The Workings of a Bagel Revolution

Classes are finished! This has been the fastest semester of my life by far. It feels like it just started! Although, I am not quite finished yet. I still have the rest of this week for studying, and then exams for the next two weeks after that. Last one is on the 12th! I’m not worried though. After taking Cornell final exams, I can face anything anyone has to throw at me academically. Plus I’m taking all philosophy and writing/history classes, so no problem set memorization or equation drilling or anything like that.

Halloween is coming soon though, so that will break up the monotony! My friend and I are both dressing up as porcelain dolls. We both have blonde ringlet-y hair, and we’re pretty pale to begin with, so it will be perfect! With the help of some white tights, white makeup, and a doll-esque dress, and we will be set! We’re going to draw little lines around our wrists and necks and ankles to make it look like we are composed of a bunch of pieces. …oh, and some blood. I think a single drop of blood coming from the eye or the ear could be very nice. Tasteful, too.

Halloween isn’t really a thing here though! Everyone knows what it is, but very few seem to participate, especially at this age. So, I’ve decided to bring it here! A bunch of people from my house are going to dress up, which should be fun. I’ve already explained what Thanksgiving is to people here, and we’re going to have a Thanksgiving dinner. Even though it has zero cultural significance to anyone here, I guess it’s a good excuse to eat and be jolly!

Speaking of things that aren’t a thing here but they should be because of their delightfulness; BAGELS. I’ve gotten so used to Collegetown Bagels that I don’t like being without them. Bagels are sometimes available here, but they’re always plain and small and un-yummy and expensive. Naturally, I decided to make them. It was rather time-consuming, but totally worth it. I made plain, cinnamon sugar, and rosemary salt.

So, I’ve decided to start a bagel revolution in New Zealand. Mom, I am going to need a lot of flour, yeast, and sugar, please.

I’ve done a lot of baking and cooking here. Especially baking. I like to tell my mom that I’m not home to fatten my family up, so I have to fatten the New Zealanders up! I’ve made cheesecake and cookies and baklava and sticky date pudding and rice krispy treats (a joy to watch Kiwis eat them) and tiramisu x100000.

Summer is in the air! The spontaneous trips to the beach have begun. I saw that Ithaca is supposed to be getting snow flurries this week! I chose the right place to study abroad 😉

More later! xoxox

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An Extended Stay in Kiwiland

I love New Zealand. I love the mountains, the oceans, the towns, the city, the culture, the food, the birds, the flowers, and the people. Therefore, I’ve decided to stay.

…for the summer.

I start my field semester in Hawaii in January, and decided to go straight there from here. What’s the point in going from New Zealand to New York and then to Hawaii? I could practically swim to Hawaii from here! Okay, it’s still over 7,000km, but my point remains.

It’s been a long and tedious (and expensive!) process trying to get working rights here (if I’m going to be here for the summer, I have to have some sort of income!), but everything finally went through, thanks to a lovely little thing called a Holiday Working Scheme Visa. Tickets have been switched, and I arrive in Hawaii on January 11th. Yippeeeeeee!

A few things will be weird, though….

Not seeing my family for a year will be a bit of a shock. But we’re not going to think about that right now 🙂
And, more importantly (just kidding!), CHRISTMAS WILL BE IN THE SUMMER! How weird that is going to be. There are completely different traditions here, too. People generally have a BBQ on the beach, first off. So many people here have never heard of the Grinch, of a Christmas Carol, It’s A Wonderful Life, or any of our Christmas songs!
I will, however, be spending Christmas on either the beach or in Matamata, which is where Hobbiton is! Christmas in The Shire, yes please!

A group of us are planning on working in orchards or vineyards, picking fruit. The seasons for some of the fruits are perfect, from mid-November (the end of exams) to Christmas, at which point we will travel for two weeks before I fly away. Another option is to stay in Palmerston North and work in the city. Still a few decisions to make. The [tentative] plan is to spend New Year’s Eve camping at the place that sees the sun rise first in the world, which, although widely disputed, is an island near enough to New Zealand. If necessary, we will shrink our goal to simply spending it camping in the place within New Zealand itself that sees the sun first.

