Iqon's New Zealand Blog

Archive for 28 July 2009

O-Week

by on 28 July 2009, under New Zealand, PSV, UoA

The first week of the semester is not only about the studies down here. “O-week” is the week where the clubs at the university promotes themselves and Parnell Student Village arranges different events so the residents can meet each other. Of course there hasn’t been as many events this week as during the International Student Orientation since the studies have started. Below follows another post (way too long and boring) post about my days in the past week:

Monday
I was so unbelievably clever to stat the day off by going to a lecture at 8 o’clock in the morning in a course I wasn’t very interested in taking. The lecture did indeed confirm this precognition but since I the night before had spend hours trying to find other courses which were more interesting without any luck, I decided to go to this lecture early in the morning. By spending five minutes at my computer after the lecture I found an interesting course I for some reason had overlooked the evening before. Such a waste of precious hours. The rest of the day was spend on lectures and in the evening PSV had arranged “Light Dinner and Conversation”. Such an event apparently consists of shoving residents from 18 flats into one flat’s kitchen (designed for six people) and feeding them frozen pizzas, flütes and other titbits. However, it was a good opportunity to meet people from the other flats, even if there wasn’t a lot of room to move around in. The night ended at Mustang, an America bar where I deservedly lost to my German (wanna be Irish) mate Chris. It turned out this wasn’t going to be my last lost pool match in that week (wow, do you see what I am doing here? Another fantastic teaser…).

Tuesday
According to my loyal calendar, Tuesday was pretty eventless. The one lecture I was supposed to go to was cancelled since very few students had signed up for the course. Therefore the day was spend on getting a few small things in order such as getting food for the fridge (at this point, I really can’t imaging who is reading this stuff with any kind of interest). Tuesday night is quiz night and this time the Irish pub was reserved for all the PSV residents. We created a team consisting of a couple of Norwegians, Germans, Danes and a single British guy. We did an acceptable job considering that we didn’t have any chance of answering the many New Zealand focused questions. Next time we should get a Kiwi for our team to answer the questions about rugby, politics, history, and geography in New Zealand.

Wednesday
In the first two weeks of my stay in New Zealand, a movie festival has taken place here in Auckland. There has actually been a bunch of interesting movies, also a couple of Danish ones (Flame and Citron and Antichrist) but I haven’t really had much time to go see any of them – except for Adventureland from the director of Superbad. I went and saw that on Wednesday. We arrived to the feature a bit late and there were already sound and pictures on the screen when we sat down at some random seats. Imaging our surprise when we were seated and looked up at the screen, only to find out that the actors were speaking Danish! As I have mentioned earlier it seems a bit weird to travel to the other side of the globe to meet a lot Norwegian people (it so happened that it was also a Norwegian girl, Caroline, who accompanied me to the movie). However, it is an even weirder feeling to walk into a cinema on the other end of the world, thinking you are going to see a typical American movie, just to find out that they are speaking Danish. We silently agreed that this was the movie we were going to watch until it ended a couple of minutes later. We had been witnesses to a Danish short film which was apparently screened before the main feature. Adventureland was a bit of a disappointment. It was a weird mixture of comedy and sad scenes but luckily it is quite cheap to go to the movies down here (about NZD 12). The cinema was quite nice, though. People who have seen Peter Jackson’s King Kong might remember it as the New York theater where the big primate is presented. The Civic Theatre is enormous and has a cool star covered ceiling.

Thursday
Games Evening for the international students which turned out to be yet another Quiz Night since we sat down at the Trivial Pursuit table. It became a fairly long game since the game once again consisted of a lot of Kiwi questions but after some changes of the rules could Caroline and I leave the game as winners. Afterwards we went to The London Bar for a couple of games of pool which I lost – this time with Chris as my accomplice.

Friday
Another visit at the cinema, this time to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The Cinema was weird with giant (and few) seats and tons of room for the legs. The movie was an even bigger disappointment than Adventureland. Very teen focused with lots of dating and snogging and very little action or mystery about the identity of the Half-Blood Prince. The book was so much better. The last two movies should be more actionpacked, though.

Saturday
We took a trip to Mission Bay, a suburb of Auckland. The weather was great and there were a lot of visitors at the beach even though I can’t imaging that the water was anywhere near a suitable temperature for bathing. It must be a very popular place to go in the summer. On the trip we also saw all the ships Auckland is so well known for. We walked back to PSV and had a spontaneously arranged barbeque in the garden as a warm-up for the evening’s “flat crawl”. Each flat were supposed to be decorated after the theme “something starting with T” (thus becoming “T party”, get it?) and there were a couple of creative decorations amongst the selection (Tin Foil, Tropical Island, Tequila, Traffic Control, Tasty, Transvestite, etc.). My own flat’s theme was pretty lame: “Tornado”. However, it was a very cheap theme to decorate for since we just had to tip over some furniture, unhook a couple of curtains and spread a couple of leaves and branches in order to make it look like a tornado had been through the room. It was a pretty good night, especially because a couple of people became drunk to a degree which was very entertaining for the rest of us.

