On top of everything I did a very Jessi thing and went to the Christmas banquet in a formal gown, gloves, and a tiara, but the problem was that only about 5 people realized it was a very Jessi thing. To everyone else I was just a bit overdressed. Alas.
However, I am very excited about moving in with Allison. Her place is amazing - and of course she is amazing and fun and I think we are going to have a spectacular time living together. Plus, I think it will help me to get to know all of the people I don't really know yet. I'm definitely glad I'm not living by myself like I had originally planned. This semester is gonna be good - different, but good.
Although I really wish Calla Maria was still here. It most surely will not be the same without her. She has always been at my side in Auburn. First she lived next door, then we lived together for 2 years. Who will I play in the rain with? Who will I have cake fights with? Who will I steal traffic barrels with? (for the record, stealing is bad) Who will enjoy whoa with me at Chili's? Who will I take bubble baths with (with a swim suit on)? Who will let me sit in her lap on the scholarship couch while eating Java chip ice cream and watching Dawson's Creek? It certainly will not be the same.
Since I've been home I have been able to indulge in the beatiful things that make home so good. The food: fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, fried okra, cornbread, Dr. pepper, sweet tea, Southwestern Cobb salad from Chilis, THE THANKSGIVING MEAL - need I say more? And then of course there's mommy and daddy and cuddles and kisses and my friends and Dawson's Creek. *sigh*
My 21st birthday was last Monday. My mommy and daddy threw me a tea party. It was so cute. And I got a diamond necklace - my first real diamond necklace. yay.
Right now my parents are in the process of moving out of the Olive Tree, a coffee house/bookstore, their place of business for the last three years, the place that their ministry began. The end of another era. The end of free double vanilla lattes. Wow the sadness of that reality just hit me like a ton of bricks. Ouch. But I will always remember the day that I faced my fear of the espresso machine and steamer and made my very first latte. It was a beautiful moment. Now what God has in store for them next I have no idea, and neither do they. I admire their trust in Him.
I'll be coming up to Auburn on Thursday. Woo hoo! I'm excited to see all of my old friends, and make some new ones hopefully. Although the thought of meeting a bajillion people whom I've never met and who may or may not refer to me as "the kiwi" (so I've heard) scares me a bit. But I am pretty excited to meet some new people and hear their stories of the past year.
But, alas, now I must go and move more boxes. Fun times, fun times.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Koala Bears...so cute...I got to cuddle with one!
Kangaroos...lazy bums...most of them were just laying aound on the ground waiting for someone to come and scratch their tummies.
Tasmanian Devil...to my dismay, he did not travel by cyclone as I was led to believe by the usually accurate Looney Toons.
See the mist on the left hand side? That's called a blowhole. At high tide, the waves crash on the rocks and the spray comes up through a hole making it look like a blowhole.
The coast of Punakaiki.
Justin, Laura, and Josh tried to slide down the hill on sleeping mats...it didn't quite work out.
Here we are walking back from our adventure on the hillside.
In the distance is Ilam fields...where people usually have rugby practice...it became the perfect location for snowball fights.
The last week has been pretty difficult. I've had to say goodbye to all of the people I've shared the last 4 1/2 months with. I really miss them. They were such good people, such good friends. And they taught me a lot...they taught me about new perspectives, about love, about friendship, and even about God - which is crazy because most of them didn't believe in God.
When you aren't around Christians every second of every day (which I practically was before I came here) you begin to see things and understand things in a new light. It is actually very scary. Because the truth is not everyone knows about Jesus. Not everyone wants to. Not everyone will. And it's hard, because you see these people, these truly good people who you love and cherish and they want nothing to do with God. They think he is silly, that he is some man-made insanity in the sky scaring people into doing crazy things and saying even crazier things. And that makes me angry. And that makes me sad. But at the same time, they have respect for this thing that they don't believe in. They respect me because I believe in him. They love me unconditionally. And this made me really sad, because I know that Christians don't love people unconditionally. I know Christians who would be uncomfortable around my friend Justin becasue he is gay. And that really pisses me off. And then some Christians would want to be his friend, but it would only be because they wanted to see him get saved, because they had this hidden agenda, and not because they genuinely loved him like Jesus does, like Jesus told us to do - he would just be another name on the list.
Honestly I don't blame some of these people for not beliving in Jesus because the only example they have of him is what they see from the Christians around them and the Christians they see on TV. And let me tell you, some of the people who claim to be "Christians," who claim to be followers of Christ do nothing but embarrass him, shame him, and nullify the real reason he died for us in the first place.
I'm obviously not saying this of all Christians, but being here, seeing it from the outside looking in, I can understand how it looks that way. Generalizations are evil, but they happen and they are killing us. They are killing the love that was meant for everyone, not just the people raised in the Bible Belt.
I know I'm going off a bit, but I've been thinking about this for a long time and I need to get it out. I am angry. It's not fair. And it hurts me. And then I get a glimpse into the world of God. How much more does it hurt for him? He is perfect and wonderful and amazing and he wants to offer us everything, but some people won't take what he is offering because they look at what other people are doing with it and they don't want to be a part of it. Oh if only we were capable of loving other people the way God loves us. Then everything would be ok.
So here is a list of the things I have learned in NZ:
1) NEVER RELY ON FIRST IMPRESSIONS
--> So remember my gorgeous flatmate Greg? Yeah, he's an ass. Utterly useless. I'll just leave it at that. I am willing to provide evidence for those who need proof. (I realize that this is not being very loving, and I apologize, but really, some people are a waste of lifeform)
In addition, a couple of guys who I assumed would turn out to be asses were actually two of the most caring and good-hearted people that I have ever met. So really, take a good long look at someone and spend time with them before you create a personality for them.
2) TIM TAMS ARE THE BEST COOKIES IN THE WORLD
--> This doesn't need much explaining. Come to New Zealand or Australia and eat them - lots of them. Yummy yummy for the tummy. Just imagine - chocolate coated chocolate wafer with chocolate cream filling. Amazing.
3) YOU DON'T REALLY NEED TO GO TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD TO BE INSPRIRED.
--> So before I came here I thought that I needed this trip, this adventure, to refuel. I needed to step away from monotony and routine and "find myself." I wanted to get closer to God, I wanted to meet new people, I wanted to firgure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I wanted to be inspired. But things didn't really turn out the way I expected - and that's a good thing. I did find out new things about myself - like I'm not a total scaredy cat - and I did meet new people who taought me a lot, and I did get closer to God in ways that I had never noticed before.
But I was wrong in thinking that coming here would show me how to see a different side of God. Because no matter where I go, I will always be there, and better yet God will always be there. And he does not change. No part of him changes. He is the same in New Zealand as he is in the United States, all I have to do is look. If I seek then I shall find. And really I don't need beautiful scenery to inspire me into looking.
But then again I did have to come here to realize that I already had what I needed the entire time.
Ok so now that I've lost about 2/3 of the people who originally began reading this, I'm going to stop the list here and finish it later, when I've had more time to ponder.
I'll have my cell phone with me on Tuesday if you want to give me a ring - I'd love to hear from you!! See you soon!
Of course, not everything was perfect. Once I finally got to the hostel I was staying at, I realized that it wasn't going to be the nice relaxing week I had envisioned. There were people everywhere and music was blaring all day every day, not to mention the fact that the "hot and sunny" weather made the un-airconditioned rooms nearly unbearable- not really my cup o tea...at least not when I'm by myself. So the first couple of days weren't too fun to be honest. I mean the mornings were great - I would go down to the beach (which was right across the street) and lay out for about 3 hours and then I would walk around town, get some lunch, and maybe do some reading. But then I would run out of things to do and have to go back to the room I was sharing with 3 crazy guys.
So I ended up leaving the hostel and going to a place that rented out one bedroom apartments - my own full size bed, bathroom, kitchen, and living room. Good stuff. I felt so much better from then on out. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the beach and walking around and then coming back to a nice quiet place with an amazing view.
My fourth day there I went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Definately the highlight of my stay. I walked around that place for hours looking at the exotic birds, dingoes, tasmanian devils, echidnas, wombats, crocodiles, and, of course, the koala bears and kangaroos. Such amazing creatures. The best part was that they had the kangaroos free to roam around ( within a certain boundary) so you could walk right up to them and pet them or sit with them. It was so awesome. There was a big group of them lying around and I just walked right into the middle of them and took pictures and pet them. They were almost like dogs, rolling around on their backs so that you could scratch their bellies. I was all smiles.
And then if that weren't enough, I got to cuddle with a koala. Oh yes, thats right, we cuddled. Ok so I had to pay $15 to be able to, but I'd say it was worth it. And I got a professional picture. We were so cute. He had his little arms around me and his little head was on my shoulder. I thought I was going to cry.
But, alas, now I am back in New Zealand. Well, to be honest, I'm glad to be back. I was craving some social contact. Not that there aren't people in Australia - there are actually too many of them - but I wanted my friends. Also, I can finally say that I am truly glad I came to NZ instead of Australia (which you may or may not remember I was having an extrememly difficult time deciding between the two). I mean I liked it, but I think I would have gotten bored because I would only have the city and the outback would be really hard to get to without a car...Australia is just too big to be able to do as much travelling as I have been able to do here.
So there it is...my last big adventure for a while. I'll be back in the States in 9 days! Woo hoo!!
Wow, just 3 more weeks until i come home. Time has flown by. Well, sort of. I do feel like I've grown up a lot in the last 4 months though. Not sure how i feel about that. My mom called me an adult the other day. The crazy part is I almost feel like one. I'll be 21 in a month. I guess after that I will really have to come to terms with the fact that I am an adult. I asked my mom if she was gonna take me out drinking. She said she would throw me a tea party. Oh mom.
How do ya like them apples?
I am done with lecTURES, I am done with lecTURES, I am done with lecTURES!!!!!!!
Ok, had to get that out of my system. So as you may or may not have guessed, I am done with lectures. (or I guess finished with lectures would be a more grammatically accurate way of putting it) Anyway, all I have left as far as school goes are the three terrible finals, two coming up in about a week and a half and then the last one a couple of weeks after the first two. Guess where I'm going during one of those weeks between my finals....Australia!! Whoo hoo!! I'll be going to Surfer's Paradise on the Gold Coast just south of Brisbane where I will be staying at a hostel ON THE BEACH! yay! Then after that I'll take my last final, pack up my stuff and fly home!
I've been here for over three months now. I wonder how much has changed since I've been gone? How many new people won't even know who I am when I show up again at Chi Alpha next sesmester? I can just picture someone coming up to me with a visitor's card and asking me if its my first time at The Front Door. *sigh*
Also, I finally found a church! Its called City New Life and I love it; everyone is so nice, the worship is great, everything is great. And it's in this cool old building downtown. I like it a lot. I just wish I would have found it sooner. Now I only have like 6 more weeks to go. Wow, I've almost been here for three months. Can you believe that? Right when I start to get settled and comfortable I'll have to leave. Not that I don't want to leave - I do miss you guys tremendously, but I can see how its gonna be hard leaving all of the people that I 've shared my life with these last few months. It would be like leaving Auburn for good after my first semester. I mean I hated college when I first got there; I missed my friends from high school so much, but after I got through the first semester I loved it. Its kind of the same thing here. Although, I seriously doubt I could love this place as much as I love Auburn. The friends I've made there will never be replaced.
On a happy and relieving note, I got an A on that research report I was slightly worried about, so thats good news. I'm just about done with the hard school work stuff now - just one more test and then finals! Hooray! Now I can relax and read...something I've been loving lately.
Anything new in Auburn? Are there a lot of new people in XA? How's the football team doing?
In addition I need some sane people to back me up in the fact that Johhny Depp is one of the most amazing actors out there...I din't say the best, but he's definitely one of them. I have officially declared war against Josh Ezzell in this matter. I need soldiers. I need you!! So, my fellow Johhny Depp fans, our ammunition is as follows: leave comments on either my blog or on Josh's saying why Johhny Depp is such an amazing actor. Thank you so much for your support. Peace, Love, Nike
Not too much else going on in my life. Well, except for a couple of things I guess. I went to a Student Life meeting Thursday and I really liked it. They are basically like Campus Crusades, for those of you who have heard of them in the States. Two of the leaders are actually from Alabama! Birmingham to be exact. So that was cool. And they played reliant k and switchfoot which are two of my favorite bands (by the way, the title is a reliant k song).I'm looking forward to going back next week.
I got a guitar yesterday! I was dying without one, so I went and got a cheap one that I could sell back at the end of the semester. My fingers hurt so bad. I love it.
I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night. I liked it a lot, but I couldn't help but compare it to the old movie the whole time I was watching it, and it really didn't compare. I have decided that Johnny Depp is my favorite actor though. He really is amazing. I mean Edward Scissorhands, Pirates of the Carribbean, What's eating Gilbert Grape, and now Charlie and the chocolate factory - all great movies, and all very different characters that Johnny Depp does an amazing job of portraying.
Man I really have nothing interesting to say. So sorry. Maybe I'll make something up later and write about it...
Second day - hiking...and fording freezing streams
But the scenery was amazing...the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen
Taking a little rest on the beach before the water taxi came to pick us up.
Swimming circles with the Dusky Dolphins - check out those mountains in the background!
Our view from the hostel.
Momma sheep. Interesting fact: the sheep to people ratio in New Zealand is 12:1...scary...they could take over...like Animal Farm...such a crazy book
View from on top of a big rock on the Kaikoura coast.
I got back from the road trip yesterday. I am so tired. After the 33k hike we went to Nelson to explore Abel Tasman. That was probably my favorite part of the trip. The first day we kayaked 16k up the coast with our guide Hot Andy. His name is actually just Andy, but somehow it became Hot Andy (I think it was Kestrel who first said it) and the name just stuck, although we never actually called him that to his face. He is probably one of the funniest people I have ever met. And yes, he is also hot, but really it's his personality that made him that way. The scenery was so beautiful - and we got to see seals. It was pretty tiring though, especially since my poor arms don't get to experience much excercise. We stopped in Bark Bay where we spent the night in a hut. Before going to bed the 5 of us went down to the beach to look at the stars. You really can't fully appreciate a clear starry night until you've experienced it out in the middle of the wilderness, without any form of artificial light, and the sound of waves crashing in front of you. Truly magnificent. The next day we hiked up to the northern part of Abel Tasman (can't rememebr how to spell the name) and then took a water taxi back down to the bottom.
After that we went to St. Anaud to a ski area (I didn't ski - just read and drank Chai in the cafe). The next day we drove to Greymouth, which is a beautiful drive along the west coast, and I took a bus back home so I could get to work on my papers.
Today was a beautiful day. It was somewhat warm - mid 60s maybe - so I decided to take a blanket outside and read. I haven't done that in a long time. I used to do it all the time in Auburn, either in the circle where I lived or on Samford lawn. I had forgotten how relaxing it is. I got to wear my favorite long green skirt too and eat a new fave - an apple with peanut butter.
I think my toenail is going to come off. It's purple and it still hurts. I'm definitely not looking forward to that day. No pain, no gain, right? I hate that saying.
I remember towards the middle of the hike the second day I was walking alone (the group split up as the hike went on) and I was on a somewhat straight path (relief) overlooking the coast. Talk about some amazing God time. It was just me and Him and this beautiful paradise that He had made. I was talking to him, and at one point I was seriously thinking I wasn't going to make it. Then I saw the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen and I remembered how it symbolized a promise. Right then he promised me that I would make it. And guess what? I did. And with two hours to spare. It only took me a little over six hours and I was expecting it to take about eight.
We're supposed to go on another hiking/kayaking trip tomorrow or the next day. I think it's about 15k. What have I gotten myself into? I should be a healthy beast by the time I get back.
November 14th. Thats when I get back. Such a long time. I miss you guys so much. I'm thinking 4 1/2 months is a little too long. I would be fine coming abck in another couple of weeks, but I have 2 1/2 more months to go. Such a long time!
How is the first week of school going? Talk to me!
Guess what I was doing this morning. Well, you know, the usual - snorkling in the Pacific with a pod of 200 dolphins. Yeah it was amazing. Seriously a dream come true. I remember swimming in the bay across from my house and I would see a family of five or six dolphins on the other side. I would make stupid noises to try and get their attention, but I never got very close. This moring I was swimming with them - I mean there were hundreds of them swimming around me, under me - and they were inches from me.
That was actually in Kaikoura, a little south of Picton and north of Christchurch. The scenery was amazing. There were huge snowcapped mountains to our left and the Pacific Ocean to our right. Totally surreal.
Tomorrow we're going on the Queen Charlotte track at the Marlboro Sounds (in Picton). Its a two day hike. I even got a real bacpack and sleeping bag and hiking boots. I'm a real tramper. In New Zealand.
I'm trying not to think about the two papers I have due when I get back (that I haven't started on yet). I'm here for more than just school, right?
I have to say, it made me really sad when I read the XA e-mail about the kick-off BBQ and all of the fun stuff that was plannd for the week, knowng I wasn't going to be there. I remember my first kick-off BBQ my freshman year. I met kelly fly there. Oh man I'm gonna cry.
Ok well I only have about 2 minutes left on this thing so I'm gonna go. Love you guys!
Oh, well. At least its over with.
I need to decide what to do for holidays (a.k.a. spring break). We have two weeks off after next week. Figi? Australia? Cruising around the south island? Maybe a trip to North island? Tonga? So many choices. I really wanna go either to Figi or Brisbane and the outback (Australia). Any suggestions? We all know how indecisive I am. Oh by the way...I am now on facebook.
I like it here, but I don't really feel here sometimes. Kinda hard to explain. It's like "Jessi" isn't just my body, heart, mind, and soul - it's more like body, heart, mind, soul, mom, dad, zack, calla maria, auburn, chi alpha, God, 11327 county road 26, gulf shores high school, charity and the girls, melissa, steven, the pier, krissy-ro, Christian Life Church...all of these things make me. well, not in that particular order obviously. but now i'm cut off from all of those things (except for God). like parts of me are missing now and i have to grow new limbs. its so much harder to function in the in-between times. i have to learn how to walk all over again.
I am finally beginning to feel known.
Sunday we went tramping (hiking) near Hanmer Springs. It took us 3 hours to get there though, instead of the 2 we thought it would take. There were 6 people in the car, four in the back - I was in the back. Fun times. My butt is still sore.
But thats not the half of it. Two hours into the hike it started raining. And it was cold. We decided to go ahead and turn back. It was a long walk back to the car. By the time we got back we were completely soaked and muddy. Then we had climb into the Honda Concierto and drive the three hours back - wet, muddy, and cold. The heat was blasting, the windows were completely fogged. It was miserable. But it was an incredible bonding experience. As we cuddled for warmth in the back seat, Josh continued his stories about his Jewish schooling- how he cheated his way through it (apparently public school kids learned how to cheat from the Jews) and how his dating a non-Jew isn't going over too well with grandma. Justin says he's more of a Jew than he realized. Josh isn't sure if there even is a God. Justin lets me put my head on his shoulder and sleep. (Don't worry, I'm not his type...he bats for the other team if you know what I mean). Random bursts from the radio sing out. Kepler sings along. We keep readjusting. We are getting more and more comfortable with each other. There's no longer a such thing as "personal space." Kestrel gives me an oreo, Justin is appalled that we would eat such a vile and unhealthy food. He is especially appalled at Kestrel, her being such a hippie. Rosie is driving; she hates having to drive so slow on the unfamiliar roads - she thinks the people behind her are getting annoyed. She gets them to pass her as much as she can.
I am really starting to know these people...
I even let them borrow my flip flops when we stop to get pizza and chinese takeout. (they are the only shoes that aren't soaked and muddy). Its a beautiful thing.
This was my view from the plane coming into Auckland, NZ.
This is my flatmate Kestrel and I at Sumner Beach.
Here I am hanging on for dear life on a jumpy swing thing in a playground at the Botanical Gardens. (By the way, this thing was amazing - so fun.)
And here is the beautiful New Brighton Beach.
The group in Hanmer Springs. (From left to right : Laurel, Laura, Kestrel, Justin, Becky, and Matt)
Of course, these are just a select few of the pictures I have, but I thought they would give you the best idea of the BEAUTY that is New Zealand. I hope you like them!
(Yeah I know the formatting on this post is a little messed up - like the words being off centered and such- but my computer illiterate brain can't fix it. Trust me, I've tried. So sorry to those perfectionists out there.)
There are so many Americans here. Half of my professors are American and just about all of the people I hang out with are too. I'm not sure I'm getting the full Kiwi experience here. Of course, this place isn't that different than the States in a lot of ways. I mean, they get our music, our movies, our TV shows - the American media is all over this place. And my accent isn't cool. That makes me kind of sad. Not only do they hear the American accent all the time, making it anything but special, but I also think that they don't like it much. I've heard that they think the American accent is annoying. Thats pretty understandable. I mean they are so articulate and well spoken and they use big words; we probably sound like idiots when we talk. Or maybe its just me. I still have trouble understanding them sometimes. Like this girl I met in one of my classes was asking me if I had any pets, but I kept hearing peets, so i didn't have a clue what she was talking about. Finally, she slowed it down, and asked if I owned any animals. I finally got it. I told her I used to have a dog named Buddy, but it died, and my parents didn't even tell me, and I was really upset about it. I have a feeling that was too much information.
The class we have together is Personality Psychology. We have our lab together too. We played this game in lab called "The Pairing game." Everyone is given a card with three personality adjectives on it and we can't look at it. We all go to the middle of the room and hold up our card so everyone else can see it and we have to find someone that we would want as a partner. It took me a long time to find someone who wanted me. Everyone kept laughing when they saw my card. Finally someone felt sorry for me and paired with me (I didn't think I had much room to be picky so I would have taken whoever wanted me). Then we had to tell the lab instructor whether we thought we had good or bad personality traits, or a mixture of both. I figured I had all bad. This is what I had:
Last night Josh gave Kepler $5 to eat a peice of toast with a lot of Vegemite on it. He agreed, but he almost couldn't finish it. It was hilarious. I'll have to get Kestrel to send me the pics. My advice to you: If you ever come to New Zealand, and you want to try the Vegemite, don't think you can spread it on like peanut butter...you'll regret it big time.
It is cold and it is wet and it is windy. Having an umbrella is no good because the wind just blows it away and you get wet anyway. Hopefully it will be better by this weekend. Hows the weather in Bama? No wait, don't tell me. I don't think I want to know. I'm sure its miserable...
Ok I must get to class. Sorry for such a boring post.
But besides that, we have been having some really interesting conversations. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but all of the friends I've made down have very different views than I am used to. They are all pretty liberal, they hate Bush, they hate religion for the most part. Kestrel is a feminist - she actually lives in the feminist dorm at her school. And she's pro-choice, which if any of you know me well you that that I usually don't get along well with people who are pro-choice. But I really do love Kestrel and we have a good time together. Our conversations can be a bit draining though - good, but draining. I sometimes have a hard time getting my point across. Kestrel and Kepler (another guy that goes to school with Kestrel in the states) both are extrememly intellectual and analytical and that sort of thing. They love to question things and to learn things. I like that about them a lot. I just wish I was a bit more articulate.
It also frustrates me that know little to nothing about politics and government and all of that. I don't have much to say about it, so those conversations I'm just stuck listening to how much Bush sucks and how his views suck and how America sucks. Of course their language is a bit different. But i feel so ignorant; I don't even know whats going on in my own country. I hate that.
On a different note, I have recently made an observation that I have found rather interesting. It is going to sound silly, but I think it really portrays something deeper. Poeple here don't typically get braces. The teeth they have are the teeth they keep. And its beautiful. They have such character and originality. I mean a few people have naturally straight teeth (like my gorgeous flatmate Greg) but most people have a few irregularities with their teeth. I know its a weird thing to notice, but it really does tend to set them apart. I see these beautiful blonde skinny girls with crooked teeth and it makes me smile because you would never see that in the States, at least not typically. I will say that the poeple here are much more stylish and trendy when it comes to what they wear (sort of that European influence), but at the same time they don't seem as materialistic as people in the US. I will have to go deeper in this hypothesis...
And that was just in one day. One day of beauty. And I have four more months to go. So great.
I met my other two flatmates today. They seem really nice. Oh, but I found out one small problem. One of them is ridiculously attractive. God help me.
Jon Mark...yes its cold here. I think its like in the 30s and 40s. Colder up the mountains. But really not as bad as I was expecting.
Hannah...I miss you too!! I hope everything is going well. I'll definitely come visit you when I get back to the states.
School starts tomorrow. I'm kind of nervous. Actually I don't think I have classes on Mondays, so officially I don't have class until Tuesday. Still nervous.
Oh, so as some of you know Rugby is huge here. Last night was the last game (or test as they call it) of the Lions tour. They played against the New Zealand All Blacks, which happens only once in 12 years so it was a huge deal. I watched the game at the All Blacks home bar, called the Holy Grail, and it was the most intense game I've ever seen in my life. Football does not compare. Rugby goes very fast, its continuous, and its hard core. The guys that play are huge and fast and intense. It was so awesome. At the beginning of the game the All Blacks did the Haka, which is a Maori chant they do at the beginning of every game. It was really cool. And intimidating. You should watch it sometime.
So I think thats about it for now. Love you guys.
I have been in New Zealand 3 days now. I still can't believe it. It is so surreal. Everything has gone pretty well. The flight over was pretty gruelling; I got to the airport in Atlanta Sunday around 12:30pm and didn't get to Christchurch until Tuesday at about 2am Atlanta time (which is 7pm local time). I was exhausted. Five planes. I lamost missed the one to Sydney from San Fransisco because my flight in Denver was delayed an hour and a half. But everyhting worked out pretty well. All my luggage got here fine.
I got to see the sunrise in Sydney. That was pretty amazing. I have to say the flight to Auckland was the best. While we were flying over the Pacific all you could see was this sea of clouds. It was beatiful. Then coming in for the landing in New Zealand you could see the rocky shoreline surrounded by fog. I've never seen anything like it. I'll post the pictures as soon as i get them developed.
The place I'm staying is pretty cool too. Its called University Hall; I'm staying in the flats and I have 4 flatmates. I've only met Kestrel and Yence (not sure if I spelled his name right). Kestrel is from Vermont; she is a really cool chick - we get along really well. Yence is from Germany and the other two are Kiwis (but I haven't met them yet). By the way, a Kiwi is what they call people from New Zealand.
So far I've met a lot of Americans - a lot more than I had anticipated. I hung out with a lot of them last night. They're a lot different than me so its kind of wierd sometimes. Awkward I mean. There are a few that I have a lot in common with and can talk to, but for a lot of them, all they want to talk about is how many beers it takes them to get drunk. Thats another thing, drinking is a huge part of the culture here. I mean when I went to the University Hall welcoming get together, they gave us beer. The head of hall gave us beer. I was surprised (all of the americans were surprised), but it seemed to be completely natural. And you only have to be 18 to drink here. Thats probably why a lot of Americans come here.
It was shocking to a lot of people that I don't drink. One of the resident supervisor guys took us out to town last night to go to some of the local bars and clubs, but he took us to his house for a few drinks first. I got a sprite. I mean I wasn't the only one not drinking alcohol, but it was funny the way Mike (the RA) treated me at first. When I said I didn't want anything he came up to me and asked what i wanted again, he even stooped down (I was sitting) and asked me, like he was sorry for me or something. I mean I really don't have a problem with drinking, but I do have a problem with getting drunk, and thats the main reason they drink here. But I must say I had a really good time hanging out with them. Only a couple of the guys got drunk (including Mike) but me and Kestrel and a couple of the other girsl kind of stuck together and hung out. Kestrel isn't really a big partier or drinker either, so thats good.
Kestrel and I actually had a really good conversation over lunch yesterday. She was asking me about my religion and about what I believed. (She doesn't really know what she believes in yet). So anyway it was really cool, and different, for me to talk to someone who really doesn't have a clue what Christianity is. Every time I would say something, she would ask what I meant by it. Like she didn't undertand what "following Jesus" meant or what "conviction" meant. So I really got to explain about who Jesus is and what he's done for me and my family. She was really curious and thought it was really interesting.
Right now I'm just trying to be a good example of a Christian. I haven't met anyone else yet who is a Christian, and honestly I'm scared of everyone else rubbing off on me. I mean I want them to impact me in a lot of ways, but not in the ways that will compromise who I am in Christ, who God wants me to be.
So I guess those are the high points of whats going on over here. School starts Monday. Scary. They teach a lot different here. We'll see how it goes. I'll keep you posted. I love you guys!
