Iqon's New Zealand Blog

Tag: Ankles

Taranaki, Wagamama’s and Eurovision

by on 18 June 2010, under New Zealand, PSV

Interesting fact: The following post the very first this semester receiving the tag “Me complaining”. That specific tag was one of the most heavily used last semester. In comparison “Ankles” has been used three times this semester and “Anti climatic endings” four times. Thank you, Wagamama’s for ruining a good run. You can see all the different tags I have used on the blog on the right, including old favorites such as “Public toilets”.

Wooh! It is time to actually (almost) catch up with the present on this blog after having been several weeks behind. Yay! And so much enthusiasm as well! Three exclamation marks in just two lines – and here is another one: !

This semester I have really wanted to go on some hikes but due to several different circumstances (waiting for other people to have the time and the car to be willing to drive) it didn’t happen until a couple of weeks ago. The trip went to Taranaki which had also been the plan a couple of weeks earlier. We were seven people who went in two groups: Skott, Tor and I (the Scandinavians) in one group and Ilana, Jeremy, Mickey and Max (Americans + a Frenchman) in the other. We, in the first group, left fairly early in the morning (especially considering it was a Saturday) while the other group followed some hours later since Max had to teach some tennis lessons before he could go. We were going on a two days’ hike where the first day was fairly short (about 4 hours according to Department of Conservation) while the next day was supposed to be much longer (7-10 hours). The plan was for the two groups to meet in the hut after the first day’s short hike. The first group had to buy and bring the food for the rest to minimize the risk that the second group had to walk too far in the dark.

Mount Tarankai/Egmont is fairly easy to locate on a map due of its very iconic cone shape, as I also mentioned in my last blog post. Unfortunately it was too late in the season to actually climb all the way to the top of the mountain without having to use ice axes and cramp-ons. It would be possible to rent them but you would have to prove that you actually knew how to use the equipment – such an unreasonable requirement. The hike we went on was therefore not straight up the mountain – we did have it in background for most of the hike, providing a pleasant scenery. I had been a bit nervous that the hike might be a bit boring with just an even-leveled path since we weren’t going up the mountain. Luckily I had no reason for such fears. It was actually a quite interesting hike; some places it was hard to see that it was actually a proper path since rocks were lying everywhere. When we realized that the other group was so delayed that they would have to do the entire first day’s hike in the dark, I called them and warned them not to do it. It didn’t really seem like a very good idea to climb around on those rocks in the dark with a scary chasm at one of the sides. We had enough trouble just crossing in daylight. They didn’t really seem to listen to me, though.

As is tradition: Haka before the hike
It has become a tradition to start our hikes with a haka

Tramping on the edge
A small example of some of the rock slides we had to cross the first day.

Norwegian, scouting for the path
Tor, scouting for the path.

We arrived at the hut exactly as it got dark which was pretty lucky since none of us had brought flashlights. We spent a good deal of time trying to light a fire which proved to be quite difficult since none of us had thought about bringing matches or a lighter either (I guess we weren’t really well-prepared). However, since we were three engineers we figured that we should be able to create fire somehow. Immediately Skott started trying the well-known “wood-against-wood-makes-fire” trick. Since the hut was lit by light bulbs powered by solar collectors we also considered the possibility of short-circuiting one of them, giving rise to a useful spark. We spent some time considering different options until I in the end chose to take the lighter hanging on the notice board and suggesting we could maybe use that.

4) Stab the piece of wood
Skott, trying to create fire.

When it was about 9pm we figured it was time to go to bed. At this point we had realized that the others had probably chosen to listen to my warnings and skipped the hike. They arrived at 10pm after having spent five hours on the same trip we spent two and a half to do.

The second day was very nice with a view of the mountain most of the day. About halfway through the hike, which ended up taking about eight hours, the nature of the path changed dramatically. While the first part had consisted of either stairs or level ground, the second half offered almost vertical drops which made for some quite interesting climbs. There were also a couple of rivers we had to cross by walking around on slippery rocks. During the last half hour I managed to throw away my lens cap for my camera and twist my ankle (as I had predicted I would do in the beginning of the day – I love my ankles) – these were two separate occurrences. Just as we were done with the hike it started to rain. It kept raining for the six hours it took to drive back to Auckland. Such a nice end.