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Lots of boats

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View to Auckland city

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Some more boats

And that was pretty much that week since Sunday was spent on cleaning and relaxation. Once again I have succeeded in writing way too much about way too little. Apparently one should keep to Skott’s blog to get a more concise summary of what is happening down here.

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Start of the studies

by on 26 July 2009, under New Zealand, UoA

The following will probably be even more boring than my previous blog posts, if that is even possible. They were already pretty straight forward listings of my doings down here without any big drama or clever/funny remarks. However, I do not have any illusions that a lot of people actually read this blog but usually there is a couple of pictures to look at (not in this post though). This will almost exclusively be about my studies down here. Good luck getting through it.

My summer holidays have ended. My studies have begun again now, in the middle of July, which is actually not as terrible as it may sound. Before I went down here I had chosen four courses but a couple of days before my studies were supposed to start I found out that one of the courses had been cancelled. I had actually spend a good amount of hours trying to find courses which were interesting, relevant for my studies back home and could fit into a time table without any overlaps. In the end I succeeded in finding four courses, though, and I am now taking:

- Applied Modelling in Simulation and Optimization
- Advanced Simulation and Stochastic Modelling
- Research Topics in Operations Research 1
- Research Topics in Operations Research 2

I am sure these courses sound extremely interesting for anyone reading this and I am actually quite excited as well (I don’t really know if I am doing a good job of conveying irony here – it’s hard to do in writing, especially in a sentence in which only the first part is meant ironically). The last course listed above was actually supposed to have been cancelled but since they forgot to do that before students had started to enroll it will be offered anyways. Since only 4-6 students have actually signed up for the course the structure will be changed to a seminar type course. This means that we will just be handed a paper which we are going to make a report and presentation about – no lectures apparently.

The work load has not been that bad in this first week. None of the courses has a specific text book which means that there is no reading to do for any of the lectures. Each lecture is only an hour long and since all the courses at the university apparently starts and stops at the hour-mark (or whatever “o’clock” is called) the lectures begin with a bit of a delay so the students have a chance to arrive from another lecture. This means that the amount of stuff which is covered in each lecture isn’t overwhelming. They don’t seem to bother that much about that fact, though. Each course consists of three lectures a week so in the end I’m sure we’ll get to learn something. We also have a good deal of assignments and examinations so it is not going to be a complete walk-over.

All my lectures are in the same building, Engineering Science, in one of two rooms which are placed just beside each other. Therefore I don’t have to run around “campus” in order to get to my different lectures which is nice since the university is actually spread over the whole city. This is quite different from what I am used to at DTU. The Engineering Science building is luckily placed close to the main buildings which contain the recreation center, computer labs, administration, the lounge for international students and food court. It is nice to have some places to be able to go in-between lectures. It takes about 25-30 minutes to walk from my room in PSV to the university and it would therefore be a bit much to go home each time I have a couple of hours off between lectures. The trip to the university goes through a park, The Domain, which contains what I as a Dane would call “hills”. At least I can feel the sweat on my forehead when walking up these “hills” if I go at the right speed. That might be a good thing, though – there might even be a chance that I will get in some kind of descent shape by walking back and forth to the university each day.

Now, I have actually done other stuff than just studied in the past week (as I said, or rather wrote, they have been taking it quite easy in my courses so far) but this post is already too long. Therefore, dear reader, you must await my next blog post in excitement in order to find out what else I have been doing this week… *Sigh* that might very well have a good chance of competing as “worst teaser ever” in sharp competition with a long range of American soap operas I have luckily never seen and of course the introduction to this very blog post. And THAT is how you end yet another successful blog post which does not even have a simple photo to ease things.

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Orientation Week

by on 21 July 2009, under New Zealand, PSV, UoA

The past week has mostly been introduction for the new international students. A lot of the events in the day have given basic information about e.g. how to find your way around campus, where to shop, what dangers one should look out for when being new in town and which trips it is possible to go on in New Zealand. It has still been a fun week, however, since I have met a lot of new people who all are very open and nice. A couple of them live in PSV and are mostly German, Norwegian and Kiwis but there are also French and American people among my new acquaintances from my own and the surrounding flats.

