Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hey guys! This week I went on a snorkeling trip with six of my friends to Goat Island. At first I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought we would take a tiny boat out to the island where we would rent our snorkeling gear and be confined to swimming in a roped off piece of the ocean. How far from the truth I actually was! When we got to the shore, we all went to rent our wetsuits; little did we know they would be bright blue! We looked like the crew from Monsters Inc. After we got our gear we drove down to the beach where we were free to snorkel all around Goat Island (which is a nature reserve so we weren’t allowed on the actual island). The scenery was amazing; every which way I looked was breathtaking. Looking up the sky was bright blue, to the left was the island, to the right the beach with the green hills behind it, straight ahead were mountains, and below was the ocean. In the ocean, which was crystal clear, we saw things like a huge stingray, a lobster, and a bunch of bright colored fish. This experience was one that will be hard to top. After snorkeling we went to a beach about a half hour away that was also very beautiful. While everyone went off for a hike Haley and I decided to go for a longer walk on the beach and look out at the sunset over the water. It was so pretty to watch. What I find Ironic though is that when we came back that night we found out that at that same time we were admiring the ocean, there was a tsunami taking place in the same body of water miles and miles away.

The next day I had a trip planned to go to the Coromandel Peninsula but because of the Tsunami warning we canceled our trip. Instead we would up hiking Mount Eden and going to the Pacifica Festival. Mount Eden is a small mountain right outside of the city center in Auckland. From the top of the mountain we could see the skyline perfectly. There was also a huge crater right before the top of the mountain where there was once a volcanic explosion. Hiking to Mount Eden was something I wanted to do while living in Auckland so I’m glad we went.

After Mount Eden we took the van and went to the Pacifica Festival on the other Side of town. Once again we had no idea what to expect. We planned on only staying for about an hour or so, but yet again we were pleasantly surprised. The festival, we found out is one of the largest and most significant festivals in the south pacific. There were acres and acres filled with stages and posts set up. The Music was great, Pacific Island dancers and musicians were performing on stages about every 100 yards or so and on the perimeter around the stages booths and tents were set up. Bre, Kiri and I were walking past one tent looking very curious as Pacific Islanders were sitting Indian style around a large pot drinking this drink that looked a lot like coffee out of halved coconut shaped cups. Before we knew it we were being invited in to share the drink with them. As we sat down the natives clapped three times (to represent yesterday, today, and tomorrow). They explained to us that we were drinking cava, and what the bowl it was made in represented. They told us that since we were drinking the cava with them we are now considered family. After we left Kiri, who has Pacific Island relatives explained that cava usually isn’t shared with people other than family members so that experience was very special. After we left that booth we went to the next booth were we saw someone manually getting a tattoo with an ink filled chisel. Normally I would be hesitant to watch but it was very interesting. Before we left we each got a big plate of Samoan food which consisted of lamb, corn, noodles, and rice. This was a treat considering I’m on the meal plan at Huia and the food is not that good to say the last. As we ate our food we sat by a stage and watched Pacific Islanders sing and perform music. Although the trip to Coromandel got called off because of the tides, we still had a great weekend.

This morning I recieved an e-mail that my favorite professor had a heart attack and won’t be back in class until the end of the semester, so that’s really sad. Other than that I really enjoy all of my classes. I find my marketing class the most interesting. My first test is on Wednesday and I’m actually looking forward to it.

The cool thing about being here is not only do I go to school and go on trips, but I also find myself learning life lessons every single day. That’s part of what comes from traveling, you get to meet people of all different ethnicities, cultures, and religions and you pick up certain things and learn about aspects of people you might never experience staying in the same town or state your whole life. One of the most important things I’ve learned so far while being here is that you should never think you know someone’s background at a first glance. I know that’s something we’ve been taught since we were young but it never truly sunk in until I was put in the situation of meeting people from all over the globe. Some people who look like they are from China will start talking in a kiwi accent, and as you get to know them, they were raised here their whole lives. And others who you think look like kiwis, will start talking in an Australian accent, or even and American accent for that matter. I wouldn’t consider myself judgmental before I came here, but I would often make assumptions as to what ethnicity someone was by their looks, accent, or fashion. From being here I’ve learned that it’s worth the time to get to know someone because you might be surprised by what interesting story they have to share.

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