Iqon's New Zealand Blog

Tag: Money

Part 1: Conclusion on studies

by on 20 December 2009, under Julekalender, New Zealand, UoA

I did not only go to New Zealand for the sole purpose of experiencing the country. I also went there to study. I will use the first part of the “julekalender” to wrap up my studies in New Zealand so we can move on to something more interesting afterwards. Therefore this post will be fairly short.

I think I did mention that my exams had gone OK and my grades seem to confirm that. As far as I know (once again wonderful Wikipedia has been an immense help) you can pass a course with nine different grades (the letters A, B, and C with +/- variations) and fail it with either two or six different grades: D and E – I’m not sure whether or not they use +’s and -’s for the failing grades. It seems like a lot to have six different ways to fail but I must admit that I have never really thought much about the grades in that end of the scale.

I ended receiving three A’s and one A+. I got the A+ in my only undergraduate course which corresponds pretty well with the fact that I’m regarded as a post graduate student in New Zealand since I’m on my fifth year of my studies. I think I’m supposed to be pretty happy about those grades, especially since I don’t feel like the workload during the semester has been very large (no books to read for any of the courses and not that many assignments to hand in). Only in the last weeks of the semester did I have to focus intensely on the studies.

Now that I am writing about my studies I want to mention that my bachelor thesis which I wrote two fellow students (Johan Musaeus Brrun and Martin Lundberg-Jensen) in the (Danish) spring of 2008 has been awarded the best bachelor thesis in 2009 of the big consultancy company McKinsey & Company. We couldn’t participate in the 2008 competition since we didn’t defend the thesis until late August 2008 which meant the thesis was considered as finished in the school year 08/09. Only theses students themselves had chosen to submit to the competition were considered but I still think it is a pretty nice award to receive. Besides the honor we also received 15,000 DKK (about 4000 NZD) to split between us. Unfortunately it was only Martin who could be present at the award ceremony since both Johan and I was studying abroad (Johan in Sydney, Australia, and I in Auckland, New Zealand, as some of you may have noticed at this point).

I promise that this will be the last I write about my studies for a while (unless people protest and demand more about that particular subject). Next post will be about my travels in New Zealand (finally!).

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Mid-semester break

by on 18 September 2009, under New Zealand, Caves

As the loyal reader of my blog might have noticed it has been quite scarce with updates recently. This is because I haven’t been home much but instead have been enjoying my two weeks of break from the university by traveling a bit around the northern part of New Zealand.

Before I tell you more about my break I have a couple of loose ends I need to tie up first.

First of all: I have gotten my stolen money back so that has luckily been completely sorted after a couple of weeks where I had to borrow money, mostly from Skott and my brother, Benjamin. But now I do have the money back and more importantly (and the reason why I had to borrow money), I have access to them via my new Visa card which my brother, Rune, was so kind to send to me. But that’s enough talk about money for now…

As far as I recall (I’m apparently too lazy to read through my own blog) I have mentioned that Skott and I have invested in a car but not told much more about that. Not that there is much more to tell. The Sunday before the break began we went to the weekly car fair approximately five kilometers from PSV. There we found a Subaru Legacy ’91 which seemed to be in pretty good condition and it could even drive! The couple who had it needed to sell it since they were moving to Australia where the husband was originally from. They started out by saying the price was negotiable so we ended up paying $1460 instead of the $1650 the car was originally priced at. That seems like a fair price, especially if we can get some of the money back in the end by selling the car again.

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My first (shared) car!

I have also mentioned that I was going to watch Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino’s newest movie. It definitely met my expectations. It was pretty easy to see that it was a Tarantino movie but in my book that only counts as a big plus. The guy is excellent at writing compelling dialog and it did not hurt the movie that most of it consisted of scenes based around conversations while the amount of action was kept at a pretty manageable level (even though the trailers had insinuated something else). It is incredible how intense scenes that man can create just by intelligently written dialog (and excellent acting) – definitely a movie that is worth watching. At the same time it was interesting to see an American produced movie which contains so much dialog in languages which are not English. Very risky, but of course something I appreciate in a movie about nazi occupied France.

I have also seen District 9, a movie which surprised me positively. It is sci-fi as I have never really seen it before, made on a fairly low budget compared to this summer’s (or winter’s, as it is down here) other big movies, even though it contains excellent CGI effect throughout the whole movie. It tells the story about how aliens got to earth and were kept in concentration camps. Parts of it is filmed like a documentary and seems pretty realistic – at least as realistic as it can be when it is a story involving life and weapons from outer space. The movie never loses momentum and is extremely hectic throughout which just helps to keep you emerged in it.

