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June 14- sitting in a courtyard

It has been such a long two days it seems like. Yesterday was Sunday and I woke up pretty early thanks to one oft roommates. It was all good though we had to be out of rooms by 10am. I was packed the night before and ready to go. After I got bags locked in the little room the hostel provided, I walked to one of the bus stops close by and waited for a bus. One going the right way finally came about 20 minutes later and I paid 2 dollars to ride it up to the street with the cable car. I found the right stop, got off and walked up to the cable car station. The car went straight up the hill making a couple of stops first before getting to the top. Of course the view of Wellington was amazing from this height and I got some pretty awesome pictures. When I was finished being a tourist, I went into the observatory and planetarium. There was a 45 minute show in a cool theater with reclined seats and a 360 view of the movie. It was about the journey and exploration into space and I thought it was really neat. The planetarium also had some cool exhibits and short videos on space, the planets, and the universe. When I was finished going through it all, I caught the next cable car back down the hill and mad some lunch in the hostel. We were allowed to stay down in the first level for as long as we wanted. Our bus was scheduled to pick us up around 5:30 so I had a few hours to relax. I walked across the street to the grocery store at one point and bought some chocolate fish, like strawberry marshmallows covered in chocolate, super yummy. Our bus finally came and drove the group to the airport. New zealand is so different than US flight regulations. You check yourself and your bags in, find your gate (only one out of three) and then wait to be called to go throuh security and board the plane. We only waited about 20 minutes and we were let on the plane. I had a middle seat in between two of the girls on our trip. The flight was only an hour or so long but we had o fly lower than normal because of the ash cloud from the volcano in chile. After a slightly bumpy landing, we caught a van out to our hostel which was another 20 minute drive into the country. Our hostel used to be an old hospital back in the early 1910s. It’s super cold all the time and their heaters only run for abou three hours every day. 

Today I walked around the city for a few hours after sleeping in until 11, which is the latest I’ve slept in for the whole trip. I decided that I wanted to go on a horse ride while I was here, so I walked to the visitors center and booked a ride with a horse farm for tomorrow. I am super excited about this!!! I’m going to have to catch a bus out to point chalmers and then a van from the horse farm will pick me up from the bus stop and drive me the rest of the way. I’m going on a two hour ride through the farm and then down to the beach. It should be awesome. Wednesday our group is touring the Cadbury chocolate factory that’s right down the road from main street in Dunedin. Yum for samples!! Then early Thursday morning we are getting on a plane to go from Dunedin to Auckland, staying in a hotel for the night then boarding the big plane around 1 on Friday to come back to the    States. What a busy last few days! I dont have Internet and I wrote this blog on an iPod, so sorry for any mistakes in spelling and typing. This might be my last post before I get back in country, but I’ll be sure to include any updates from now until then when I can. 


June 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

June 10- Wellington YHA Hostel

I started writing two nights ago, hoping to post a blog before we left Rotorua (which didn’t happen) but the first paragraph is from Tuesday night. It’s Thursday now around 5:30 and I’ve finally found some free time to fill in what I’ve been up to.

It’s almost 9pm on Tuesday night and I just got a shower and now I’m sitting in bed watching whatever is on TV. I am all packed up except for what I’m wearing tomorrow and taking on the bus. We are leaving around 10:45 at the bus station to travel about 7 hours to Wellington. It’s a public so unfortunately we’ll have to share the bus with other people. But it’s ok! I’ll be sitting with Beth and we always have a good time. I had such a good day today and it was absolutely wonderful. Two of the girls woke up at 7 to catch a bus to a hot springs tour this morning, so of course, I woke up too. I went ahead and packed up then headed to McDonalds to get on the internet. I stayed there for about an hour posting pictures and chatting, and then I walked down the street to split a Domino’s pizza with Beth for lunch. We wanted to eat near the lake (which is only a few blocks further down the street) so we walked down and found a bench after taking a few pictures. As soon as we sat down, there were TONS of seagulls that flocked to our bench and I don’t think I even got a bite out of my first piece until one flew right past my head and I felt its wing brush my face. At this point, I threw my pizza back in the box and ran away to the playground area. We decided to eat at the picnic table instead. There was a cute little ice cream stand close by our table and we stopped in to order milkshakes. They had some cool flavors like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, boysenberry, caramel, and some other strange ones I can’t remember. I got a caramel “thickshake” and it was pretty good. I could only drink about half though because it was very rich.

