Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Yes, beware reverse culture shock.

I am in LA right now getting ready to board my plane back to Tampa Florida and I already feel culture shock. My NZ family is so far away from me now and so is my real family. LA is so crazy with buildings everywhere and SO many people. No fields, no sheep, no rolling green hills, and no more Kiwis. I walk around this airport hearing my native accent and seeing the American people. Americans seem so much more distinctive to me now as a group. Even though there are so many differences throughout the whole country, it feels like I have been gone long enough to see the American people as a whole now. The people in the states are way easier to start up a conversation with and are openly very friendly upon first meeting. This is good and bad for me. Its GREAT now. I feel like anyone would come over and talk to me and try and make me feel better if I acted upset. Its bad for me in a way because I also do not feel like I have to really try  hard to talk to someone or get them to be my friend. Ill try to explain this the best way I can. I think Kiwis are much harder to develop close relationships with and just all around not as easy to talk to as Americans. But in this way when I was able to feel completely comfortable talking to anyone in NZ is gave me heaps of confidence and made me feel like I could actually relate to the person. And furthermore, when I started to have closer relationships to these people it became even more meaningful to me and was my favorite achievement of my whole experience.

My culture shock is pretty bad right now but I think once I back to Tampa and my family itll subside. I also better start getting mentally prepared for university. I know that through this whole experience University will not be as hard for me, but it will be a brand new chapter in my life and I am very excited.

I love New Zealand and I love the United States. I definitely have to homes on this planet now and its an awesome feeling. Studying abroad is probably the best decision of my life and I regret nothing about it. Thank you for reading my blog and following me on this insane journey. I have left the states not knowing what I was going to find in the middle of the pacific, became a part of a family, made friends, immersed myself in a culture, fell in love with a country, came home, and now I am saying goodbye. And once more, thanks again for reading. Cheers

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My favo(u)rite photos to date

The Takatimu Mountain Range right outside of Invercargill
My eyes are closed and liam is not even looking at the camera but I still loves this family picture. Too bad Emma and Libby could not be there to make it in this one. This was taken on top of Bald hill in the Longwoods.
Kayla and I in our "flash" Chevy before the Ball.
All Blacks Test Match Versus Wales at Carisbrook's last game.
Cape Reinga, the very northern tip of New Zealand. This is one of the most sacred places for the Maori people.
Crazy sand formation in Naseby, Central Otago.
Milford Sound with Kayla.
Routeburn Track in Fiordland National Park with my Mates Nika and Ingrid.
Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand. Too bad you cant quite see it behind the cloud, should have taken the picture the day before. Gutted

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BIG update

Wow I have left myself to a massive update but I will do the best I can to get it all in.

-Joined underwater hockey team
-came in second at southland cross country champs in Te Anau
-got lost during Southland championships orienteering course and came in last by over an hour
-Went night swimming at Oreti beach in 30 F degree weather, -1 degree Celsius 
-Did our three nights of the production Kiss Me Kate
-Went to the ball
-Went to the even better After-Ball
-My american mate came to visit and we 
-explored the takatimu mountain range with some other friends
-took a bus tour to Milford Sound (Iconic NZ destination)
- saw seals
-Nearly Shat ourselves bungee jumping in Queenstown off highest bungee in NZ, The Nevis.  it was 400ft high right into a valley.
-Took a jet boat ride through shot over river
- Drove to Mount Cook with host family (Highest mountain in NZ seeming to be in the middle of nowhere when in reality only 1 hour away from a town) 
- Drove down the east coast of NZ from Mount Cook to see the Moeraki Boulders
-Arrived in Dunedin
-Ran up the Steepest street in the world (Baldwin Street)
-took pictures at a church that is famous to me because it appeared in one of my favorite TV shows called Drive Thru
- All Blacks test match against Wales at the historical last game at the famous Carisbrook stadium
- went into Gardies (pub) with my host dad for its historical last night in business. It was a huge institution in Dunedin
-Saw people playing nude rugby on the news with nothing blurred out. shows what you can put on NZ news and US news.
-And finally, I gave a speech to my whole school today on what its like to be an exchange student. I also thank the school for being so welcoming and told them I would be coming back to visit very soon.

