Thursday, March 31, 2011

Miro Madness

So here at Palmy I am housing in the wonderful hostel (dorm) named Miro Hall. It's basically centrall located on campus, unlike all my other American friends who managed to be housed on opposite ends of campus.  To get to the guys you have to climb the 168 stairs of the newly dubbed Mt. Doom.  To get to the girls, you have to cross under the motorway via the 'rape tunnel' (it's just really sketchy).  As I was saying, Miro is awesome.  There are two floors, about 50 single rooms, and one crazy common room.  Out of everywhere that I've housed over the past two years this hall is definitely the best.  The vast majority of Miro's occupants are awesome.  The following is a small list of activities we've been involved in...

We beat rival hostel Tawa at a balloon popping game.

Played volleyball.

Played cricket.

Created Miro Ball, a harsh combination of kickball, cricket, and other things.

Participated in the Relay for Life.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who Wears Short Shorts?

Alright.  Here we go.  My first real blog in a long time.  And by ‘real’ I mean a blog in which I do something other than describe my day.  And the topic of the day is…Short Shorts!!  YAY!
Some of you may be thinking “Yeah, alright.  Short shorts are pretty common in summer.”  To which I would respond, “Yes, yes they are.”  However, the main subject area of this short shorts discussion is men.  Yes, men.  Men in short shorts.  Now you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “…oh.  Hahahahahahaha.”  However, before you go and start judging all the short shorts wearing Kiwi boys, just hear me out. 
If you see boys in short shorts in the States, it’s either in a picture from the 70s, or they’re involved in a sport (cough cough drum corps).  If it’s the former you just giggle but give them some slack because, let’s face it, it was the 70s.  If it’s the latter, again you just giggle and again give them slack because they’re usually pretty built.  Generally any other viewing of boys in short shorts is just weird.  But here, oh no.  Here it’s common place to see short shorts.  In class, in the dining hall, at the supermarket, whatever.  And after some deliberation with my female companions we have determined the reason that it’s not strange (and actually quite attractive) here: no tan lines.  These guys do not have pasty legs.  If boys do wear short shorts, it is so much more attractive when their legs don’t blind you if struck by a ray of sun. 
But every good thing must come to an end.  In this case, I was unfortunate enough to discover the limits of short shorts, while eating dinner, I might add.  There we were, having ourselves a nice, processed, school provided meal when BAM!  What do I see?  Man ass. Yep, right there in the dining hall.  This particular pair of short shorts managed to cover everything important but as soon as their occupant bent over, for whatever reason, we were treated to a fully fledged view of some unknown guy’s lower man ass.  It was at this point that all of us at the table became a little weary of short shorts.  So here’s my advice:  admire them all you want, just be aware that you might see a little bit more than you were planning for…

Monday, March 21, 2011

Phenomenal Palmerston (North)

After leaving home on the third of February, four days in Fiji, and five in Auckland, it was finally time to reach the final destination.  No, not that one.  Palmerston North.  The final goal of all the travelling.  No more living out of suitcases, no more sandy sheets, no more washer/dryers that only wash and refuse to dry.

It was the morning of February 14, 2011 and it was finally time to fly to Palmerston North.  I began the morning by losing one of the beautiful earrings that I received for Christmas.  That was extremely depressing.  Next was the trip to the airport.  Out of every airport I had been in in the the past two weeks, I think the Auckland airport was by far the easiest.  And there was one simple reason why... no security.  Absolutely none.  It was the strangest thing.  I don't know why, but we walked in, got our tickets, checked our bags and walked in the direction of our terminal.  Turns out there was just a big waiting room and when your plane was loading you would walk through the doors and follow signs to the proper terminal.  The terminals turned out to be doors onto the tarmac.  Now, maybe there was no security because they were just domestic flights?  I have no idea.  But nothing bad happened so I don't really mind.  Anyways, our plane was one of the coolest I've ever been on.  We sat under the wing, and check out these propellers-

Right, so, we were off the Palmerston North, from now on referred to as Palmy.  Sadly there are no palm trees.  But there are plenty of mountains, greenery, sheep, and wind farms.  Oh yeah, there is an epic wind farm that you can see from most of town and almost anywhere on campus.

So we arrived at the airport, which is quite small, and headed out to our new 'hostels' aka dorms.  We were given our new, fancy keys unique to the Palmy campus-

Once we were dropped off we were on our own.  Luckily we had such things as cell phones and easily met up again.  While wandering campus a bit we found the veterinary pond, aka the duck pond.