We walked back towards the hotel and stopped in to the tourist place to find out about rainbow springs, a kiwi preservation. It was pretty cheap to have a van take us there, so we bought tickets and set a time for the driver to come pick us up. I had about 2 hours or so before the van came so I hung out in the room and took a nap after I got my bag together and my camera battery charged. It was a wonderful afternoon! Around three, the van showed up outside the Ventura and took us to the preservation. It was only about a 10 minute drive or so and the lady was so nice! She even took a detour to show us the hot springs park and tell us about some of Rotorua’s history.

Rainbow Springs has multiple things to walk around and look at, there’s a huge “rainforest” trail to walk down. I saw so many different birds, reptiles, and even some chickens! Funny story- so Beth and I were about finished with the trails and we were heading back up the front building to find out where we needed to go to see the kiwis later that night (they are nocturnal, so we had to wait until after 6pm). As I turned the corner, the cutest little white chicken made his way toward me down the hill. I started to take some pictures until suddenly this chicken put it into full gear and started hurtling down the trail towards me. All of a sudden she was about a foot away and came to a complete stop. I took some more pictures and then saw in the background some of her friends come running down. At this time, I didn’t particularly want to be attacked by a flock of chickens, so I turned around and walked at a very fast pace towards the front building. When I got there, we asked where the kiwi building was located and of course, it was right around the corner with the attack chickens. The guy at the counter laughed when I said there were running chickens close by (you could see them through the glass door waiting around). He gave me a bag of fish pellets and said that they were just hungry. So I cautiously make my way back up the path to the kiwis, fish food in hand. The chickens (about five of them) come back down the hill towards me again and I threw the food over to one side. Then out of nowhere, a HUGE rooster came out of the woods, right in the way of where I needed to walk. I didn’t know what to do since I was out of food and all I could think about was when Mama was a little girl how she got attacked by that big rooster guarding the hen house. Beth was behind me and pushed me out into the chickens and luckily there was still enough food to distract them. So we made it.

The kiwis were so precious and definitely worth the whole trip! There was one that had just hatched 6 days ago and he was asleep in a little box filled with ferns and a water bowl. He was about the size of my fist balled up and the sign on his box said that his sister was still in the incubator about to hatch too. There were also three full grown kiwis inside large areas that were glassed off from the main walkway. Since they are nocturnal, the room is very dark and it’s hard to find them because they blend in. I found that if you just look at the bushes and plants in the areas and watch to see if they move, it’s easier to find the kiwi. After it got dark outside, we were able to see the kiwis that were kept outside (these are different from the ones inside because they are closer to being released into the wild- with close monitoring, of course). Around 5:45, it got dark and we walked over to the kiwi area. This is set up differently from the one inside, there’s only a small little dividing wall about a foot tall that keeps the kiwis inside their house areas. Each kiwi is kept separate and they have a large area to run around, sleep in, and find food in the dirt. There was one kiwi that kept coming very close to the dividing wall and he even put his little beak on the wood making snorting noises. I think he was probably inches away from me. They really are the cutest birds ever in the whole world!

We watched the three kiwis outside for about an hour just going from area to area. When I was ready to go, the van picked me up and took me back to the hotel. I had beef and vegetable soup for dinner and then went to bed. The next morning our group met around 10 and walked down the bus station (about ¼ of a mile) with all of our luggage to wait for the 11:15 bus to Wellington. That was such a long day spent on the bus, making all kinds of stops to pick up and drop off people on the way. Around 7pm, we made it to Wellington and found the hostel we are staying at for four days (until Sunday). It is definitely sooo much nicer than the one in Auckland. Although there are actual bunk beds, we have our own bathroom and shower, which is such an improvement! I couldn’t sleep on the top bunk, it was super rickety so I moved my mattress onto the floor in the corner of the room and it’s like camping now! When we get to Dunedin, we are staying in a cottage, almost like a bed and breakfast, so that should be awesome!

Today, I did a lot of walking around Wellington just to see what all is around. I spent about 2 hours in the national museum called Tau Papa and it’s huge!!! 6 floors filled with all sorts of neat exhibits and lots of information on earthquakes, culture of the Maori, and so much more. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and Saturday, so I’ll probably head back there and stay longer. I’m having spaghetti for dinner tonight and it should be pretty good!! I’ll try to keep up more on the blogs, it was hard when I didn’t have internet to make myself write. I can’t believe my trip is coming to a close so soon! Only one week left after tonight. And two of those days will be spent on a plane. This month has been a wonderful experience and it’s gone by so quickly. I can’t wait to see what else I can find to do before I go home!

