25 July 2009

A View from the Top

With the second week of classes under my belt, I am starting to get back into the swing of things. Since the town life is non-existent past 5pm I have plenty of time to study study study! Palmerston North is a small quiet town, especially on the weekends! This aspect of Kiwi life is where i have suffered from culture shock. I attempted to have a night on the town on Friday. Generally this would not have proved to be such a difficult task! I was able to find a local show to attend and convinced a few friends from the states to go with me. We were all in various stages of shock when we found the town deserted! The bars were empty, save the numerous older gentlemen who were enjoying a nice quiet chat and a beer or two. The streets could have had tumbleweeds blowing across them, as we were the only people walking around town.

{Don't worry, it was perfectly safe. We stayed together as a group, and traveled on the main roads under the lights!}

Although I am living in a different country, I don't feel like an 'international'. Life as a kiwi is quiet similar to the country life in America. So each time that i receive a double-take from a shop clerk, or the first time i spoke in any of my classes and all the heads turned to stare at me, felt quite ridiculous! Hailing from the Midwest, I have never thought of myself to have an accent and yet I am reminded of how 'foreign' i sound nearly every day with each new person i meet. To me it is the oddest feeling.

I went exploring a different side of the campus and found a hiking trail in what feels like the 'tropical' area. Here is one of my new favorite spots. The bridge overlooking the river is covered by the dense brush and palm trees are scattered along both sides of the river.

The next photo is a view from atop one of the large hills on campus. It is overlooking half of Massey University. I love it because you can see the Tararua Hills in the background. The hills surround the city, and on a clear day you can see them from any point in town. It is a view I doubt I could tire from.

22 July 2009

NZ Crosswalks

This is my favorite sound in Palmy:

The crosswalk noises are so much fun! I feel like I am in a giant game of Frogger each time I hear it. It never gets old!

20 July 2009

Manawatu River Walk Photos

Nearly everyone has a lemon bush in their yard! I thought they were oranges at first glance but upon further inspection, it was decided they are lemons.

I love feeling dwarfed by the trees.

Manawatu River Walk

Life in New Zealand is quite stress free. Perhaps this is due to my lack of job or car, because overall, i only *have* to go to 1 or 2 classes a day. Regardless, I am starting to love love love living here!

A University Education in New Zealand only lasts about 3 years. Even more incredible is that during all 3 yrs, all the classes taken are directly related to your major! As a result, it is rare that students intending to live and work in NZ need any further education. This is amazing to me! It is such a contrast!

The papers (classes) I am taking are going to be challenging and fun!

Travel Writing- a critical analysis of travel writing authors; then we get to try it on our own! One of the books assigned is The Happy Isles of Oceania, Paddling the Pacific by Paul Theroux. So far I am enjoying it!

Phonology-the study of the sounds of language-which, ironically is being taught by an American from Cleveland!

Cross-Cultural Communication- geared toward business majors but i feel is useful for anyone looking to work internationally. Here our big project is to pick a location, research about the cultural practices and give a briefing to the class and prepare them to go to that location.

Environmental Anthropology- This is looking to be a favorite! Here we discuss how people shape the environment and how the environment shapes people. My professor for this class just finished her PhD on the topic of how the people of Bouma National Heritage Park in Taveuni, Fiji negotiate new knowledge introduced by community based development within their own world views. Since she has done considerable research on a community in Fiji, she is very knowledgeable about the importance of language preservation and is turning out be a valuable source of information for me!

And on to something less boring:

A few cultural differences:

Kiwi- a fruit but also how the people of NZ refer to themselves

It is not unusual to see a Kiwi walking barefoot in public places. Even in the cold; There are a few how insist on wearing shorts!

Also the men wear short, shorts. There is even a construction worker on campus who is always wearing shorts! They fall mid thigh, and it was strange at first, but now is common place.

Look left first, then right when crossing the street. I am finally starting to get the hang of it! It is the most bizarre thing to get in the habit of!

Certain cross-walks here make me feel like i'm in a video game!

Most business close at 5pm, and hardly anything is open on Sunday.

Item that would normally be cheap at home are expensive here! and there isn't a wide selection of items. For example; face wash and shampoo; instead of an entire wal-mart style isle of them, there is one small section with probably 7 options instead of 17.

Most of the produce is locally grown and the wind turbines on the surrounding hills provide most of the city's energy. Recycling is a way of life, not a privilege. As a result there are more items packaged in cardboard boxes or glass instead of plastic over everything.

Burger King; is the King of American fast food here.

everything is small; from cars to houses to food portions nothing is really 'super-sized'. Everything is just what you need, and nothing more. Even the 'fancy houses' are an average sized house back home. It is this quaintness that makes it easy to fall in love with your surroundings.

Here are a few photos from a walk along the Manawatu River. This river separates Massey University from the rest of town. Here is a link to a few fun facts about the River.