Traditional pre-hike haka. Max (and partly Ilana) didn't get the idea
We tried to introduce the other group for the idea about starting the day with a haka. Max (and to some degree Ilana) obviously didn’t manage to grasp the concept.

Mount Taranaki and a group of posers
Mount Taranaki with Max, Skott and Tor posing in front of it.

... and still climbing down
As I mentioned, some places the path just went straight down. Luckily, ladders were placed at the worst parts

Some places the track was hidden pretty well. This sign says "Track", quite helpful
The path was sometimes quite hard to find. The sparse markings with signs did however help us find our way.

The suspension bridge where I threw away my lenscap - and minutes after twisted my ankle. Yup, I am a genius
The suspension bridge where I chose to throw my lens cap away.

The following Monday I went to Wagamama’s for the first time for the dinner which is held for the PSV residents once every semester. It was a very chaotic and messy dinner. We were split up at three long tables and the dishes arrived in an order which appeared to be fairly random to me. A lot of people got their main before the starter and long before a lot of other people at the table had received any food at all. We quickly found out that you just had to eat whatever you were served when it was served since you had no idea when anything else would arrive for either you or the others sitting around you, staring hungrily and jealously at your food. I think our table got the desserts before those sitting at the last table got their starters. The serving of the dessert was also disappointing. Many (including me) had ordered cheesecake which the waiter didn’t have any problems with. When the others around me started getting their desserts and I could see I wasn’t about to have any, I asked the waiter where my cheesecake was. Apparently they never had it. One of the alternatives, a chocolate cake with ice cream, they only had five pieces of. Not too organized when you know a big group is coming. The food was fine, though.

Tuesday I went (alone) to the cinema to see Kick-Ass which I am really happy I did. It is an amazing movie about a relatively geeky guy who wonders why nobody has tried to become a superhero in real life. After this realization he naturally decides to try it out himself. The movie develops into something completely different by the end – almost as if it is three different movies of different genres, each extremely entertaining. The end of the movie contains action sequences which reminded me of some of Tarantino’s amazing movies which is probably one of the strongest recommendations I can give.

Thursday I had been invited for dinner at Jocelyn’s, one of the two Frenchmen who I went to Samoa with. crêpes were served and wine was drunk in a truly French manner. It was a very enjoyable evening.

Sunday I got up at 7 to watch the Eurovision with Tor. Unfortunately we missed about 10 songs in the middle of the show because the stream died. We did get to see the random stuntman running onto the stage during Spain’s performance (I thought he was part of the show until the hosts pointed out that Spain of course would get to sing again since their song had been ruined), Moldova’s amazing attempt to one-up last years winner by not only having a fiddle, but a glowing one (with a lot of other craziness added). We also got to see Germany’s winning song and Denmark’s performance. I was very happy when Denmark received top points from the first two countries after which Lena from Germany started getting all the points which in the end resulted in her winning. Tor was happy that Norway managed to (only just) beat Moldova and I was amused about the fact that the UK, which is secured a spot in the final each year since they put so much money into the Eurovision, ended dead last with only 10 points (Denmark had 12 points after the very first of 39 countries had given their votes). Tor and I agreed that we were content with Lena winning, though, since that resulted in a memorable interview with an extremely nervous 19 year old girl who didn’t look comfortable on the stage at all. It didn’t help that she had to be interviewed in English which was obviously not her language of preference. Classic moments such as a very cautious “Hiiiii” as answer to a number of questions she did not understand or “I… I don’t think I am strong enough… to carry this… the whole time” about the trophy she had just been handed immediately appear in my head. The same does the image of the poor German girl who tries to hide by wrapping her head in the German flag when the whole situation becomes too much for her and at last her surprised expression when she realize she has to sing again (“Do I have to sing… NOW?”). Luckily the stream continued for a bit after her song was over: They just let her stay on the stage without anyone helping her. She had no idea what to do or say and in the end she had to switch to German in order to at least manage to mumble something remotely coherent until they unfortunately turned off the stream.