What I can say right at this moment is that I have been in NZ for 5 months now and it is my life. It is not just a place that I feel at home but it is a place where I lived for a portion on my life, had a family, friends, school, sports teams, clubs, productions, Shakespeare?, great times, a few bad times,  and AMAZING memories. I have dreams about NZ and my kiwi friends and family in them. It is definitely a part of me and it will be very hard to leave. That is not to say, though, that I dont want to go back to the US, because I am very excited to go back and see everyone, I miss them so much. Anyways it will be hard to leave and I think will almost feel like a divorce I guess. I mean I can always come back to NZ but itll never be the same as it was when I was here. I wont be able to be the son of my host family, I wont be going to high school and hanging out with my friends everyday, my friends will all be at different universities, I wont be on the sports teams, and well, its just wont be the same. But I know I will always be welcomed back here and I do love this place a lot, so I am sure New Zealand has not seen the last of Trenor Wilkins.


This article came out two days after the ball article came out. Here is something also worthy of note. Everyone in Southland, maybe in all of NZ for that matter, reads the newspaper. NO JOKE> I had literally everyone at school comment on the newspaper articles: My friends, other year 13 students, teachers, other staff, my rugby coaches, whole classes of year 7 and 8 students (I had to look after class as the teacher was gone, who also commented on it), and people I dont even know. 


US student praises variety of sports in NZ

By BRENDON EGAN - The Southland Times
Last updated 05:00 15/06/2010
NICOLE GOURLEY/The Southland Times
WORTHWHILE EXCHANGE: American exchange student Trenor Wilkins has had a blast trying out a variety of sports during his time at Southland Boys' High School.

United States exchange student Trenor Wilkins reckons high schools back home should take a leaf out of New Zealand's book when it comes to sport.

In the US, students were encouraged to stick to their preferred sport and concentrated solely on it, Wilkins said. The Tampa, Florida native – who has been on exchange at Southland Boys' High School since January – admitted New Zealand had been a breath of fresh air with the way it allowed students to try their hand at a multitude of sports.

"In the States, you specialise and become really good at it. You practise every single day. Here, they don't practise every day. Everyone is really naturally good at a lot of sports. It's so cool that everyone does a lot of sport."

Wilkins' chosen sport is cross- country running and the 17-year-old has made his mark in it since arriving in New Zealand. He won the over-16 cross-country title at Southland Boys', then backed that up with a second-place finish at the recent Southland cross-country championships in Te Anau.

Wilkins led after 2km of the 6km distance, but was overtaken by precocious Gore High School talent Aaron Barclay, who won the race by 13sec from the American in a time of 21min 4sec.

While in Southland, Wilkins has tried his hand at a variety of sports. He took up mountainbiking in New Zealand and has competed in the Motatapu, Moonshine and WindFarm Classic events.

The youngster has also dabbled in water polo, underwater hockey, represented the Southland Boys' High first XI football team, and even lined up on the wing for the school's under-18 blue rugby side.

Coming from the gridiron-mad United States, Wilkins confessed it had been an interesting experience playing rugby.

"I didn't even know the rules," he laughed.

"I played a game and almost got a try against James Hargest.

"It was an easy open try and I just missed it."

Wilkins heads back home next month where he will begin his first year at college at the University of Florida.

He hoped to break into the university's cross-country team and said that would involve beating people who were already on the team in a race to gain their spot.

"They have a walk-on race.

"It's pretty hard to walk on (to the team). If I work hard all summer, I can do it."

The 60kg whippet admitted he would love to do the London Marathon and also had a few other running goals he wanted to tick off his list.

I got this article off the Southland Times website and there was even a picture of me and Kayla in the actual newspaper to go along with it.


US pair praise Southland schools' ball

By JARED MORGAN - The Southland Times
Last updated 05:00 12/06/2010
Southland Boys' and Southland Girls' high schools seniors
LET'S DANCE: Southland Boys' and Southland Girls' high schools seniors in their finery at last night's combined ball. About 400 students from both schools donned gowns and tuxedos for the secret garden-themed event.

Southland does it better.

That's the verdict from two United States high school students transplanted at last night's combined Southland Boys' and Southland Girls' high schools ball.

The praise came from Trenor Wilkins and Kayla Kennedy, a pair weaned on the traditional high school prom, an institution as American as mom and apple pie.

The Tampa, Florida, natives who are seniors at HB Plant High School, joined about 400 other southern beaus and belles at the secret garden-themed ball held at Stadium Southland in Invercargill.

Trenor, who has been in Invercargill since January on a student exchange, said the Kiwi-version had impressed him. "I would say this is way better," he said.