While I saw Inglorious Basters with a number of people from the usual PSV gang, District 9 was enjoyed together with Skott and my brother, Benjamin, who had arrived in New Zealand the same Friday my break started. Thus he travelled with us on our trip around Northland, the northern most part of New Zealand, in our first week of the break. Besides him and me the group included the Chris the German, Skott and his girlfriend, Malene, who had also taken the long trip to New Zealand for two weeks to travel with us. I will try to make it short (you know that’s not true, though, if you have ever read any other parts of my blog):

Monday:
Vi started off by trying to get an insurance on our car. Both Friday and Saturday we had tried to get a third party insurance, but both times in vain. Friday because we, due to rush hour, didn’t get there before they closed. Saturday because they wanted us to pay a lot of money (I think it was about $560) for a four month insurance while we knew a couple of other international students who had gotten a similar insurance for a year for less than $200. Apparently we had made the mistake to tell them that we were only going to stay here for a few months which made us tourists who apparently travels much more than students who live here for a year and have a three months break in the summer… Monday we went to a different store (same franchise); they had stored our information from our first visit but we told them that there must have been some kind of misunderstanding and that we were actually going to study in New Zealand for a year. Suddenly we could get the insurance for about $170 which seemed pretty fair. Skott also became a member of AA at the same time (in NZ AA is apparently not Anonymous Alcoholics but Automobile Association or something like that) so we can get a bit of help if our car should break down.

We continued to Goat Island which should be filled with animal life – at least in the summer where a lot of people enjoy snorkeling in the area. We had thought about taking a trip on a boat with a glass bottom to see some of the fish, but it didn’t seem to be sailing that day, either because the season hadn’t really begun yet or because it was too windy. Instead we spend the time on looking at waves hitting the rocks and to point fingers (you can do that in English as well, right) at the birds which had troubles flying because of the wind.

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Benjamin makes fun of the poor birds.

Next stop was Whangarei Falls, which is described as the water fall in New Zealand that is probably the most photographed even though it’s not the most impressive. It still seemed pretty nice, though, and of course we did take a couple of photographs of it, just to help it keep its status.

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One of the many photos that apparently exists of the Whangarei Falls

Next stop: Abbey Caves Abbey Caves, “the poor man’s Waitomo Caves” where it should be possible to see glow worms and so forth without paying to go down in the caves. Unfortunately we couldn’t enter them, either because we did not find the right place or because the water was too high. In other words: No glow worms for us (that day).

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The most exciting part about the caves was probably the walk to them which was quite muddy. Some people came pretty close to falling.

We had timed our trip to Whangarei perfectly. Apparently some big soccer tournament was taking place while we were there which meant that almost every camp site and hostel was booked by the 36 soccer teams residing in the city. We ended up at a motel where we shared two rooms with another group (the Norwegians Caroline and Kristian and the Dane Søren) who had also ended up in Whangarei after a couple of days of surfing further south.

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The two groups at the motel.

Tuesday
Tuesday we went to Mermaid Pools, a rock formation which creates a small pool at low tide. We sat at the rocks for a while and enjoyed the sound of the waves while we dried in the sun after some cold winter bathing in the sea.

Tuesday we succeeded in seeing Glow Worms in a half hour guided tour through Kawiti Glow Worm Caves. The cave was placed just outside Kawakawa which we passed through in order to see Hundertwasser Public Toilets, created by the famous Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The toilets are said to be “The Worlds Most Photographed Public Toilets” which is probably true – I know I haven’t photographed that many public toilets in my life but it might be a hobby one could take up.

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The famous public toilets from the inside!

We ended up in Russell, a historical town which has previously been the capital of New Zealand. It was a very quiet town, probably because the tourists hadn’t arrived yet since it is technically still winter. We saw an old church with bullet wholes from previous wars and went to a flagstaff at the top of a hill (Flagstaff Hill) where Union Jack is supposed to have been raised for the first time during the negotiations between the British and the Maori. At last we took a ferry to Paihia where we spent the night.

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Some people were more fascinated by the church than others.

Wednesday
Wednesday we took a boat trip around Bay of Islands. We were the only ones at the boat and the guy who was in charge of the trip, Mike, was a really nice guy. It was his first tour of the season and he told us that he had seen dolphins on his way out to get us. Unfortunately we didn’t see any dolphins or whales on our trip but it was a pretty good trip regardless. We went to one of the islands at the Bay of Islands where we climbed to the top of a hill from where we had a fantastic view.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/iqon/3912295585/” title=”DSC_0202 by Iqon DK, on Flickr”>DSC_0202
We were allowed to help steer the boat.

