A Travellerspoint blog

Moving in, Swampy Summit, River Crossing and everything else

I apologize for the time it has taken me to write this post. As you will read, this past week has been both hectic and relaxing (but mostly hectic). Last Wednesday, I went to my two classes, signed the lease for our new house, got my textbooks, ran to pay for our housing, signed up for a lab and then ran back to City College to collect my things. In itself, those tasks had been the busiest/most important I had done since my arrival to New Zealand. We grabbed our luggage and were headed down to our new accommodation. The address is 61 Duke Street, Dunedin, NZ and it is a converted hostel. There are 27 bedrooms, 2 sets of bathrooms (boys and girls), 2 common rooms, and one very large kitchen. While unpacking and skyping my parents, Liz and Marybeth came over and I gave them the grand tour of the house. Liz now calls it "the castle" and Marybeth likes "the mansion." Almost everyone I live with is a transfer from Chch which is pretty cool. We have 1 RA and 2 Kiwi Hosts. Wednesday night, Thursday, and Thursday night weren't anything too special. We were all just working on getting to know each other and getting acquainted with our classes and the area. I live with people from NZ, England, and, of course, the US. It seems that we will all get along since most of us had known at least someone else in the house before moving in. Friday was a beautiful day and Liz and I decided to explore the city more and go shopping to help decorate our rooms. We got tapestries, picture frames, and mugs/candles to be decorative. Up by the octagon is really a beautiful area and after this trip, I knew it would be a different experience from Chch but that I would still enjoy it. Friday night, I went with a group to see Hall Pass. I got to use my 2 for 1 movie ticket! It was a very funny but strange movie but it was good for a laugh so it was worth it. After we went to hang out at Loucas and Tim's for a while. This is when we heard about the impending tsunami warning on NZ. Unfortunately, I had been planning to go to the beach the next day and that was no longer an option. Instead, I joined Peter, Liz and Erin in tramping up Swampy Summit. We left at ten am Saturday morning and didn't return until about 6. It was an interesting hike, approximately 739 meters high, and, since it was a cloudy day, we couldn't really see too much from the top but it was fun getting caught in the clouds. When I got back to my flat, I showered and joined the group for our first flat dinner. We had a great time getting to know one another and then we all broke off into our separate groups for the night.

Sunday morning, about ten of us were attending a River Crossing Training with the Tramping Club. This was necessary if you wanted to go on the Fiordland trip and we all thought it would be fun anyway - and we were right. We learned how to "properly" cross a river with a group of four people. It was quite funny to watch my group cross the river though because Liz and I are both so short. We had Peter who is probably around 6'2" on one side of us and another Peter who is around 6'1" on the other side while we were around 5'2" in the middle. Anyone who looked over couldn't help but laugh. We were supposed to be supporting each other across the river but, instead, Peter 1 and Peter 2 were basically just lifting us over the rocks so the water wouldn't come over our waist area (which was already higher than the water reached on most people). We had a good laugh and it was an absolutely beautiful day. After this, the Caitlin, Katie and I just did work/talked outside before going to sleep and preparing for Monday classes. Monday, I went to class like usual and then had to start catching up on the first week of work I had missed. It isn't difficult just time consuming. Monday night, Katie, Blake and I watched Gamer - typically not a movie I would enjoy but it was intriguing. Tuesday, I had off from classes! I spent most of the day catching up with friends from Geneseo and then I studied for the test I had today in Behavioral Analysis (it wasn't too hard btw). Last night, the group went to the tramping club meeting to try and get a spot on the Fiordland trip this weekend. Unfortunately, only about two of us were able to get spots so now we are trying to plan another trip for this weekend. The club should reorganize the way they distribute the slips though; basically, they tell you all about each hike, then they say "go" and you run to the hike you liked the best and grab a pink slip. We ran to one of the easier hikes thinking that they would have the most slips to give out but he only had FOUR and, by that time, we were all out of luck. The club President said that they will be planning small grouped weekend trips to the Fiordlands again though so we will just either wait to get on one of those or by ourselves. This weekend we are debating between heading to one of the glaciers and doing some tramps there or going to the parks to tramp. We are also starting to plan our trip for next weekend which will be QUEENSTOWN! I am so excited! There we all plan on going bungee jumping, white water rafting and various other events. After that, I think we may plan to go to Wanaka for sky diving. The adventure is definitely starting here!

