Archive for the ‘Kelsey in New Zealand’ Category

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Kelsey: Rugby madness!

November 6, 2011
So many people (including myself before this trip) from home have no idea that there is a “Rugby World Cup” (RWC) and that even the U.S. has a team! Well it just so happens that the entire RWC was held in New Zealand this year and there were numerous games played all around the country including in Dunedin. I had seen an All Blacks game in the beginning of the year (remember when I forgot my camera?) and wasn’t keen on seeing anymore rugby at first, but that was before I watched any of the RWC games and fell completely in love.

I watched most of the games online but when I got the opportunity to go to one of the games with Steph and Dan, I took it and it was so worth it! We had the choice to either have the cheaper tickets or tickets that were 10$ more and have the chance of getting better seats so we took that latter option and ended up getting front row tickets to the game with England vs Georgia which was so cool to see! Games atmospheres are a bit different here but being at a RWC game was definitely cool and it was crazy to see how big these rugby men (and how good looking they are ) up close.

The rest of the games I just watched on TV, and continued to grow as a fan and great timing to be an All Black fan because they ended up getting all the way to the final, and winning! Me and a couple friends were down in the Octagon (downtown Dunedin) watching the final game and when the final seconds passed with the All Blacks beating France by one point, the town went crazy with everyone screaming and throwing their hands in the air in excitement. The town was painted black with the bars absolutely packed (mind you, it was still a Sunday night!) and when me and some other girls went home around 2 AM, the Octagon was still absolutely packed with people.
It was a very unique and exciting experience to be in New Zealand (where rugby is the determinant of the country’s happiness pretty much) with the RWC going on, let alone when New Zealand actually wins the entire tournament! It’s been so much fun to be a part of the excitement and the whole tournament and the celebrations. This country is so in love (and borderline obsessed) with rugby it’s great to be a part of that passion.
GO ALL BLACKS!
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Kelsey: Camping the Caitlins

November 3, 2011
One adventure I went on about a month ago was me and other 3 girls (Anna, Tor and Steph) all hopping into Dan’s car (after particular packing by Anna) and headed down to Purakaunui Bay where we would spend the weekend camping. We got to the camp ground just an hour or so before sunset so we had plenty of time to set up camp before the sun went down. Us girls left it up to the men to find out when of the spots on the campground was going to be the best for the weekend. The men proceeded to do the most manly thing possible and drive through a stream that they didn’t bother to check the depth of before, hit a rock on the way over while making a huge splash and realize that it will be even harder to get back over stream after their ride around the beach. Before going back over they actually decided to check the water depth and where there weren’t very many rocks.

After the tiny river debacle we started setting up the tents and ran into another problem. One of the two tents that we brought required 3 poles, of which we only had 1. So instead of setting of the tent in the grass by itself, we were forced to place it in between 4 trees so conveniently placed in a cluster so once again we handed the reigns off to the boys to do their fancy work and the tent ended up looking like this…

In order to actually get in the tent you had to crawl on your stomach and slip up into it but it worked fine for the whole weekend and we were lucky that we didn’t have to do that for both tents! After the tents were set up it was time to gather some firewood and sit by the fire to relax before our planned day the next day. Throughout the night more and more people showed up that were friends with Dan’s friend who we met up with so by the time we went to bed it was a party out on the campground with people everywhere and music thumping. We managed to get a few hours of sleep before getting woken up by the early bird campers and the sunrise. 

Saturday morning me and Anna got to walk on the beach before most everyone else got up and then Steph and Tor met us down on the beach where we walked around for a bit and got a bit close to a couple sea lions. After some breakfast Dan, Anna, Dan’s buddy Jay got suited up in wetsuits and went diving to sea if they could spear any fish or gather some Paua.On the way over to the place where they would all be getting in the water we were all walking over some rocky areas and Steph (behind me at this point) decided that she was going to walk on the grass instead and pretty much stepped on a giant sea lion that proceeded to growl at her which made her jump and literally run across these rocks screaming.  They didn’t get to spear anything but gathered about a dozen or so Paua that we watched them gut and got to pick out our favourite designed shells since Paua shells are known for their colourful shells. 

