Sunday, January 30, 2011

School's Out!

I'm heading out tomorrow morning at 5:35 so I thought I'd just wrap up this last week before I lose internet for 10 days! We finished our classes this past week, weird thought, but super exciting. Don't be jealous :)

First, here we are, trying to keep the weight off after eating the New Zealand ice cream that we get plenty of, and surprisingly it is way better than that stuff at home. It's super creamy. Anywho, one day after school, Whitney brought Jillian Michaels to kick our butts in the cultural hall (this is where we have class but we had to put the chairs and tables up everyday as if we hadn't been there). My calves were so sore because we still had to walk home after this, and back the next morning, and so on and I honestly thought I might have pulled both of my calves, they have never hurt so much! But alas, they are better, and I can walk. We knew we could count on you, Jillian.

We had science this past week and it was really fun because our teacher, Ian Milne (who Dr. J always reminds us was "born to teach science. When he popped out of his mother's womb they said he would teach science" always using the word womb...gross word) had tons of little experiments and such for us to do. Here I am teaching a lesson on energy transfer by making home-made hokey pokey (this carmel type of stuff they put in everything! So good.)

And we made volcanoes! Way more legit than those baking soda/vinegar ones I made in Mr. D'Amato's 3rd grade class; those aren't even accurate. This was made with water and an airborn tablet in a film canister, covered in oat meal.

Here is where we ate lunch everyday for the past 3 weeks! This is just out on the front lawn of the chapel, and this is why I have such an impressive farmer's tan :)

We were supposed to go to the beach on Saturday, but those Australian's are really ruining my summer sun with all their rain! I think it should really be over now, up in Auckland anyway (its supposed to rain the whole week down in Queenstown though, bummer.) So our alternative? Auckland War Memorial Museum, which sounded boring, I know, but I really liked it! There was tons of Maori stuff and we even went to a singing/ dancing/ fighting/ haka-ing show! Here I am with Rebecca, Janet, and Whitney.

This is one of the guys from the performance! How do we look? Like pros.

Next we went to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World! I loved it. Aquarium but with even cooler stuff, like this Penguin ride that drives right through their little habitat place. We were very excited about how interactive this place was. Great for entertaining a bunch of 20-22 year old American girls.

Here I am with a HUGE stingray. We swam with some in the Bahamas and I thought I was scared of them then, but they were runts compared to these ones. A guy was in the tank feeding them so he could get them to come flat against the glass and splash over the top and they were just so cool. Next there was a moving walkway that you stood on to go through this aquarium over your head full of sharks which was so crazy, the sharks kinda looked like they had awkward faces, like something you'd find in the farside cartoons. Better pictures to come one the girls share them with me!

Well have a great week and a half everyone! Don't be offended when I don't respond! (just take the hint...)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunshine in My Soul!

We had SUNSHINE today! Very exciting after a week of rain from Australia. The rain didn't stop us though...

Here is my walking group! We are the 4 "Colwill girls" (Jessica, Christine, me, and Heidi) because we are kind of far from everyone else cause we live just down the street from our practicum school, Colwill School. We walk to class everyday, 45 minutes each way with huge hills, so hopefully we are also soon to be the girls with the best legs. Yesterday we rode the bus to school to avoid the rain, but we had to wait outside the gates to the church for 20 minutes, so we were still pretty soaked despite the umbrellas, but umbrellas are just too fun so it was worth it (plus they make a great photo background)

On Saturday we went to the Chinese New Year Festival (pre-new years?) It is apparently a huge deal here, so we got our first little taste of it since we will be down south for the actual new year, but this was probably enough for me. It was little Bejing! Tons of people, chinese food, karate, and jerky to taste-test. I even drank straight out of this hut-shaped coconut! Not my favorite, but hey, exotic experience for me so I'm pleased. Plus I just liked the idea of sticking a straw straight into a coconut and drinking it, how tropical are we? Sheryl suggested that when I'm in Samoa (emphasis on the SAHH-moa here) to "ask one of those bronze boys with a machete to fetch you a coconut, then he'll shimmy up the tree..." so thats going on my samoa to-do list, try their coconuts: as fresh as possible.