Later that day Ilana, Max and I went on a small trip to Rangitoto Island, a small volcanic island close to Auckland. It was a nice little walk up and down the volcano. We had a very nice view of Auckland from the top. The weather was perfect with the sun shining from a cloudless sky. I am still amazed that it is possible to have such beautiful weather, now that we have officially entered winter here in New Zealand. I don’t get where the annoying, bitter cold, the persistent darkness and the horrible snow, that completely ruins your chances of going anywhere without getting your feet wet, have gone. It is definitely not winter, as I know it, and I am quite happy about that.

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View from Rangitoto. Auckland is the city in the world with most boats per capita.

As I also mentioned last time I have been quite bad at writing blog posts this semester (thereby not implying I was doing a good job of it last semester either). Hopefully I will manage to write at least a couple more before I leave New Zealand. However, it has started to dawn upon me that I will have to leave soon. Students all around me are busy with exams which is usually a sign that the semester is about to end. At the same time a lot of people have started talking about leaving resulting in the mandatory invitations for goodbye parties. Indeed, some people have already left which of course is very sad. Unfortunately that is how it always goes with these studies abroad, as I have now started to get so accustomed to.

Coming up: A post about what it is I spend my normal weekdays on down here!

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Sunset, cricket and surf

by on 24 March 2010, under New Zealand, PSV

My todo list for every week always says “Write a blog post”. I am consistently a couple of weeks behind and for some reason it always takes me a war to write (I am quite sure that expression does not exist in English, however, I feel it is so self-explanatory that I will try to introduce it into the language). Where I am going with these considerations, I don’t know. With this post I will hopefully be able to catch up with the present. Because I feel a little sick (well, I did at the time I wrote the Danish text, and I am certainly not going to change it all, just because I am translating it into English the day after) there might be a chance it will be fairly short. One can always hope (it is ironic that, since I translate the English text after I have written the complete post in Danish, I know for sure that it is not what most would consider “short” – however, I am trying to give you the most literal translation of my initial post… except for these stupid comments).

In my last post I mentioned that I have moved back to PSV. I can see my old flat from my room and I have also spent a good deal of time with the crew from Flat 15 where I used to live last semester. Since I, for some reason, have made it a habit to list people, I will continue that trend, listing the people from the flat that has almost become my “second home” down here. Since I am a bit tired the list will only mention name and nationality:

Øystein: Norwegian
James: Canadian
Ilana: American
Kirsty: English
Esther: German

I met Øystein last semester although we seldom met or spent time together – that has changed this semester. The rest are all “new” to The University of Auckland. They were so kind as to let me sleep on the couch in their living room the day I before I could move into my own room in PSV (the day after the fire at my hostel) even though it was barely only Øystein that knew me at that point. I was of course quite grateful for that.

From my room I can see my old flat
The view from my room – I can see my old flat from here.

A couple of weeks ago (yeah, I am still a bit behind with the blog) we (Flat 15, Stefani the Canadian, Jeremy the American and I, the Dane) went to Mount Eden, the highest natural point of Auckland, to enjoy the sunset. It was a nice trip which once again gave me an opportunity to play around with my new camera.

What makes this picture great: The random guy choosing to simply _skip_ past as I'm taking the picture
Random guy skipping past in the background.

Enjoying the sunset
The group enjoying the sunset.

James posing
James posing.

Another picture of the sun setting
Sunset at Mount Eden.