After being there for a bit we decided to go back to the campsite to have an early lunch before heading out on the ocean for some more activities. Lunch consisted of the Paua that the boys got which I thought was pretty gross (VERY fishy tasting) but the boys loved it. After lunch we all got wetsuits on in preparation to go out on the kayak and hopefully get a bit of fishing in. It was me and Dan to go first since Dan has the most experience and I called dibs. We carried the kayak out there to about waste deep and Dan is giving me this worried look and says that he’s not sure we should be attempting it and we could try later, to which I replied that it’s totally fine and I didn’t feel like dying today anyways. But knowing both my stubborn personality and Dan’s adventurous personality, we decided to just go for it anyways with his warning that I will be doused in the front seat and that I shouldn’t panic if it seems as though we’re going to flip. We walked the kayak back out to about waste deep and I waited for Dan’s signal to hop in the kayak, missed the first time but eventually got settled in and started paddling for my life. The waves coming at us were about 4 feet taller than I was sitting in the kayak and were pretty scary so every time one came up Dan yelled “stop paddling and lean forward!” to which I did for about 7 or so waves. We had one last wave to go before we were pretty much in the open sea and it was huge but I did what I was supposed to and tucked my paddle in, leaned as forward as I could go in that tight wetsuit and all I hear from Dan in the back is “Oh shit I’m going over!” to which I turn and see him flying off the side of the kayak. He pops back up between waves and me not knowing what to do in this situation just staying in the kayak and him yelling “you’re going over on this one!” and sure enough, the next wave, despite my efforts to stay in I was thrown off the side and got tossed around a bit with the kayak rolling over top of me and finally popping up to see the paddles and kayak floating about 10 feet from me and Dan frantically looking for me. I wasn’t hurt one bit but I was a wee bit shaken up from it so Dan just grabbed my hand, shoved the paddles in my other hand and dragged me and kayak back to land. After reassuring everyone that we were all good, we just had to laugh and say “THAT WAS SO AWESOME” and continue to retell the story from our point of view. Unfortunately no one else tried to go out on the kayak because the waves were just too strong, we instead grabbed the surfboards and rugby ball and played around for a bit on the beach and in the water despite the sun not being out at all, it was still fun. 

After drying off and putting on many layers to warm up, having a quick cat nap time, we made some burgers for dinner and tried to gather as much dry wood as we could before one of our camping partners gave us a giant machete to demolish some of the trees around us for our fire that night. We tried or about and hour and half to get our fire started and getting more and more frustrated (hence; more and more wine) before we finally got the fire started with some help from our machete friends. A lot of sitting around the fire and hanging out with every body before it was time for bed again.

Sunday morning we all woke up to watch the sunrise, which was gorgeous, and had some breakfast before taking down the makeshift tent and normal tent and packing up the car again. Once the car was all packed up again the boys had the idea of checking out some other beaches and hot spots before heading back to Dunedin. We headed down to see Parakanui Falls, which was a short walk and a waterfall. We then stopped at this ropes course that the boys were talking up which ended up being a lot of fun. We were just playing around before we started at the beginning because there was no regulation of it and it was pretty well hidden in the woods. It included us walking on tightropes about 20 feet off the ground, climbing ladders, sliding down poles, balancing, swinging on ropes and sliding through wooden triangles (my favourite, NOT) and many other activities on this old ropes course. After completing many of the activities we got back in the car, did some “donuts” on the beach (which was hilarious with 5 people in the car) and stopped at one more beach and Nugget Point and saw the gorgeous lighthouse and rock formations before heading home. 

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Kelsey: Spring break. Is this real life?!

