Saturday, March 24, 2012

The band members of Six60.  Haha!  I don't even know their names, but they were talented :)

This is a good song:
Ok so...scratch the beginning of my previous post.  Mng. Christine did not mail my care package just yet.  Instead when I went to pick up my parcel from the office I was surprised to find that my new glasses have been delivered.  Just a little random update:  my original glasses somehow got scratched and the protective film on the outside of my right lens was beginning to peel.  So I ordered a cheap-o pair from a site called  Very useful since I am all the way over here and there is no such thing as America's Best Contacts and Eyeglasses to hop into to order a new pair.  Luckily, America's Best gave me my prescription before I left for NZ!

The Six60 concert was really good.  I have finally experienced the Wellington nighttime scene (I know lame right?  I've been here a month and I've just now gotten out into the city at night?!?).  Emily, Quinne and I got to the concert venue pretty early and ended up waiting another hour and a half before the music started.  The venue was all standing so we got to get spots right up next to the front of the stage.  Quinne and I felt "unworthy" to be so close since we both aren't too familiar with the band...clearly there were some real die hard fans out there.  There was an opening act of three guys playing techno for a little less than an hour.  I'm not a huge techno fan so I was not too enthused about them...pressing buttons and whatnot.  Sorry, if you like techno...

After the opening act there was a set change...took another half hour to get that finished.  Oh my gosh, my anxiety levels were through the roof at this point.  I have never been to a concert that played more radio music over some loud speakers than actual live music.  While set changes and waiting was going on that's what they did to entertain us...And then Six60 finally came on stage.  I stood at the front with Emily and Quinne for the first 3-4 songs and then Quinne and I decided to go to the back because our ears were being blasted.  We stayed there for the remainder of the concert.  I enjoyed the band, aside from waiting for long periods of time to finally hear them.  And the dinner before the concert was delicious!  Yummy burger and fries :)

This weekend has been another homework weekend.  I got out of my flat a little bit yesterday morning to do some grocery was misting the whole way, so by the time I got to the grocery store I was drenched.  Oh well, I've gotta get used to it!

I'm thinking about joining the tramping club here at Vic!  Tramping=Hiking in Kiwi talk.  They take some weekend hiking trips and also day trips.  I really want to try it out.  All this city is making me miss nature and green.  Not that Wellington is all concrete and skyscrapers.  There are trees everywhere and parks and little pocket parks.  But I want to see forest and mud and rolling hills.  Anyways, I think I'm going to attend the tramping meeting on Tuesday this week to sign up!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One of my lovely sisters, Christine, was so kind to send me a care package!  I received an email from the flat office that it had arrived this afternoon...around 3:30pm.  After reading the email and getting myself all worked up about getting to finally see what the package contains, I rushed downstairs to pick it up, only to find that the office closes at 2pm Monday-Friday.  You cannot believe the disappointment that washed over my face as I saw the office hours hanging on the front door.  I wonder why the office would send me an email after office hours...they could have at least saved me the extreme disappointment by holding off from sending me the email until tomorrow morning when the office is actually open so I could pick it up promptly after.  Oh well, I will just have to wait...the anticipation is killing me though!

Into my third week of classes now.  I still have yet to feel the pressure of school that I usually get back home.  I suppose that is a good thing, considering I have a lot more downtime to spend exploring the city of Wellington.  However, due to the weather I have not gotten out of my flat very much aside from walking to campus for class.  The Wellington mist and wind in combination is a type of weather condition I cannot remember ever experiencing anywhere else I have traveled.  It most certainly puts a damper on my sightseeing endeavors...1. Even a heavy duty umbrella in this crazy wind could not hold up, 2. Sideways mist/rain seems to get everywhere even if I'm wearing a long rain jacket with my hood up and gumboots, 3. And all these hills.  I still have yet to make it from Te Aro (the design campus) back to my flat without being out of breath.  I think I am getting in better shape, considering I have no choice other than to walk every day.

It's funny...on my way to Te Aro it usually takes me just under 20 minutes, but on my way back uphill it takes an extra 5-10 minutes.  Suffice it to say, I definitely like the route TO campus much better.  I guess I haven't mentioned this:  Victoria has four campuses spread out around Wellington; I have classes on two of them.  This means that on two days out of the week I have to walk from one campus to another in a matter of 30 minutes.  Both of these walks are from Te Aro to Kelburn Campus, and that is basically all uphill.  If I am fully charged in power walking mode I can make it there in about 20 minutes, out of breath and sweaty.  One positive side to the weather transitioning into winter is that I won't be too soaked in my own sweat walking from one campus to another.  Although if it's not my own sweat seeping through my top it will more likely be the rain/mist.

