Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Christchurch, Akaroa, and Hanmer Springs

We flew from Auckland to Christchurch, where we spent the next 3 days with my uncles brother Paul, and his wonderful family. Christchurch was unfortunately hit by a devastating earthquake in 2011 that destroyed numerous buildings and roads in the city. This being said, there was still a lot of construction. On our first day there, we headed into the city centre and took the trolley around to see various sites including the Cathedral, New Reagent Street, the restart mall (a temporary mall built from shipping containers), the botanical gardens and more. 
Earthquake Memorial, 185 white chairs
to remember those who lost their lives

New Reagent Street

Our third day in New Zealand, we took a road trip to Akaroa which is a small town that lies on the peninsula. It was incredible! The views were to die for.

The following day, Paul and his wife Julie accompanied us to Hanmer Springs where we stopped at a beautiful winery along the way. Hanmer Springs is a hot springs with mineral and sulfur pools, perfect for relaxation! :)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Layover in Auckland

While choosing our flight to New Zealand back in November, we decided to go with one that had a 36 hour layover in Auckland to see part of the North Island. We arrived at about 10 AM and caught a cab to our Airbnb right outside of the city. However, we arrived and there was no one home and the place looked fairly uninviting. We were hungry, smelly, and tired from hours of travel but decided to head into the city center to kill time and get some food. We quickly found out cabs were very expensive and our Air B&B was not nearly as close as we thought it was to downtown. This being said, the cab driver pointed us in the direction of a hostel on the main road in downtown Auckland. At the time being hungry, tired, and smelly (oh and hauling my 64 pound suitcase around) we thought it was a great idea. Boy, were we wrong...

To sum things up, we were put in a shared dorm room with 4 bunk bed crammed in with 6 other girls, making it a full 8 with Rachel and me. I know what you're thinking, "well that is what a hostel entails?" Trust me, this was generously a 2 star hostel. We were stuck on the top bunks with a ceiling that looked like it was going to rot out and fall on our faces, given sheets to make beds that didn't look the most clean, and don't even get me started on the bathrooms. Once we moved all our stuff in and "got settled," we left to explore and try to forget about our sleeping arrangements for the night. Luckily, we caught a hop on hop off bus tour which drove around the city and further out to other sites. I say "luckily" lightly because as if we weren't having a bad enough day... after we payed and sat down on the bus for the tour, the driver informs everyone that the tour will be ending in less than 2 hours. AKA at 4 PM. *insert head with fumes coming out of ears*

Anyway, fast forward through the rest of the day where we decided on Mt Eden as our one location we would stop at on tour as it was pretty far out and we needed to ride back into the city. Mt Eden is known as the spot for the best view of Auckland and it sure was.

The hike around Mt Eden

We then headed back to our hostel (wah, wah, wah) to have a shower, and explored the city centre for the rest of the night!

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Long Flight Awaits

I had been on long flights before to places oversees in Europe, but I had never experienced a flight as long as 13 straight hours. And for someone who DOES NOT sleep on flights... oh and I've tried... I was not looking forward to this. We departed from the LAX airport at 11:30PM, due to the significant time difference between California and New Zealand (NZ is 21 hours ahead).

The flight was actually not nearly as dreadful as I anticipated it to be. I ended up getting about 5 hours of off and on shut eye (amazing!) mostly due to it being an overnight flight but also my new neck pillow, purchased at the LAX airport for what I hate to admit $40... but in the end it was worth every penny. If you have a long flight ahead and want to check it out, it is called the Memory Foam Evolution Travel Pillow. So comfy!

The food on the flight was really pretty good, and needless to say I felt a long workout was necessary after sitting, eating, watching tv, sleeping, eating again, reading, more eating....you get the point.



Los Angeles Stay

Knowing that the journey to New Zealand and eventually Australia was going to be a long one, a stop in Los Angeles along the way seemed like the way to go. My sister was accompanying me on my travels, which meant a flight from not the middle of the States like me, but from DC on the East Coast. My mom then came along for the ride on what came known as our "girls trip."

We took off from the Omaha airport right at 7AM, landing in LA by 9AM. After retrieving our luggage and me saying "I'm sorry its really heavy" multiple times about my suitcase, we made it to our hotel where we would be spending the next two nights. We didn't have a set schedule of things to do, but decided to just see the city and have a relaxing few days.