September 17, 2011

WARNING: THIS POST IS VERY LONG. GET A SNACK BEFORE READING. Our “spring break” (if you said that out loud around other kiwi students they would laugh, it’s just “school break” or “holiday”) was from August 26- September 5. Two of my roommates and I decided that instead of heading off to a tropical island that we would stay and try and explore as much of the South Island as we could. On Sunday the 28th we got on a bus at 1:30p and headed to Te Anau for the night and stayed at the YHA Backpackers. We didn’t get to see much of Te Anau before the sun went down over the mountains but what we did see that night was absolutely beautiful. The night in the hostel we just relaxed and watched some free movies (it was SUCH a nice hostel!) before our big week.

Monday morning we woke up bright and early, packed all of our things for the week into our backpacking packs (I have the Gregory Jade 38, thanks to my brother!) and headed to the DOC  (Department of Conservation) office in order to turn in our intention forms (these forms show where we are supposed to be on what days and if it came to it, what day that we would like to be searched for if we hadn’t been heard from yet). We were planning on doing the Kepler Track but it turns out, one of the passages was in an avalanche zone so we were very strongly discouraged to complete the entire track. Since we are stubborn and had planned to be gone for 3 days we decided to do only half of the track (Day 1= Control Gates to Motorau Hut, Day 2= Motorau hut to Iris Burn Hut and Day 3= Iris Burn Hut to Rainbow Reach road and hitchhike back to town). The first day wasn’t very sunny, but not that we would have known if it was because most of the hike was in very dense forest. By the time our 4-5 hour hike was coming to a close we were very excited to see the giant hut and the beach with a beautiful lake and mountains in the background. We tried to spend some time on the beach but thesandflys (you think mosquitos are bad? Meet these tiny devils…) were absolutely horrible so we decided to change into some dry clothing and start the fire. Well the fire proved to be very stubborn so while me and Laura messed with it for a while we started dinner which consisted of dry soup mix with noodles in it to get ome good carbs for another long day of hiking. We spent the rest of the night playing cards by candle and flashlight until it was time to head to bed.
Tuesday we got a good start at around 10am after taking a few silly pictures by the lake because it was SO beautiful. It was another day spent in dense forest with more ferns than I ever want to see again in my entire lifetime. Towards the end we did get to see some beautiful sights in the background before our last homestretch spent in the woods. We got to the Iris Burn Hut around 4pm and we sat for maybe 10 min before we realized that there was no running water and that we needed to chop down more firewood if we wanted to stay relatively warm that night. After walking into the woods with an ax and feeling very much like a lumberjack, we had gathered enough wood for us and for the next visitors to the hut. We then gathered all of the water vessels that we could muster up between all three of us and headed down the marshy track to the river and gathered as much water as we could. Since in New Zealand, most of the water comes straight off of the snow from the mountains, water filters are very rarely needed so we literally drank straight from the river! We started fighting with the fire again but this one proved to be even more stubborn than the fire at the last hut so we eventually gave up and just put more layers on while making another dinner full of soup and noodles. Finally we saw another person on the trail and she just happened to be going to University of Otago also and is from Chicago! What a small world. She joined in our nightly crazy card games which we played until we couldn’t stay awake anymore.
Read the rest of this entry ?
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Kelsey: Surfing with snow on the ground

August 23, 2011
Today I learned how to surf in 45 degree (F) water and it was AHHHHHMAZZZINNGGG.

We set up our surfing trip with our new friend Dan (who was our guide from the ski trip I talked about last weekend) and we rented some wetsuits from the Unipol recreation centre on campus and Dan hooked us up with some free surfboards. I woke up at 7:45 (after pressing the snooze a few times of course) and ate some breakfast before Victoria got here and we struggled to pick what clothes to wear underneath our wetsuits and struggled to get them on. Once we were ready, Dan came to pick us up and we headed through the windy roads in the hills to get to Long Beach because that’s where Dan said the waves would be the smallest.