June 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

June 6- The Queen’s Birthday

It’s Monday now and I’m sitting in McDonalds using their free wifi to catch up on things from email and facebook. Yesterday I didn’t do very much except gel at the hotel and catch up on all my reading that I had left. I woke up, ate a free breakfast (the hotel provides every day) and then got a shower. After, I walked around town a little, stopped in the tourist shops I missed on the first day, determined I have already bought enough to bring back, and headed back to the hotel. I took a nap, snacked on some fruit, got pizza at Dominos for dinner and then watched a movie on tv with the group. Dr. Cunningham bought us popcorn and cookies- YUM! Today, I don’t have too much planned, some of the girls are going bungee jumping and they just got on the bus that will take them to the place. I’d prefer to keep my feet on the ground though- that’s a bit extreme for me. Tomorrow I’m going to roll down the hill in the zorb or the ogo (it’s the same thing, one might be cheaper though). I’ll definitely take pictures and video of that!

Since I’m a day or so behind, I guess I need to talk about what a cool experience I had on Saturday. First, we went to the Maori museum and had a guided tour. Unfortunately, they were renovating their east wing of the exhibit hall and we didn’t get to see any Maori artifacts. But our tour guide was very thorough about all the history and information surrounding the bathhouses that were built in the early 19th century. When the English started to settle in New Zealand, they made a treaty with the Maori to share the land and the hot mineral springs. The English built bathhouses for people to use as healing measures. They became super popular after WWI when all the wounded soldiers would come to soak in the sulfur water (the doctors back then claimed that the water had special medicine that would heal any ailment). After the depression though, the bathhouses didn’t see many visitors and the English let them deteriorate. Just recently, maybe 50 years or so ago, the New Zealand government paid Rotorua to restore the bathhouses (not to their original condition or for use) so that the tourists who come from all around the world could experience and learn about why they were so popular back in the day. It was a pretty interesting tour with lots of facts and I learned so much about the history of the Maori and their encounters with the English and tourists.

We had a few hours in between the tour at the museum and dinner so I came back, took a shower (and a nap in Dr. Cunningham’s room since ours was too loud to sleep) and then got ready to wait on the bus. The Maori place sent a van to pick us up at the hotel and we rode about 10 minutes down the road to the Maori reservation. When we got there, we checked in and were seated at our tables; it was just like a big hut with a lot of dining tables placed around inside. It was supposed to be outside, but it was pouring rain all of Saturday, so they could let us get soaked. We were given ponchos and walked down a forest path to the river where a huge Maori war boat came floating down with Maori warriors chanting and singing. They got out and we followed them to a shelter/stage area where they sang, danced, and gave speeches. (I got everything on video, so as soon as I compile all the parts and make it into a movie, I’ll put it up on facebook). I learned about their culture, history, and even about their games and weapons. After the presentation, we were ushered back in the dining area and ate a buffet style Maori dinner. Man, was it good! There was roasted chicken and lamb, potatoes that were roasted and steamed, some with cheese covering them, salad, rice, stuffing, and so much more that I can’t remember. Then for dessert we ate a chocolate log and it was soooo good. Afterward, we went on a 20 minute nature walk (in the rain) to see the glow worms. Everyone was given a flashlight and when we got down the river we all turned off our lights to see the glow worms. It was so beautiful, there were thousands of worms all over the place, some even in the water and they made the ripples in the water look amazing. They were in the trees and all along the path, it was just gorgeous!

I might be going to a kiwi reservation today to see baby kiwis (and various other New Zealand animals) so that should be super fun! It’s raining here again and it’s getting colder. As we travel south it will keep getting colder too. It’s supposed to be snowing in Dunedin when we are there, which is only about a week from now. It feels like I’ve been here for so long, I’m getting used to all the customs and even some of the language. Did you know they call their shopping carts “trundles” or “trolleys”?? I can’t believe my trip is ending in less than two weeks now, I’ll be sad to leave. But there’s still so much to get into between now and then so let’s see what adventure is next!

June 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

June 3- Sulfur City, Vegas, or otherwise known as Rotorua

Today I woke up in a slightly grumpy mood. I was very ready to leave the hostel, there were so many people there in the kitchen (when my mood started) and two weeks is just about my limit to live somewhere like that. I’m not sure if I wrote a lot about what the conditions were like, but I’ll tell you what got annoying. My room was right across the hall from the community shower stall and “toilet” stalls. They don’t call them bathrooms or restrooms here, you don’t bath or rest in a room with just a toilet. So we could constantly hear the doors shut at all hours of the night. Not to mention, they were pretty gross. My first shower was wonderful- I had been in my clothes for about two days straight from all the plane rides and it felt so good to be clean. After that though, everything gross became super noticeable. I think these past two weeks; I have taken the fastest showers ever just to be back in the room and out of the stalls. The hallway ALWAYS smelled so bad, like B.O. so we didn’t spend much time there. The kitchen and eating area was super big, but there were always so many people crowded around, getting food out of their cubbies, using the sinks and stoves, and just hanging out. Needless to say, I was ready for a change of scenery.