The next photos I have are from the surf trip last weekend. However, before I get to that I want to mention that I have also been to my first cricket match ever. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from this drama since I had no idea I was going to a cricket match when I went to the university in the morning. But I could not say no when I got the offer to go which meant that I went to the cricket match with all my school stuff and my squash cloths which I didn’t get to use that day. We arrived a couple of hours into the match but apparently that is no big deal. I didn’t have any clue about what was going on for the first couple of hours but slowly the game started to make sense. Some of the other spectators helped us understand some of the finer details of the game which was quite kind of them. I have trouble coming up with any other kind of sport where everybody seems so relaxed. Curling might be close. I have been told baseball might also be kind of similar. Tour de France does have a pretty relaxing feeling to it as well but it does have some periods of intense drama which doesn’t really seem to exist in cricket. We were at the cricket match for seven (7!) hours. We did have a break of about one and a half hours between the two innings where we left the stadium to get some food. I have never tried to leave the stadium during a sports match just to come back later without having missed any part of the game (the players also had a break when we were eating). The guy who invented cricket must have been a man of great patience. Not only does the original cricket rules allow a game to last up to five days; if there is the slightest bit of rain, the rest of the match will be put off until half an hour after the rain has stopped. We did get to see that rule applied… hooray! We spent seven hours looking at men throwing a ball about 500 times while some other guy tried to block it with his bat, followed by one of the other ten players on the field walking to the ball to give it to the guy who threw it in the first place. We watched that, and then also an hour of some vehicles dragging a big “towel”, trying to dry the field after the rain while the crowd kept hoping that one of the guys on the field would be tripped by the “towel”. Unfortunately it did not happen. A very interesting experience indeed.

Since this is a post filled with randomness: I also want to mention that I am trying to be a bit active down here. I have played squash and run a couple of times. I have signed up for “Handball for beginners”, the only handball thing they offer at The University of Auckland. Unfortunately it is probably a bit too much a “beginners’” thing for me even though it is about seven years since I last touched a handball (which seems a bit scary to me). I was offered to join the “advanced” team for their games so I will probably do that if my feet can survive it.

Also! And this may come as a surprise, especially for me, I have started taking salsa lessons… I am not entirely sure how THAT happened but I guess it comes from some misguided idea I had before returning that I wanted to try some new stuff. Besides, both Øystein and Ilana tried to convince me and in the end it apparently worked somehow. So now I am going to have eight salsa lessons. Two of them have already been completed, although I have only participated in the first due to sickness (on my part) at the time of the second one. That probably means I will feel even more lost next time, as if my lack of sense of rhythm wasn’t enough.

I apologize that this post can seem a bit disconnected – I will once again use the explanation that I am kind of sick (even though the real reason is laziness). With that apology I will allow myself to take another weird jump. I spend most of my weekdays on my master thesis – the thing I am basically here for and which I have not mentioned on my blog so far. But now I HAVE mentioned it and then there can be no doubt that I am working hard on it with Skott. I assume that I will make a post at a later point, explaining exactly what the thesis is about and which might make people die from boredom. I can reveal that it is about containers… But that will have to wait till some other time.

While the weekdays are spent on the project, my weekends are fairly free. That means that I last weekend found myself on my way to Raglan, the surfers’ paradise in New Zealand. Going there was probably another one of those “let’s try something new” ideas. It was an extremely nice weekend with beautiful weather, a nice beach and a good group consisting of eight people, mainly from Parnell Student Village: Three Canadians (they are the new Germans this semester – they are everywhere), two Americans (although one of them claimed he could also be called a Kiwi), a French guy, a Norwegian and then me, the Dane. We lived at a hostel a bit outside of Raglan which looked like it was placed in the middle of a jungle in Colombia (or any other country in South America, I presume). It was really nice with free pool table, decent cooking facilities and then there was the sauna which we chose to use both nights. The surf went surprisingly well. With that I mean that I got through it unhurt; I did not drown (my initial criteria for success), destroy my ankles or hurt myself in any other way. I (and the rest of the members of the group) all managed to get up on the surfboards at least a couple of times. When I got home from the surf trip I realized that I had had another encounter with my arch nemesis. I am of course talking about the sandfly which had left a couple of stings at my feet which will now bother me extremely for the next many nights. I am considering trying to come up with some kind of scheme to take revenge. I do owe those bastards some kind of practical joke. But then again, I am not sure if insects understand practical jokes.

Me...
I actually don’t have any photos of the surf itself so you will have to just be content with a picture of me… and in the following photos, the other people that were with me on the trip.

Øystein with the final say
Øystein and Max in a friendly fight on the beach.