I have also met a lot of people living elsewhere. We have especially hung out with a lot of Norwegian people. Most of them are going to stay here for a year and have found their own places to live and therefore not gone via the university to find housing. I don’t know if it is because we are Scandinavian that we have found each other but it seems a bit weird to have travelled to the other side of the globe just to meet a lot of people who were practically my neighbors back in Denmark. But they are cool people and it is definitely nice to have someone who understand what you are talking about when complaining about small stuff like poorly isolated houses, carpets on all floors and bad city planning.

There has also been a lot activities in the evenings during the orientation week. Tuseday we went to a Quiz Night at an Irish bar with number of Kiwis. It was quite fun and we actually ended up at an impressive third place which resulted in a small monetary price. However, it was definitely more due to the kiwi’s than because of valuable input from Jonas and me. Tonight is Quiz Night at the same bar once again and I hope we can be a bit more useful this time.

Wednesday was Quiz Night once again, this time arranged for the international students by the university. Apparently they love quizzing down here. Afterwards we ended up at a bar which pretty much became symptomatic for the next couple of days. Thursday we were supposed to dress up as something from our home country which resulted in a lot of Norwegian people and a couple of Danes wearing viking helmets. For some reason most non-Scandinavians thought that vikings came from Norway only, possible also Sweden. They might have made that mistake because of the great number of Norwegian people compared to the number of Danes at the bar.

Friday night we attended a post graduate party with free pizzas and cheap drinks. Afterwards we went to a flatwarming (housewarming) at our Norwegian friend Vegard’s. He lives with a couple of Kiwis in a nice flat he has found while he has been down here.

Saturday morning we went to a so-called “barbeque” in Ambury Park, approximately 15 km from the center of Auckland. It was a weird kind of barbeque since it seemed more like a farm visit. We were shown how they clean the sheep at the farm by shaving off their shit-covered wool. They also showed us how they milk their cows… it was very clear that they are much more used to having school classes visiting instead of university students. However, it was still a nice trip and the newly born calves were cute to watch on their first walks on their thin, shaking legs.

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Cleaning sheep

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Newly born

In the evening it was time for the big rugby game: New Zealand against Australia. We had tried to get our hands on some tickets but we didn’t succeed so we ended up watching the match at a pub where we enjoyed the atmosphere. Luckily New Zealand won the exciting match so everyone was happy.

Sunday we went to the weekly car fair to look at second hand vehicles. There were lots of cars and vans and it seemed like it should definitely be possible to buy something for a fairly low price. We are going to consider for some time when the best time to buy a vehicle will be. We will definitely need one in November for traveling around the southern parts of New Zealand.

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Hiking in Waitakere Ranges

by on 21 July 2009, under New Zealand, PSV, Hiking

During the past week, a lot of stuff has happened which means that I haven’t really felt that I have had the time to post anything on the blog. However, I have actually experienced a lot which I feel is worth writing about. The following is the first part about my past week.

Last monday we went on our first hiking trip in New Zealand. I expect there will be lots of those to come. We went to Waitakere Ranges about an hours drive west of my residence just outside the center of Auckland. It was Josh from the States, one of Jonas Skott’s flatmates, who had taken the initiative to arrange the trip – he was also the one to rent the car. He had rented a van since approximately eight people had wanted to go. However, three of the Americans never showed up and thus we were “only” two Americans (Josh and TJ, both living in PSV), a Norwegian guy (Vegard, who Josh had met earlier) and two Danes (2 x Jonas).

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Waitakere Ranges is an enormous green area with quite hilly terrain and a lot of different plants. Wikipedia describes it as a landscape filled with “hills” but as a Dane I think that an area which has its peak at 474 m contains just a bit more than “hills”. We were advised to take a route of approximately 3-3.5 hours and was warned that the track might be a bit wet and muddy due to the season. The park ranger who gave us these advise were definitely right since the track indeed was quite slippery. Several times I was close to falling on the slippery surface but managed to get through with only my boots and the lowest parts of my jeans filled with mud. The trip was extremely beautiful with trees which towered over the trail, almost making a ceiling and giving the impression that you might be in a rain forest. On the last part of the route we ended up at Karekare, a black sanded beach stretching far and wide – another pretty vista. It is incredible how varied a landscape you can meet just by going an hour west of central Auckland.

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Of course we are planning to go on more trips like those while we are here in New Zealand. Especially in the two semester break in the start of September and after our studies here have ended in November. Therefore we went down and bought hiking boots yesterday. We got a pretty good deal since we were three people buying at once. Now we should be a bit better prepared for the hiking trips to come.

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Another view

by on 18 July 2009, under New Zealand, UoA, Other blogs

I am not the only Dane who has gone to New Zealand to study applied mathematics. My dear study buddy, Jonas Skott Sigtenbjerggaard has also gone down here to study the same stuff as me. You can read his blog about the stay down here at Sigtenbjerggaard.com where he also uploads some of the photos he takes during our adventures on the opposite side of the globe.

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