His and "good mate" Kayla's ball experience included being driven to the big event in a Chevrolet, the paparazzi treatment from a crowd of envious younger girls at the stadium's entrance, walking a red carpet and being paraded in front of pride-swelled parents, he said.

"Back home we show up, have a dance and go home." Kayla, who arrived in New Zealand on holiday on Thursday, agreed.

"It's definitely a lot more formal – it's nice." For Trenor, last night's ball stood in for his own senior prom, which he missed while on his exchange, which finishes next month.

"I'm here until July 5, which I'm also pretty bummed about – I miss Fourth of July (American Independence Day) celebrations." For both, last night's ball comes close to the end of their schooling.

A series of photos of ball couples will loaded on our website, www.southlandtimes.co.nz, in the coming days.

We want to see your snaps, too.

Send your ball pictures to news@stl.co.nz and we'll put them in our online gallery.

Make sure you include the names of everyone in the photo caption details.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I am constantly surprised by Kiwis. Its hard to describe the situations I am meaning when they surprise me because the are not always clear cut. But here is one kind of example: my first week of school everyone just stared at me and no one said a single word to even prove that I existed. When I thought that everyone at school were really cold people that were extremely hard to talk to, I showed up next week to find that people I had never even seen before were saying hello to me in the hallways. You definitely can't go by first impressions in this country. Some people that I thought I would never be friends with are people I like most at school now. There are heaps more examples that I have seen but are just hard to describe in typing, but I can honestly say that I am surprised almost everyday by people here, in a good way that is.

One thing that surprised me was how much more legit their Ball is compared to our Prom. This cant account for every Prom across the US but it definitely counts for mine. Prom at my school is considered really lame and no one really goes to it and everyone just looks forward to the after party. The Ball here is completely different. It is seen as one of the biggest nights of their whole time at school. Some people even get there dates up to 6 or 7 months in advance. Ball dancing practice started a couple weeks ago and goes all the way up to when the ball starts 5 weeks from now in June. We have to learn 14 dances! Its ridiculous! It is a very formal affair and all the guys have to wear white gloves and everything. Everyone meets at a friends house before for drinks and then has a rented or borrowed nice car come to pick them up to take them to dinner and then later to the ball. Then comes the ball, which has a lot of hand shaking and rehearsed dances. Then there is an hour between the Ball and After Ball. The After Ball is also very different. Its not like an after party like prom where you go to someone's house for a party but not everyone goes to the same place. Here there is an actual hall booked where everyone from the Ball goes to for a more relaxed atmosphere and dancing. Everyone stays there very late into the night and then taken home by a ride or picked up by parents that volunteer. Everyone is already really excited about it and discussing their plans for the evening.

There are practices for the Ball every Tuesday and Thursday for an hour and a half. We have to learn 14 dances for it! Insane I think. Our first practice was a little bit of an awkward fest I have to say. It is a joint Ball with Southland Boys High School and Southland Girls High school, but I have found that Boys High guys and Girls High girls dont often hang out. The guys at my school usually hang out with the girls at the public coed school Hargest. Anyways, when we were all in the hall getting ready to start it was clear that the guys sit with the guys and same goes with the girls. The lady teaching us to dance did the ever so popular "how bout lets make it really awkward so it won't be so awkward" bit. So she made every guy offer a right hand to a random girl and ask to dance. Not so bad except for the fact that everyone is really bad at dancing. The girls would catch on quicker however and then you would hear shrieks from girls whose feet who got stepped on, guys tripping all over the place, and even the occasional girl stepping inn a small whole at the bottom of someones jeens and getting it caught and then falling all over the place with her foot caught in the guys pants (I was this guy by the way). Really fun ae? Well actually it really was fun and by the time everyone got the dances down everyone got really comfortable with each other and was having a ton of fun.

Another thing that surprised me about Kiwis is how intense they take duck shooting. Everyone talks about it and everyone does it. Well mostly just the guys in the family, but just about every family has a guy doing it. Opening weekend for duck hunting is known to usually just be a piss up for mates so me and Liam were not going to be out there our the first day with my host dad. Duck season had an opeing weekend last weekend and this is what I came to find when me and Liam came out on Sunday:^^^^ pictures above

How to be Skux Delux

The title really has nothing to do with this post but skux is the word of the year at Boys High and I thought I may as well put it into a title.

This will just be a catch up the my goings on since the holidays.