I took a Maori key words test online for my Maori Society and Culture course yesterday.  I passed!  And without asking my flatmates for help.  I am thoroughly enjoying both of my Maori/Polynesian courses this semester...slightly more than my design courses (shhh...).  So far the lectures have been about Maori/Polynesian origins/settlement/beliefs/mythology.  It's all very interesting.  The one aspect about both courses, however, is all the Maori names.  Take for example all the Maori gods/goddesses: Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatuanuku, the earth mother; Tawhirimatea, the god of winds and storms; Tangaroa, the god of the sea; Tumatauenga, the god of humankind...and so on.  The key words test was mostly over beliefs and the hierarchy of society.  So for example in order from largest unit to smallest: Waka is a Maori confederation (literally means a group of canoes); Iwi, the people/tribe; Hapu, clan (also means pregnant); Whanau, immediate family.

Goodness, those words don't even begin to cover the surface of everything the lectures have covered so far...and you are probably falling asleep trying to pronounce them.  Anyways, I just mean to say that I enjoy learning about the Maori/Polynesian culture.  It is quite a nice break from my regular design classes.  I'm going to need to write all those out over and over until they are embedded in my head for examinations... :(

Ha!  And then for my Colour Pattern and Light course I'm doing some interior design thinking...never thought I'd be doing that for an actual class!  But again, it is interesting to get out of my normal routine of landscape architecture morning, day and night.  For my current assignment in CPL, I am exploring materials/textures/colors for a particular type of interior space of my own choosing.  I have decided to design a palette for a kitchen...and so far I have had a pretty good time in my lab googling wall tiles, flooring, and fabrics.  We have an in-class review next do you suppose I argue about colour, pattern and light?  Then again, how do you argue about anything subjective/artsy in general?  Well...designers tend to have a critical eye about everything...I guess I shall wait and see.

Last random thought of the post!  I am going to a Six60 concert this Thursday on Tory Street.  Oh!  This is a great website for finding tickets for events in NZ (  They are a New Zealand band that has a reggae/island/pop sound.  I'm very excited to be going with my friends, Emily and Quinne.  Burger Fuel for dinner on Courtenay Place (they serve GF buns) and then music into the remainder of the night.

That's it for now.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cuba Street flash mob about climate change.
First studio assignment.  Finished.

I had to find studio supplies at two different stores, Gordon Harris on Ghuznee Street and the Art Shoppe right down the street from the first place.  These are where most design students would recommend buying supplies and tools.  A breakdown of the supplies I bought for my first studio assignment:

3 sheets of large foamcore - $6.99 ea
1 bottle of Tacky Glue - $12.99
1 Exacto with extra blades - $9.00
1 cutting mat - $14.99
1 metrics scale - $8.99
21 photos printed - $0.29 ea
The grand total: $73.03

I really hope I'm not going to have to buy modeling supplies all year.  I suspect most of my work from here on out will be using trace on base maps and then digital production after that.  Anyhow, I survived my first presentation in front of my new studio classmates and was satisfied with my performance.  I am definitely off to a better start this week...I am finally comfortable with getting around the city on my own and I almost have my schedule memorized.  I spent most of my weekend doing homework.  Thank goodness for the flat bbq, I got to go outside and sit in the sun for a while on Saturday.

It was a bit misty on Sunday, but I forced myself to get out of my room and do some walking around Cuba Street.  I guess I haven't really described Cuba's essentially the main pedestrian street in the city with a ton of shops, restaurants and cafes.  The School of Architecture and Design is right off of Cuba so I get to walk through it every day that I go to my design classes.  One great thing about Cuba Street (and Wellington in general) is the cafe/coffee shop scene...there are so many in the city!  Every couple of stores there is a coffee shop or a cafe or a bakery.  I'm not even kidding.  I don't even think I'll be able to try all of them while I'm here.  Every couple of days or so I pick up a vanilla latte or chai latte from Midnight's a coffee shop on the corner of Cuba and Vivian, so that's right next to the School of Architecture and Design.  Their chai latte is absolutely to die for!  They sprinkle nutmeg on top of the foam and it's so delicious.

Last Friday, I went to my first sushi restaurant (not my first time trying sushi, of course, but my first sushi restaurant in New Zealand).  It's called Wasabi Sushi.  As you can imagine everything was really fresh.  It was one of those sushi restaurants that just make a lot of sushi and put it on a conveyor belt for you to grab at your seat.  And every plate is color-coded so you know the price.  I spent only $10.70 on three plates of sushi.  It was so good!  I think this week I want to either get burgers or this Mexican place everyone keeps saying is really good.  The burger place (Burger Fuel) has a gluten-free selection...yummy!  Don't worry, I'm not wasting all my money on eating out every day...but I do save one day a week to get dinner out with friends.  I think that's pretty reasonable.

