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The Month of Packing – Chapter 1: Final Christchurch Memories

My original departure date from New Zealand was November 10. Technically I should be home right now but I couldn’t bring myself to leave that early – hence why I extended my stay until December 1. This was the last week as an IFSA group.

Saturday morning I had my second exam – New Zealand Biodiversity and Biosecurity. Despite my last blog entry on procrastination I actually was able to study and felt confident going into the final. The exam questions from previous years were posted online and the questions pretty much remained consistent. When I wasn’t procrastinating, part of my studying actually included writing out essays to the questions asked on the previous exams. I didn’t feel like actually going to take the exam because it was a bit too early and the weather was sub par – another day of cold rain. The exam begins and I read over the questions – they changed the exam questions. The only question that I actually expected I didn’t study for because I could not cram in what seemed like a never-ending list of bird species into my head. At least I actually studied.

That afternoon was The Concert. You earned a ticket to The Concert by completing 4 hours of community service. Alyshia and I had volunteered at a New Brighton Beach park planting trees. We had a great time…and the 4 hours actually was an hour and a half of tree planting followed by a BBQ.  Transportation to and from The Concert via public transportation was also free. Sweet as. And to top it all off Katchafire (A NZ roots band) was scheduled to perform. I have obtained a significantly large collection of Kiwi music since I’ve been here…and it’s all pretty amazing. I looked forward to seeing Katchafire live, especially since a couple of Americans saw them earlier in the semester and absolutely loved the show.  So I no longer cared about the cold rain as I braced myself to stand outside for a couple hours (also I didn’t mention earlier that I had let my friend, Dylan, borrow my rainjacket for her Doubtful Sound trip). Despite the cold rainy weather, we actually had a great time at The Concert.

Unfortunately Sunday was devoted to studying for my last final – Freshwater Ecosystems. By this time, many of my friends had finished with their finals and I had started to enter into that period where you’ve been studying for far too long and need to do “normal” people things…aka not studying. Actually, this is when I first began packing because I needed to distract myself from studying.

My final on Monday didn’t start until 2:30 in the afternoon. So my morning was spent procrastinating and cramming in that last bit of studying before heading off to my exam. This exam was probably my most stressful exam out of the three. It consisted of writing five essays where you were supposed to include citations and figures from actual scientific literature. The difficult thing about this isn’t exactly citing the individual studies but I’m absolute rubbish when it comes to remembering dates and names – the two things required in a citation.  Oh well, I survived through my exam and a few of us went to the Fox and Ferret afterward to de-stress from the exam.

Tuesday morning we had coffee with Kylee. This was our last unofficial IFSA event…even though we had our farewell dinner. Earlier in the semester I entered into an IFSA photo competition on Facebook. And to my surprise I was now the winner of giant sheep canvas. I actually love it – however my suitcase does not.

 

The image that I now own on a large piece of canvas

Wednesday was devoted to laundry (what I thought would be my last laundry day, sadly I was mistaken). Then I met up with Alyshia and Dylan to go to Hells Pizza for lunch. Hells Pizza has a special called roulette, where they’ll place extremely hot hot-sauce on one piece of pizza however we don’t know which slice has the hot sauce. So we ordered two pizzas and asked for one of them to be rouletted. We each took a slice….phew we were each lucky for this round. Then the second slice…and still we were all lucky. So it was down to 2 more slices, one of them had to be the roulette piece. Dylan and I decided to go for it, and Alyshia got her camera ready to video the reaction. Our thoughts were racing…3…. Why did we order pizza that comes with a list of warnings…. 2… Man I hope Dylan has the roulette piece, I’m honestly thinking of chickening out….1… first bite down. Neither Dylan nor I were writhing on the ground. Maybe they hid it somewhere on the piece and we just haven’t found it yet. We cautiously continued to eat our pizza thinking one of us would hit the hot sauce at some point. When we reached the crust, Dylan believed that she thought she tasted hot sauce however it wasn’t that hot. Our second pizza had 2 slices left which we packaged up to take back with us.

Then we headed to the Botanical Gardens and Canterbury Museum. The gardens were beautiful – a complete change from when Alyshia and I went at the beginning of the semester during the wintertime.

The Fountain at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens

Dylan and I climbed a ginkgo tree at the Botanical Gardens

That night was the presidential election. I’ll confess that I didn’t vote in the election, but it was definitely interesting to observe the election from a foreign country. The campus bar actually had a viewing party… because with the time difference the announcement was actually around 6:30 pm here. Confession #2: I was actually taking a nap when I woke up to a text from my Namibian friend with New Zealand residency telling me that Obama won.

 

Thursday morning Alyshia and I hopped on a bus to go to the cbd to pick up sandwiches from Cheese Mongers. We had tried two times previously to get sandwiches from them, but each time they were out of bread. However third time’s a charm and we packed them up to go and headed out to Victoria Park. It was an absolutely beautiful day!

 

The view from where we ate lunch

 

My delicious Cheese Monger sandwich

Sheep with a view of Christchurch in the background

Then we decided to walk back. We came across a sign that pointed to Victoria Park. It indicated that it was a 30-minute walk back along the trail.

The point we realized we were a little lost

A couple of minutes later we came across this trail marker, indicating that Victoria park was located another 25 minutes in the direction we just came from. Either way we were on a trail that led into a neighbourhood so we decided to stick to the trail we were on and then attempt to find a bus stop that would take us back. Actually this was a better plan than trying to find our way back to Victoria Park because it eliminated one bus transfer.

We awoke early on Saturday morning to go to the Christchurch farmer’s market one last time. This was the first day that our favourite Posh Porridge would be making Posh Pancakes. I got a chocolate banana pancake and it was delicious but I definitely miss the porridge.

My Posh Pancake Breakfast

Back at Ilam, I finished up my packing for my final trip around the south island while everyone else finished packing up their rooms. We then piled up onto the already crowded bus with everyone’s luggage and headed off to the airport. It was difficult to say goodbye to everyone. We all felt as though we just got off the plane in Auckland, tired, cold and jetlagged and now we were saying our goodbyes. It was definitely a sad moment. Walking through Ilam was bizarre knowing that many of the rooms that once housed my friends were now empty. But I focused on my own packing as I had to catch the bus in the morning to Kaikoura.

 

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