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.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Ring of Kerry, Co. Kerry

Today I participated in an International Society trip to the Ring of Kerry and surrounding areas, taking in Kenmare, Ladies View, the Torc Waterfall and Killarney National Park.


Holy Cross Church, Kenmare

Scenery shots from the various lookouts

Torc Waterfall

And the All Blacks successfully qualified for the Rugby World Cup final so, great day all round.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


Solo travel is fantastic.  Seeing new places is great.  Combining the two together and you're in for a wonderful time.

On Sunday I caught the train to Galway for a wee little day excursion.  I haven't seen much of Ireland despite having been here for around 7 weeks, but Galway is by far my favourite place so far.  The weather was spectacular, the cathedral is beautiful, the stores and waterfront are great areas to explore.  I even went to an aquarium which was more like a glorified pet store as it lacked turtles, sharks or anything more exciting than seahorses.  And to add to the excitement of a solo adventure to Galway, while I was there Ireland played France in their last pool match of the Rugby World Cup.  The pub I watched it in called The Skeff was packed; standing room only which made for a great viewing atmosphere.

There are a few places I want to go back to in Galway, so I will be making a return trip.  Mostly to try some more of the cafes and restaurants the city has to offer. Food will forever have my heart.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Weekend Adventures

What a whirlwind the end of September - start of October has been!

On Friday 25 September I departed Dublin airport at some ungodly hour of the morning headed for Edinburgh, Scotland.  Such an awesome city with a cool vibe.  From Arthur's Seat, to Edinburgh castle, all the old buildings, pubs and monuments, Edinburgh has a lot to offer.  Not to mention A CAT CAFE!! Highlight of my weekend.  I'd love to go back at some point and see other parts of Scotland as well.

The Scott Monument - 287 steps to the top.  Built in the 1840's.

Edinburgh castle

Haggis - was actually really nice much to my surprise

Life advice outside the World's End pub

Arthur's seat - the mini mountain right in Edinburgh.

  Cat cafe. Need I say more?

October 1 the UL Wolves went to the greyhounds.  It was a fun night. Always good to put a cheeky few euro on a dog so you can yell at something as they come down the straight.  I literally know nothing about dogs so picked off their names and had zero luck.  Probably not the best technique available.

Last but certainly not least, October 2 I went for an excursion to Wales that lasted less than 24 hours! But all for good cause as the All Blacks were taking on Georgia at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.  What an atmosphere.  All day you could feel the excitement wandering around the city as anticipation built for that evenings match.  The pubs were full of supporters.  Millennium Stadium itself is huge, and with the roof closed the atmosphere inside was electrifying.  Despite some uncharacteristic missed kicks from Dan Carter and some painful dropped balls from the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, New Zealand came away with the win which was celebrated late into the night by the supporters, many of whom had adopted the All Blacks or Georgia for the evening but were from all over the world.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Am I still in Palmerston North?

Limerick is so similar to Palmerston North it is like being in the same city, accept the people talk funny.

The campus is outside of the central city.  The grounds are open and green with plenty of trees and outdoor spaces which leads to inevitable jogs through the rain to get from one lecture building to another.  This seems to be a slight flaw by planners when the city, like the rest of Ireland, is known for rain.

Limerick city itself doesn't really offer much in terms of entertainment besides pubs and sport.  But from Limerick it is only a short distance to a number of awesome spots.  I feel like I haven't left the Manawatu.

So far the lectures themselves have barely contained any real content because it's only the first week.  But I have successfully found every lecture building on time so that's a win!

One of the coolest things about Limerick which Massey Palmerston North doesn't really offer is a huge range of clubs and societies that people are actually passionate about.  The recruitment drive in the sports centre was really popular with clubs and societies ranging from equestrian, rugby and hockey to tea appreciation and the international society.  I'm excited to get involved in events offered by the equestrian club and international society this semester.

On Saturday 12 September I went on a trip to the Aran Island's, specifically Inis Oirr the smallest and eastern most of the islands.  The island has been inhabited for more than 5000 years so consequently has a rich natural and cultural heritage.  If you want somewhere quiet, small and beautiful to explore Inis Oirr would be perfect for you, assuming you don't mind a rollercoaster of a ferry ride to reach the island.  The photos below show some of the amazing scenery and also showcase the tendency for the island to witness 4 seasons of weather in one day.