It was pretty gloomy this past week, with near-constant drizzle and a couple of sun breaks. Although, as I sit writing this it is nice and sunny, so I really can’t complain :) - nothing I can’t handle from 18 years in the North West. When the sun shines here it is very hot. Someone told me the sun is much stronger down here, even when you least expect it, but don’t worry – I’ll “Slip Slop Slap" (put on sunscreen) when the days get hotter.
Fun Fact: New Zealand has one of the highest UV ratings in the world. Peak UV radiation levels in NZ are approx. 40% higher than those in North America. This is because of the sun's position, the closeness of the sun during summer months, and NZ's unpolluted skies. In recent years, ozone depletion has increased UV radiation. The Antarctic ozone layer hole usually breaks up in early summer that means that, at times, New Zealand is affected by ozone-depleted air traveling over the country.
Last weekend, we took it fairly easy. On Saturday, there was a huge concert in town call Soundscape, sponsored in part by the Waikato Students Union. One wristband ticket granted access to four different clubs, located near each other on the main drag. It was a good night, but VERY crowded and obviously VERY loud. The real problem was the music, which unfortunately was the main event – I’ve decided I do not like "dubstep," a genre of electronic dance music spun by DJs (like techno with a ton of base). Or, maybe it's just me - I physically cannot dance to it, so I’ll leave my dancing to cheesy or popular radio songs and leave it at that.
This week, I had my full timetable of classes and tutorials/workshops. It is still a fairly light schedule, but there is quite a bit of outside reading. I am a Class Representative for my PR Cases course, meaning I act as a liaison between the administration/professor and the students in case of any problems and must attend a training next week, plus a few meetings over the course of the semester. We will begin analysing and giving presentations about particular cases in two weeks – mine will be PR related to New Zealand football (soccer).
We were placed in groups for my PR Campaigns class. My team consists of myself, a nice NZ girl, a Chinese international girl who has been here for two years, and two New Zealanders who are actually on the women's national crew (rowing) team. This means it might be a bit difficult to coordinate group meetings, but everyone seems very nice and I’m excited by the prospect of selecting a focus and creating a campaign for the Parent to Parent organization. Hopefully we can come up with something that will be useful to the non-profit and its members.
Finally, I am really enjoying the material of my International Relations: Security paper. It seemed VERY dense and confusing at first, but after doing some more of the readings (with Google open as a dictionary for all the complicated political science terms/“isms”), I have already learned a lot.
On Wednesday of this week, they had an event on the Village Green called "Recycle Your Life." All the participants brought something to donate (clothing, couches, books, knick-knacks), the items were placed on the stage, and then everyone could rummage for something to trade/take away. All the extra things went to the Salvation Army, along with donations from spectators. I brought a book that I had finished, due to lack of material possessions here, and just because I wanted the free pizza :) (and sherbert), but ended up taking a sweet as pirate flag to add some decoration to my room and a funny coffee-table book. My friend was ecstatic to end up with a yoga sports mat. For me, watching him try to carry it all the way back to the dorms (on his head) was way better than the mat itself. The book I got is a compilation of satirical billboards made by Tui (a very popular, national beer). They incorporate cultural inside jokes or funny phrases with the slogan “yeah right.” Most are just silly and demonstrate Kiwi humor, but some refer to historical/cultural events, and there were a lot ones pertaining to particular rugby wins or losses.
Here's some examples:
A current one
From outside the brewery:
My favorites from the book were –
“Her butt walked into my hand… Yeah Right”
“It's getting too cold for a beer... Yeah Right"
"I was reading her t-shirt... Yeah Right"
"It's not receding, I cut it this way... Yeah Right"
"Guys look great in Speedos... Yeah Right"
"Bikinis shouldn't be so small... Yeah Right"
"I won't pee in your wetsuit... Yeah Right"
"I'll get in with jeans and jandals... Yeah Right" (about clubbing)
"I hardly noticed her moustache... Yeah Right"
"I'm really keen to see your mother again... Yeah Right"
"U.S. Intelligence... Yeah Right"
"Flight departs 11:50 pm, December 31st 1999... Yeah Right"
After perusing the book, I decided to give it to an American friend here who was celebrating his 21st here.
This weekend we’ve taken it easy. I keep forgetting that we got here right in the middle of winter (aka COLD season). A lot of people are sick in our hall, and it hit Erika pretty hard. Since everyone seems to have made a collective decision to keep it a quiet weekend, we have too. I drank an entire carton of orange juice yesterday, so I’m hoping the Vitamin – C keeps the germs at bay!
Erika and I have been brainstorming our "spring break" plans. The break is approaching quickly - I can't believe it's August next week!! So far, we have decided to rent a car to travel around the South Island and loop from Christchurch down to Queenstown and back up around the west coast. Hopefully we will meet up with two girls who are going to a university in Wellington or recruit some people from the dorms here who want to explore down south. Details to come once we actually plan.
One last update: I think I’ve decided to elongate my stay. I was originally planning to return at the end of November, but I think I want to add a few extra days here or to my Australia plan during November and then tack on a stopover in Fiji on my way home. It is very cheap to add it, seeing as it’s on the way, and there are some great island hopping packages. I made it all the way over here, I might as well stay as long as possible! I should be back in Los Angeles during the first week of December and back up to Washington around the 10th – 15th.