Auckland Adventures

Between all of the planned trips and sessions and dinners which Education Abroad had planned for us, there was a lot of free time.  During this time we took the liberty of exploring the city of Auckland.  The following is a brief picture compilation of our time exploring the City of Sails...

Abseil Me Down

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Maori Tour was only part one of our Auckland experience that TEAN put on for us.  Part two was a Canyoning Trip.  What’s Canyoning, you ask?  Canyoning is “traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming.”  Apparently it’s known as Canyoneering in the U.S.   Either way, Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize the word. 

Our canyoning trip included abseiling (rappelling) down waterfalls, both the sides and the middle.  It also included the hike up to the waterfalls, and the descent down the river afterwards.  The descent included such things as jumping, crawling, sliding, walking, and swimming.

So we began the day (Feb. 11) by jumping in two vans and riding out to literally a shed in a parking lot.  There we changed into wetsuits (top and bottom), old shoes, and helmets.  we then got in the vans again and travelled out to the trail.  There we put on a harnessy thing and practiced both the abseiling and the waiting with the rope for a fellow abseiler.  with that out of the way we began our trek up the mountain.  Now normally the trail we hiked would not have been a problem, but we were all in ill-fitting wetsuits and had an interesting time breathing.  Finally we reached the start of our real journey.  The top of a waterfall.  We were properly fitted into our gear and proceeded to jump into a freezing cold pool to swim out to the edge of the fall.  For the first descent we went down the side of the waterfall.  If you don't already know, I am quite afraid of heights.  As such, I let the big kids go first and hung near the back of the group, plucking up the courage to lower myself over the edge of a waterfall.  That done, I hooked up to one of two lines and slowly, ever so slowly, began my own descent. 

This doesn't look that imposing to be sure, but right where that rope disappears is a 90 degree angle.  So anyways, I took my sweet time to get down to the bottom.  Once there, I was extremely proud of myself.  However, that was only the first of four.  The third and fourth ones being the hardest, apparently.  So I swam through the pool at the bottom of the first falls and set myself up to go down the next.  The next one didn't even have water, though.  It was more of a connection between Point A (small waterfall) and Point B (big waterfall).  From the top of the second waterfall, it doesn't look that big.  even after you go over the edge.  Because guess what?  There's a second edge!

That's it.  I'm not sure if that's both waterfalls, but I would say at least the bottom 3/4 of it is the second waterfall.  I was shaking by the time I reached the bottom of that one.  Once there, I rejoined the rest of the group and we moved on, leaving a few people to finish up and join us.  We were guided to our next starting point where we all sat down and ate some tasty sandwiches for lunch.  While we ate, our guides prepped the fourth and final abseil.  The one in the waterfall. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Māori Tour pt. 2

Continuing on now from the previous blog, which you can find here... Maori Tour

After getting wiped out by a very sneaky wave in rugby, we changed into our bathing suits and went swimming!! a waterfall.  We walked maybe five minutes up the road from the beach to a pretty little waterfall. 

The water was absolutely freezing, but I was determined to touch the rocks under the waterfall.  By the time I got out there, aka after my lower half went numb, there were only five of us left in the water, everyone else having bailed.

Fear us, we are strong women!!  As soon as this picture was taken though, we got out too.  No need to turn blue or anything.  It seemed almost planned that as feeling was returning to my lower half Staci began a little weaving tutorial.  We each cut a flax stem and proceeded to make a very simple... thing.  I don't recall the name, but it was supposed to represent a flower.

Māori Tour

Our first full day in Auckland began with the splitting of our group.  Eighteen people went canyoning while the other eighteen went on a Māori tour of the city.  I went on the tour.  If you’re wondering what canyoning is, we’ll get to that later. 
We had two tour guides for the day, Staci and Michelle.  Both lovely women were half Māori themselves.  We began the tour with a short drive to the top of Maungawhau aka Mt. Eden, the largest volcanic cone in Auckland.  We received a brief introduction to both our guides and to Māori culture.  We moved out around the cone to the other side, where there was a little observation area.  From there we could see the entire city, including most of the other 47 volcanic cones. 

After trooping back to the vans and packing ourselves inside, it was another drive over to the Auckland Museum. 

We didn’t spend too much time at the museum, but we had enough time to watch the live Māori dance presentation and then a brief tour around the exhibit. 

Now, while the tour was extremely informative and interesting, I don't remember too much of it because we were only there for maybe an hour, and half of everything that was said was in Māori, which I am currently learning.  So, after the museum tour, we herded outside like the good little sheep we were and onto the lawn in front of the museum for some authentic Kiwi fish and chips.  Sweet as.  It was utterly delicious.  We were told that the place that made it was one of the guides personal favorites in the city, so that was a good thing.