Yesterday I went for a paddle at Mahagano (the whitewater course), and after dinner hung out with some of the paddlers. We went to a costume party (sans costumes), wandered around with some people we didn't know, almost got into a fight (we ran, whee!), went to the pubs, and generally had a good time.
Another shot of the beach and the dunes.
Last night I went to go see A Shaggy Dog Story at the Centrepoint theatre in town. The show was good, not knock-my-socks-off-amazing, but it was entertaining. They had one excellent actor and no bad ones. It was also kiwi written, produced, and acted, so it was cool to get some local flavor in it. Afterwards I hung out with a couple of the actors and we talked about the states v. new zealand, theatre here versus theatre there, etc. I may meet up with them after their show on Saturday and go out for drinks with them. Should be a good time.
Today is clubs day, where all of the different clubs are out on the concourse trying to get people to sign up. It was interesting; clubs day at CSB/SJU is a lot bigger deal than it is here. Anyway, I'm already in the alpine club, and I also joined the drama club (I may do some writing for them) and KAOS (killing as an organised sport), in which a bunch of people get together, shoot each other with NERF guns and squirt guns, then go have a party. Our first meeting is on Saturday. I also talked to a guy about Mages, a role playing/Magic/geek gathering that happens once a week. I may have to go to that as well.
Here are a couple shots from the Bliss Stick factory; I think they have the best view of any factory I've ever seen.
I made it out to the whitewater course today and gave the new boat a good workout. The guy I paddled with was sponsered for awhile and is much better than I am, which is a good sort of paddling buddy to have. I should be able to buy a paddle and a PFD from one of his flatmates, and then I'll be all set. I really like my boat so far; it's got the right amount of volume for me and it feels like it should open up the doors to a lot of different freestyle moves. We'll see how things go.
It seems like my photos are running about a week behind everything else, mainly due to the hassle of getting them from my camera to the web, via a friend's laptop, then a flash drive, then finally to this webpage. Anyway, this first shot is of me, when we were at the beach last weekend. Pretty classy.
I had a bit of an adventure this weekend when I made a pilgrimage to bliss stick kayaks (http://www.blissstick.com) to pick up a boat. It involved meeting the owner of the company, crashing on one of the designers' couches, considering buying a life jacket from a guy before he goes off to prison, and getting dumped off by a pair of skiiers in the middle of nowhere. It was quite the trip. I ended up with a great boat for a price I could afford. I didn't even have to take the bus.
This is a shot of zorbing, which I think I talked about earlier. It was during our orientation week; it basically involved being thrown into one of these big balls with two other people and a bucket of water, then they send you flying down the hill. Apparantly it's the only place in the world that it can be done. Pretty cool stuff. It was a good ride, but it's not something I'd line up to do every weekend.
This was our crew when we were caving, also during our orientation week. I was slow with the photos because they're all from Allison's camera, and they were photos that I didn't take. We were happy to have the wetsuits; the whole rapelling-down-waterfalls thing would have been pretty damn cold without them.
Hopefully this afternoon I'll be able to go paddling; I went into Mountain Equiptment, the local gear store, and talked to one of the employees who is apparantly a big paddler, as are all of his flatmates. They hit the whitewater course a few times a week, so it looks like I'll have plenty of paddling hookups. Yay.
I agree with the guy, but feel free to voice your own opinions. I think the logic is pretty airtight.
The kitchen in my flat. The toaster is funky in that when it pops the bread up the elements don't turn off, resulting in the bottom half of your bread/toast being burned beyond all recognition if you're not paying attention. Trust me. I've been there.
I feel like I'm finally starting to establish myself around here. I went kayaking last night (Vahoo!) at the nearby whitewater park with one of the locals. He found a boat, paddle, and PFD for me to use and showed me around. It was great to be back out on the water and meeting people. It turns out that his regular paddling buddy just left for a year and he's been looking for people to head out to the park with . And here I am. Playboating-wise we're both about at the same level, just working out cartwheels. He doesn't creek much, but that's not a huge issue for the rivers that are around here. It just means I'll probably have to find someone else if I want a partner for the south island.
I have my books now ($200 or so, byebye). Things are a bit different out here, no quizzes, only a couple assingments per class per semester, and then a big final exam (60% of your grade, usually). It could be good or bad, depending on how things go.
This is where babies are made.
In other news, I've started classes. Though there are more people on campus now, it's definately not the population explosion I expected. I'm not quite sure where everybody is. I suppose it's somewhat like school in Minnesota; everybody seems to show up once the weather gets nice.
My Organisational Comm. class should be pretty standard for communications classes; interesting, but not enthralling. My travel writing class should be really good though, especially since some of my writing will be fodder for my thesis. I haven't had my Ethics class yet; it's scheduled for Thursday, but apparantly there's a teacher's union strike tomorrow, so we'll see what happens. I'll be climbing tonight at the wall with the alpine club, which should be a good time. This weekend I'm planning on finally getting a boat and doing some paddling, which should be great.
Here's a self-shot at the Massey Climbing Wall (where I'm actually headed after I type this). I like the wall; lots of bouldering and overhangs, which we don't have much of at SJU.
Went to the ocean today with a group of expatriats. It was a nice beach, but cold and windy, with lots of sand blowing off the dunes and into my eyes, it seemed. The surf was small but it looks like it'd be a decent reef break if the swell was right.
Last night we watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Great movie, but a bit hard to watch since I saw it for the first time with Courtney and there are some cute scenes in it. And Courtney is 7,000 miles away. Boo.
Classes start tomorrow. After all of the scheduling issues things are finally sorted out; I have Travel Writing, Pratical Ethics, Organizational Communication, and my thesis for SJU. Should be a good semester.
This shot was from a hike we took today. It was a nice walk, though most of it was through foliage so thick it was almost like a rainforst. Cool stuff, though the views weren't too great. The river we were hiking along could be a great whitewater river if it had about 2-3 times the volume.
Last night we went to town and bar-hopped for awhile. I was even denied access to one bar due to the fact that my shoes and pants (the ones with the patches) were "too casual." The place had $5 beers anyway, so it wasn't a big loss. I just went back to the previous bar and played another game of pool. We also met one of the locals and hung out with him for awhile; he gave us a pretty good overview of the town. Where people went, what certain pubs were like, etc. Good guy.
I've been settling in pretty well, and hopefully within the week I'll have a boat, PFD, and paddle, so next weekend I'll be able to start hitting the rivers. Transportation is a bit of a hassle without a car, but hopefully I'll manage to meet some kiwi paddling friends. Otherwise I can start hopping busses; I'll get by one way or the other.
Tomorrow (sunday, for me) will probably be bumming around pretty close to home; not enough time to make a big excursion. This morning we went to the farmer's market, which will have to be a weekly ritual. Great, fresh produce and all pretty cheap, or at least cheaper than the grocery stores.
So yeah, all is well in NZ.
I've been sort of manic-depressive lately; at times I'm really liking this whole study aborad thing, but other times I feel like I'm halfway to packing my bags. I think things will pick up quite a bit once the student population shows up; 30,000 people dropping into the city should change things quite a bit. Hopefully then I'll start making paddling and surfing contacts and things will take off. Hopefully.
That's about it for now; I feel like I'm doing pretty well but really want to get out onto the water, especially since I found the New Zealand Whitewater Guide and have been sitting around salivating at the river descriptions. I've got a whitewater park 20 minutes away. The place is rigged with floodlights that I can turn on for an hour and a half for $5 for nighttime paddling. The ocean's also not too far away, with tons of surf kayaking and I've got world class rivers within an easy 2 hour drive. Just no boat. Yet.
Turns out the Irish flatmate is indeed an English flatmate.
I climbed at the rock gym yesterday and lost my watch amidst the giant piles of foam on the floor. I found it about an hour later, along with $11 in change. Sweet.
I also made dinner last night with some curry paste left over from the flat's previous occupants. Turns out it wasn't minnesota-hot curry paste like I'm used to, but honest-to-god-thai-atomic-hot curry paste. I ate dinner alongside a cup of yogurt and a bowl of ice cream. Then this morning I learned that hot curry burns both coming in and going out.
Studying abroad is informative.
We also found the local rock gym, and it turns out the owner is the sponsor of the Massey University Alpine Club (MUAC). He told us about the club, which is 250 strong of paddlers, climbers, skiiers/snowboarders, and hikers. I'm going to their meeting once class is back in session. I may even go back there and climb this afternoon.
Our final roommate has also arrived, leaving us with three americans, two germans, and one irish flatmate. Should be a good group.
I also watched Garden State last night. It was pretty "meh." I was pretty tired at the time though. I'm trying to get myself on a semi-normal sleeping pattern; up until last night I've been going to bed around 9 and waking up around 6:30. Today I finally slept in until 8:30. yay!
Now it's time for some breakfast.
The flight was better than I expected; I was in the very back row so I had lots of room to recline, and I ended up being seated next to a creative writing professor from Brisbine. I slept pretty solidly, helped along by a little bottle of wine and a couple of sleeping pills.
I met up with a group of AustraLearn students headed to three Universities; we've been staying at a hostel in Rotoroua, a town big with tourists due to adventure tourism and the town's hot springs. We saw sheep shearing, went zorbing (rolling down a hill in a giant inflateable ball), saw a Maori cultural evening (a bit eerie, like a living natural history museum), went caving (in a wet cave, wearing wetsuits, crawing through little tunnels, rapelling down waterfalls), had some great meals, and chilled out in our naturally heated pool. It's been a lot of fun.
Today we all head off to Uni; I think 8 or 9 of us are on a bus to Palmerston North. I'll try to get another update out when I get settled in.