So a few interesting things have happened in the last couple of days. My dad got a Beamer. Thats right, my 65 year old father has a BMW motorcycle. Its the same kind he had when i was a baby and he would sit me in the front and ride around with me. He is gonna ride around with his biker buddies that he ministers with. Pretty cool.
Yesterday my friend Charity punched her fist through her glass door. She got a litle angry at one of her sisters. It took everything she had not to punch her sister. I went with her to the emergency room, but she didn't need stitches, so we just left. We decided she needed to work on her anger management skills.
Speaking of anger management skills, I nearly broke the arm of a little 12 year old boy that lives down the street from me - on purpose. He slapped my rear. I don't handle things like that very well. God help him if I ever see him again. Good thing I'll have four months in a different hemisphere to cool off.
Well I guess thats all for now. I'll be writing again hopefully in a few days. I love you guys! Please pray for me on the way there - you know, that I don't get lost in the airport or miss a flight or crash to my death, etc.
Well ok then. Here it is. One of the most amazing, if not the most amazing book series to have ever been written is coming to the big screen. Thats right. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is coming to theatres December 9 from Walt Disney Pictures, the director of Shrek, and the special effects supervisor of Lord of the Rings. Holy cow. I am about to pee my pants I am so excited.
I mean this is big. Have you seen the trailer? Sweet mercy. I am hysterical.
Oh and guess where most of it was filmed. Thats right. New Zealand. Close to Christchurch. I mean I will practically be in Narnia. Oh man. This is too much for me...
Is that weird? I mean I should be pretty nervous. A few weeks ago I was really nervous. Not so much about the living in New Zealand part, mainly the flying to New Zealnd part. I've never flown by myself. Trying to find my way through 5 different airports - big airports - is a little intimidating. But right now I am just ready to go. i mean I have been anticipating this moment for the last 9 months. Now I have 3 days. Wow. Three days.
By the way I'll be in Auburn saturday afternoon. I fly out Sunday morning. Yeah thats in 3 days. I'll be honest though, this last week has been the longest week of my life. That might be a good thing though. I should savor every moment I have here. I don't want time to go by too fast. Before I know all of this will be over. Sad thought.
That is me jumping and screaming. On the inside of course. Sweet mercy.
I mean of you only knew the stuff I had to crawl through to get here, to get to the place where I can say "It is Tuesday. I leave Sunday."
I can only say THANK YOU GOD because that is the only way I can possibly be here. This is what He had to do for me to allow me to go:
1) Raise $12,000
2) Convince my parents it was a good idea, and not only that but an exciting opportunity that they wish they could do as well
3) Give me motivation to fill out the mountains of paperwork (application, enrolment, acomodation, visa, AU abroad)
4) Give me time to fill out mountains of paperwork
5) Give me a dream, a desire to go, a vision
6) Have people believe in me and encourage me
7) Give me the guts to go to a different country, a different hemisphere, not knowing a soul, and scariest of all, the guts to ride on a plane (make that 5 planes) by myself
8) Work through stupid complications like my insurance not being approved, my second thoughts about going and leaving everyone and everything I knew, not being sure if the money was going to be enough, being relocated to a more expensive flat (room)
And the list goes on...but everything worked out. Against all odds. Tuition was half of what I expected, I just got another $1000 scholarship that I wasn't expecting, all of my paperwork is in, I had the most fabulous people helping me and being patient with me both in New Zealand and at Auburn. Its really amazing that I'm doing this. I've always had big dreams, but I've never been very good at following through with them. Somehow my biggest dream came true.
There have been a lot of disasters recently. The university over there didn't approve of my insurance. That was annoying. So now I have to take out a third - yes, count it, a third - insurance policy through the University of Canterbury. Its not too expensive though. Then today I found out that I have been "reallocated to a Stage 3 flat" which means I'll be living in a dorm/apartment/flat thing that is twice as expensive. That happened because I'll be going down there for their second semester, and of course no one moves out after the first semester except for the older students who graduate. Hence, i'll be moving in with older students in the expensive flat. Now everyone is gonna think I'm some spoiled rich little American girl. Well maybe not.
I was really scared about the money thing though. But then I realized that I paid like $2600 too much for tuition so that will take care of the extra money it will cost to live in the flat. I'm gonna be living in a flat. How cool is that? And it has a rubbish tin. Thats right, a rubbish tin. And I have to take it to the skip when its full. Doesn't that sound so much better than taking the trash can to the dumpster? I thought so too. I mean I might actually enjoy taking out the trash if I got to use cool words like rubbish and skip.
I'm getting anxious to leave. I've already packed most of my clothes. (Its winter there so I packed sweaters and jackets and things like that). I can't believe July 3rd is so close. It used to seem so far away. Impossibly far away. So far that I could dream about leaving without actually having to leave. But now its more like reality. I'm leaving in 11 days. I'm really leaving in 11 days.
