Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Victoria Marks

I received my first mark today for my first assignment in the New Zealand school system.  And "mark" is the New Zealand equivalent to "grade."  Anyhow, my first assignment was an 800-word essay over the Powhiri (Maori ritual of encounter) for my Maori Society and Culture class.  I submitted this assignment nearly three weeks ago and finally found the mark posted on Blackboard.  I received a 7.9 out of 10, which here in New Zealand is a pretty high A!  I am not sure why they rarely give grades higher than an 8.0 out of 10, but apparently they must severely curve everyone's grades.  I am satisfied.  Tomorrow I will submit my second essay for the class, a 1200-word essay over the Treaty of Waitangi.

Here's the brief back story of that document, a founding document of New Zealand history!  After the passing of the Declaration of Independence on October 28, 1835, New Zealand declared themselves the sovereign rulers over a sovereign territory...they no longer had to play nice with the nasty Brits trying to take their land away from them in scandalous behind-the-scenes deals with the New Zealand Land Company.  Then, scandalous land deals still commenced and the British felt that they should help the Maori out by passing the Treaty of Waitangi a few years later.  These two guys, Freeman and Williams worked on drafting the English and Maori versions of the Treaty...and somewhere along the way, Williams decides to translate the Maori version differently than what was originally said in the English version.

For example, Article 1 of the Treaty states that New Zealand will be under the sovereign rule of the Queen of England.  That guy Williams tells the Maori that they still hold sovereign rule and the Queen is more like a governor for the chiefs of the Maori tribes are like, "Ok cool!"  Article 2 of the English version of the Treaty states that all Maori can have their land back but they are only allowed to make future land dealings with the Queen of England.  Williams again is tricky.  He tells the Maori that they have all their land back and any other type of property and they also have the protection of the Queen of England so those scums from the New Zealand Land Company can't deal with them anymore.

Then, another guy Hobson has been in New Zealand trying to get Maori chiefs to sign the Treaty...he needs enough signatures to bring back to England to declare the Treaty official.  After about 60 or so signatures, he's like, "Ok that should be enough!  The Treaty is official!"  He didn't even go throughout all of New Zealand to tell all the Maori about it, so some didn't even know for years after the Treaty was passed that the Treaty even existed.  Some network of communication, eh?... essay was about why the Treaty is regarded as a contentious document.

And today I also took my very first New Zealand school my Peopling of Polynesia class.  I feel like I did pretty well, but I won't officially find out for a few weeks I'm sure.  Two questions on the test were essays...I found my hand cramping up halfway through the first response!  I am not used to writing out essays, nor am I used to writing in pencil...both are equally miserable.  Luckily, I pulled through and was able to complete the exam right before the timer went off.  After all that studying, I think I deserve to give my brain a break.  Unfortunately I have more impending deadlines soon approaching for studio and thesis, so I won't be able to take too long of a break.  Perhaps chocolate will help!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

While Ben was in New Zealand.

While Ben was in New Zealand. A summary.

It's been a while, but I finally have some exciting NZ adventures to write about.

Alas, Ben's visit has come and gone in a week's time, but we managed to fit in a week's worth of fun, including hiking and touristy museums.  Here is a day-by-day summary of our adventures together.

Day 1:
A walk around Lambton Quay and Hell Pizza delivered to our door.  Gluten-free of course.  Rested up for the hiking in the days ahead.

Day 2:
More walking around the main streets in Wellington.  Went around the Wellington Harbour and the small stretch of beach.  Some shopping and gluten-free burgers for dinner at Burger Fuel, biggest and best burgers in town.

Day 3:
Spent the midday hiking up Mt. Victoria, highest point in Wellington.  It took us about an hour's hike up to the top and we took some amazing photos of the city.  Sandwiches and coke for lunch at the top.  Dinner at the General Practitioner - ribeye and scallops.

Day 4:
It got a bit cloudy and misty today, but we managed to make it out when it finally cleared up.  Looked around the Te Papa Museum along the harbor in the morning.  Then took the bus to Brooklyn and hiked up to Wind Turbine.  Yes, there is actually a wind turbine at the top.  Some more great panoramic views of the city.  Dinner at The Tasting Room - lamb and sirloin...not as good as the ribeye the day before.

