Friday, 5 February 2016

Life update!

Wow time truly does fly when you're having fun. It is now the beginning of February and I am finally finding time to update my blog! Since my last update so much has happened and new adventures are unfolding.

1.) Aaron and I completed our whirlwind tour of Europe taking in cities from Belfast to Istanbul and plenty of places in between.  It is so wonderful to be home! Living out of a suitcase gets tedious after a little while.

2.) I'M ENGAGED! Aaron proposed on Christmas Eve while we were in Iceland. I can't wait to spend forever with my bestfriend.

3.)We are back in Palmerston North, living with my Nana while we organise purchasing a house.

4.) I am organised and ready to begin my final undergrad year at Massey University! Can't wait to smash out the remainder of my degree.

I will endeavour to update this blog more regularly now, so stay tuned!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Goodbye Limerick

With my final exam out of the way this evening and the joyful thought that I will never again have to analyse 1750-1850 Irish history, Aaron and I are now packed and ready to depart on the next leg of our adventure.  Thanks mainly to Aaron because apparently I don't clean or pack correctly...

My time here at UL has been an experience, with the ups and downs that come along with living and studying so far from home. It's going to be strange to possibly never see these people again as New Zealand is just so far away from the world for many it is a destination that forever remains unrealised on their bucket list.

From here Aaron and I are off to Belfast in Northern Ireland, before setting off on our European adventure taking in Reykjavik, Paris, Edinburgh, Athens and Amsterdam to name just a few of our many stopovers.  I can't wait to make memories with my best friend.

And then it will be the long journey home, with a short stopover in Australia before arriving in New Zealand on January 20th where I will have time to unwind before semester one 2016 gets underway.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Amsterdam & Rotterdam

Note to self: Don't visit Amsterdam alone ever again.

As a female I 110% did not feel safe staying in shared hostel accommodation on my own in Amsterdam.  When I was in London earlier in the year it was perfectly fine, but Amsterdam is an entirely different kettle of fish.  From a Belgian guy with a questionable understanding of English who asked me whether I was Christian, married and why I was so far from home, among other things, and then woke me up at 2am demanding I call an ambulance, to a lad from Latvia who insisted on sharing his life story with me and was insulted when I refused his invitation to go for a walk with him at 11pm. Oh Amsterdam...

Despite the chaos of my accommodation I managed to enjoy my daytime adventures.  On Saturday I took the train to Rotterdam.  The Rotterdam train station itself is modern and pretty fancy.  Outside the station is a sight you become accustomed to shortly after arriving in the Netherlands.  Bicycles.  Lots and lots of bicycles.

From the train station it is a short walk to the Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp).  I love animals.  And I love zoos.  This zoo in particular was pretty massive and had so many exhibits I spent hours there.  From polar bears to wolves, lions and otters, elephants and zebra, an aquarium and an amazon globe full of butterflies, Rotterdam Zoo has something for everyone. And also these cute inquisitive little guys.

I particularly enjoyed watching the elephants.  One little mischief maker was intent on annoying his much larger pals.

After a day of walking around the zoo I was absolutely exhausted so was understandably unimpressed by my less than courteous roommates.

On Sunday I went and joined the queue at the Anne Frank House bright and early so I could avoid the bulk of the crowds.  Compared to my experience at Auschwitz, the Anne Frank house left me feeling underwhelmed.  It was interesting to see where the Frank family and their friends went into hiding after reading Anne's published diary when I was at school.  However I found the lack of furnishings in the rooms meant it was difficult to truly appreciate 8 people living undetected in such a space.  The inclusion of a store and cafe as part of the museum commercialised the entire experience and made it seem as though nowadays Anne's hardship has turned into a money making venture, as opposed to education and the acknowledgement of the suffering of Jews during the war.  All in all I was pretty disappointed with my visit to a place I'd been wanting to see since I finished reading Anne's diary.

Following my visit to the Anne Frank house I walked to the Rijksmuseum.  This is the national museum of the Netherlands located at the museum square, close to the Van Gogh museum and the I Amsterdam sign.  This was a wonderful wet day activity as the museum is enormous so took a long time to walk around viewing the exhibits.

I concluded my Sunday by wandering around the shopping district and canals before heading to a burger bar for dinner.

Overall my experiences in Amsterdam were enjoyable.  I much preferred exploring the city with friends while on Topdeck than going it alone.  If any females are planning solo travel to Amsterdam, do your research into a safe hostel or splurge on your own suite in a hotel so you can guarantee a good nights rest.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Girls are crazy

I admit it, I'm all little bit nuts.  But I think we all are.  While me and Aaron were discussing yet another thing I was nitpicking about because I am just a pain in the arse, I decided to compile a list of things I do that probably annoy the heck out of my boyfriend.  But I'm hoping I'm not the only one and girls everywhere can relate.

