_Hello from New Zealand! What an adventure this trip has already been! So far, the past week has been an endless list of firsts for me.
It has been my first trip to LA and navigating one of the largest airports. My trip to LA from Nashville wasn't that exciting--it was 4 and a half hours, I sat in the aisle seat, and then I decided I like the window seat a LOT more (I could sleep). The most exciting part was when it started snowing when we parked, and when I boarded the plane we were told it would be an extra few minutes so they could de-ice the plane. The only trouble I had when I got to LA was when I was trying to find Quantas airlines so I recheck my bags and get a new boarding pass. I had trouble because there were 2 Quantas airlines (ugh), and I went to the closest one and was told I was at the wrong one. So I had to continue on to the next terminal (a separate big building) and continued on my journey.
I then crossed the Pacific Ocean for the first time where I read my first official little blue envelope. Unfortunately, I did not meet my future husband, nor did I have any exciting conversations to tell you guys. In fact, the lady on my left curled up with her sleeping mask and blanket (which they gave to us) before we had taken off. Though I had a middle seat in the middle section of rows and told that our flight was completely full, I thought it would be a great flight because the two seats to my right were unoccupied. I figured that they missed their flight or something...but then an older, larger woman was moved up to the aisle seat next to me. I felt really bad when I had to go to the bathroom because there was NO room between our legs and the seat in front of us, so I literally had to climb over one of the ladies to get out. At one point both of them were asleep and I ended up putting one foot on the armrest and jumping over the woman to my left.
So now I was in New Zealand, a whole other continent, for the first time. I took a public bus from the airport to my hotel and checked into the hotel which was almost directly across from the Sky Tower. After cleaning up, I read my second little blue envelope and I couldn't stop smiling as I read it :) the second envelope gave me the courage to explore my surroundings. I gave myself the goal of finding a clothing store so I could buy some shorts (I only brought one pair, but I wanted more because it was warmer and more humid than I thought it was going to be). I walked a lot more than I thought I was going to, I kept seeing shops up ahead and wanted to know what they were selling. I saw that Auckland is full of Asians (I heard Korean and Chinese), Asian restaurants, convenience stores, souvenir shops, and expensive clothing stores. I keep peaking inside of the clothing stores as I passed to see the prices...it wasn't a pretty sight ($79 for jeggings!), but I finally gathered the courage and entered my first shop....a book store.
I'll skip ahead to the next day because this is going to be a long blog....I met the rest of the AustraLearn students and learned that there are a total of 4 people going to Palmerston North--most are going to stay in Auckland. Nothing much happened on the first day--we explored the docks and I met Diamond and Phoebe. (Diamond is from Nashville and is awesome at guitar and singing!) At dinner, one of our AustraLearn guides sat near us and made sure he knew our names. Because he kept repeating the names, I soon learned most of my fellow students' names.
The next day we traveled to Rotaroa where I am writing this. That afternoon we learned a Haka War Dance (they're different kinds with different words, motions, and stories). For dinner we had a BBQ by the blue lake, a very scenic place.
Yesterday (Wednesday), we had our "Day of Adventure." Unfortunately I was the only one to sign up for my package, but I could choose another to go on. I choose the "Wet 'n Wild" package--Ogoing and Rafting! The Ogo is just like Zorbing with another name. When we got there, we were told the best way to roll down the hill was to go in groups of 3 and do the 'wet' ogo (where they put water in with you). It was kind of chilly that morning, and we started to get cold waiting with our swimsuits on...but the water they put in with us was a toasty 104 degrees Fahrenheit...mmmm..it felt nice! We raced the people in the other Ogo next to us and won--twice! Going down the hill was just like a giant water-slide with warm water raining down. Included in our package was the fishtail pipe, another part of the Ogo. We got strapped in a dry Ogo that was attached to a machine that spun us around in place. I liked it because it gave us the sense of going down the 'dry' Ogo. I also went whitewater rafting for the first time. We got wetsuits and got to go down a 7 meter waterfall--the biggest commercial waterfall, which made my first rafting trip a level 5. It started to rain before we got into the river, but it didn't matter because we got soaked anyway. The river was also warmer than I expected, apparently it's the warmest river in the world? I'll put up pictures eventually.
Today, my Thursday, I got to go cave diving, on the something-something Toobing. We got back into wetsuits, mine did not fit as well as yesterday's, and put on helmets with little lamps on them. It's called something-something toobing because we got to go tubing in the underground river and look up at the glowworms on the ceiling. They looked like stars--or imagine the "Secret Tunnel" episode of Avatar the Last Airbender :) It was very romantic....we also sang "I'll Make a Man Out of You" as we floated along.
