Since I've been in NZ I've gone on a few fairly frequent rants. Lately two of them have become near-daily. The first is about the lack of central heating and insulation in the houses here. I've pretty much been cold at night since I've been in the country, and it's been summertime. That does not bode well for the winter (or even the fall). Because of my ranting (which goes something like, "Why don't they heat the houses here?! I just don't understand it! It's cold here in the winter! It doesn't make any sense!") I have received many tips, usually from people who are not from here originally, or who left and got used to heat elsewhere. The most common one is to get an electric blanket/mattress pad, which I plan to do sometime this week. I think I will be wearing my Canadian winter clothing in the house for the few months over winter. I even considered putting my mitts on today, and fall has just started. Oh no...
The second rant is about the internet in this country. It sucks. I apparently have high speed broadband wireless internet, but it is beamed in by satellite and so seems to be affected by bad weather. And I live in Wellington, which is apparently the windiest city in the southern hemisphere, and which also either beats Halifax on the amount of rain it gets or at least seriously rivals it (hahaha...I just checked the current weather and it says, "Showers, possibly heavy and squally"). So what I'm trying to say is that the weather here isn't exactly good....which by extension means my internet connection isn't either? Another thing about internet in NZ is that there is a cap on the amount of data you can transmit, which is a fancy way of saying they restrict how much you use. When I first moved in here we had a 1GB allowance a month between three of us. One month we went through it in four days because of me and my skype use. We don't get cut off once we go through our quota, but we then get demoted to dial up speed. And since my high speed feels like dial up speed, you can only imagine what that's like. So I convinced Christo to jack it up to 5GB, but it hasn't made that big a difference. Posting pictures is so painful that I've essentially stopped doing it.
But despite these rants (and the now less uttered "hill rant"--does that mean I've accepted them as a part of my life?), I love my life here. I can honestly say this is the happiest I've ever been. Things just keep going my way. Everything has gone according to plan. I'm working like crazy now at the university (uni), doing many jobs. So basically I'm back to normal. I'm currently working three research assistant jobs, teaching labs for second year research methods, am sitting in on a class on cross cultural psychology, and essentially "ingratiating myself into the department" (a student at Dal once asked me how to go about doing that there, hence the quotes). I also walked in the Cuba Street Carnival parade with my Brazilian drum group. I got to carry a big jelly fish. It's like a smaller scale Brazilian Carnaval and is one of the biggest events of the year here. I can honestly say it was the coolest thing I've ever done, and I've done a lot of cool things this year. So things are pretty much perfect.
And I can't believe how much NZ is like Canada. Other than my two above mentioned rants, I've had a very smooth transition. I'm shocked by how similar the two countries are to each other, since we don't even think about NZ in Canada, or vice versa, it seems. But the analogy I've come up with is that it's like twins that are separated at birth and reared separately and who are discovered later to dress the same and act the same.
Along these lines, my exciting news (or scary, depending on how you look at it) from this month is that I've pretty much decided to do my PhD here starting next year at about this time. It looks like I will be comparing multiculturalism in NZ with Canada. The most exciting part is that it will mean conducting some of the research in NZ and some of it in Canada, so I would travel back and forth. Now I just have to work on securing myself a scholarship, which might not be the easiest thing to do since my grades aren't competitive (read: A-, grrr).
Of course I will also be doing some travelling whenever I can this year. Which reminds me, my trip to Australia was amazing. The best part of Brisbane was the Ani concert, of course. I liked the city, but it was just another modern city (the unfortunate thing that happens when you travel a lot in a short period of time is that you need so much more to wow you than when you first started out). I ended up heading up the Sunshine Coast to a little place called Maroochydore for the best weekend ever. It was so relaxing and beautiful, and there were lots of people to hang out with. I will post pictures sometime. From work.
I am now planning a trip to the South Island for Easter, for 10 days! I am going to go from Apr 4-14. I'm going to meet up with Graham and Jeanette (the Canadian/American couple I'm friends with) in Dunedin, which is a city in the south of the SI for a couple of days. Then I will spend four days with Claire (the British friend that I made at the hostel in Nelson after Christmas) in Wanaka where she's living, which is in the centre of the Island bordering on the Southern Alps. I have four days at the beginning that I'm still not sure about, but I am currently thinking about flying into Invercargill in the very south and spending some time in Fiordland, which I am seriously dying to see. It's got the most spectacular beauty in the country from what I can see.
Then in May I will be heading to the South Island again with Steph and John! They are going to spend a few days with me in Wellington and then we are going spend a long weekend together in Christchurch, which is the biggest city on the SI. I am so excited about their visit. I can't wait!
So needless to say, life here is pretty exciting. This year has been pretty surreal. It just never ceases to amaze me.