We were supposed to take a van (that seated about 10, which is our entire group) on the four hour bus ride to Rotorua. Cameron, our bus driver was super super awesome and brought a huge bus for our travel day. Everyone had about 4 seats to themselves and it was so nice to spread out and take pictures on the way there. We stopped at the Shire’s Rest and went on the Hobbiton tour. That was sooo cool! Unfortunately, we had to sign a waiver stating that everything we saw and heard wouldn’t be publically displayed until the second Hobbit movie was released. But I can put up all the sheep pictures I took! The set of the movie is right on a sheep farm and there were probably about 500 sheep just walking around the whole time we were there (had to watch where we stepped though!).

After our tour, we got back on the bus and rode for another two hours to Rotorua. Once we got there, we checked into our HOTEL (such a nice upgrade) and figured out who was sleeping where. There are three rooms, Dr. Cunningham gets her own room, and there are seven of us with four beds, a trundle, and a couch between the two rooms. So, I’m in a double with Beth and everyone else split it up the way they wanted. I think it will probably work out, no one seems upset with the situation. Although Ethan is sleeping outside a room of girls on the couch, that should be interesting.

The main street of Rotorua is about 15 blocks long and there are all kinds of shops around. I went window shopping with a few girls from my group, we stopped in some souvenir places and I got a few little trinkets to remember my trip when I go home. It was getting to be dinner time, so we ate at this cute café called Fat Dog. There was so much to look at on the menu; it took us about 10 minutes to decide just what we wanted. I ordered a roast chicken Panini and it was delicious! It had chicken, cream cheese, red onions, mango slices, and peace sauce. It was very big too and I was a happy camper after I cleaned the plate! I didn’t do much else after dinner except repack my suitcase (after I took out five outfits for the time we are here) and then it’s to bed! Tomorrow is going to be a very full day… Maori museum at 11 and then Maori dinner at 5:45. I’m sure there’ll be lots to say about that!

June 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

June 2- Packing

Today was awesome!!! I got up and got ready, made my last lunch for school and then ate some oatmeal. I walked down to Starbucks with Beth and discovered that they don’t take gift cards over here. So I paid for my coffee frap and then walked to the bus stop. When we got to school, I headed straight to the kitchen because our group was fixing tea as a surprise to the faculty. We made apple and current scones, baked brie (cheese), cookies, and cheese with crackers. It took about two hours (which was perfect because tea was at 11) and three of us were working in the kitchen cooking things. During this time, I had to make two more slides for my movie that played today during the news. Everyone loved it!! Even the assistant principal said that it was awesome. Dr. Cunningham asked me to do an independent study with her next spring which will be awesome!! I’ll be working with the 307 technology elementary education juniors, helping them make photo stories, bulletins, newsletters, and websites. On top of that, I’ll be learning how to write grants (since she’s the head of the department and elementary ed. coordinator) and that’s part of her job, so I’ll be responsible to help with that aspect. I am soo excited! I also got invited to go to a technology conference in the Midwest next June after I graduate. Dr. Cunningham and Mrs. Burt (a nationally known technology coordinator in New Zealand) are going and Mrs. Burt requested that I attend to keep the global connection between Pt. England and where ever I end up working.

Anyway, apart from all the great and exciting news (feel free to ask questions, I know that’s a lot of information to throw out at once), my afternoon was great too! Mrs. Burt has a daughter named Georgie who teaches at a brand new school called Stoneleigh Primary about 10 miles down the road from Pt. England. Dr. Cunningham was going to visit the campus with Mrs. Burt and asked me to come along (since I was in the staff room just catching up on reading) and gladly I went! We drove over there and it is completely amazing! There are tons of pictures that are posted on facebook, everyone should check it out! Since it’s new, there are only 74 students enrolled in the entire school (year 1-8) and they have a few grades clumped together being taught by one teacher. Georgie teaches years 2-4 and has 12 students. There are 24 in the cluster or classroom area, but another teacher works with her so they split the class and rotate students depending on what subject is being taught at the time. Everything is top of the line, state of the art technology and they way they are teaching (instruction focused on the student and inquiry based learning) is so amazing to watch and learn about. I definitely have many ideas on different pedagogy and teaching styles that I will be implementing into my student teaching!

