Sunday, March 28, 2010

AFS Camp

Before I start with afs camp I can talk about what I have done since the Motatapu.

I made the first 11 soccer team which was pretty cool and I did another thing that was definitely less exciting. Over the weekend I needed a ride home after a water polo game and my ride asked me if I wanted to help him and a few other people make cheese rolls for a fundraiser. Cheese rolls are a south NZ treat that is similar to a grilled to cheese but you make them before hand, sell them, and then the owner cooks them. Pretty much just bread with a soupy cheese mixture on top then rolled into a little log. So anyways, I assume I am going to someone's house to make about 60 to 100 rolls and then all of a sudden we pull up in my school's parking lot. I ask what are we doing here to a response that we are making cheese rolls. We walk into the catering room and.... I see crate upon crate upon crate of bread stacked high and wide along all the walls. Turns out we had to make 48,000 CHEESE ROLLS! No joke! It was to help raise money for their history class to go to Vietnam. I am not even going to Vietnam! We arrived at nine and the first few hours were kinda fun because it was so random and we were just listening to music but when the clock hit one o'clock I hit the cheese roll making wall. I became a zombie making roll after cheese roll. We ended up making them until 3 in the morning! what a great friday night! I cant even look at another cheese roll.

Week of school went well and then on Thursday after school I got picked up by my afs support coordinator to stay the night in Edendale before our very long drive up to Christchurch on Friday morning. T-vo (Paraguay) lives in my city and came up with us and Mia (Norway) lives at my support coordinator's house. So USA, Paraguay, Norway, and NZ all got in a truck Friday morning and set out on a freakin long journey to afs gateway camp. We left at around ten and got to Chtch (Christchurch) at eight. We took around turn close to camp and ended up taking the craziest road to get there with many cliffs, sharp turns, and bikers all the way up. Upon arriving I found a lot of my friends that I had made in Auckland when I first got here. The majority was South American kids which is fine with me because I love to practice my Spanish and they are the most out going people of all the international kids.m The camp was at Living Springs, a camp site on a bay outside of the city. It was very beautiful. First night all the kids just got re-acquainted with each other and talked unitl late at night when every one was just so tired they had to go to bed. The next day we did a lot of pointless classes that we had already done in our home country, when we first arrived in Auckland, and now were doing yet again. So that was pretty lame but after the classes were over we had our free time. We jumped on trampolines, took pictures, swam in the indoor pool, and talked about our lives in NZ. Everyone is loving this country and no one seemed to have any major problems and if not then no problems at all. Already the semester students are complaining that they do not want to go home and the six months is not long enough. I felt a little inferior to all the other kids because they all had improved their english to much and were becoming fluent AND also had their first language. So I tried as best I could to mix with the hispanic students so that I may improve my spanish. I think I did pretty well and had major crack ups along the whole way with my mispronunciations. We also had a "party" that lasted until 3 in the morning with pretty much every one just sitting down on the floor and talking to each other. I find it very interesting how easy it is to make friends with people that you barely even know just because we all share the commonality of being in a different country. Hopefully with these new friends I made I can make use of it in the future and go and stay with them so I can see the rest of NZ. I might be able to go to the north island and stay with my Bolivian friend Manuela over the holidays and just go around and explore the island I do not live on.

The camp was definitely a great experience for me minus the 18 hours worth of driving I had in 3 days. This holiday coming up is also going to be such an experience. I am going to the Bay of Islands to go scuba diving, Stewart Island for a 3 day hike( nz's third island), Routeburn track for another 3 day hike, and possibly many other little trips on the north island. We have holidays in school after every quater or term and they are all pretty long. Should be a nice break from the routine of school and my best chance to experience everything NZ has to offer.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

embarrassing and not so embarrassing

These are just half the bike racers by the way.
View from our vacation home.
The start of the Motatapu right outside of Shania Twain's land. Some people flew helicopters to the start, it was pretty insane

While I still have any dignity left I will shead some light on some past events.