Day 5:
Took the train to Masterton and a bus to Martinborough - wine country!  Spent the morning and early afternoon tandem biking it through half a dozen vineyards.  So many grapes, so much wine tasting.  Bought a bottle of Te Kairanga Sauvignon Blanc for the evening.  Dinner at the Martinborough Hotel restaurant - lamb and chicken...oh!  And some shoestring fries with "tomato sauce" and aioli.

Day 6:
Returned to Wellington.  More shopping on Lambton Quay, Cuba Street, and Willis Street.  Grocery shopping for Vogel's gluten-free bread so Ben could return with half a dozen loaves.  That bread is $7.99 a loaf and worth every penny!

Day 7:
One last walk around Kelburn Campus, packed up Ben's luggage and headed to the airport for his departure.

It is now the second week of my mid-semester break from Victoria University.  I am still planning a tour of the South Island in June, and will hope to have that itinerary all sorted in a few weeks tops.  This is the bus company I am looking into. ( I've heard great things about this bus tour system and I think I will meet lots of people from around the world!   I believe that after being in this city for over a month now, I have seen almost every nook and corner of it.  I've also realized that it is not as big as I had originally thought it was.  Very dense and not sprawled out too far.  Although the 20-minute walk the main grocery story makes it seem much larger that it really is.

Ben was surprised to walk so many hills, but I think he appreciates the rather flat terrain of Kansas much more.  Haha!  I think I appreciate Kansas even more too!  I mean, the hills and hiking are beautiful parts of NZ, definitely, but sometimes I wish I didn't live at the top of a steep hill...walking to and from the city and school is a killer.

So...13 more weeks to go, and my stay in Wellington, New Zealand will be complete.  I look forward to more traveling adventures to come.

Monday, April 2, 2012

It is an exceptionally nice day out.  I decided to do some studying outside in the grass for a while and soak up the warm sun.  And I was also getting tired of being cooped up in my room just typing away.  Fortunately, there is a little patch of grass right outside of my flat complex with some tables and benches.  It's rather peaceful, a little cool breeze throughout the midday with no one out here but myself.

I realized it has been a while since my last post and thought I could update you all about what's been happening lately...I am in the final week before my two-week long semester break...well, technically the break will be two weeks plus a day, because we get Good Friday off!  Woohoo!  I have a presentation this Thursday for studio and finished the last details of my presentation boards last night.  Today I dropped off my file at the printing services and will pick up the hard copies this afternoon.  Crossing my fingers that they will look as good in the physical form as I think they do on my laptop screen.

I attended my first tramping (hiking) club meeting last Tuesday.  It turns out that the activities are a bit more "extreme" than I had originally anticipated them to be.  A few people gave previews of what upcoming activities will include.  They showed some really beautiful places, but I don't think I'm quite ready to participate in advanced rock climbing or glacier hiking just yet.  A few girls and I have decided to organize a few hiking trips on our own instead.  Just your typical hiking up mountains and through shallow rivers, nothing too physically straining.  Not that I don't want the extra physical exercise!  We've been talking about taking a hiking trip in the beginning of May to Tongariro Crossing.  You may want to google that for yourself.  It will be about a four-hour drive, we'll hike a long ways, stay over the weekend, and head back to Wellington on a Sunday morning.  I'm very excited.  Mostly excited to get out of the city for a while.

I had my first NZ movie theater experience this last Sunday!  I went to see The Wrath of the Titans with two of my flat mates.  I quite enjoyed it.  There is a food court in the movie theater!  Much like what you would see in a mall's food court.  An elevator takes you to the second floor with concessions and more order your ticket and concessions in the same place.  Unfortunately, they did not have liquid butter dispensers here at the Wellington movie theater...that was rather disappointing.  But the seats were very comfortable, kind of a suede material with cup holders of course.  Oh!  And they have assigned seating, which I thought was strange.  There is a section of each theater called the "Gold Lounge."  It's more expensive than general admission of course...but that's because there are servers that wait on you to bring you food and beverages, even alcohol!  Oh! And they have lazy boy seating in that section.  So crazy!  Although, I've been to a theater back home with lazy boys already and the tickets were still only $7.  The student price on the weekend (for 3D) is $16.80....I don't think experiencing the Gold Lounge is going to be put on my NZ To-Do List, but it sounds pretty nice.

I cannot wait for this week to come to an end.  Tomorrow is hump day.  Hopefully that means the rest of the days will go by in a flash.