Dinner was super good last night. A kiwi farmer’s dinner consists of: roasted potatoes and bananas, green peas, broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce, a certain kind of mushroom, and roasted lamb with sauce. It was sooo delicious! Then for dessert, we had pavlova with kiwis and chocolate fish (which are strawberry marshmallows covered in chocolate).  I was stuffed by the time we left. I came back and packed up my bag, rolled up all my clothes and made everything fit back in my suitcase. Tomorrow we are leaving around 9am in a van and heading to Rotorua. It’s about a four hour drive, but we are stopping at Matamata at the Shire’s Rest for a Hobbiton tour. It’s about 2 hours and we will get to see where they filmed Lord of the Rings. It also includes visiting a sheep farm, so that should be pretty cool! Unfortunately, my USB card I bought for internet doesn’t work there (it only picks up internet in the four big cities in the country). So I won’t be posting for about five days, until Wednesday afternoon, or Tuesday night in the states. I’ll take lots of notes and pictures though and have them up as soon as possible when I get to Wellington. I’m planning on doing the Zorb while I’m in Rotorua, which should be super fun. I’ll have someone video it so it’ll be on facebook! Check it out: http://www.zorb.com/ Other than that, this weekend is all about relaxation and rest. It’s been a super busy two weeks so it will be nice to take a break and just enjoy the country. Monday is the Queen’s birthday, so everyone is on holiday. I’m sure Rotorua will be packed with tourists! Saturday we are going on a tour of the Maori museum and then we are eating an authentic Maori dinner at their reservation. I’ll be sure to take lots of good pictures, if it’s allowed! I’m having a lot of fun, but I’m definitely ready to be boarding the plane back home. Miss all of you!!


June 2, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

June 1- First day of Winter

I have done sooo much reading today! It’s been a long day in the staffroom, that’s for sure. I didn’t get much sleep last night, even though I went to bed pretty early around 10. The other girls were in and out and then something super confusing happened around 3am. So I was sleeping and I heard some phone beeping and woke up. One of the girls was moving around and grabbed her shower bag, towel, opened the door and disappeared for about 30 minutes. I had fallen asleep again, but woke up when she came back. I heard her move around for about another 20 minutes, getting dressed, fixing her hair, doing her makeup, all kinds of morning activities. The whole time, I keep checking my iPod and counting back 8 hours to make sure that it really was only 3am in the morning and I wasn’t super confused on the time. Then strangely, she took off her clothes, put on pjs and then climbed in bed and turned off the light. I had absolutely no idea about what was going on, but finally I fell back asleep. This morning I woke up and got a shower myself and when she was up and moving around, I asked her what in the world happened last night. She got really confused too, thought it was 6:30am and that she was going to be late getting downstairs to the bus. So, she took a full shower and got completely ready, just to turn around and go right back to bed for another 3 hours. Needless to say, I don’t feel so bad about getting my laundry mixed up now.

I’m almost finished with my assigned reading, I’ll be taking the test probably next Monday. Whenever Dr. Cunningham gets finished writing it, I’ll be taking it! We’ve been collaborating about it for a few days now, so I’m not too worried about it. Grilled cheese sandwiches went really well, they were a great hit! I think I made about 20 in 10 minutes! It was crazy in that kitchen, but it’s big enough, (bigger than King Drug) so it went great!

My movie went really well, it is going to be shown on their news in school tomorrow. It’s called PENN and all the students on the news crew are completely responsible for compiling videos, music, and recording themselves. It’s really awesome! But to answer the question, YES! I will be able to show it when I get home. If I can, I’ll post it up on facebook for you all to see even easier. It might be too big though. I’ll figure it out.

Tonight, we are going to eat at the Burt’s house, the principal and the ICT (techonology) person, his wife. We are supposedly eating “a kiwi farmer’s dinner” and I have NO idea what all that means, but I’ll post on that tomorrow. I’m probably going to be in the staff room again tomorrow until I complete all my reading, hopefully I can get it all finished! (Well I know I can and will, just depends on when). If anything interesting happens from now and then, I’ll post another blog! Friday, we are leaving to head to Rotorua for a few days, then to Wellington, Dunedin and HOME on the 17th! I love it here, but I’m ready to be back too! Today is the first day of winter here, so I’m going to be shocked by the weather when I get off the plane!

June 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments