Fun fact: the internet in my flat is too slow to upload photos and I never remember to bring my lap top to campus because apparently I am the last student left who takes notes by hand. So now you are stuck with more random stories and a confused timeline spanning a week and a half-ish.
“Okay, cool Natalie. But should I be worried that you’re not smart enough to count or walk up stairs anymore”~ You probably after reading my title
Good news! You don’t have to worry about me! Just the people of New Zealand who don’t know how to number their floors. So picture this: you walk into a building to meet with a prof and your group for a project meeting and before hand the prof says “hey my office is on the second floor” okay cool see you there bro. So you naturally go up one flight of stars and start wandering for office 2.11 but all the doors are 1.xx . Hm thats odd, I wonder if there are two wings to this building. WRONG!! The first floor of all buildings is floor “G” aka ground floor. Which is no big deal as long as the 2nd flood of the building is actually the second floor. Well jokes on me for thinking that because obviously the level above level G is floor one. So floor 2 is naturally the 3rd level. And so on and so forth. And yeah I know maybe its just that one wonky building. Nope, its all of them! So now when going up stairs not only do I have to think about what floor I’m on but I also have to remember to walk on the left side! It is too much!! And the lovely people in the library I run into on my way up and down the stairs everyday are racking up injuries by the flight. Get your floors together New Zealand. Learn to count!
Okay enough with me and my stair problems, we last left off with me prepping curl and luge, because that is the very first activity anyone thinks of when they think about New Zealand.
Sunday July 9th :
We leave Otago at 9ish (I think, I just know it felt early). Then rode two hours to Naseby which is the middle of nowhere New Zealand (aka the wop-wops! [best word EVER!!]). Good news here is that the middle of nowhere New Zealand means abandon parts of the coast and pretty views of sheep and mountain, which is soooooo much better than corn fields! Anyway, we make it eventually and I get put on team curling. Which is amazing duh! Statistically curling is the sport you are most likely to make the olympics for if you haven’t played your entire life (so be prepared for my olympic medals to roll in soon). So as you can ascertain from my great confidence, I have zero natural talents at curling. We are talking, I face planted at one point, lack of talent. But this just when I was throwing the stone (sliding, pushing, I don’t know the terminology but throwing sounds cooler). My years of avoiding cleaning and then doing a real quick horrible job when I actually clean has prepared me perfectly for the sweeping portion of the game. This is because most of time you just walk down the ice because your partner threw too hard or if you’re on defense just waiting until the stone gets to the half a foot box where you can sweep for like .5 seconds. The lack of effort and the ratio of standing around time to actual sweeping time is my perfect cleaning style. So due to my masterful sweeping (and the fact that at one point I did throw two scoring stones in one round, I just had to use the kids throwing method to stay up right, plus my teammates had some talent) we won our match. Next though is where everything (unsurprisingly) fell apart. It was time to luge. Now what sounds more my speed than going really fast down a ice track with sharp turns and no room for error! UMMMM NOTHING!! I am the master of calm and delicate movements, graceful is my middle name and smooth is my first. JUST KIDDING ( I know you know this but it is just real important we all understand how poorly the luge went)!!! So we get ugly helmets (guess who only had to wear a medium and not a large! I was shocked too!) and painful shoes with spikes on the heels (guess who had to wear children’s shoes! This time there is no shock.) and are on our way to my death. Our teacher is maybe the most apathetic Swiss man ever (I’m pretty sure he hated me, he literally gave up speaking to me by the end because I was such a lost cause) but he did try initially to care so props to him (16 screaming American 20-ish year olds is annoying for anyone involved)! Now we get our sleds and he starts us on the lowest part of the track where there is just one turn, not bad right? WRONG! That was the start off all my troubles, it is here where I ran into my first wall and started the pattern of my entire day. I did not make this turn, and as we went further and further up the track I did not make one single turn the entire two hours we were out there. I was so bad at one point my sled did a 180 and at multiple points I lost so much momentum by all the wall hitting that I did not have the speed to finish the course ( I also got some sweet, heart stopping, air time). There was lots of high pitched screaming but honestly it was the funnest thing ever!! And I walked away from it with some of the wisest advice I’ve ever received:
“You want to know how you don’t hit the wall? You turn.”
Thank you Mr.Swiss for that deep thought. Once we were done, we hopped on the bus, did some sightseeing, and I got my first real fish and chips!
Nothing super exciting happened because school started and apparently I’m not allowed to fail out. But here is a list of observations about New Zealand schools (I mean maybe its just Otago but I’m going to generalize here and assume these apply everywhere):
- All teachers are not professors (But all professors are teachers, this is not the whole square rectangle thing). You have to earn the title professor, so you start as a lecturer then at some point you’re an assistant professor and somehow you end at professor. I have no clue what the whole process is or what the difference is outside of time, but it is super confusing.
- Good news though! Profs (lects, I don’t know the slang since they aren’t all profs but I like prof so I’m sticking with it) are super informal and are uncomfortable if you call them by their title. I called one Dr. and they were super uncomfortable and made me call them by their first name (I’m sorry Mark, I couldn’t understand your accent so I didn’t know if you were named Mark, Matt, or Mike so I went with Dr.) But to be honest, not being formal freaks me out so I’ve resigned to not using a name when addressing teachers (or just not talking which is fine by me) because I just can’t call a teacher by anything but their last name, it is just too weird.
- Having lectures is not enough teaching. We must have tutorials. While I’m still not 100% clear on what a tutorial is, it appears to be a 15ish person class taught on random (I’m sure they aren’t random but in my head they are) weeks by the NZ equivalent of a TA or the prof if they don’t have anyone to pawn the class off on. But weirdly enough they don’t actually grade you on your work in the class or if you show up so its just a “please come thing”.
- Contemporary American Lit is really just books from the 60s and 70s about California and my lack of having read any of the novels while being an American is very unacceptable to my prof so I better have my citizenship revoked immediately.
- Pretty much everything relates back to America. My global security class (and all of my classes really) continuously relate back to the US. I kind of thought I’d learn about New Zealand , but I was wrong. The Bushes and Obama are really the only people in history and the US is the only state that interacts with other states.(But on the real that class is a lot of fun and we are learning security theory and it’s great, just way more American that I expected)
- You don’t really have to talk in class (best thing about NZ classes). When the teacher asks a question you don’t really have to say anything they will answer in a few seconds and if you raise your hand to answer it is uncomfortable for everyone.
- OH AND THEY DO NOT USE FOLDERS!!! I can’t actually say this with certainty. To be fair this probably isn’t true, but it just feels true. I say this because when I went school supply shopping there were no folders and it was a real traumatizing moment.
- Everyone is pretty sure I’m a spy when I say I study homeland security because apparently they don’t do specific majors you just get really broad subjects and then get an arts or science degree (also I could be wrong but this is what I think happens, I’m still confused because my kiwi flatmate is going to be a lawyer and I think she’s in law school but they don’t have that here so its just called “honors” and adds two years to the usual three years people are here then they graduate as attorneys because there is no bar…I think)
Im sure there is more weird stuff but this is like the third time I’ve sat down to write this so this is all I’ve got right now. Now here is random photos of things from the week:
All that happened out of the ordinary on this day was that my program I came with took us out to dinner and I got a really amazing steak (which now that I cook all my own food, I appreciated not only the free food but not having to cook or do dishes)
First Friday of the semester! I have no classes on Friday so it was mainly spent watching tv and eating during the day. But at night I went to my first rugby game to prepare for August. I learned there that I do not understand rugby but I will learn and that the whole no breaks thing is amazing. 2 hours over 4 is quite nice (sorry NFL, but don’t worry I still love you). Also, fun fact: I thought I went to a University of Otago rugby game, but I was mistaken. Apparently the Highlanders are a pro team who was in need of sponsors, so the school just decided to become one and thats why the school name is on all the gear. Now, all I can think about is what if there was an Ole Miss sponsored pro sports team, because that would be lit. Side note the student section is called the zoo and there is a player named Waisake Naholo (pronounced WhySuckyNahHoleLo) and his name is sung to the beat of 7 Nation Army and it sounds super intense and rude (so naturally I really love it).