So many exciting times ahead of me. I’m so lucky! Thank you to everyone from home who has helped me get here. I’m so grateful for everything, from setting up the Exchange and all the paperwork (Christine and Natalie), to giving me a post-departure pep talk about the world (Grandpa), to advice about where to go and what to see here (Spencer), to giving me monetary assistance (Mom, Tom, and Dad), and for being a smiling face when I Skype home (Colin). If I could bring back an everything-you-need-to-experience-about-New-Zealand care package (composed of Pineapple Lumps, L&P, Pavlova, wild hedgehogs, the Tasman Sea, the sunshine, the accent, a kiwi fruit, a kiwi bird, and a Kiwi) to thank you all, I would. Unfortunately, I am having a hard time as it is fitting my stuff within a 23kg luggage limit.

I miss everyone reading this, and if I haven’t met you, I would like to.

I’ll keep you updated!

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The Rainy Adventure of Kelsey

Hello! I hope everyone is beginning to nestle in for the cooler fall weather back home. From what I’ve heard, the summer-fall change happened very quickly!

Spring is definitely in the air here, most notable with the influx of rain we have been having. Rain here is interesting- we’ve had lots and lots of it, but not once has there been thunder or lightning along with it (at least in my experience). At home, it’s pretty rare to have a lot of rain without thunder and lightning!

On another environmental note- the stars here are absolutely beautiful. When we were in the South Island, there were times where we would be hours from civilization/light pollution and we would just lay under the stars (albeit in the freezing cold). They were crystal clear and beautiful. I didn’t think about the fact that there would be different constellations here until I actually saw them- no North Star here, but they do make up for it with a beautiful formation known as the Southern Cross (below). The stars were what really made me realize that I’m not in New York anymore…

Also visible from down under are two Magellanic Clouds, a smaller and a larger, which are more or less visible dwarf galaxies that are orbiting the Milky Way. How cool is that?!

Classes have been going well, and are beginning to reach the point where they are wrapping up and preparation for final examinations begins. Where has my time here gone! It seems as though it has flown by incredibly fast. On the bright side, as some of you may know, I will be spending next semester doing a field program in Hawaii, so yet another adventure-filled semester is in store for me! I am quite the lucky girl to have the opportunity to be able to go abroad, and to add to the luck, having a hands-on semester directly following!

A group of friends and I spent last weekend in Wellington, celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday. Wellington is a very beautiful and unique city- very much like a large Ithaca or a small Bostom. Lots of culture, lots of hipsters, lots of things to do. Plus, it’s on the ocean!! It’s only about an hour’s drive away, which, although a trek for New Zealanders with their small-scale travel perceptions, seems like a breeze when you’re used to driving 16 hours to North Carolina, one way. All in all, a city that I would love to spend more time in!

I am still yet to reach the proverbial “slump” that I’ve been told students studying abroad experience. It is apparently a stage where the “honeymoon” period is over, and the novelty of the country begins to wear off, and you begin to miss home. Although yes, I miss home, it is and always has been a good type of miss. A miss where yes, I would love to see everyone, but I realize that I can’t see them and be here at the same time, so until I go home, I know it’s not possible to see them. Does that constitute talking oneself out of missing someone? If so, go me!

That is all for now. More again soon!

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2240 km Down the Rabbit Hole

Hello, world!

It’s been awhile! A mix of last-minute essays, packing, and the South Island itself have kept me from you, and I’m sorry. But now, I’m back!

As was to be expected, the South Island trip was fantastic. We traveled for two weeks straight, and covered almost the entire island (minus the northern tip – for another adventure!), starting and finishing in Christchurch. I took nearly 900 photos, so please bear with me as I attempt to post the ones that best describe our adventures.

You’d be surprised how much day-to-day journaling helps! Although everything we did was memorable, I found that if I didn’t write things down, even after a few days, everything began to melt together. Here’s my best attempt!

 

We began our journey in Christchurch, and wove our way through the hills to Banks Peninsula where we stopped off at a local cheese maker and went to the beach. After a bit of working our way along the east coast, we reached Akaroa, a beautiful town on the coast.