I could go into a lot more detail, but this is a very long blog anyway...maybe once we video chat I could go into more details. Goodbye for now! Love, Rachael
Hello from my last post in the United States...at least for the next couple of months. The biggest news I have is, of course, the fact that I'll be leaving for New Zealand very soon. For the past few weeks, I kept thinking to myself "40 days is a long time away" that soon became "wow 30 more days, a whole month", then "20 days--I still have plenty of time to get prepared." And then I started getting nervous around the 10 day mark, and now whenever I am reminded that I'm leaving THIS Friday, I have a small freak-out moment. At this point, the things that I'm worried most about are 1) Forgetting something important behind/not packing the right clothes [like thinking that I may wear something, and then not wearing it at all, so it ends up being wasted space in my limited luggage] and 2) not making close friends while abroad. This second one makes me feel like a baby. I'll admit that one of the two reasons why I chose Western was because a lot of close friends were also going to attend Western. I don't have the experience of choosing a far away university and starting from scratch--I really admire those who did--Sanaa, Amber, JK, Shelbs Magee, etc.
But other than those two things, I'm not that nervous. I really want Friday to be here, after I've packed and said my last goodbyes of course. Speaking about goodbyes...they feel weird. So far I've said my final goodbyes to a few people, but it doesn't feel like I won't see them soon--does that make sense? Next week, I'll be chilling with the hobbits, but it doesn't seem real yet. Of course, I've had this feeling before, like right before moving into my dorm freshmen year of college. *HUGE sigh*
In order to change this kind of depressing mood into a hopeful one, I googled for some nice, inspiring travel quotes.
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Hello from a stormy Wednesday night complete with thunder and lightning!
I have a few highlights from this past week, but I’ll start with the earliest and work backwards. This afternoon we finally got to Skype with Anna Beth (by “we” I mean Amy, Sara, Jill, and myself)! However, Skype wants you to buy the premium package before it lets you video chat with more than 2 people…so we switched to Google+ and made new accounts! After a little while, Sara had to go to class. After she left, we got a Shelbs Magee in her place as we continued to talk with Anna Beth and some of her friends. I believe we all agree that we’ll being using Google+ from now on!
Yesterday, I got to hang out with one of my very good best friends Mackenzie! After helping myself to a couple of her mom’s homemade egg-rolls that she had made the previous night, we decided it would be an awesome idea to go Goodwill hunting (get it? Like the movie?…though I haven’t seen it)! We had to get a cart because we found a lot of good stuff to try on! There’s some treasures to be found in our local Goodwill stores! I ended up with 1 white shirt, 1 pretty, flowery dress, 4 comfortable sweaters, and 1 sweater vest. I plan to bring these items with me to New Zealand, so they may pop up in photos every once in a while!
I also shopped online for the first time and bought 3 items…at this point I really hope they arrive before I leave. Nayab gave me the idea after she was talking about how addicted she was to Forever21.com. So with nothing to do at 2 a.m., I looked up the website in one tab with StumbleUpon in another. Gotta love StumbleUpon…because it took me to an Asian fashion online store where I bought my stuff.
I also beat the main quest in Fable 2. Hopefully, I can earn enough money to buy the castle before Mickey erases my account.
That’s about all for this week!
Also thanks to StumbleUpon, I found this awesome site that started off as a blog. It make me really wish that I had awesome sewing skill that would allow me to do this kind of thing!
Hello from my temporary home for the next two weeks! Because I don't have a key to get into Minton Hall, I have to wait until Amy, Jill, or sneak in with some random person to get inside the building. Until someone lets me in, I feel like I look like a weirdo standing outside trying to look like I belong there...oh well.
Happy Chinese New Year! What are the odds of it being the Year of the Dragon (my favorite animal) the year we do awesome stuff and this awesome blog? I recorded some stuff over at Amy's house...we'll have to see if I ever do anything with it.
The biggest news this week happened yesterday...I gave a bundle of letters to Jill+friends! I felt like I was the one most excited about opening the first one even though they weren't mine. Don't worry, I got it on camera!
16 more days until I leave, and until then, I plan to hang out with Amy, Jill, Sara, and maybe a little Nayab, sleep, read, and try to finish playing Fable 2 on my little brother's X-Box [if I don't finish, he's going to erase my data--there can only be one account saved on the game :( ]
Hello from a warm, fuzzy sweater! Not a lot of things happened to me this week, but I've been trying to keep myself busy...