Sitting on a big trunk
Stefani, Laura, Robin and James sitting on a trunk.

A goat and the small tent it lives in at the side of the road
A goat and the small tent it lives in at the side of the road – it was actually NOT part of the group.

Max with the guitar
Max with a guitar.

After a well deserved lunch
And to also have a photo of the last person on the trip:: Ilana in the middle (Max at the right, me at the left) after a well-deserved lunch in Raglan before going back to Auckland.

In the end I want to talk a bit about the internet in New Zealand once again which I also did a couple of times last semester (as I am sure the people who have somehow managed to stick with the blog that will easily recall). However, I have also promised to not complain as much about stuff this time around, so I’ll just not mention the internet… and this way another post can get the tag “anticlimatic endings”.

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Since NZ

by on 7 March 2010, under USA

I have now spent a couple of month talking about what happened a couple of months ago. “What has happened back home in the meantime?” I hear the impacient reader asking. “Nothing special”, is my answer, “but I can tell you anyway – and I will also stop writing my blog as a weird, imaginary conversation since it becomes tiresome to read extremely fast”.

After a couple of days of Christmas hell in New York I went back to Denmark which at that point was covered in snow, ice, coldness and darkness on one of the very last days of the now so (in)famous climate meeting in Copenhagen. Yes, I was in the Danish airport at the same day as President Obama arrived! Wow! Christmas was celebrated in the traditional way. Afterwards I returned to the apartment in Copenhagen I have been living in for more than four years now. This time, however, I had to live in the smallest of the three rooms since the two others were occupied by one of my brothers, Rune, and Robert the German who had rented a room while I was abroad. During January I worked as a teaching assistant in a course (Mathematical Programming with Modelling Software) at my home university, DTU – so now I can check that off my list of things to do. I also spent January enjoying being back in my small homemade nerd world, with the big tv, video game consoles, Blu-ray movies and I-don’t-know-what. To the collection I also added a new Mac Mini which now functions as a mediacenter which makes it possible for me to watch Danish TV from abroad plus a fancy remote which can control everything at once, replacing my collection of five-six remotes that I needed before. Very interesting, I know…

That is an example of how you can tell about two months: Brief and precise – something very atypical for this blog, and if I know myself the blog won’t continue like that in the future either. Therefore, let me start to tell you about the last couple of week in much more detail just to show the contrast (don’t worry, there will be some photos mixed into the text in a minute as you have probably already noticed unless you are equipped with unusually focused eyes with no peripheral vision – or if you just haven’t scrolled down yet).

I went abroad once again on February 15 (or is it the 15th of February, 15 February or something completely different? I can never really figure it out in English – and nobody ever answers these questions I pose in my blog posts). This time to (initially) visit my sister in Boise, Idaho. I had managed to get my hands on some fairly ok tickets, especially considering I only booked the flight about a week before I left Denmark. A seat at an emergency exit (lots of room for the legs) in the plane between Copenhagen and Chicago where I had a short stop before continuing directly to Boise – it could hardly be more efficient. It is always an “experience” to arrive in the States since their border control (or whatever you call it) can seem ridiculously strict at times. Upon my arrival in Chicago I was led into a small room, mostly filled with Spanish speaking people it seemed. Here I had to wait for an hour since they found it strange that I was visiting my Danish sister who is now living in the US. In the end they let me continue my meticulously planned trip which suddenly didn’t seem as well planned as I had thought in the beginning. I had to get through the fairly large airport in Chicago in less than half an hour.

And so I did!!1!11!oneone

I will let the above linger (I don’t know if you can let text linger but I will anyway) for a bit so it is possible to calm down a bit after all that excitement.

You can enjoy a photo of Obama on the road to help you calm down before we continue:

Obama on the roadThe Obama figure in my sister’s car had its picture taken plenty of times during my visit in Boise.

I arrived safely in Boise. My baggage chose to stay another half day in Chicago since it apparently didn’t think we had seen enough of the city. I stayed in Boise with my sister, Mie, and her husband-to-be, Keith, for almost a week. Here I was introduced to the two hyperactive dogs, Lucky an Java who proved to be brilliant models for my new, nice camera which I chose to invest in during my visit to the Sttes (Nikon D90 with an awesome18-200 mm lens if anyone cares).