I’ve never seen the Pacific ocean from anything but an airplane (a bit sad for someone studying oceanography, I’d say), so as soon as we pulled over, I ran into the Pacific. Keep in mind, it’s winter down here! Don’t worry, my adrenaline kept me warm!
Over the next few days, we made our way south along the coast, hitting towns such as Ashburton, Timaru, Waimate, and Oamaru. In Oamaru, we saw blue penguins, the smallest species of penguin, and is only found in this area of the world. A bit farther south, we ventured along the beach to see the Moeraki boulders, perfectly round geological anomalies, approximately 5 feet in diameter.
As we made our way west towards Queenstown, we ice curled at an indoor rink in Naseby. I think we all gained a bit more respect for professional curlers! Onwards to Queenstown, where we went up the Gondola (more or less a cable car up the side of a mountain) and went luging at the top. Queenstown, affectionately named The Adventure Capital of the World, has so much to offer – from skydiving to paragliding to luging to skiing to rafting to helicopter rides to speedboating to bungee jumping to base jumping. Neither ourselves nor our pocketbooks were adventurous enough to try everything, although skydiving is definitely still on my bucket list!

We drove down to Te Anau, a sleepy little down on a lovely lake. From here, a kayaking company picked us up and drove us three hours through a mountain pass to reach Milford Sound, arguably the most beautiful location on the planet. Although it is technically the ocean, it is so far inland that the waves have dissipated, making for a completely smooth and calm kayaking experience. An expanse of crystal clear blue water, surrounded by waterfalls and snow-peaked mountains – it really doesn’t get much better than that. It made me feel so dwarfed and insignificant among those mountains, but in a very calming way. We kayaked within the sound for nearly five hours, surrounded by seals and penguins, and whatever unseen creatures swam beneath us (there are dolphins and sharks and whales there, too!).

Next was Invercargill, one of the southern-most cities in the world. The entire community down there was very relaxed and kind, and the beach in the town of Bluff below was scattered with hulls of old ships, which was beautiful. We went to parks and a sheep’s milk cheese factory and a local brewery before we began to make our way back up to Te Anau and eventually Queenstown again.
We went north along the west coast (Tasman Sea), and stopped at Coronet Peak to ski, and eventually reached Wanaka, which is the home of Puzzling World, a fun museum that contains all sorts of mind-bending displays. Next were the glaciers! Fox and Franz Josef, to be precise. Close in location, but nestled in very different landscapes, and each very beautiful in their own respect. The experience of seeing the glaciers, as well as the Pacific, was similar to experiencing my first earthquake- I’ve read so much and learned so much about them, so to finally see one and jump in it and feel one (respectively) really puts a lot of things into perspective.

Seeing as it was one of our last nights together, we gathered on a secluded beach somewhere near Greymouth to watch the sunset. An appropriate [almost] ending to the perfect trip. We decided that Arthur’s Pass would have been too dangerous to take, seeing as we were getting snow and bad weather even at lower elevations. Going through it would have been too treacherous, especially with our gigantic RVs. We took Route 7 instead, which (rather conveniently), brought us to Hanmer Springs, a collection of natural hot springs and sulfur pools that are utterly delightful to bask in. Before we knew it, we were back in Christchurch, and our trip was drawing to a close.

I’ve decided that I want to start collecting sea water from around the world. As of now, I have the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea. When I get home, I will get the Atlantic, and hopefully my lovely friends from Europe can send me some North Sea water (it counts, because I’ve been there, but hadn’t yet started collecting!)

About half of the time we parked on the side of the road to camp, and the other half was spent in RV parks, which were great for stocking up on water, taking showers, and defrosting ourselves!