Lets start with the history behind the first story: When I first arrived in NZ I was greeted by my smiling host family at the ariport who then took me to their amazing house in Otatara. Upon arriving, they generously gave me a letter, a NZ flag towel, NZ flag pencil case for school (both were a hit with my NZ friends), and a ten day pass for a gym that they attend. A week ago I decided that I would like to go to the gym and work out as I have not done it in a while and I felt like doing something active. My host mom said it would be ok, but it is not a regular gym, but a gym for classes. Host mom- "There are spin classes, boxing classes, etc. You are signed up for the body attack class, so I assume that is the boxing one." Me- "ok thats cool, I am down for some boxing." When we pull up to the gym it hits me for a very scary second that this could be some aerobics class with all women doing step up. I voice this in hopes that my host mom knows this is not what I am getting myself into and she says "o, no look behind us there is a guy." It was a sixty year old man in short shorts and tank top but non the less he was a dude. I am feeling a little bit better. We walk inside and my worst fears are imagined. About fifteen high school girls, three older women, the old creepy man, my 13 year old host brother, me, and an instructer in the craziest clothes and hair that I could not possibly describe through typing. She motions for us to gather around the stage and I am saying to myself "F this! F this! F this! what I have got myself into?!" The next thing I know the music is on and she is leading us through a dance/run in place combo that not only takes coordination (something I dont have) but also the desire to run/dance in place in front of girls your own age and an old creepy man (something I also dont have). An hour of pure hell. Well it wasnt all so bad. I was laughing my head off from the entertainment the instucter was giving me with classic lines such as "I hurt so much, but Ive never been so alive!!!" "Now your a famous football player! Go and win the Heisman!" "We are strong women in here!!!" I was laughing the whole time. They were all syncronized dances that you immediatly had to go into and just pick up as you went along. I could not for the life of me get one of the moves perfect. I was always a step behind everyone, or bent over laughing. Classic.

Something less embarrassing: I had rugby trials last Thursday. I was DREADING the trials as I have never played or even watched a game of rugby. People told me I should try out but then would laugh and then some people would sincerely say that I should not try out. I really did not want to but I thought to myself that I would regret it for a long time if I didnt. Im in NZ anyways, I got to try out! I just went out there not knowing what to expect with my gym shoes and running shorts. I got stares for that. "The americans out here and he doesnt even have boots or rugby shorts." I was told to play on wing because of my size and speed and it was definitely a good choice for me. Trials is just a big rugby game by the way. I had no practice, no viewing experience, no nothing for my first time playing real rugby (i have played a little touch and hold rugby but never tackle or anything serious). I am not going to describe how to play rugby for those of you who dont know but the general idea is that you got the ball and you try to get it to the other side while the other team tries to tackle you (there are no pads involved and everyone here calls football a puffter (gay) sport). You can only pass the ball backwards and your team runs in a long line across the width of the field. I played on the outside where you get way less action, but when you do get the action you are usually trying to get a try (score). For my first time playing I was pretty happy. I got a few runs and one long run, made 2 tackles, and caught the ball after a punt.

Side note: I am in the school library right now and a few kids have realized that I have a blog and have begun to read it. I really dont like this because even though I am not writing anything bad about anyone its just uncomfortable that they are looking at it. I dont reread my blog and I dont want to think that they might be judging what I have past put down or anything like that.

And for not emabarrassing at all:

Over the weekend I competed in the Motatapu Mountain Bike race! AMAZING! Not as hard as the Moonshine race I competed in a few weeks ago but it was still very very challenging. It is one of NZ premier racing events and had over 2000 riders in the biking race alone (also a marathon run that I originionally thought I was going to do). 2000 may not seem like a lot but when every one is on a mountain bike, it is MASSIVE! I started around in the middle for my category (junior recreation) and passed over 500 people in the first hour on a small track. O the track goes through Motatapu Station, Shania Twains land that she only opens up once a year for the race, and ends at Arrowtown. It goes through a valley through the mountains with fantastic views the whole way. There were multiple creek crossing along the way and 5 river crossings at the end that were so wide and deep I had to get off my bike, carry it over my head, and run through the rushing waters. I finished in a time of 2:42, 18 minutes ahead of my goal time.

The race was in Wanaka by the city of Queenstown, the capital of adventure in the southern hemisphere.  You can sky dive, bungy jump, jet boat ride, ski, ride the gondola, luge, go to bars, eat fine dining, swim in the massive lake, or basically do anything amazing in this place.  My family has a vacation home in this city right on Lake Wakatipu (main lake and it is massive. queenstown sits right on it). It is small but three stories high, cozy, and an just a great place to go on vacation to. I would actually love to just live there. There is a plum, apple, and some other kind of fruit tree in the backyard. In fact, my host brother picked about 100 plums off the tree and sold them at the race. On our way up to Queenstown I heard all of the stories of what it was like to grow up in NZ and how this city was a second home to my host parents. The town has changed a lot since then to be more touristy but it still has a quality about it that keeps the locals coming back and has the kids at my school saying its their favorite place in NZ. Next time I go up I am bungy jumping and jet boating, should be an interesting experience...

Host dad cheering me on along with the Bullings who are family friends. you also get a shot of my host brother at the end asking if the cameras on. I did 2:42, Mrs. Bulling was a little off...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Breaking News!