My extremely photgenic sister
The very first photo taken with my new camera. It is easy to see that my sister is used to working with portrait photos. She knows exactly how to show off the best side of herself when a picture is taken. Being extremely photogenic is something that runs in my family.

Lucky, a happy dog
Lucky, my sister’s polar bear.

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Java, playing in water/mud.

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Lucky, the happiest dog in the world.

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So you say that a dog has and its owner are alike, and this might prove it. Notice how photogenic Lucky is (the saliva actually hangs all the way from his mouth to the ground) and compare it to my extremely photogenic sister.

I also got to ski for the very first time in my life which I was extraordinarily good at (I will try to put a more positive spin on my blog in the future after I have noticed that the most used tag on my posts is “Me complaining”, albeit I for the most part am fairly sarcastic whenever I complain on this blog). My sister was especially impressed of a situation where I, after having lost one ski after a spectacular stunt, managed to place myself in such a position that I started sliding backwards down the mountain on a single ski. I am definitely a natural at skiing. It was just such a nice feeling to see all the small kids speeding by me as if it is the most natural thing in the world to attach two extremely smooth (or whatever the word is) long planks to your feet and race down a steep mountain without any thought about what danger they put themselves in – while I was once again lying in the snow with my skis spread all over (or at least in two different places). I think that I, with just a bit of practice, will be able to participate in the next Winter Olympics. It should not be that hard to perform that much worse than the other Danish participants. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of my amazing achievements on the mountain so you will have to imagine those yourself.

Now when I am talking about skiing I remember that I haven’t been talking about my ankles for a while. Those who have been following my blog closely (which I think can be counted on one, normal, five-fingered hand) will probably remember that I have mentioned my ankles a couple of times but never during my seven part story about my trip to the South Island. And I even did a couple of hikes on that trip which should have put my week ankles at extreme risk. The thing is that I never did twist/roll my ankles on that trip. Paradoxically (I love a good paradox) I instead managed to twist my ankle on the middle of a street in a completely flat street in New York – something Skott and (a bit later) I thought was quite funny. I also did manage to damage my ankle on my skiing trip, actually a bit more seriously than I usually do. Everything seems fine now, though, thanks for asking. And that will be the last time (for a while) you will have to read about my ankles.

I also got to see a random basketball match in Boise. The best part was the entertainment in the breaks. Most of the time it was small kids performing stuff (crawl through hula hoop rings, drive around on plastic bikes or perform gymnastic moves) but the biggest standing ovation (during the ENTIRE night) was provoked by six free Domino’s pizzas which were handed out in one of the breaks. The crowd went nuts and the lucky winners seemed to be the happiest people in the world when they received their free pizza – I love USA.

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It might be a bit hard to see on the small picture but I will tell you what to look for: The woman calling somebody to tell that she just won a FREE pizza… and the man trying to do the Mexican Wave all by himself.

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Pepsi! I don’t even drink it that often but it was just an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.

Sunday I sadly had to leave Mie, Keith, Lucky and Java and continue towards New Zealand. It was a trip which did not offer as much excitement as in the airport in Chicago. However I did have to spend 10 hours in horrible LAX (which was planned from the beginning, though). Also, I had a fairly random short stop in Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands in the middle of the Pacific. My guess is that it must be one of the smallest airports in the world (the population on the island is less than 15000) and I don’t even know if it can be classified as an airport. It did seem like an incredibly nice place and definitely not the worst place to have a small break, although it was only about an hour in a small closed off section of the “airport”.

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Rarotonga airport.

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Rarotonga definitely looked like a place worth visiting.

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Rarotonga from above.

Here, just before my arrival in New Zealand, I will leave you, dear reader, craving for more stories from my amazing journey. Since I know that I am slowly becoming somewhat of a “Master of Suspense” (one person has found this blog via Google by searching for “anti-climatic endings”) I can tease that my first week in New Zealand among other things included intense flat hunting… and, a bit more down to earth and closer to my everyday life: me waking up in a burning building. But that will have to wait till next blog post which hopefully will be put up before too long.