After getting all of our stuff out to the beach we got the rest of our wetsuits on and did the classic quick lesson on the beach before we actually got in the water. Dan taught us how to paddle and how to put our feet when we were getting up. Soon after our lesson, it was time to head into the water, which to say the least, I was slightly dreading. It ended up not being that bad with our wetsuits but the only thing that was painful to bear was the hands and the head when they got wet, but it wasn’t terrible. For awhile Dan was just helping us find which waves to take and how to catch them so we were getting tossed around but it was good. After a substantial amount of time not being able to feel our hands, we decided to take a break and lay in the sun (in our thick wetsuits of course haha) after a few minutes of shivering we decided to run/walk along the beach and collect shells (well, I was the only one collecting haha) and check out the caves at the end of the beach that Dan said during the summer they put disco balls and stuff in and bus people from the Octagon and they just party in there haha. We spent a little more time walking along the beach and chasing the birds (well actually, again that was only me.. hah) and warmed up our hands as much as we could and we headed back out there.
By this time we pretty much had the skill of “catching a wave” down and so now it was all about getting enough speed to stand up and ride the wave. After a few times practising and getting tossed off of board, I finally stood up! Granted, I didn’t actually RIDE the wave and really only stood up enough to say that I did and then fell, but I did it a few times so it wasn’t a fluke! Me and Victoria had set goals before we set out and mine was to stand up so mission accomplished and Tor was kicking some major butt too so we agreed that our surfing adventures were very successful!

Little did I know the adventure wasn’t done! Turns out my wetsuit zipper was like broken or something and I was stuck in my wetsuit for a good 10 minutes while Tor and Dan tried everything in their powers to get me out, including yanking, breaking a shell and manoeuvring Dan’s car keys to break me loose of the wetsuit haha. It was soo nice to get out of that wetsuit and into some dry clothes which actually made us realize how nice it was outside.  Which made it confusing to think about the people who were at the beach with us (not many) in winter coats! But they were also watching us swim in the ocean so that probably made it a bit colder for them haha.

Overall it was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far here! I had SO much fun so we vowed to go out again soon. Ahhh what a great morning! Now we’re off to the Dunedin Rail Jam downtown which should be cool to see!
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Kelsey: At the one-month mark

July 30, 2011

I’ve already made it to the one-month mark, which seriously blows my mind. The days here are flying by faster than I ever thought they would. I’ve already done SO many amazing things, and I haven’t even done the coolest things on my list of things to do! 

I had to do an assignment for a class I’m taking through the U that is all about reflecting on your experience and talking about the ups and downs that come along with “culture shock.” Culture shock is defined as having a “Honeymoon” stage where everything is great and you have no complaints, a “Frustrated/Down” stage where you can’t stop comparing your new culture to one that you’re familiar with and usually the familiar culture is perceived as “better”, the “Adjustment” stage where you’re finally getting used to how things work and rarely compare to home, then finally there is the “Mastery” stage where you are fully comfortable in the no-longer new surroundings and act as if this was your home culture. In the assignment we had to describe how we’ve been feeling within the first month and which stages that we may call ourselves in at the moment. I said that I don’t think that culture shock is a process that you continue to go over just once, I think it’s a process that could last months or it could all be in one day. If I were to put myself in any stage at this moment it would be the Adjustment stage because I’m finally starting to get the hang of this crazy place! 

Honestly though, I could not have been doing this well here if I didn’t have such great support at home from family and friends. It means the world to me when people pop in and ask how I’m doing and say that they love my pictures/blog etc. 

It has already been a wild ride and I haven’t even gone on my upcoming ski trip or weeklong backpacking trip! Keep looking for pictures/blog posts, I’m going to try my best to keep up!

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Kelsey: Snow!

July 27, 2011

Another week (and a half!) of classes has flown by and I’m starting to really get in the groove of everything. It’s nice because here you have options besides buying the textbook because you can use them at the library for an hour and a half at a time, it’s great! So far I haven’t had any problems with going to the library (except for motivation to leave the house..). I decided to participate in a paying research study to get some extra moola (paying research studies are rare!) On Thursday I did my first day of it and it was harder than expected but it’s for a good cause and I’ll get $125NZD for doing it! Booyah!