Our sunday afternoon tramp.
The Tikitimus Mountains (I think thats how you spell it)
The Wind Farm Race. Had spectacularly massive windmills to ride under, but you had to get to the top of the very steep hills first to get to them.

I should really be doing my homework but... I dont really feel like it

Today, Sunday March 7th 2010, something awesome happened: My host dad said that I was the best exchange student to be staying with his family! Ok, now this may sound pretty whatever and it was just said as a side comment right before dinner, but I have to say this comment was massive. My host dad is nothing like my real dad and he just does not say things like this or voice them. He is very cool and often very sarcastic (like my dad at home) but in a different sarcastic way that you can't always tell if he is actually being sarcastic. He says real things and sarcastic things in the exact same way. He is very friendly, a very hard worker, and a great businessman. He is very well known around town, and in fact, the whole Ryan family is very known around town. But anyways, with the personality that he has he often does not say things very seriously to me. For example: when I got my new haircut and I asked him if he like it and he said, "It looks gay." Or when I finished the Moonshine race and beat his estimated time for me by 25 minutes he said, "that was a pretty good wee effort." However this is not negative at all, when he called my haircut gay joking around with me he knew that I knew him well enough that I would not get offended and find it funny. And with my bike race, he knew I did good but he did not want to be over complimentary of me cause that could make me cocky or something. So thats why before dinner when he said that I was the best exchange student to have at their house was so huge to me. This is also precisely why I made this post, just because of it.  My host dad is a very interesting person and has lived a very interesting life along with my whole host family and I should really write about them more. I'll try to make that my next post but I really think I should do it at the end because I learn new things about them and the amazing things that they have done everyday.

This past week and weekend definitely had its ups and downs for me.  Way more ups though (actually there werent even any downs durring the week). I got my new haircut, I became the Southland 3,000m champion (the most southern province of NZ), had an awesome mountain bike race at a wind farm, and had an incredible tramp up to the top of Bald Hill. The downs consisted of miscommunications and not having a cell phone that resulted in a guy that I thought I was pretty good friends with blowing me off and missing my first Saturday night party that I was supposed to go to. Those two things dont relate to each other though. The other down came from America but that is pretty much resolved, but it is definitely weird to have your home country life collide with your experiences in your exchange life. BUT ANYWAYS that comment tonight totally made my weekend and the downs feel like nothing to me now. Its nice to say that the worst parts of my whole exchange so far are so few and so minor that they can be forgotten within a day. New Zealand is pretty F-ing awesome... or should I say SWEET AS BRO!

side note: you can't wear tennis shoes and jeans here. They will call you a snean or a shnean, I am not really sure which. Just never do it. I unfortunately did it my first day of year 13 camp and no one was there to tell me it was a mistake. So when I was up in Dunedin I got a $30 pair of Dunlops which I am very happy with. Shoes here are so expensive! like $200 a lot of times! This is another up for me.

also... Jason kyte if you are reading this I dont have your e-mail but if you send it to me I can find out more about Tuatapere. The Bald Hill we hike up today was in the "Longwoods." It is also right by Tuatapere. I will also definitely make it to the Clifton Caves before long--- anyone reading this like "what the hell is he talking about?" my cousin posted a comment on my last post about his friends that used to live near my town

more dictionary words just so i dont forget later  (note: some are offensive but I just want to show what it is like.)::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Bogan= white trash i think?
mufty= you can wear whatever you wan to school
puffter= someone you think is queer or someone who is British
puffed= panting 
lemon aid= sprite
skux= I still have no idea what it means but I hear it all the time
mountain oysters= sheeps testicles
root= to have sex with
yank= what americans are often called sometimes offensively sometimes not
suss= figure out

In the future for me----
this weekend- to Queenstown for the Motatapu mountain bike race and will be there all weekend
next weekend- to Christchurch for AFS camp. will be all the South Island kids

Friday, March 5, 2010

haircut and beach photos

Just drive up and on to the beach.
Sand dunes everywhere, and they can get massive
I did not get too adventurous with the haircut or anything but maybe I will my next one here. O and one haircut at super cuts: $15. One haircut here: $70
Big empty beach that you can drive on... amazing

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A day for sports... and Shakespear

Sports day was pretty crazy. I woke up and found my younger host brother in the bathroom with his face covered a tribal-like black paint design. I asked uncertainly "umm... so are we going on the bus like this?" I got a simple "duh." So I did up my whole face in black, found my shortest black running shorts and long running socks, and then just got on the bus. I was so worried to find people in regular clothes on it but I was pleasantly surprised to find the whole bus a mess of orange, blue, red, black, and green. Even the seats were found to be covered in paint. A very fun bus ride I must say. The beginning of sports day started out with each house gathering all their members together and march on to the main field doing chants. I am proud to say that I came up with our house's main chant of "we are Pearce and we are black! we have balls which the other houses lack!" Our house leader was going around with ideas the week before and I said this as a joke and what do you know, it becomes our main one. Coldstream was painted orange and wore kilts and freshly skinned sheep skin from the day before (some had maggots in them). They were the best looking because they all looked like characters from braveheart and a guy even came out onto the field galloping on a horse! The rest of the day was spent doing athletics (track and field). I qualified in all the running events and Pearce came in fourth out of the five houses. it was the first time in 19 years that we did not come in last. We all cheered like crazy.