First of all, some of you know that the water heater broke last week at my house, and I didn't have any hot, warm, or lukewarm water. I wanted to be clean when some friends and I met up at Cheddar's. So instead of going medieval, and boiling large pots of water to warm my bath, I simply drove to my mother's house and took a shower there. While I was getting clean, my car (named Alanna) was sitting outside in the freezing cold. This detail is kind of important because after I had tossed by stuff in the backseat, the door would NOT close! It simply bounced off instead of clicking and staying closed. So I then tried to lock and unlock the door--it didn't work. The back door was now locked while it was still open. At this point I was getting desperate, so my mom said to pull my car into the garage so the door could unfreeze (which is why we suspected it couldn't close) and to drive her van to meet up with friends. I agreed, mostly because my plan to bring my little brother just so he could hold the door close wasn't going to work...
In the end, everything worked out. I made it to Cheddar's only being 10-ish minutes late and it snowed while we were there! [I also ended up sleeping at my mom's house because she wouldn't let me drive home. I got some delicious tea because I stayed over :)]
And that was all on Thursday! If that isn't enough, I also made brownies the next day! Oh! At 11:30 at night! (I really wanted brownies, what can I say?) I also finished re-watching You're Beautiful (sigh!) and started watching Boys Over Flowers. I also started and finished reading Brent Week's The Black Prism, the same author as the Night Angel Trilogy, and in my opinion, he is an excellent writer! I want to read Perfect Shadow so bad...
Some other medium-sized news...I finally got new contacts/glasses! Yes, after 3 weeks of waiting, my left eye had healed so I could now get the right prescription. (btw for those who don't know, my left eye had become really dry and so it became inflamed. Probably had to do with something in my previous contact that couldn't be cleaned out...) I wanted some new frames for my glasses, so I naturally went to the women's section and picked out a couple of pairs (there was a sale--buy 1 get 1 free). Unfortunately, due to a new system that couldn't be overridden and my face being too small so they couldn't align the lenses exactly right, I had to choose another pair of lenses. But because of my too small face, NONE of the glasses in the women's sections fit properly. Let's just say that there wasn't much variety in the children's section....pink, purple, or brown?
That's about all I got for this week's Creeper Wednesday's blog...oh yeah! Did anyone notice a small change in the website? Try scrolling to the bottom of the homepage...
Hello from 3:28 am! When school doesn't force me to go to bed so I can be coherent in class the next day, I like to stay up at night and sleep during the day. I really like the nighttime-- it's quiet, peaceful, and I kind of like that feeling where it feels like you're the only person in the world. Here's something for Question Tuesday--What sort of interesting jobs require you to work the night shift? Or let you set your own hours? If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? What superpower would you think would suit each of us b/vloggers? :P
What have I been up to this week? I've been re-watching the Korean Drama "You're Beautiful." I'll even admit to squealing like a little girl a lot more the second time around. There's only 16 episodes and on YouTube...so if you guys have an hour to spare, I definitely recommend it!
I also met up with 2 fellow bloggers, Jill and Sara, along with Nathaniel to watch War Horse this afternoon and we were later joined by Kathleen at O'Charley's for dinner. I felt bad because we stayed until around 10:30...they closed at 10. About the movie--let's just say Albert and Emily met because of their mutual love of Joey (the horse).
Hello from the hard, wooden chair in front of my computer!
First of all-- Happy 2012!
Secondly, I'm not a very eloquent writer, so please don't expect too much. In fact, now I'm a little intimidated after reading Sara's blog and knowing that Anna Beth blogs tomorrow >_< but I will try!
Hhhmmm...what do I hope to accomplish with this blog? (Sounds like a scholarship essay prompt...) Well, I hope this becomes a great, fun, hilarious, and even a little thought-provoking way to stay in touch with some of my closest friends!
My New Year's revolution? To eat healthy (I'm also part of the 90% Shelbs!), and maybe get some abs!
I've even started on the healthy part! On January 1st, my dad and I joined up with his hiking group to hike 5 miles at Mammoth Cave. The weather was freezing if you stood still, but it felt really nice if you were moving (pictures below).
Talking about freezing weather--it snowed yesterday! I personally thought that it was just a few flurries, but I started to change my mind when it started to cover the road. My little brother got his hopes up and thought that school would be canceled (the roads started icing up), but alas his hopes were dashed this morning--all the snow/ice had melted.
Each of us is assigned a certain day of the week to blog.