After the boat trip we went to Haruru Falls, some water falls which are shaped like a horse shoe. However, they were not as impressive as Whangarei Falls.

Thursday
Thursday we took the long trip to Cape Reinga, where the Tasmanian Sea and the Pacific Sea meet. It is not the most northern point of New Zealand but it is pretty close and a lot more accessible than the “real” northernmost point. It was a long drive on shitty roads to see a lighthouse and some signs showing how far away different big cities in the world are, but it is still something you have to see when you are in the northern part of New Zealand.

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The light house at Cape Reinga.

We drove south again to get to Ahipara which is placed in the beginning of the Ninety Mile Beach, a beach which is approximately 55 miles long. Here we rented a couple of boards to do some sand surfing on the big sand dunes which was quite entertaining even though it was a long walk up the sand for a couple of seconds ride down, only to do the whole thing over afterwards. It was a trip filled with exhilarating crashes and we were all covered in sand in the end.

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Benjamin had some pretty spectacular crashes.

Friday
There wasn’t much to see on our way back to Auckland along the west coast and therefore Friday didn’t offer many adventures. We had a short stop in Waipoua Forest where we saw some impressive Kauri trees. Among other trees, the forest contains Tane Mahuta, 51.2 m in height and 13.77 m in girth which makes it the biggest Kauri tree in the world. It was really impressive sight, especially because the (up to) 2500 year old tree stood in the middle of the forest surrounded by other trees, making them seem completely insignificant by comparison.

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This photo might give some idea of the size of the tree – we are even placed some meters in front of the tree on this photo.

Also the next biggest tree, Te Matua Ngahere, could be found in the forest. It wasn’t as tall (“only” 29.9 m) but it was wider since it had a girth of a whopping 16.41 m.

I will tell about the weekend and the following week at a later point since this post is already faaaaar too long.

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Money problems

by on 25 August 2009, under New Zealand, PSV, Other blogs

The following is probably one of the most serious posts so far.

I am usually quite good at handling my finances if I may say so myself. For my stay here in New Zealand I had also drawn up a fine budget and I had planned that it should be financed by a bit of savings, a scholarship from the government paying the tuition fee and a couple of other scholarships. Before I left Denmark I had received a fine amount of money from scholarships from the following foundations, which I want to take the opportunity to send a kind thought to:

Otto Mønsteds Fond (12,000 DKK = 3,370 NZD)
Knud Højgaards Fond (9,000 DKK = 2,525 NZD)
Oticon Fonden (7,000 DKK = 1,960 NZD)

These scholarships was a contributing factor to a nice big plus on my bank account a couple of weeks ago. Therefore I was naturally a bit surprised when I logged into my bank account via the internet and saw that most of my money had suddenly disappeared. I do spend a bit of money down here but I still had trouble explaining a small hole of about 14,000 DKK (approx 4,000 NZD).

It turned out to be due to some weird transactions to (among other things) WWW.NIKESTORE.COM as it was nicely printed with capital letters in my account history. I told this to my bank which of course closed my Visa card – the only card I brought with me to New Zealand. So now I don’t have any way to get hold of what is left of my money, and I’ll have to borrow from friends which is not quite optimal, contrary to what some people might think. It doesn’t help that Skott and I decided to buy a car yesterday for which we’ll have to pay tomorrow. I was supposed to get the rest of my part of the cash payment today but the ATM declined it.

I have now opened a bank account here in New Zealand which I can transfer some money to, a new Visa card should be on the way from Denmark (although it will probably take some weeks to get it) and PBS (the company that handles credit cards transactions in Denmark) has been contacted so that I can hopefully get my money back soon. In other words: It’s all going to be OK, but I think I would rather not have had this particular experience.

To end on a positive note I want to continue referring to other blogs. This time it is my American friend, TJ, who has started a blog which can be found at http://tjsnewzealandadventure.wordpress.com/. TJ is yet another of The Village People (i.e. he also lives in Parnell Student Village – PSV) and his blog already contains extremely exciting posts about his shopping trips to the local supermarket, Foodtown. And if that is not positive enough I can mention that I tomorrow am going to watch Quentin Tarantino’s newest masterpiece, Inglorious Basterds, which I am really looking forward to. It is a well-known fact that the guy is a genius and I have only heard good things about the movie so I’m sure it is going to be a successful trip to the cinema.

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