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Exams

by on 12 November 2009, under New Zealand, UoA, Hiking

It has been a while since I last wrote on my blog. It is not because nothing is going on down here, though. The culprits are my exams which I have needed to focus on for the last couple of weeks.

Last time I wrote was the day (or night) before my birthday which went well. Not only did I receive some gifts, we also had a small party to celebrate my great accomplishment of having survived 23 years of life. The weather was terrible the most of the day but I guess that is because everything is acting the opposite way down here (the water in the toilet spins the wrong way when flushing, people drive in the wrong side of the road, it gets colder when you go south etc.). With that in mind, the bad weather on my birthday must mean that I have been behaving quite well this past year (this is one of the few cases where I can definitely agree with the weather). Now that we are talking about the weather (or rather, now that I am boring people with it) I can mention that it definitely starts to feel like summer now. We still have the occasional days with bad weather which makes me even more sad than normally since it can sometimes completely kill my beloved Internet. It seems so weird to have Internet which depends on the weather but that is at least my theory on how the speed can go from “modem like” (on the good days!) to “non-existing”.

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I got flowers from the two Americans Josh and TJ

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The rest of my gifts

Most days the weather has been pretty nice, though, and we have utilized that to have a few barbecues. The most recent of these was last weekend where David Ryan, the professor who has previously had us for dinner, had invited us for a late lunch barbecue at Waiheke Island, one of the small islands close to Auckland. Here Ryan owns a small summer cottage (or “badge” as I learned it is called in New Zealand) which is soon to be demolished in order for a proper house to be build on the ground. The idea is that he and his wife will move there when the new house has been constructed. That is quite understandable; the island was a lovely place with easy access to the beach and great views. Not a bad place to settle! Unfortunately I had forgotten my camera so you will have to take my word for it.

My biggest “adventure” took place a couple of weeks ago. Skott and a couple of my other friends down here have taken up surfing and had planned to go on a surf trip for a couple of days to celebrate the end of lectures. I have never managed to become excited about the prospect of surfing so I could instead look forward to some days all alone and sad (since no one wanted to go with me to Fiji or Tonga). At least that’s how it seemed until the night before Saturday (same day as my lectures ended) where I was offered to go on a trip to Tongariro the following day. The plan was to go down there Saturday and spend Sunday on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is known to be one of the very best one day hikes New Zealand has to offer. I can easily see how it has achieved this reputation: It was an amazing trip which went up active volcanoes, snow covered mountain tops, hot springs, beautiful lakes and ending in “rain forest” style surroundings. The highest point was Mt Tongariro at 1900 m above sea level and needless to say the view was fantastic from there. It was a long hike (approximately 9 hours, 23 km) but luckily I did not twist my ankle until after the steepest ascents. However, I did have to walk the last three hours with a somewhat sore ankle after having twisted it on my way down but that’s (my) life. I can also mention that Mt Tongariro along with e.g. Mt Ngauruhoe (an optional side trip of about three hours you can do if you think you have the time – we didn’t) were used as settings for Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies.

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As I mentioned in the beginning I do spend most of my time studying for my exams at the moment. Today I have had my second one out of a total of three. I have done OK in both of them although I don’t think I have answered everything 100% correctly in any of them. My last exam is this Saturday which I am of course looking forward to. Afterwards I am going to the South Island for some weeks until I leave the country the 13th of December. I’ll spend a couple of days in New York and then return to the cold and dark Denmark.

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Nothing new

by on 15 October 2009, under New Zealand, PSV, UoA, Hiking

It has been awfully quiet on my blog recently and I know a lot of people must fear that something has happened to me. I can understand that, I mean, we have had a couple of tsunamis here. In this connection I would like to thank everybody for not sending me a single concerned message. It is nice to know that you are loved… I hope you, my dear reader, catches the double sarcasm used in the remark above but down here I have learned that not everybody gets my humor which probably does not give the right image of me as the fantastic guy that I really am.

