new beginnings and great advice

i leave for China today. today! it is absolutely crazy. i’ve been packing, getting rid of old clothes, catching up, hugging, chatting… all these things while i get myself sorted for China.

it has been such a long time coming which i think is why it still feels very surreal. this is literally two years in the making, and there have been so many challenges and items to tick off between the thought and the reality. and now it’s here.

you can imagine that i have been having all the deep thoughts about this. as i said to my mum, going to China does feel like the end of my childhood. i know that a lot of things will have changed by the time i come back and that is of course good, and life, but is still hard to wrap my head around.

and then there is all my aspirations for my time in China itself. relationships, academic, language (my oh my do i want to get fluent after 8+ years of language learning!), travel, new experiences… goodness gracious.

with all these thoughts swimming around my head, i consulted my sweet, wise friends. i wanted to know what advice they would give their younger self before leaving home and going to university. while this isn’t my first rodeo, so to speak, i felt like everything that applied to undergrad and different city, would also apply to postgrad and different country. here is what they had to say:

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Take a deep breath, put on a smile and go out of your room! The best way to be interesting is to be interested – ask questions! Be kind. Everyone you meet is going through a big time of change and everyone is as nervous as you are! Just try to relax and you’ll find your groove with time.

Don’t go into papers with preconceived ideas of how hard it might be. Starting a paper where the lecturer tells you “half of the class will fail this paper” means that you believe it is impossibly hard when actually if you start with an open mind, it might be okay. With a bit of patience and focus right from the start, you might be surprised that you can do it – rather than putting it off all semester only to find it isn’t as hard as you thought but it is too late to get better than an okay mark for the paper.

As time goes by, whenever anything hard happened or I was feeling homesick, or sick of uni generally, I would count the friends and experiences that I would never of had if I hadn’t made the choice I did to leave home and move to Dunedin and that would quickly assure me it had been one of the best decisions of my life.

And make sure your parents are well schooled on what a top notch care package entails!
– Clara

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My advice to pre-uni or pre-exchange self would be to trust myself more. In really different circumstances with lots of change or other languages or new people, it can get very overwhelming and it was super important for me to realise I was my own best support. You’re you! And you really do know how to look after yourself, whether that means having another coffee or putting flowers in the kitchen or any little thing at all – making small changes to help you feel better can cause a massive shift in how confident and brave you feel over all. Trust yourself!
– Madeleine

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It’s really exciting to move to a new city so I think an important thing to do is really make the most of the opportunity that you’ve been given! Chances are, you probably haven’t spent or seen too much of the new place you are moving to so I think it’s really cool to get to know the new place you’ve moved to! It’s the perfect excuse to eat out at cafes and explore all the attractions your city has to offer. It’s even better if you do it with others – can be a great way to make new friends because after all, your friends become your family when you are living away from home so it’s really important to build some strong connections and relationships!! You don’t always have to do really “touristy” things either – discover the little things in your new city and become a true local!
– Nileesha

wow. aren’t i so ridiculously lucky to count these wise ladies as dear friends!

the next post will be coming to you from CHINA! wish me luck!

catlins calling

i’m in wanaka at the moment, which is definitely rates very highly in the nz pretty places list, but i wanted to backtrack to a day trip i took in the midst of exams with my very dear clara and jess.
we all had a significant break between exams which we wanted to exploit to do some adventuring, and the catlins topped our little bucket list.
a quick geographical representation of where all these towns i talk about situate themselves in nz:

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^^going anticlockwise, we have Christchurch, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin, the Catlins, Invercargill and Wanaka^^

the catlins, of course, are that picture the very lowest on the map, and are a drive down the east coast from dunedin.

our top picks to see were:

the purakaunui falls

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nugget point + lighthouse

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the mclean falls

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and we were more than content to allow for any other serendipitous occurrences on our way, which included a sheep traffic jam (only in NZ), a visit to a kitsch café with an alarming amount of frog figurines, a donkey sighting, teapot land (oh gosh) and two more waterfalls.

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we sure packed a lot into one day!

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7 QT: ski bunny (or not)

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1. i had the best weekend in queenstown! first things first: skiing- i started at a very low point: fell over getting off the chairlift, then again like 2 secs later on the snow, and ended up being on the chairlift back down the mountain (so embarrassing!) however, the day only improved from then on. I first reminded myself how to ski again via my old friend the magic carpet, which was then followed by quite a few jollies down the next step up ‘the big easy’. i worked my way down from falling over 4 times on my first go to a big fat zero by the afternoon!

i have to say i was feeling quite exasperated and fed up earlier on in the day when i felt like the biggest fail!! but after giving myself a pep talk while riding the magic carpet (which included “you’re pretty uncoordinated, the only sport you’ve ever been very good at is cross country running, which literally requires you to do something all humans can naturally do, so why would you be really good at skiing first off?”) and keeping my expectations nice and low  (“ok, goal for this run is to only fall over twice!”) i felt much happier. by the end of the day i was having the best time, feeling really proud of myself and even navigating the chairlifts with ease! mission succeeded. so hopefully the next time i go skiing i will look a bit cooler or at least not make quite as much of a fool of myself. time will tell.

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2. Queenstown has awesome nightlife and saturday night was no exception!! winnie’s and chico’s are always a good time, and its fun to see such a mix of people out – much more so than just the students in dunedin.

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3. We didn’t ski on the sunday as the weather wasn’t as good and we were tired from the night before. we spent a cruisey morning and midday hanging out in queenstown, enjoying yummy coffee and baking from the always-fantastic vudu cafe, and the boys enjoyed devil burger for lunch (ferg’s competitor). we headed back to dunedin at 3pm, and by then the weather had cleared up and it was a gloriously sunny day which made the drive very enjoyable as we marvelled at the stunning scenery. central otago is just the most beautiful place – i can never get enough and always feel sad when it’s time to leave! we arrived back in dunedin around quarter to 7, and we all hustled off to bed pretty quickly after that!

4. i’m running again yay! however, 6 weeks of no exercise means that i can barely run for 5 mins without feeling tired and out of breath – the physio advised me to start off doing 5 mins running, 5 mins walking, etc and i tell you, the end of the 300 seconds of running cannot come soon enough! Pretty gutted as the chances of me doing the half marathon in September that i was planning on are looking very slim, but slow and steady wins the race (i’m defs the tortoise at the moment) and you know, I have the rest of my life to do a half marathon!

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5. It was my mum’s birthday yesterday! a year and a day ago i was sneaking off to christchurch to surprise her – hoping that she didn’t expect the same this year as my non-arrival won’t be quite as nice a surprise ;) she is so very wonderful and my favourite person alive. I love you mummy! (yes, i call her mummy, deal with it bro)

6. I’m off to a couple of films in the nz international film festival- our little sister and city of gold, and i have high hopes for them both! i usually try to go to chinese or french speaking ones (you know, so i can pretend i understand them while really just reading the subtitles) but none of them stood out to me much in this year’s selection. don’t worry, i’ll report back with bells on – they might even get their own post!

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7. i just got new black jeans (my old pair was getting very holey along the seams so no longer wearable) and, in the words of zoë foster blake, feel slicker than a rat with a gold tooth! i got mid rise vegas as riders are always a really good fit on my body and am pleased as punch with them.