We discovered this really great tree the other day on a little adventure/run. So many different palm trees here! We saw one on our run today that looked like a HUGE pineapple cause it was like this one but really round and plump, more pineapple shaped than this one :)

class is tough, but I'm learning a lot, such as how to make tapas mats (picture another time maybe) and how to make a rugby uniform out of newspaper and tape. We were challenged by our teacher to make an outfit of what we thought kiwi's were going to look like, and I'm proud to say we were the only ones who made a rugby player, the rest all made typical islander dresses. Here we are doing the haka, scary eyes are a must for correct technique. (I think this was just to entertain my teacher, I am unaware of any specific "learning intentions" that are usually so vital to any education class).

We are closer than ever to making the ultimate pavlova! Although we made another one yesterday with a different recipe and it was 10x better than this other recipe, however we were having a study-abroad party and some lady went ahead and served it up for the rest of the crew, even though it was just for us to taste later so we just narrowly snagged a piece and it was definitely the best one yet!

and I work so hard all the time, that's why I get to play so much :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rainy Week

It's rainy all week this week, so I won't have much to show for myself, but here are a bunch of pictures I either just got from the other girls or just decided to put up!

But first... tonight Elder Anderson was speaking at a nearby chapel, so Jess, Christine, Heidi, and I rode the bus and planned on getting off at the bottom of the hill our stake center is on to catch a ride with people there. We get on, and first of all the lady wouldn't give us a student discount (some do and some don't, Dr. Jacobs said this lady must have been mad at her husband or something haha) and then right before our stop, she takes the world's longest, most confusing detour, so we lost track of where we were and missed getting off. We got off as soon as we realized we were far away and heading even farther away and started running cause we had only a few minutes to get to the stake center and a LONG way to walk (the bus had been late, plus that detour was so long) It was just so funny when we were running that I couldn't stop laughing the whole time because I was just picturing the four of us girls in dresses, holding onto our skirts and shoes, Christine's umbrella was just behind her and inside out and it was raining, all on a main road. Eventually we started walking cause we wanted to cool down before getting to the church and getting stuck in a stuffy car, but then Christine stepped on glass and by this time we were just soaked. When we got to the church (only 9 min late, I was impressed with our performance), there was only one car in the whole lot, and not a soul to be found. Of course we're cheap and don't have a cell phone, so we knocked on the door of a random house across the street (my first time, thrilling!) and asked to use a phone. We called our teacher, Carol first to see if she had Dr. J's number but she lost it, then Phyllis who eventually found it, then Dr. J himself and he came to pick us up (all during this poor family's dinner that we so rudely interrupted)! They were so nice, and we were just laughing the whole time about what had just happened. Then Dr. J drove us home, the end!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


My wifi hasn't been working for the past couple of days, so here is a big update from the rest of the week! For one, the title is refering to one day at dinner this week when Heidi asked Alexis something about tomatoes when she was quickly corrected byAlexis that it was tom-AH-toes, not tom-A-toes (you say tomato, I say tomato?)

Now here is a picture of the pavlova we made with Sheryl on Sunday! It is a common dessert here similar to a meringue but its not cooked all the way through so its soft and marshmallow-ey on the inside, then topped with whipped cream and traditionally kiwifruit and strawberries. SO good, and Sheryl said we should make one every sunday to perfect it by the time we get home :)

In other news, we were trying to figure out the bus, so here we are all excited to use public buses for the first time ever for some of us, waiting patiently at our bus stop. Lo and behold when the bus arrives, we all stand up, the large Maori lady looks at us in the eyes, and drives right on past us. RUDE.

So then we had to get a ride from Sheryl to school. Not to worry, we figured it out that afternoon, but realized it was going to be expensive, so we actually walk 45-50 minutes to and from school each day with lots of huge hills, so we figure its at least a workout!