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First Day of Classes at Otago

It was finally time to start classes on Monday morning and, since Otago does not have online registration, the group got up early to go pick up our course approval forms and head out to each department for their signatures. Unfortunately, because we had arrived so late on Friday, our forms weren't ready yet. Instead, we learned about the timetable for our classes and where the buildings were located. At 11:00 I went to my first Natural Resources Economics class. Although I wasn't technically registered, I didn't see the point in missing any more classes if I didn't have to. Since I arrived at class very early in fear of not being able to find the room, I ended up talking to a fourth-year girl named Jess. She was a Kiwi and very nice and understanding the entire situation. She kept asking questions about living in New York and then my experiences in Christchurch so far. Then we shifted to talking about the class and the professor. Jess volunteered me her notes to copy after class on Wednesday and said I didn't really miss much so far. She also warned me that the class moves very slow - and I soon learnerd she was right. His name is Professor Mohammed and he reminds me very, very much of a professor I had at geneseo for statistics. (For those of you that know who I am talking about, mainly my mom, you know this is not a good thing) BUT, I will learn to survive because luckily I can understand his handwriting. After I really didn't do too much. We couldn't register for any classes or even get our ID cards yet so the group met back at the flat and hung out with our two friends Steve and Alex that had just arrived from Chch as well. We all watched Criminal Minds and then The Hangover. Eventually, Mike, Kevin and Steve started playing with Kevin's camera and we all started taking random pictures using the light. It was something I had never seen before so it was interesting before we all ended up falling asleep.

On Tuesday, Mike and I both had off from classes and we needed to register. We picked up our forms at around 10:30 and started heading to the different departments. It was semi frustrating when dept chairs weren't there and we had to head back later but, in the end, it all worked out. Only the Commerce chair looked at my transcript which makes me think that Community Behavior Analysis and Developmental Psych won't be too hard of classes. After classes, I went for a run downstairs and then we heard the good news that we would be moving in tomorrow! It is a 23 person house to be exact and so far there are 16 of us moving in. Luckily, about 12 of us are already friends so I don't think this experience will be too terrible. Everyone is giving us different information about timing and when to sign the lease but I'm sure it will all work out tomorrow. For now, we are all taking advantage of the free laundry here and packing up our rooms. Tomorrow is definitely going to be a long day but I am excited to finally get settled.

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Sunday in Omaru/Dunedin

After sleeping for about ten hours, we all felt refreshed for the morning. Having already covered all of Omaru, we decided to leave the Red Kettle around 10 and we went to a small outside cafe for breakfast. We went into several little shops in the town before walking back down to the rocky shore for pictures before we left. Our bus left on time, at 12:05, and we were back in Dunedin around 1:45. I went to my flat, dropped off some of my belongings and got changed to go play tennis with my kiwi friend Sam. We played for a while and then Kevin and Mike came to try and show off their "skills." It was fun to be playing again but the courts here are pretty terrible so it made me miss the NRHS/Geneseo courts very much! Mike, Kevin and I then walked all through Dunedin to get back to our flat for dinner. At dinner, I met our new flatmates that had joined that weekend while I was away. They are all here on the Brockport program and had also been transferred from Canterbury to the Uni of Otago. Caitlin is from Geneseo and Tyler and Kaitlyn are from Plattsburgh. They are all really nice and we walked back to the flat together. It is somewhat comforting that I will be living with them in our twenty person house. At least if it has to be that big, it will already be with people I know I get along with. I took a shower and then joined the group in the living room where they were playing spoons. We played for about two hours and then talked for another hour about what we want to do while in NZ before going to sleep.