15 July 2009

Down on the Farm

During Orientation, We were given a tour of the working farms on campus. Massey University started out as an agricultural school, and so animal science and Farm technology have a big place here. It was only a 5 min drive outside of campus, and again the scenery was gorgeous!

There are two kinds of farms on campus; dairy and sheep. While the dairy farm wasn't anything new, the sheep farm was intriguing. We witnessed a slight sheep shearing, {i think they call it crunching, its not a full shearing, just the underbelly and rear}, and saw the dogs heard the sheep. I'd say the most fun, was going to these places with the Chinese students. For most of them, this is the first time they've traveled outside of China, and the first time they were up close and personal with farm animals. They really enjoyed it!

14 July 2009

The Arboretum

Perhaps today wasn't the best day for a walk, as it was a chilly 48F with a nice cold wind and a slight drizzle, but i couldn't stay cooped up!

Below is a common bird on campus, especially outside my dorm. Introducing, the Australian Magpie! They have the a beautiful song, which they sing quite loudly at dawn and dusk, and other various times of the day! Apparently, they can be quite aggressive, however the Magpies I have seen have been rather tame.

Next is a series of photos taken during my walk in the University's Arboretum. Its becoming one of my favorite places to walk in, and I hope you'll soon agree!

Daisy, The New Zealand dandelion

Next are a few shots of the Australian Black Swan. Its quite a stunning species, and again tends to be aggressive. Watch Out!

08 July 2009

Day 1

Below is a map of New Zealand. Palmerston North is located near the bottom of the North Island.

Below is a view of my dorm, also known as a hostel:

hang drying is not the only option, I must say, I was relieved! This building is the common room for all the inhabitants of Rotary Court.

This is a view from just out the dorm. There is a lovely grove of trees that overlooks this bluff and then the river down below. There are plenty of happy palm trees and ferns all around. Its rather off-putting as its quite chilly here. Normally I associate summer, warm, and tropical with palm trees.

This is another view around campus, near one of the many bus stops. I really enjoy the soft rolling hills. They sneak up on you when you least expect it!

Here is a pond in the center of the square, downtown Palmerston North. This is the heart of the downtown. Its a beautiful location with plenty of shops surrounding it. Normally, when i envision a downtown area, skyscrapers and noisy traffic come to mind. That is not the case here. There are a few tall buildings, but not really a skyline so to speak. The shops and businesses surround the square and expand outward. Most buildings are only 2-3 stories. There are a few exceptions, but they seem to be scattered throughout the town, with little rhyme or reason.

This is a beautiful church located just outside the city square.

This is a shot down one of the streets. As you can see there is very little traffic. Pedestrians have the right of way when crossing, although if there is a stop light, its easier to cross there. But if there is a crosswalk, make it snappy and get across the street so as not to annoy the drivers! The driving patterns is opposite here than back home. At first, driving to the campus from the airport was strange, as i sat in what i know to be the drivers seat, however here, is the passenger seat. Thankfully most roads are one way, so its quite easy to get around.

A lot of the trees look like the one above. Its rather reminiscent of an overgrown bonsai tree.

This is just outside the Palmerston North City Council Building. It also showcases the variety of plants that grown here.

Above features a fountain located in the center of the square. the following photos will show the inscription.

above is the public library. Its quite modern on the inside as well. They have free internet access, and a great cafe as well as books, cds, dvds, and magazines.

This is a sculpture just outside the doors of the public library. I found it quite intriguing!

This is another sculpture I found while wondering around downtown.

And at the end of the day, I was greeted with a beautiful rainbow!
The flight to San Fran was easy and almost uneventful. There was a minor delay in Denver, however after an hour waiting on the tarmac for take off, it was smooth sailing! {Only minor turbulence of course!}

During my layover in San Fran, Marcia was kind enough to show around the city. It was a great tour! Here are a few of my Favorite shots!

Here are great views of the city:

This is a view of Coit Tower and the Bay Bridge


A view of Alcatraz

Coit Tower and in the middle you can also see the Saints Peter and Paul Church

and of course the Golden Gate Bridge amid the fog!

above are two views of the crookedest street! The flowers are just lovely!

Taken at Fisherman's Wharf

a look back at the city from Fisherman's Wharf

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Ghiradelli Square! After having a scrumptious snack, we headed up Lombard St. Ugh!

The hills almost killed me but as you can see from the photos before, it was well worth the view!

Grace Cathedral in Knob Hill. Stunning!

China Town was stunning! I love all the colors and the hustle and bustle was fun to be apart of. The fresh markets were everywhere and the produce looked scrumptious!

Iconic Pyramid

A beautiful Church in North Beach

This is a great Italian Deli in North Beach, near where we had lunch. In each neighborhood you can really get lost in the culture.

I thought this was very interesting. This is inside the cable car museum and is how the cable cars are powered. It was very noisy and smelly inside, I'm glad we only stayed long enough to snap this photo!

and of course no trip to San Fran would be complete without hopping on a cable car!