On Thursday, we had a pizza and pasta night at one of the girls' house, so here are all 16 of us! Everyone was invited to come with their homestays, so Kerry and Alexis joined us but I think it was a bit much (for Phyllis too!) cause it got SO loud with all of us girls'd think we don't spend 8 hours a day minimum together.

Other days we often come home, run then jump in the pool cause by that point we are in dire need of a refresher. After dinner we either go to Phyllis's (so hang with Jess and Christine) or they come to our place. Here is a great view from the back of Phyllis's yard! We see a lot of this as we are walking through the hills, great view of water and stuff, love it!

Here is my favorite part of this house we live in! Grape vines over this canopy thing with a pretty view of the hill. Sorry, I'm a sucker for pretty views :)

Today was a great day! We went with Sheryl's family to bury her grandmother's ashes, something I had never seen done before, then to lunch with them for several hours after that. When we got home, Kerry took us out on his boat which was so great! Kinda felt like home, but a little different scenery than Lake Anna offers... The water was surprisingly clear and not too cold, so we swam around a little and rode around a little, then got back just in time for fish-n-chips! The boat really was glorious, I love summer!

How's winter treating you, people?? No big.

That's Auckland behind me. Who can find the skytower?? There is just water everywhere around the city, I love it! Lake after lake, or I guess harbor after harbor cause its all salt water? This is the "city of sails" or something catchy like that because it has the highest percentage of residents here that own boats. I believe it, cause they're everywhere. Everyone fishes too, and today when we were launching, another boat came out with a 6 foot sword fish! I don't think I've ever seen a fish that big in person (besides the wonderful Baltimore aquarium, or that aquarium in VAbeach), I was blown away.

Tonight we played around with poi balls, (refer again to 12 days of Christmas post) and I know, I got the stance all wrong, but Sheryl actually was quite the fountain of knowledge to get us started with them. A word of advice, its all in the wrists, loose wrists at that. Still need to learn a haka (we learned one Maori dance already but I don't remember it)...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday in Waitakere

Yesterday, Heidi and I spent some of our relaxing Sunday afternoon to document our home while here in New Zealand! Here I am walking up the front walk, with some of their cool plants, although that big bush is unfortunately covering up two Ponga trees (refer back to my post on a pukeko in a ponga tree)! The plants here are so cool and the whole place is so green right now. Our room is just on the other side of those windows to my left! The windows in the whole house are open 24/7 to let a breeze in, which makes for a lot of flies (but, can't complain) but it is funny cause we can hear people talking in other parts of the house through the windows all the time! For example, those windows straight in front of me lead to the "lounge" aka family room, so every night we can hear the shows and chatter going on, or loud toys playing during the day. No juicy gossip so far, but I'm keeping my ears open, as well as my mouth shut.

This is the view at the back of their backyard (hence, the fence), isn't it beautiful! I could sit back there all day, and I would except there is nowhere to sit but the ground, and I have issues sitting in grass because I feel like bugs crawl all over me. There is a bench, but it sits just a little too close to the beehives for me (they have bees, its tight, we eat lots of honey...from the store though, I don't know what that's all about), so until I get a chair back there, I'll just have to paint a picture and enjoy my picture from indoors, or maybe the deck if I want the added breeze for effect. We (meaning Heidi, Jess, Christine, and myself) are planning to try and walk down to the water from here, cause Kerry (the dad around here) says it can't be done, but how hard can it be?? Yeah so what if there is an overgrown forest to go through and a cliff to scale? I just don't want to get stuck down there cause when Kerry comes to rescue us he'll hate us cause we were stupid. PS sighted: ponga tree! That first one just on the other side of the fence, short little guy

Here I am with pretty flowers! For those of you who don't know me (get off my blog, find a less-creepy hobbie, how about piano lessons?) I am a flower girl, maybe more so than the typical girl, so this place has been heaven! Heidi and I were just hanging our laundry out to dry (old school, I know, so fun! maybe I'll put a picture up of the hanging things, that would be so interesting for you all to look at...) and we found these flowers just out by the drying thing! I think they should be showcased in a higher-traffic area, but I guess they have so many of them that they're really not all that exciting to the locals. There are even 4 or 5 different colors of these! Love it!

Sorry, not the most exciting blog but I had so much homework tonight and will again tomorrow so I just wanted to get something up, more to come in a couple days :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

No Big

For those of you trudging through the snow, maybe sledding or building a snowman,THIS is what I was doing today: Playing on a beach, with a sun so hot I had to use SPF 50 just to try and stay pastey white!
Here are all 16 girls from my program at Orewa beach this afternoon! Too cute, too cute. I am third from the left if you can't find me. I like this place, its east coast which means white sand and minimal waves (Tasman side has black sand and big waves) but the waves were just barely there enough to boogie board! I sometimes get a little chicken when the water is super rough like it has been at the beach backhome the past couple of years, so this was a great way to boogie board for a wuss like me, although you don't go very fast. We went on a long walk down the whole stretch of beach until it a straight up rock face/cliff thing which was so cool! I will post pictures once I get them from Rebecca, cause it looked so tropical, like something you'd stumble upon in theamazon. We also played in the sand and had quite the photoshoot (for before/after pictures, duh, gotta have those) and got fresh strawberry ice cream on the way home! The perfect summer day :)
I learned a new word yesterday (I learn a lot, this one was significant to me): Morish (pronounced more-ish). Heidi brought peanut butter m&ms for our homestays to try cause they don't have them here, and last night Sheryl said they were very morish. I've been trying lately not to act like such a stupid newb-American girl by just going along with what people say, pretending that I'm following (ya know how I said they probably think I'm slow...trying to act like I'm not) but when she said that, I just had to ask her what she meant. "You know, like they make you want more and more of them!" hahaha they made a word for that? I like that one.

Other than that, we go to school, do homework, play with Kodie and Alexis (Alexis has been slowly giving me her most prized possessions, such as a funky green rock, a barbie pencil case, or today a matchbox car and a ribbon!) (and Kodie always has to come in a give Heidi and I kisses before bed, love him! plus "Anna" is one of his like 3 words), go on walks to Jess and Christine's house, go for runs on these impossibly hill-y streets, try to go swimming but never make it to the pool when they come over, and we even had a girls night with Phyllis tonight! She is Jess and Christine's homestay, and when we were painting our nails tonight, she said she had never had paint on her toenails before (she's like pushing 70)! So Jess painted her nails for the first time, it was precious. She served us milo, similar to hot chocolate, but her version is very watered down. Sis Anderton said we will be drinking milo every morning at school during "morning tea" where all the teachers take a break to get some tea while the kids go outside. Then we watched sister act which didn't seem like a very proper, old, British woman's type of movie, so it was great :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