1.) Pillows and cushions.  I dunno what it is, I love cushions.  Every morning our bed is made with literally 6 pillows and a mountain of cushions.  And every evening half of that is shoved on the floor in an attempt to make room for us to actually sleep.  And so the process continues.

2.) Hair. I shed hair everywhere. I apologise. How I'm not bald at this point is beyond me because I seem to lose a tonne of hair. Particularly in the shower. Sorry.

3.) Slowly filtering your hoodies from your side of the wardrobe to mine.  They're just so damn comfy.  But we live together so it's not like you'll never see them again so that's completely fine.

4.) Complaining about how deaf you are when you don't hear what I say when I'm in the kitchen, probably using a blender or some other loud piece of equipment and you're in a completely different room.  Woops.

5.) Saying I don't want food but then eating half of yours anyway.  On a related note, my tendency to eat in bed and get crumbs everywhere because I am like a toddler when it comes to food. And then we wake up feeling like chicken croutons, all rolled in crumbs.

6.) Saying "No, no I don't mind, go out with your friends" then bringing it up 2 months later cause I'm still slightly pissed about it. Also in relation to this, hating on your friends for encouraging your bad habits, but getting offended if you say one word against any of mine.  Like back up buddy, those are my girls.  Lay off.

7.) Taking an eternity to get ready to go out. My hair has a mind of its own, it takes time to tame it. But then I'll start complaining I have to wait for you to get ready when you don't have your shoes on the moment I'm finally ready to leave the house.

8.) Buying clothes that I wear once, or potentially not at all. Online shopping is an addiction. I spend obscene amounts of money on clothes and it really needs to stop.

9.) Saying I'm gonna start eating healthy, exercising, going to the gym, running, cycling, whatever. And it literally lasts two days before we're back at KFC.

10.) Getting sassy over Monopoly. I'm not competitive... unless I'm losing.

BUT IN MY DEFENCE, boys do some really strange and annoying things as well. I apologise for being a nuisance.  Sometimes I wonder why you even put up with me.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

UL Campus

Week eleven of semester starts tomorrow! Where has this semester gone? While there was a break in the rain today (Sunday 15 November) I decided to walk around the campus here at UL and take some photos and videos so the people at home can see where I studied this semester.

There are some pretty unique looking buildings at UL, particularly some of the newer buildings on the other side of the pedestrian living bridge to the main campus.

This is where I live, Plassey Village.  Plassey is one of the on campus accommodation options here at UL, located across the road from the main entrance to campus.  My house has 8 residents who have access to 2 bathroom and one kitchen/living facility.  My housemates this semester come from France, America, Canada, Germany and Finland.

The UL flag poles located at the campus entry.

The Schuman Building where I have classes for Irish Politics and Human Resource Management.

One of the walking paths located near the campus.

The Pedestrian Living Bridge.  This is the longest pedestrian bridge in Ireland.

The Health Sciences Building

The Graduate Entry Medical School where I have lectures for Irish history.

Plassey House.

The walk back to Plassey Village.

As you can see UL is a large a beautiful campus which creates a really nice study environment.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Medieval Tour

Today (Saturday 7 November) I participated in another International Society trip, this time taking in some of the medieval sites nearby including Athassel Priory and the Rock of Cashel, Co.Tipperary and Kilkenny City, Co. Kilkenny.

Athassel Priory - Ireland's largest medieval priory dates back to the 12th century.

The medieval town of Cashel is overlooked by the Rock of Cashel.  Parts of the structure atop the rock including the round tower pictured date back to the 12th century.  Other parts of the structure including the cathedral and chapel were added in subsequent centuries.  The rock was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for hundreds of years.

We then left co. Tipperary and travelled to Kilkenny city.

Kilkenny Castle offers an interesting and informative tour of the building which I would recommend to anyone in the area.  The castle was originally built for William Marshall, 4th Earl of Pembroke in the first decade of the thirteenth century.  Later the Butler family resided in the castle as their primary Irish resident for almost 600 years.  The property was purchased by James, 3rd Earl of Ormond in c.1391.  In 1967 Arthur, 6th Marquess of Ormonde presented the castle to the people of Kilkenny for a token payment.  It has since been in the care of the Office of Public works with many programmes of archaeological excavation, conservation and restoration taking place.

Photography is prohibited inside the castle, but the exquisite interiors are truly beautiful. The formal dining room in particular is spectacular, as is the gallery which holds the portraits of the Butler family.  The gallery room is around 45 metres in length, has intricately painted ceilings and walls lined with massive paintings.  Many of the Butler family works were sold as the family encountered financial trouble, so you can only imagine how the room once looked when entirely full of portraits.