But that brings me to a new point. What makes someone a fan of something? Is it because they are truly passionate about the particular item or do they just want to be. When it comes to Star Wars I can honestly say that I just want to be. But are people like Melissa's brother Anthony fans because they love Star Wars or because all of their friends are and it makes them part of a group? Then is Melissa a fan because her big brother is? I mean if her brothers hated Star Wars would she still like the movies? These are probably ridiculous questions but it makes me wonder about other things. For instance, I am a big fan of coffee. I hated coffee before I came to college. Now I don't know if I started drinking it because I needed it to stay up and study or because all of my friends drink a lot of coffee, but I drink coffee every day now. The same with art. I never painted or wrote or played guitar before I came to college, but I always wanted to. Somehow, because I wanted to, I started painting and writing and playing guitar. Now I have a real appreciation for everything creative and artsy. I have become a fan. An oscillating fan if you will.
But seriously now I don't know why I just wrote all of that crap; I actually wanted to write about something from the actual movie that I thought fascinating. Hate. Where does it come from? In East of Eden John Steinbeck writes, "Hate does not live alone. It needs Love as a goad, a trigger, a stimulant." That may not be the exact quote, but thats how I remember it. Anyway, what fascinated me in Star Wars is the fact that Anakin (aka Darth Vader) didn't hate because he was evil and cruel by nature. He hated because he first loved. And he loved passionately. That is so sad to me. Granted it was selfish love. I mean he would rather kill off everyone than have his own love, Padmé, taken from him. His love for power also triggered him to hate those who kept him from it. But it was love nonetheless.
Do we hate because we love? I can think of one person I have truly hated, but I never loved him. So what was that? Maybe I just loved what he took from me and hence hated him for taking it. Like Anakin and his power. When someone tried to take it or keep him from it he hated that person.
But i have always seen Hate as the opposite of Love, just as like is the opposite of dislike. Love is like + passion. Hate is dislike + passion. But is that really what it is? I don't know. It can't be formularized. Yeah thats not a word.
I do believe that Hate is driven by passion, and passion derives from a Love of something. So Hate relies on Love. It can't survive alone.
But then that begs the question, where does Love come from? I do not believe it comes from Hate. That would be silly. An object's source cannot be its outlet without truly being the source, and i think I have already established that Love must be the source. Or at least i think I have. I hope I have. Anyway, if Love is the source, who or what is Its maker? I think that is where God comes in. I know that is where God comes in. After all God is Love. He is the source. How sad that we turn something so beautiful as Love into something so hideous as Hate. Its like taking the little part of Heaven God has given us and letting Satan turn it into a little part of Hell here on Earth. Why do we do that? We're morons. I wish we could experience love untainted. Unhellified if you will. I know that is what God has for us, but is it possible to truly feel that here in this world? Or do we have a sort of loveblock on that shields us from those "damaging love rays"? Ok that was really cheesy. But what if that was what we were doing? We put on protection so we don't get hurt but at the same time we sheild the one thing that could save us. How utterly horrible would that be?
I can't even begin to understand the innerworkings of Love and Hate, but it is a fascinating thing really. Two opposing ideas. One that can't live without the other. One that is both the other's source and its opposite. Frightening...
Another thing I don't like is that the entire reason I wanted to go isn't looking so appealing any more. I wanted to get out of Auburn and try something new, but when faced with the realization that I really won't be here for four months if I go, I feel uneasy. I don't really want to leave these people. Everything will be so different when I get back, and I won't be a part of it. Half of the people probably won't even know me.
But then again, I want to go. I want to live in another country and make new friends and take breathtaking pictures of God's creation. But it scares the hell out of me. Lets just be honest. I 'll be in a place I've never been before with people I've never met before, at a school that is very different from Auburn. I mean maybe the timing is off. Maybe I should just go there for a couple of weeks in the summer. That would save me money, i wouldn't have to work my butt off when I got back, and I would still get my adventure. Maybe I could also take that cross-country road trip I've been wanting to do. Not going really would allow me to do more things and have more time in the long run. And plus, I wouldn't have to worry so much about getting a full-time job to pay off all of the loans when I graduate...I could do more travelling then too.
But then would I regret not going for the rest of my life? I don't want any regrets. I want to live my life with boldness. I don't want to choose to stay because I'm too scared to choose to go. So do I go or not?
Back to my point: life, I have discovered, should not only be lived, but also loved. A hard concept most of the time, but I truly believe it needs to be loved in order to be fully lived. Call me an optimist, but I think it can happen. Hence, that is my goal. I am writing (well attempting to write) a book entitled to grow to learn to love to live. It has some of my life story, things I've learned, mistakes I've made, etc. But the point I am trying to make is that you must grow to learn to love to live (hence the title - man I'm original). We'll see how it works out. Honestly, I'm still learning how to myself, but then again the best way to describe a process is to describe it step by step, and when better but while your going through each step yourself?