But what has happened these last couple of weeks since I have been so busy that I haven’t been able to look after my exciting blog? Not much, actually. After the break there has been a bit more focus on the school work but it is not too bad. I have already completed one course by giving a single presentation about an article that proved to be completely wrong (I did suspect that when I read it but might not have been too clear about this in my presentation). In my other courses it is going pretty well also (thanks for asking), at least I have gotten full marks in all my assignments (although I have received no extra marks for the new ones as I did in my first assignment), except for one where marks were deducted since I hadn’t been able to fit an introduction and conclusion into an assignment which was limited to three pages.

To illustrate how little is going on down here at the moment I will now tell you about me and cleaning (I could also call it “me and the encounter with other cultures” but that would make it sound much more thrilling than it actually is). I do have a couple of places where I don’t represent the typical Danish man. Some might call me a nerd; others call me “special” which I have chosen to take as a compliment (you only get the compliments you claim yourself – at least in my experience). One of the things that makes me “special” is apparently my attitude towards cleaning or at least washing-up. Apparently it is quite unreasonable to ask your flatmates to clean their pots, pans, dishes etc. after they have used it. Instead, this is a task that rests on the next person who wants to cook something (i.e. me). I make it sound worse than it is but after a couple of discussions with my flatmates about this matter I have concluded that I must be wrong – although I have still not realized why (this might be one of the drawbacks of living with three girls, I suppose). I guess I will learn why at some point.

A couple of weeks ago the flats in PSV were inspected. They were going to check if we kept our flat in a nice condition. This was a good excuse to do some proper cleaning which was definitely needed. I will let the picture of the area behind the oven speak for itself, although I can mention that the top of the shelves didn’t look much better.

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Behind the oven before the cleaning.
It is funny that the only one who seems to agree somewhat with me down here when it comes to cleaning is the other Dane in PSV, Skott (or, I think another Dane also lives here but I never meet her). When I was studying in the US I encountered the same phenomenon. The kitchen was extremely gross and useless. One of the first things us four Danes did when we moved in was to clean the disgusting fridges. When we spoke with the international office about the matter later on they mentioned that it was weird that it was always Danes who complained about the lack of cleaning – as if they had encountered that exact problem before without doing much about it. Cleanliness is apparently a very Danish thing which I haven’t valued enough so far.

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The fridge in my dorm in the US.

That must be enough complaining for now. To continue on a more positive note I can mention that I once again have become quite good at twisting my ankle. My left foot seems particularly happy to place itself at wrong angles at the moment, which is usually followed by delightful pain. One of the times I twisted my left ankle was on a new trip to Waitakere Ranges, which I also visited one of my first days down here. This time we went on another hike which wasn’t as impressive as the first one to Karekare. This was probably because of the fog which made it impossible to enjoy the nice views from the hilltops we climbed. The most exciting part about the hike was probably the last half hour where we almost got lost. The path we were supposed to follow was marked off pretty badly. Or to be more precise, the markers were put in one direction, the path was continuing in another. We chose to follow the path even though it kept going upwards and it started getting pretty windy. It was at this point that my left ankle decided that it would be perfect timing to twist. And so it did, just as we had reached the top and had started to climb down, still not knowing if we were on the right path. Very exciting last part of the hike indeed.

The other times I have twisted my ankle have been while playing squash. When you live in one of the student accommodations provided by the university you get free access to the university’s recreation centre which includes two squash courts. I often play against my American friend, Josh, whom I beat regularly – it is always fun. A tip for pros: Don’t step on the walls since this is when you can most easily twist your ankles. I am sure that it takes professional squash players much longer to learn this lesson than the week it took me to realize it. Of course it can be debated whether or not I have learned it yet, seeing as I today, many weeks after the first incident, chose to step on a wall again…

I hope that the above is enough about “everyday life in NZ” as was requested by my readers (or at least one) – I can’t really come up with much more ordinary things to bore people with.

I will try to improve my segues for my later blog posts so the paragraphs will not be connected by me complaining and talk about my bad ankles.

But now it is my birthday! And with that, I will end this post (yeah, I should try to improve the way I end my blog posts also).

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