I know I have said it feels like home here in earlier posts but I have to say that life has hit a normality here, and not in a bad boring way, but in a I-have-a-handle-on-New-Zealand-and-school-and-home-and-social-life-and-athletic-life sort of way. Over holidays I traveled to the north island and Stewart Island and was a tourist, but when I got to my HOME, I was not a tourist any more. Invercargill is not a tourist destination and there are very few foreigners and when you speak the language you tend to fit right in with sometimes the occasional person asking where you are from. I do not notice the accents anymore, not at all... literally, they are just not there. Accents in general with me are all kind of a blur now. What with American TV shows all the time, American commercials with kiwi voice overs, kiwi tv shows, kiwi commercials, tons of UK influence on TV, and the region I live in is also very Scottish. I hear different accents all the time and I am not even aware most of the time. Like when I was on the Stewart Island in the hut, one of my mates said I should go over and talk with the American girl in the corner because we had our mother nations in common. I gave a bewildered look and asked how he had known, to his reply that her accent was so strong. I had been talking to her about the island less than 5 minutes earlier and never even noticed that she was not a kiwi.

Man, I am so ADD I was not even meaning to write about this. Anyways, what I am trying to say is that I do not notice my accent anymore and I often forget I even have one. So in this way when I feel like I no longer have an accent, when I dont feel like a tourist in Invercargill, when I am involved with school, playing sports, and hanging out with people on the weekend, I just feel like I belong. Like I have hit my stride to be actually LIVING here and no longer on a "foreign exchange."

So my normal life goes like this right now:

Mondays: soccer practice
Tuesdays: Rugby practice, Ball Practice (I will get to this later but its like prom and we have to learn 14 dances.), Production Practice (will also get to this later)
Wednesday: soccer game
Thursday: rugby practice, Ball practice, Production practice
Saturday: Rugby game
Sunday: Production practice, and this is also the day we do a massive house clean up

Things happening since I last wrote... I won the school Round the Park race. It was a complete debacle though. It was around the very large park right beside the school and had like 2 people directing people along the 2.4k course for juniors and 4k course for seniors. I was leading the senior race and just following the juniors who started before us. Well, these juniors turn in early at a spot that is unmarked for seniors but that I promptly turn into. turns out...WRONG! I was told this by a fat little junior who was so puffed that all he could get out was just that, "wrong!" And I  had to back track to second place and catch up and pass before I made my turn behind the school to the finish line. Right before i crossed the line a mate from my class said "Oi Trenor! you went the wrong way you were supposed to go in front of the school not BEHIND!" I looked behind me terrified that I would not see second place who probably had gone the right way and that my chances of going the southland cross country champs would disappear ( but even more worrisome, my free day off school would be gone as well). However, the second place guy did follow me the wrong way, and the third place, and fourth, and everyone else. I lead the whole freakin race the wrong way. The people putting on the race were all pissy but I was like "its not my fault no one was there to direct me which way to go!" and they were all "your a senior you should know this" and I was all "well yea thats true and shizz except for the fact that I am a foreign exchange student and have never seen this course and did not anticipate the follies that would befall me whilst running this poorly run race event."  except thats not really how it happened. It was more like they were really pissy and grumbling behind my back that I messed up the whole senior race and I stood in the background looking all around thinking "where the flip was the place I made the second wrong turn???" But it still really wasnt my fault, seriously, how was I supposed to know? Anyways I was still counted as the winner and am going to Southland Cross Country Champs in Te Anau in a week.

The next day I did a 9k race around the same park with all the Invercargill club teams and came in 2nd which I was very delighted with

I have been cast as Hortensio in Kiss Me Kate, my high school's production. I have to sing Tom Dick or Harry with two other chaps to one of the female main characters. I think we have to do a dance but I have also heard rumors that our dance was cut out. I will not be a happy camper if this is so because it will make the song look stupid if we are all just standing there trying to sing the song seriously. I just want to joke around and do lame dance moves on stage to make it more fun. AND it also turns out that in my solo for the song I have to hit this one really long and really high note at the end of my line saying "marry me". I can see it now: Marry Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee(((CRACK!!!!)))) ---- in front of the whole audience on the night of the show which will also include half the school. Do you know what my school does to a guy when his voice cracks?? Everyone stands up (if in the sitting position. If already standing, the position is maintained, but maybe just a step forward is taken for emphasis) and points to the horrified boy and yells "SQUEAKER! SQUEAKERRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!" -- I would go back to America right then and there...

I will get to the Ball on my next post along with duck shooting and orienteering, this one is long enough for now.