Thursday night we decided to go to town but going at 10pm proved to be too early so in our attempt to waste time until the bars picked up, we went into a bar that had a band playing live music. The band was actually pretty good and it made me miss going to see Chester Bay and jamming out. After listening to them and watching some rad Michael Jackson music videos that were playing on the TVs we finally met up with my roommates and when to a bar named “Metro.” There wasn’t anyone there really when we first got there but it soon picked up and we danced the night away! That’s something that’s very unique (at least it’s different to what we do at home!) about Dunedin, they only go out on Thursdays and Saturdays and they usually don’t start going out until about 11:30p-12a. It’s crazy! And usually by the time everyone gets there, I’m ready to go home! 

Friday was the All Blacks game that we had bought tickets for a few weeks ago. The All Blacks are the New Zealand professional rugby team that will be participating in the Rugby World Cup in a few weeks and this was a rare opportunity to see them and not pay ridiculous prices for it! We had a cab reserved for 6:40p to pick us all up at Suzy’s house. Well 6:40 rolled around, then 6:50, then 7:00. We called the cab company and they said there is nothing they could do for us and that our cab wouldn’t be there any time soon, so after the typical American backlash we had to find another ride to the stadium because if we were to walk we wouldn’t see the whole first half. To our luck Suzy’s kiwihost offered to take us there but we had to go in two groups. I was in the first group to get there with Anna, Emmett and Lauren. I realized almost right after we got there that I had the camera batter that wasn’t charged and I forgot the other one so I called back to the second group to tell them to go and get the other one from my house but they didn’t want to so needless to say I was upset about not being able to get any pictures from the game. The game was a lot different than what I thought it was going to be. Throughout the game it was very quiet compared to any pro sports team in America. The one time that the whole stadium got excited (apart from when the All Blacks scored) was when they did the wave, which was much more exciting that normal because as soon as it got to the student section, they all threw up their green plastic beer bottles. It went around about 4 or 5 times and each time there were more and more bottles being thrown in the air. From the sitting section, it was a fun sight! The All Blacks ended up winning 60-14, so it was quite the blowout! 

On Saturday we were going to go see the penguins but the plans were not very well planned out so we scratched that plan and ended up going to the reservoir in the hills. It was absolutely beautiful and the lake reminded me a lot of home. The trails went on forever but we left with enough time to get back before sunset. I will definitely be going back to take some better pictures during the day!

On Saturday night we all got together to celebrate Victoria’s birthday (which wasn’t until Sunday but who parties on a Sunday?) We had some cake and sat around until it was the acceptable time to go out to the bars. We first went to Malbas (a hip bar with a fireplace and about 02938402398 different rooms/bars), but we didn’t stay long because the DJ was playing really lame music and we ended up at Monkey Bar again and stayed there the remainder of the night. 

Sunday morning I wake up and walk downstairs to SNOW!

It was so great! My roommates and I just sat in the lounge all afternoon and watched the snow pile up in our tiny lawn and even going outside at one point to catch a few snowflakes in our mouths. I had to go to the grocery store and I asked if anyone else wanted to join the flat shopping time but no one else (especially my kiwihost!) wanted to venture out into the snow. After my very windy trip to the grocery store, it was time for our weekly dinner at Anna’s house. We had tomato soup and grilled cheese and Anna made pear-apple-cranberry cobbler that was freaking delicious. 

Monday morning I woke to even more snow and my kiwihost said this was the most snow she’s ever seen, which is funny because you could still see grass blades sticking up (I’m pretty sure we only got around an inch of snow). A lot of NZ students were saying that it was a snow day but I didn’t trust that just because snow is rare here. Well I went to my first class and after we all sat down, someone finally checked their e-mail and we figured out that our class was cancelled because the professor couldn’t get onto campus. My second class was still on only because our professor had a pre-recorded lecture ready. Everything about the snow, in my Minnesota mind, was hilarious. People were walking around (in their Converse tennis shoes) as if the ground was covered in ice and that any wrong move they were going to fall to their death. Then there is me, walking around in my hiking shoes in NORMAL strides, and even slightly faster, and they are looking at me like I’m walking on water! I couldn’t help but giggle while I was walking around. Even the cars had put their freaking snow chain tires on, when the snow was melting before their eyes! Now the snow is all gone and just a funny memory…

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Kelsey: School, schmool

July 12, 2011

So what people keep telling me is that I came down here to study (they obviously haven’t seen these gorgeous landscapes!) and so I guess between all my adventures I have to take some classes! 