This next bit is an e-mail to my sister discussing my school's Shakespeare day where the year 12 and 13s dressed up as shakespearean characters and recited lines as a monologue from the play. Note: only a minority dressed up and a minority of that minority recited lines. ok:

Shakespeare day was fun, and I totally forgot my lines. A lot of people dressed up but not a lot had a speech. So anyway my house was the first to go and this one kid (the freaking best actor in the world who the fundraiser was actually for, to send him to london to go to the globe theatre) was first and did amazing. O yea, all the year 12 and 13 came to watch, about 200 people plus. They all sat in a huge circle around the hall with the judges table about 1/3 of the way from the end in the middle. And then the judges say "anymore from pearce? anyone at all? no one?" I could not remember my speech for the life of me so I just sat there thinking to myself "well F that shit." But then all of a sudden some random guys that I had told earlier I might do it but I did not really think I had the guts said "hey trenor, its trenor, hes doing one." Then a kid next to me pushed me in to the middle of the hall. Since i could not remember any of my caesar speech I immediatly thought of the romeo one that says "but soft, what light through yonder window breaks" cause I remembered that I knew a little bit of that. The good actor recited his acts and scenes and shizz before he started but I said "well I have no idea what scene or act it is or whatever and im not exactly dressed the part either (i was dressed as caesar) but here it goes." So I did this damn romeo speech and messed up like 3 times even though I only knew a few lines and then after I said one line I forgot those words so I said "for it is sick and pale with grief... eh.. (que long silence)..." and then I just bowed. It was a very abrupt ending and no one thought it would end there. it was pretty lame but also pretty funny. Everyone elses were all also relatively stupid so i did not look bad or anything so it was just kinda fun. Our house came in second for shakespear day! A complete success id say. Im in the paper today for it along with everyone else who dressed up. We had to parade the streets in our outfits. It was a very weird day but im glad i did it. I dont want to just be the random foreign exchange kid. I was pretty much smiling the whole day from the stupidity of it all. I bid good morrow to you Lauren. 

I am to tired to write about my weekend and championship day but Ill get that in very soon, both were pretty interesting. Here are a few more differences I have noticed:

It is was easier to make a conversation or meet someone in America, but it is also harder to make friends. You have to make an effort in NZ for them to talk to you/like you but thats pretty much it. If you give effort, they recognize it. Whether it be not knowing how to play rugby but just jumping in (even though you may mess up a lot) or just talking to someone about the farm their family owns or an upcoming sports even, kiwis will almost automatically accept you. I had about two conversations with this one kid and the next day he invited me to go out his farm to four wheel. With my experiences in America you can meet someone really easily but it takes awhile to actually become friends with them and it is often, dare I say it... awkward for awhile. Here there is now awkwardness with people. You don't walk down the hallway and see someone you kind of know and whip out your cell phone to act like your texting to avoid their gaze or something stupid like that. When you have met someone your pretty much golden. Another thing I have noticed is the accent thing is still weird. I desperately want to get the accent but whenever I talk or say something to a kiwi in their accent, they always say "that sounds weird, dont say it like that." For example: the name Becca  here is pronounce like bEAcca like ea at the beginning of eagle, whereas americans pronounce the vowel e like "Eh." I ask my host brother Liam how to say the name slowly and he says bEEEAAAca. I repeat back exactly bEEAAca. He responds "why do you say it like that like the first part is a birds 'beak'" I say thats because thats how you says it. I say it again like him to which he says it still sounds wrong, and then he tells me to say it like americans say it and then I do. I say Becca like with no ea sound at all in the middle then he says "NOW you said it right, its just like that, bEEAAca."    Me- "wtf"

host moms explanation is that when they hear an american talk they already know from tv what its going to sound like therefore whenever I say something how they say it even if its exactly like them it will sound wrong because it will just sound different coming from an american. Then how am I supposed to get an accent??? this may not make any sense at all even though it does to me, its just hard to explain via typing. 

another different thing here is that if someone says they are going to drink piss, that means that they are going to drink alcohol.