The medieval history of Ireland is really intriguing, particularly as I am a history student.  And even more so because I come from New Zealand, a country younger then the sites I visited today.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

What it means to be a Kiwi

New Zealand have just won back-to-back Rugby World Cups.  As a Kiwi abroad for this phenomenal achievement I loved to see literally every post on my Facebook newsfeed directed towards the All Blacks success.  Either staying up until, or waking up for kick off is an achievement it itself due to the time difference.  This got me thinking about what it means to be Kiwi, so I decided to compile a list of what makes us, us.

1.) The All Blacks
It goes without saying really. New Zealand loves rugby. We love the All Blacks.  Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith; they're all household names.  The majority of Kiwi kids could name more rugby players than politicians, and to be honest most adults could probably do the same.

2.) Australia
The sibling type rivalry between New Zealand and Australia crops up whenever the two countries encounter each other on the sports field.  Every Kiwi has been the target of a "sheepshagger" joke at some point.  And every Kiwi likes to remind the Australians of how their underarm bowling style in 1981 was a disgrace to sport.  I wasn't even alive at the time, but still know exactly how the incident went down.  Following the most recent Rugby World Cup success, New Zealand has the upper hand, for now.

3.) Kiwi tucker
From pineapple lumps to L&P, pavalova to mince and cheese pies, not to mention Watties tomato sauce and marmite, Kiwis have a unique range of food.  Anyone who comes to our country should be made to try hangi, some favourites from the Edmonds Cookbook, a whitebait fritter and of course some hokey pokey icecream.

4.) Maori
Even if you aren't fluent, you probably know a few basic words in te reo. Kia ora, kai, whanau & ka pai are among some of the words you should expect to hear during everyday conversation.  If you went to school in New Zealand it's quite likely you would have participated in a powhiri and probably know most of the words to Tutira Mai Nga Iwi.  Most Kiwis can sing the Maori verse of the national anthem and know most of the actions to the haka.  Even if you aren't Maori you're proud of the culture and watching the All Blacks do the haka before a game fills you with pride.

5.) Sheep
Ask anyone from outside of New Zealand what they know about our country and the answer usually includes 4 key aspects. The All Blacks, the Lord of the Rings, Lorde and sheep.  Oh and it's really beautiful.  Considering there is a few million sheep scattered all over New Zealand it's unsurprising really.  We even like to post videos of them participating in political rallies.  We really are a strange people.

6.) We have a but of an accint
Contrary to popular belief, the Australian and New Zealand accents are entirely different.  Most Kiwis have probably been teased by a foreigner about their accent at some point, particularly if they've done a bit of travelling.  The people I know here in Ireland enjoy asking me to say the phrase, "I had the neighbourhood kids around today to play on my deck", or alternatively, "My neighbours wife loves my deck".  It isn't my fault my pronunciation of the letter 'e' is slightly skewed.
We also have some words of our own that make foreigners look at us like perhaps we aren't speaking English at all.  For example, "Can you chuck my togs and the chilly bin in the ute while I look for my jandals so we can head down to the bach?"  And we are ridiculously lazy so therefore cut down any word we can get away with. If it can be abbreviated, it will be abbreviated. Electricians are sparkies, ta can pass for thanks, McDonalds is maccas, at Christmas we give Chrissie prezzies as opposed to Christmas presents.  We have a biccy with our cuppa (biscuit with our cup of coffee) and if that biscuit is chocolate coated, it's a choccy biccy.  Even the word definitely is shortened to defo. So yeah, by now you should defo be getting the point.

7.) Kiwi and proud
For a little nation we've achieved a fair bit over our short history, and as Kiwis we're pretty proud of that.  Most of us think NZ is the best country in the world.  We love talking about Sir Edmund Hillary, who knocked the bastard off.  Every Rugby World Cup we replay the phenomenal tries scored by Jonah Lomu.  If anyone is talking about basketball we chuck in our limited knowledge through watching Steven Adams.  Some of our Olympians have competed and won against the very best; Valerie Adams, Sir Mark Todd, John Walker, Peter Snell, Barbara Kendall, Mahe Drysdale, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond to name a few.  Lorde took the music industry by storm.  The Lord of the Rings franchise brought the New Zealand film industry to the forefront.  We love reminding people that New Zealand has produced some pretty great people, and is pretty great in itself.

Kiwis are a pretty laid back type.  We love our country and are proud of where we are from.  We're a little bit odd and defo unique, and that's how we like it.