This is the day I learned that always being up for an adventure is going to be one of the most important factors of me fully embracing the time I have here (in NZ not on Earth in general. While it is still probably a pretty applicable idea, on Earth sounds like I’m dying and thats a little too dramatic). Anyways, why am I tell you about adventure you ask? Well, my kiwi host had an open seat in her friend’s car on the way to hike the Pineapple Trek (named because tourist kept leaving pineapple tins on the ground because a grocery was giving them out to hikers). Well hopping in the car with a girl I’ve known for 5 days and 4 strangers was a great idea and way less sketchy than it sounds. We hiked 3 mile straight up, there was no flat ground at all (or at least it felt like there wasn’t), it was all up hill, and my legs wanted to die, but it was so worth it!!! The only issue was that when we got close to the top the ground turned to pure snow and ice. There was lots of weird sliding and almost falls by me but I never fell so that was a major win for Team Natalie.(My fancy new hiking shoes [thanks dad!!] probably contributed to that way more than the idea of me becoming graceful human) But once we made it to the top the views were breath taking (honestly the whole hike was beautiful but the 360 view from the top was unlike anything I’ve ever seen). Then the 3 miles down was a complete mess. Walking down ice at a steep incline is somehow harder than trying to go up it, but I never fell (I just go a lot closer than on the way up!) Now I’ll stop boring you with the details and show you pictures of why Dunedin is the perfect town!
Again after this I got back into the school groove and went back to the “having to stay on campus” thing. But I did find some photos from orentation that others had so here is a repeat of moments from the last post, plus two photos of flat bonding.
One class Wednesday is a good day! Hannah and I decided to celebrate at the museum because:
A) Museums are cool.
B) This week is the chocolate festival and if you complete a scavenger hunt at the museum you get free chocolate.
The museum is free but they have a butterfly house and planetarium that you have to pay for (which we did and the lovely people charged us the children ticket price without us saying anything! It was great!) Now the museum was great, but we did get defeated by the scavenger hunt and had to take a break so Hannah could go to class resulting in us rushing back at the end of the day before the museum closed so we could complete the hunt. On the plus side during the break I baked chocolate/white chocolate chip birthday cake cookies (I’ve taken up baking since I’ve been here, I’ve also made lemon bars and a snickerdoodle cake. I have no clue why this started, it a very confusing time for all involved, but everything has eased great so far and no one has been poisoned!).
Well its late and I over explained the last week and a half-ish so I’m sorry but also you’re welcome for my probably not witty comments that made me laugh to myself like a freak while sitting alone in the corner of the library.
Tomorrow is two for one pancakes at a fancy pancake place so my flat is having a group breakfast! Unfortunately this weekend we are supposed to have record breaking rain so my hiking plans have been put on hold and I can’t go to the Jaffa race (I don’t know how to explain it so you’ll just have to look it up and the question why the US is behind on this great sport).
P.S. If you haven’t figured it out Hannah and I are taking photos with as many fake animals as possible so you’re welcome for all that is on its way. There are a lot of photos already but I’m saving them for the cover photos.
P.P.S In the aforementioned photos I am trying to imitate the animals and I am very bad at this so that is why I look deranged in all the photos.
P.P.P.S The whole I am too tired to edit and am sorry for any errors thing still applies.
P.P.P.P.S Again congrats on making it to the ending again! You are still better than me.
P.P.P.P.P.S I really like P.S.es (I don’t know how to make P.S. plural but imagine it is) So this probably isn’t the end of excessive numbers of them.