatever. It must be some social pressure or image thing, I don’t know someone should do a study on that.  Anyway, I approached the counter, kind of panicking because I knew whatever I ordered I wouldn’t like.  The first thing I saw is what’s called a Long Black and not having a single clue what that was, I ordered it.  I later looked up what it was and it’s apparently a New Zealand and Australian style of coffee that is a double shot of espresso poured over hot water.  Who knew something so simple would take long to make, so when it finally came I was curious what it would taste like.  Let’s just say straight white wine vinegar would have tasted better… Drink aside, the cafe (called A Dog with Two Tails) was really cool with a nice rustic vibe to it.  Hey maybe I’ll make it back there and next time play it safe with a hot chocolate.

The point of this story is twofold.  One, I don’t like coffee and I don’t think I ever will despite the amount of times I try it.  But more importantly, it’s about trying new things.  Even something as simple as wandering into a random cafe near the Octagon (the center of town here in Dunedin) and ordering something ridiculous off the menu, it’s all about putting yourself out there.  Your study abroad experience is what you make it.  It can be filled with incredible hikes with great views, terrible tasting coffee, or anything else of the billion of things Dunedin and New Zealand have to offer.  It’s cliche, but it’s true.  It’s all up to you.


Views From The Catlins & Mt Cargill

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


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 »


Snow Sports!

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

Last weekend, I went on a ski trip to Wanaka, which I had the opportunity to ski on a beautiful mountain for two full days.  Wanaka is about four hours north-west of Dunedin.   It’s safe to say that trip is one of the highlights of my study abroad experience so far.  Thinking back on it, that weekend was a trip of many “firsts”.  It was my first time skiing since my Freshman year of high school, but I was excited to get back on a mountain and try out the whole snow sport thing again.  It was my first time staying at a hostel, which was a really nice hostel.  The whole idea of hostels is fascinating to me.  It’s pretty much a community house that brings random people together who have similar interests and you live with them for a few days.  There was a map of the world in the lobby with push pins indicating which part of the world people who stayed there have come from. Running a hostel must be one of the coolest jobs to have because of all the people you meet, each with their own story.  I think I’ll add it to my list of possible retirement jobs (the other one being an airline steward). Read More »


Food and Drink in Dunedin

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