I can check "See a flash mob in Wellington" off my list of things to do while I'm here (that wasn't really on my list).  Also on Friday I witnessed a flash mob happen while I was on Cuba Street.  The truth is, I knew it was happening so I rushed down there with some friends to check it out and get some pictures. It was about climate change and how we all should be aware of it...etc. etc.  Before the group started dancing, the "leader" preached to us all for a bit about what they were doing...I don't know if that's the normal protocol for flash mobs...I had the impression that people just broke out in dance in the middle of some place, no introduction.  Anyways, I was standing on the side listening and waiting and the leader guy all of sudden came up to me and said, "You sir, have you heard of climate change?!?"  Hold up, did he just call me "sir?!?"  Yes, he most certainly did.  I'm going to hope that he was just caught up in the moment and it slipped out...although, he didn't make an effort to apologize or correct himself.  Suffice it say, I was not at all embarrassed by it...I'm sure not many people realized his mistake.  I mean, come on, I was wearing a skirt, tights and flats for goodness sakes!  And I like to think that I don't actually look like a man.  But yes, if you were wondering, my dignity is still intact.  When the dancing and music finally started, it turned out to be a pretty cool flash mob experience.

I wonder what I will encounter next weekend.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

 The Wellington beach in the evening.

 The view from the Botanical Gardens.

The Wellington harbor.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I have finished my very first landscape architecture studio this morning and safely made it back to my about a 35-minute walk.  What I thought was going to be a studio period of only 50 minutes turned into being a studio period of 3 hours.  Apparently my "lecture timetable" deceived me...and what I also found out to be very important is that I have another studio time on Thursday for about 3 hours, which is also not present on my "lecture timetable."  So far, Victoria University has been thoroughly informative, don't you think!?

My studio mates are all very welcoming.  I found it odd, however, that the ratio of male to female was approximately 3:1.  I didn't count everyone to be sure, but there are only 5 females, including myself, and probably 15 or so guys.  It shall be an interesting dynamic for sure...I'm not used to that, considering the ratio is the other way around back home.  I am taking a 300-level studio so I am a year older than everyone else in my class...perhaps this means I'll have an advantage over them...I certainly wouldn't want to be the underdog, or the American student who knows nothing about landscape architecture in New Zealand.  But I feel pretty confident about my studies, I can say that honestly.  Everyone had to pin up their projects from last year (our French professor wanted to know what everyone's skill set is like, so she has a feel for what she's going to be dealing with). 

I didn't have anything to show obviously, but sometime this week Sabrina (the French professor) wants to go through my portfolio.  I am glad I thought to bring it.  That's kind of terrifying to think about.  I wonder if I'm going to have to do this portfolio showing in front of the entire studio.  I suppose I wouldn't mind all that much. 

We spent about 40 minutes of our studio time exploring our project site, which is occupied by mainly industrial buildings along the harbor and near the railway station.  It's not too big, and isn't the largest scale project I have ever worked on.  I think it will be interesting to see what we all come up with.  We did not get a project briefing today, which was really disorienting for me because: 1. I don't know Wellington all that well yet so I was meandering around for a bit like a chicken with my head cut off; and 2. I have no idea what the final goal of this project is without a project brief!  Sabrina said she still needs to look it over one more time before she gives us the project brief...all I was thinking was, "It's the first day of should already have this ready for us!"

Our assignment for today was to sketch what we "feel" about the project site.  What did I feel? was nice and sunny.  The water is pretty.  I could hear the roaring of the barges and some planes flying by.  I felt like the architecture was a bit dull since it is mainly industrial land.  Oh and, where the hell am I?!?  Now, do I feel my sketches reflected that?  Absolutely not.  I haven't sketched just to sketch for ages now.  All I brought was my tiny sketchbook and a pen that kept smearing.  The side of my drawing hand was nearly all black by the time I finished just three sketches.  I'm off to such a great start!

I seriously underestimated the weather in Wellington today.  I dressed for cold: jeans, boots, flannel shirt, leather jacket, and a scarf.  I made the judgment based on the past days this week, which have been cloudy, rainy, and cold.  That is not the case today.  After walking for 35 minutes back to my flat, I tore off my jacket and scarf and just watched the sweat run down my forehead.  Wellington weather is so unpredictable, gray one day and cheery the next!

I have one more lecture today...Peopling of Polynesia.  I'm excited about this one.  Hopefully I'll have proper note-taking tools for this one.