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Saturday in Omaru

Our bus was at 7:45 on Saturday so Liz, Marybeth and I met on Castle Street at around 7. We boarded the bus and all fell fast asleep until our bus stop in Omaru an hour and a half later. When we got off the bus, I was introduced to our three other travelling companions: Casey, Emmi, and Lauren. They were all really nice and Casey even goes to GWU! We went to the Red Kettle Hostel to check in and then began our Omaru adventure in the Botanical Gardens. All of the flowers were absolutely beautiful and the rivers and the bridges just added final touches. Through the Botanical Gardens, we found a playground and, of course, we had to stop and play for a while. We took pictures next to Humpty Dumpty and on the tire swing. After a while, we found the Hostpial Hill Walkway and took that trail to the top of Omaru. The view from the top was pretty cool but we were unable to see the water so we hiked over to the Glen Gully Walkway and tried to take that to the top. Unfortunately, due to deforestation, we couldn't go any further and had to turn around and walk back down the roads. We walked into town and got lunch at a cute little bakery. We took our lunch to the old railway station and ate by the water. After lunch, we walked to the Whitestone Cheese Shop which is famous in NZ for having the best cheese and winning many awards. They even had their pictures taken and autographs from the full cast of Scrubs! It was nice to see that they had a little message written on their blackboard to try and raise money for ChCh. That always makes us feel better. It started to rain by the time we left so we ran to the historic district and started exploring the Forrester and Grainhill Galleries. Some of the art was unbelievable and thankfully by the time we left the rain had started to slow. While in the historic district we also saw the old water wheel which apparently is a big deal in Omaru! By this time, it was about 3:00 and we started to hike our way across town to see the yellow penguins. We ended up trying to take a trail down by the water but unfortunately it was closed due to high tide. We saw the "Penguin Crossing" sign and obviously had to take pictures before climbing up the hills and taking a different route to the yellow penguins. It took us about 50 minutes to walk up the steep hills of Omaru but when we made it, the beach looked beautiful from above. We went into a little nook on the side of the mountain and waited to see if any penguins came out. A man was standing there and he let us borrow his binoculars to see the yellow penguins and the sea lions that were waiting ashore. Although we were far away and unable to get any close, it was really cool! About twenty minutes later, we hiked back into town (after stopping at the scenic lookout along the way) and had dinner a pub. We had planned on sitting in the restaurant but since we were not dressed "appropriately" we sat in the front area at the bar. The six girls sat and talked for a while before we went to our 8:15 showing of the blue penguins. We had bought tickets earlier in the day and they said that we would probably see close to 75 penguins! We sat and watched intently as we saw the tiny blue penguins, between 25-35cm high and weighing only about 1kg, tumble in from the water and make their way in groups up the rocks to their nests. The guide told us that penguins only see a couple of minutes every couple of hours so they would be up most of the night making noises (which were honestly very strange noises). While walking back to our hostel after the showing, we ran into about three blue penguins on the side of the road. They were absolutely adorable and the guide had said that they like to wonder around during the night. When we walked back to the Red Kettle, we all changed into pajamas and went into the living room to catch the end of a movie the others were watching. Our room had been joined by another girl but all four of us fell asleep before we even got to know her name.

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Trip to Dunedin - University of Otago

Unfortunately, the only bus on Friday to Dunedin was at 8:00 am so we woke up at six and had to lug all of our baggage to the bus stop. We must have looked drained from carrying the luggage so early in the morning because a postman stopped his truck next to us and passed out a red bull. He said he gets them for free and we definitely looked like we needed it more. We laughed this off and continued to our Riccarton Rd stop. The bus ended up coming about 45 minutes late but once we were on it, it felt good to relax. Mike, Kevin, Sam and I all talked for a while before passing out through the five hour drive. Once we arrived to Uni of Otago, Sam, who had attended this uni for two years, lead us to the international office where we filled out our enrollment papers and applications to the university. After, we went to the student information center in the library and we were told about our 'accommodation.' We were all placed in temporary accommodation in City College, about two blocks away from the campus, until our flats were finished. At first, we were told that they would be ready to move into by Monday but, later on, we found out more information. It turns out that we will be moving into a twenty person house and it will not be until at least Thursday of this week. It was somewhat upsetting that after all we have been through, we still don't have a room to call our own. Right now, we are all playing it day by day and living out of our suitcases. Anyway, after that, we went to our room and got as settled in as possible. The boys then went to explore town and I went to hang out with Liz for a while. After returning back to City College, I went in the computer room (because we don't have internet in our rooms - they have a sort of lab) and was exploring facebook and checking emails when I got a text from Liz saying "Omaru for the weekend?" We then proceeded to booking bus tickets and a night at The Red Kettle Hostel in Omarum, NZ. Our bus was at 7:45 so I packed my NorthFace backpack that night before heading to bed. I knew it was going to be a long weekend but I was excited for the change in scenery and mood.

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