Day One: Los Angeles City Bus Tour
-sites included the Beverly Hills, Farmers Market, Hollywood Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, Paramount Studios, Venice Beach

Day Two: Santa Monica Pier, shopping, and good eats


Day Three: Hollywood Walk of Fame and attempted Hollywood sign hike

I say attempted hike to the Hollywood sign, because being the day my sister and I left for New Zealand and my mom back to Iowa we didn't have a whole lot of time to spare. Long story short, our Uber driver dropped us off at the wrong location, it took awhile to find a new ride, so we ended up settling for a tasty brunch instead. There's always next time, right? lol.
I had to visit Mariska Hargitay's
star being a huge Law and Order
SVU fan. 18th season, woo!

Monday, February 20, 2017

And so the packing begins...

I had been thinking about packing for my 5 months in Australia for quite sometime, making a mental list and eventually a written one. I had planned a trip to Los Angeles, California and various cities in New Zealand before eventually ending up in Australia, so I knew I couldn't bring too much. I settled on 1 large suitcase, a hiking backpack, and a duffle bag (daunting, I know).

I started by investigating what the weather would be like while I was there, and if Australians wore pretty much the same stuff as Americans. I found that they did, and knowing it was going to be the middle of summer when I arrived I knew I would need primarily summer clothes. However, traveling to New Zealand called for some warmer clothes. I noticed the weather while I would be there would fluctuate in the 60s to 80s with the possibility of some rainy days. 

Knowing packing was going to be a challenge, I started early by laying out all the stuff I wanted to bring in a spare bedroom. I then narrowed it down and when it came time to the actual packing I packed what I knew I would need first, and then added items from the "oh I might want this" pile if allowed space. Well, let me tell you. The allowed space wasn't much. I was also fighting a 50 pound bag limit from the airline. Which in the end won, as my suitcase was 14 pounds over and I had to pay a $100 fee... Sorry mom. Although, I did pack pretty much everything I would need there, minus kitchen utensils and bedding. (At least I told myself that to get over the fee). 

Below are some tips I have for packing for an extended period of time with 3 pieces of luggage!

Rolling your clothes. I heard this was a way to keep them from getting extremely wrinkled, and found I was able to squish more clothes into the crevices of my bags. 

You can purchase these on Amazon. This set
was $15 and it came with 2 smaller bags like
the one saying "Every Day is a New Day"
perfect for electronics and toiletries!
PACKING CUBES, need I repeat? I thought of these as an unnecessary purchase until I used them in my backpack for my trip to Los Angeles and New Zealand. I didn't want to have to dive into my suitcase at all until moving in to Australia. So my backpack became strictly LA and NZ essentials only! These were super convenient in that I didn't have to pull out everything in my backpack, and then repack it later, but could just pull out the cube I wanted. 

The large one to the left is shirts for Australia, and I put this in my suitcase.
The medium and small stacked ones to the right are nice clothes and athletic clothes for LA and NZ.
The bags below were filled with undergarments and swimsuits and the far left is a shoe bag.

Finally, don't forget to remind yourself that if you do forget something they will surely have it at a store there. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Study Abroad

Ahhh, the dreaded first blog post.

Well, I'll start by saying that my name is Shelby and I am starting this blog in the hope of writing about my adventures abroad. I will be continuing my studies of Kinesiology (and for those of you reading asking yourself, "what the heck is that," you are not alone). Kinesiology is the study of movement. I plan to pursue a career in the medical field as a Physician Assistant, and they have this option through my university at home, Iowa State University where I am in my third year.

When choosing a place to study abroad, I took this very seriously (as though there could be a bad decision???). I've been fortunate enough to have traveled to a few places in Europe and the UK so I knew I wanted a new adventure. When talking to my academic advisor, the locations with courses that best suited my major were England, Australia, and New Zealand. I was pleased with these choices, as Australia and New Zealand have been places I have been dying to visit. Also, the fact that they all speak English was an added bonus! My sister lived in Scotland for a year, and I had visited her then so I immediately ruled out England in the search for something more unique and dissimilar than where I have traveled. I ended up choosing Australia as my place of study, for its gorgeous weather and beaches. Because... Iowa is landlocked and cold 1/3 of the year so this was a no brainer. Either way, I knew I would be visiting both as they are only a short 3 hour plane ride from one another.

I will be attending school at The University of Newcastle in Newcastle, Australia. It is located on the East coast, a 3 hour train ride North of Sydney. I couldn't be more excited for the adventures, travels and unique experiences to come. Stayed tuned and follow my path here!