I learned something about myself on this trip- I am very motherly. Not that I hadn’t noticed it before, but it came out full-force on this trip. Kayaking began with me sunscreen-sticking everyone’s face, ranging from age 19-27. One of the guys on the trip spends every second of everyday either climbing, or planning what to climb next- which is a scary thing to witness, especially when we were constantly surrounded by rock cliffs and glaciers and chasms (gorges). I ended up devoting the rest of my trip to ensuring that he came home safe and unscathed, which I was successful in doing, aside from the occasional bandage and antibiotic cream. By the end of the trip, everyone referred to me as “Mum”. Be proud, Momma, be proud 🙂

Our two RVs became our homes-away-from home for the duration of the trip, whether we were sleeping, cooking, telling ghost stories, or playing gin in them. As happy as we were to be headed back to our warm, comfy beds in Palmerston North, we couldn’t help but feel a twang of sadness as we handed over the keys and gave one last tap to the hood.

I learned so much about New Zealand, the friends I went with, and ultimately, myself. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

South Island, until we meet again-

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The Airspeed Velocity of Time

6! That’s how many weeks I have been here! It’s unbelievable that the semester is half over- but I guess time flies when you’re having fun!

I have classes for the rest of this week, and then… break! Two weeks’ worth! As soon as I complete my plethora of assignments (a sonnet comparison essay, a paper on Paul Taylor’s theory of Biocentrism, and a Magic & Witchcraft paper), I will be off to the South Island for a fortnight of RVing adventures!

The [tentative] plan is as follows:

On Monday morning (26/8), we are busing to Wellington and spending the day/night there. We flying to Christchurch on Tuesday. Once there, we are picking up our two rented RVs (there are a total of seven of us going), and heading south. The plan looks a wee bit like the thick red line on this map, although we ultimately loop back around to Christchurch.

Within our group, three of us are from America, one from Wales, one from England, one from Singapore, and one from New Zealand. We all have different things we want to do and see, which makes for a nice mix of activities. It helps, too, that a few of them have already been to the South Island, so they know their way around a bit. As diverse as our interests are, it seems as though the bungee jumping/skydiving scene in Queenstown is a common theme… no complaints from me!

Tramping some of the “Great Walks” of New Zealand is also on our agenda, as is kayaking in Milford Sound, exploring the culture (food!), and potentially trekking through Arthur’s Pass on our way back to Christchurch.

Here are a few photos I’ve taken since my last post:

 

To everyone at Cornell, happy start of the semester!

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Tramping in the Ruahines

I joined the Massey University Alpine Club (MUAC), which is a club through my university here that takes trips to tramp (hike), camp, rock climb, ski, whatever. Basically a fantastic club to be a part of if you want to travel around the country. This past Saturday, there was a “Mid-Winter Christmas Party” (remember, December is summer here!) tramp to the eastern part of the Ruahines, a mountain range that stretches from Palmy towards the East coast.

We left Saturday morning, drove for about 2 hours, and then hiked up a mountain for about 3.5 hours, which was quite steep! It felt so typical New Zealand- the soundtrack from The Hobbit should have been playing in the background. We stayed in Sunrise Hut for the night, a place that is affectionately named for its beautiful sunrises, something I am sad to announce I did not capture on film. We all cooked and ate dinner together, and a few wore Christmas outfits. Fun!

Sunday morning we got up and decided we had better take some photos to document our time, and prove that we actually did reach the top of the mountain…

View from the top

It was chilly at the top of the mountain! Snow and everything! And when there is snow, a snowman is usually close to follow…


In other news, everything else is going great! Just starting my 4th week of classes. Assignments are beginning to be due, most of which are writing papers. A nice change from the constant barrage of problem sets for my science and math classes at home!

Based on the literature that I’ve read on studying abroad, I should be approaching a stage soon where I come off of my initial “high” of being here, and hit a downwards slump and start missing home. Kind of looks like a sine graph. As of right now, I do not see that in sight at all. I am loving New Zealand – the people, the culture, the food, the landscape – so much and find it hard to imagine that I will have to leave here at some point. But I’m not going to think about that now; I’m going to think about it later! Wise words from my Grandma 😉

Don’t worry though, Cornell; I haven’t forgotten about you! I still love you!

More later!

P.S. Just finished my 7th bag of Pineapple Lumps

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Earthquake!