Yesterday (11 July) was my first day of classes in New Zealand and I had only 2 classes and was done by noon. My first class was Movement Analysis and Control (essentially biomechanics). I soon found another student I had met during course approval, so I sat by him and the professor seemed very personable and funny. It seems as though the course will be focused heavily on watching sports and analysing them so that should be super interesting. From what I’ve heard of the biomechanics class back at home, they don’t really focus much on applying their concepts to sports, so I’m glad I can get a different perspective here. 

My second class was Motor Control, which I was/am nervous about because one of the prerequisites for the class is my Movement Analysis and Control class (see above) so I was shaking in my boots the whole class hoping that I could talk to the professor after class about my situation. I met some other kiwis in class that seem pretty nice, and they love to talk in a southern accent, which is hilarious to hear. I did get to talk to my professor after class and he insisted that I should be able to handle the class while taking the prereq. 

After classes us girl went to the University gym (UniPol) to do our workout with Anna (she’s pretty tough). This was our second time at the gym and most of our time is spent in the weight room, which proves to gain us a lot of weird looks! Apparently at this particular gym, it is rare to see fit women in the weight room doing actual hard workouts and the guys in there have no problem showing their disbelief on their face by blatantly staring at us the whole time. It’s funny though so it doesn’t bother us. After relaxing for a bit and skyping mom, dad, and Kyle my kiwi-host made homemade pumpkin soup! I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous because I had never tried pumpkin soup before, but I ended up absolutely loving it! I got the recipe so when I come home I can make it for everyone ☺

Soon enough it was the second day of classes, but lucky me didn’t have any classes until noon! My first class of the day was Maori Society, which is a class all about the indigenous people of New Zealand and their culture. The class doesn’t count towards my major or anything but I thought it was a good opportunity to learn more about the people I was interacting with while abroad. It ended up reminding me of home university because there were about 500 people and the room was packed! It should be an interesting class and I’m taking it with friends so it’s even better!

In between classes, I decided to check out the library and get my internet figured out so I could use up all the school’s internet gb’s and their power while I charge my computer! Once I got all that figured out I went to the science library where one of my text books was being reserved so I could do some assigned reading. Then it was time for my second/final class of the day, which was History of Sport. I had taken some course material before on sport history so I’m not too worried about this class. The majority of the material is on the Olympics so it should be interesting to look at the Olympics as a study material and analysing it rather than just cheering on our country! 

And those are the 4 classes that I’ll be taking throughout the semester.

Something crazy that happened today was the weather! I woke up to pouring rain outside, and since right outside my window is a roof, it was pretty loud! I then checked my facebook and my friend Anna messaged us saying that there was a red sunrise that morning and according to her kiwi-host, that meant some crazy weather was on the way! I just thought it would be raining all day, but little did I know it was much more! By the time I was ready for class, the rain had cleared and it was beautifully sunny outside but the wind snuck it’s way through every layer I had on. The classroom was warm so I had an hour to warm up. It was still sunny when I went home to grab some lunch before going to the library. In the time it took me to warm up some leftover pumpkin soup, and eat it. It was pouring outside again, but not just any rain, it was sleeting and slightly hailing. A couple minutes later I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw SNOW. Yes, snow in July! It was crazy! Me and my kiwi-host just danced around the lounge laughing and peering out the window because we couldn’t believe it was actually snowing! But it didn’t last long because by the time I got to the library, it was sunny again! It was sunny for most of the afternoon after that but around 4 or 5pm it started its rain/snow deal but this time it was less exciting and more cold in the house! Apparently “Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning” because it means that moisture is hanging in the air. What a day!
Hopefully it stays warm enough for me tonight in my bed with my 27 layers! Why did I leave summer again?

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