First day of School

Here we are walking into class on our first day of school! Ok, you're right, this is staged at the end of the school day, but you have to have a first day of school picture! Class was so fun today, we really didn't do much schoolwise other than learning about the general structure of the school system here in New Zealand. The first half of the day our instructor, Sis Anderton who is half pacific islander pretty much raised in New Zealand, spent three hours just going over the culture here, focusing a lot on the Maori culture. We got to taste some new foods like Marmite, kumaras (sweet potatoes), L&P (lemony soda or "fizzy"), meat pies (exactly that: a pie filled with meat and gravy), and golden kiwis (deceptively normal from the outside, yellow on the inside and much sweeter than the green, SO good). We learned TONS of Maori words along the way, few of which I actually remember. Like Hangi is when they cook meat in a pit in the ground, not to be confused with Hongi is when you press noses together as a greeting (she made us practice that a bunch cause we have to do it in a formal welcoming without giggling as that is the first rule to the Hongi: no giggling.) which I'm probably going to have trouble with since I had trouble with the cheek kissing or whatever when I went to the Polynesian ward with Brock Bolen (he made so much fun of me cause I blushed so much every time!).
Most exciting part of the day: learning a Maori dance! And lots of songs (we have to sing one of those at the welcoming thing too)! Sister Anderton's granddaughter came in and taught us, and I can't keep the moves in order, but its basically really subdued hula dancing, like similar motions but she told us to not get crazy with it, which is hard for me to do :)
First thing we learned though was the twelve days of Christmas: New Zealand! Here are the elements, sung to the same tune, but its much easier to sing if you know how to pronounce Maori vowels. Give it a go!
1. Pukeko in a Ponga tree
2.kumara (NZ sweet potato)
3. flax kits (grass bags, flax grass has HUGE leaves and grow like weeds here)
4. huhu grubs (I don't remember what those are)
5. big fat pigs (self-explanatory, no?)
6. poi a twirling
7. eels a swimming
8. plants of puha (NZ version of a dandelion)
9. sacks of pipi (pronounced pee pee although no one else seemed to find that funny today... pipi are clams)
10. juicy fish heads (Maori delicacy, I'll pass)
11. haka lessons (just check out the subtitles)
12. pui pui swinging (don't know this one either)

Hope everyone else had a great day in their own special way as well :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Octo? Sorry, spell that? O-T-T-O

So, these people are way harder to understand than I thought! I have been anxiously awaiting the constant murmur of New Zealand accents, but I had no idea how much longer it would take me to process each word they say. I'm afraid I am starting to come across as slow to the locals! It takes so much concentration to comprehend some meaning behind the sounds coming out of their mouths that I often find myself tuning out when I get tired, especially if they are off on a monologue. This afternoon I was asking my host family's daughter, Alexis (6) what the dog's name was and I could have sworn she said something like "Octo" and she repeated it several times, as did her mom until she finally just spelled it for me: O-t-t-o. I would have never guessed.

After showering when we first got to the Lord family's home, we went with the mom, Sheryl to the day care center she owns (called Tui's Nest, I gotta look up Tui) and helped them set the place back up after it was just painted. While there, Alexis also took Heidi and I across the street to the Garden Center where we got to see lots of pretty flowers and cool plants. Can I just say, they have a much wider variety of plants here, even just what is in their yard/ wild stuff. Here I am with Alexa and a butt load of hydrenga's.
Later we went grocery shopping with Sheryl (at the Dairy, how cute?) and that was a much greater adventure than anticipated! At first glance, it is exactly the same as our grocery stores, but as you look closer, everything is labeled just wrong! The Rice Krispies are like Rice Bubbles or something, cookies are biscuits, popsicles don't exist (side note: when we were at the Garden center, Alexis was pointing out her favorite ice cream bars out of a little freezer thing there and she called them Ice Blocks, and we asked her if she knew what a popsicle was and she said no very sheepishly. So we asked her cousin Tipany who is maybe in high school and he gave us a blank stare.) except for a brand called popsicle, so like one box in the entire freezer section, the eggs come in packages with all different sizes colors (shades?), and they have weird ice cream flavors like hokey or jolly raspberry something, and the most disgusting thing was the dog food: looked like those sausage tube packages but HUGE and its refrigerated and you just cut off slices for your spoiled dog! It was a very exciting trip to say the least and we had a lot of fun with Sheryl, taking pictures with different things like vegimite (we bought some so I'll let you know how it is!). In this picture, notice that there are no orange cheeses. Out of this world, right? Well we were talking about it and wonder if our cheese is just colored, cause how would you get orange from something made of milk? Food for thought. And let me know if you find out whether or not its colored.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I'm leaving on a jetplane!

Dulles to LA: 6 hours
Layover in LA: 10 hours
LA to Auckland: 13 hours
Plus driving time/ security/ customs...but I made it! This place is awesome.

Clearly 10 hours is entirely too long to spend at one gate. You start to do yoga and have a journal writing club and take lots of weird pictures like these... At least I wasn't alone though!