There have been three earthquakes (well, two preliminary tremors and the actual quake) that I have felt in the past few days! The epicenter was in the Cook Strait, which is the expanse of water between the North and South islands. Wellington was hit the worst by Sunday’s quake, although there were no deaths. After spending so much time studying earthquakes, it was amazing to actually feel one. I could imagine them becoming scary in a hurry though.

Week 2 of classes is underway! So far, so good.

For those of you who are wondering, I decided against showing up to Magic & Witchcraft wearing a robe and a wizard’s hat. I opted for my Time Turner instead.

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In a state of “functional jet lag”

After 39 hours of travelling, I finally made it to Palmerston North, New Zealand! And oh, how beautiful it is.

I live in Fergusson Hall, which is a privately owned house up the hill (and 168 steps!) from Manawatu’s Turitea campus.
Compared to Cornell’s campus, this campus seems minuscule! It does bear a resemblance to Cornell’s campus, though. Both are rather spread out, and seem as though they have been plopped into nature, and buildings were erected around trees, lakes, ponds, etc.

I think the most striking thing thus far about New Zealand is the flora. Even in the dead of winter (soooo cold compared to the warm summer back home!), there are so many flowering bushes and fruit-giving citrus trees and wild zantedeschia everywhere. Eucalyptus trees, too! So beautiful!
Before coming to New Zealand, I [foolishly] had this mental image of a place so different from the US, that one could mistake it for a different planet. Although environmentally different, the cultures are similar! In Palmerston North (“Palmy”), there are two Burger Kings, a McDonalds (“Mackers”), a Subway, a K-Mart, and the like.

Aside from the obvious fact of driving on the opposite of the car/road, there are staunch differences, however. Numero uno: EGGS ARE NOT KEPT IN THE FRIDGE! I know this seems insignificant, but I find it very… intriguing. Grocery stores just have them laying on a shelf, generally by the bread. Needless to say, I have yet to eat an egg…

The other day a few of us went on an adventure to see the landscape northwest of here, stopping to see the Tui Brewery; the beautiful oh-so-Lord of the Rings landscape;

and the power-generating Te Āpiti wind farm;

All so beautiful!

I began papers (classes) yesterday, and I’m liking my choices! I decided that if Massey doesn’t offer papers pertaining to my oceanography major, which it doesn’t, then why not take papers that I don’t get a chance to take back at Cornell? I’m taking Philosophy of Science, Environmental Philosophy (I’ve missed philosophy so much!), Love & Revenge in Shakespeare’s England, and Magic & Witchcraft. I’m debating whether or not to show up to the latter wearing a wizard’s robe….

It seems as though “fresher’s flu” has indeed got the better of me. My body is a bit angry at me for exposing it to such a vast array of never-before-seen bacteria and viruses. That mixed with the final crumbs of what I have affectionately coined “functional jet lag” has made me a slightly hermity, slighty sleepy girl.

That is all for now!

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“The time has come,” the Walrus said

Mission accomplished! I have successfully packed my life into one 50 lb. (48.8!) bag, and two carry-ons. In T-9 hours I will be departing for the wonderful land of New Zealand.

Now that all of the obligatory goodbyes and “last suppers” are over, it is finally beginning to sink in: in a few short hours, I will be en route to the other side of the world. The only place to which I could travel that would be farther from home would be the Moon, quite literally!

As excited as I am, I cannot help but feel a slight sense of apprehension towards what I am about to do. It’s not that I’m worried (the international office at Massey and the people of CALS Exchange have been ever so helpful and accommodating!) of something going wrong, it is just the inevitably nerves that one gets when facing the unknown. Which is exactly what it is, the unknown. I don’t know a single person in the entire nation, aside from the occasional e-mail correspondence with Massey, my cell phone doesn’t work there, I don’t have any New Zealand money. I don’t even have bed sheets! Albeit, all things that I will sort out once I arrive. But still!
…kind of thrilling, huh?

So as I wander around my house, marking the last time that I will play my piano, the last time I will take a shower, the last time I will use my toaster, I can’t help but think what I will be doing in 48 hours from now.

Ready or not, here I come!

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