Slow down!

The last couple of weeks have been full of travel, exams, swim meets, zumba, funky weather, cool orange juice machines and lots more. Time is flying by much faster than I’d like it to–it’s hard to believe I have only a month left in Spain. Seville has truly come to feel like a second home. I don’t like to think about another exchange student taking my place next semester, staying in my room, having dinner with my host mom and brother and playing with my host mom’s granddaughter when she comes to visit.


We recently had our fall break, and three of my friends and I decided to visit Madrid and Valencia. I think Valencia liked us better than Madrid did, so it’s probably a good thing we ended the trip in Valencia. One of my friends was pickpocketed our first morning in Madrid. We were walking to a cafe to have breakfast, and in the five minutes it took to get there her phone vanished into thin air. We really couldn’t fathom how it happened. Believe people who tell you pickpockets are extremely skilled at their job.

Later that day we got trapped in the palace gardens. We found four or five gates, all of which were locked. Our wandering in search of an exit was not in vain, however, because we witnessed a woman fall into a fountain while attempting to take a selfie. She submerged completely and crawled out unharmed but with soaking hair, fur coat, hat, scarf and leather pants. We wandered through the Market de Santo ?, visited the Prado Museum and strolled through Parque de Retiro with its lake, crystal palace and a surprisingly high cat population. Our day ended with a woman mooning the restaurant where we were having dinner.

Valencia was a bit calmer, much to our relief. Though Spain is known for its paella, Valencia is the region in which it originated and is actually the only part of Spain in which it is regularly eaten. Elsewhere, paella is considered more of a tourist attraction, so we decided to wait for the real deal and eat it in Valencia. The plate was so big that the waiter had to wheel it out on a special cart. It was delicious, even though we weren’t exactly sure what sea creatures we consumed. We hit the beach after, and even though it was extremely windy, I had to swim in the Mediterranean. No one else was swimming except for a man wearing a rubber-duck patterned swim cap. I was probably considered just as crazy as he was by the fur coat-clad people strolling along the boardwalk. But for me, the sun, blue sky and palm trees indicated that it was perfect weather for swimming.

Speaking of swimming, I competed in a meet with the team I’ve been training with here. In some ways, it was just like any other meet I’ve attended in the U.S. and in other ways it was completely different. It was a pretty small meet–there was no electronic timing system–but nearly everyone was wearing technical racing suits (known as “fast skins” in the swimming world), which are usually only worn for championship meets as they are pricey and wear out after a few uses. My teammates asked me why  I didn’t have a fast skin (which they use the English words for, just pronounced with a Spanish accent) and seemed very concerned that I had not even brought mine to Spain. The whole team was quite animated during the meet, screaming for everyone who raced. They have a lot more variation in their cheering vocabulary than just “go!” and “come on!” I tried my best to learn but had no idea what they were yelling for the most part. After the meet we took a team photo. I did not have a jacket like the rest of the swimmers, but someone’s dad tossed me his to borrow for the photo. When I tried to give it back he insisted I keep it as a present even though it was a bit large and had his name written in it. It’s totally cool to have a jacket from a team in Spain, I just felt a little bad about taking it.

Last week was midterm week at the University of Seville. I was terrified, but the exam went a lot better than I expected it to. However, I was a bit confused when my professor returned it to me. There was no grade, comment or correction on the exam itself–only a note on the back that read “You’re passing, but you could do better. Good for you!” I asked him what he meant by that. Was I doing well? Was I not? Was “good for you” meant sarcastically? “No, you’re doing great! Most of the class is failing,” he said with a big smile.

I’ve meet some wonderful Spanish friends and have been trying to spend time with them in my last month here. They’re all older than me–mid to late twenties–but they don’t seem to care. We have lots in common, we have fun together, and that’s what truly important in a friendship. Making plans happens extremely last minute, which I’ve been trying to get used to. Last weekend, one of my friends texted me to come over to her house in an hour. She told me I could come to her zumba class with her before meeting some more friends for dinner. Then we decided to use the spa at the gym and chat with the lifeguard. By the time we left it was after 9. We went back to her apartment where she showed me her travel album and chatted for a while longer. Her boyfriend  and several more friends joined us for dinner, and we ate and hung out at the restaurant util 1:30 a.m. I was surprised at how late it was when we left, but there were still people arriving as we headed out.

A machine that squeezes oranges to fill a disposable plastic bottle with fresh orange juice. The photo says: Hello, fancy orange machine

I’ve also discovered these cool little orange juice machines. You push a button and get to watch it squeeze the oranges into your cup. It’s been a challenge not to buy some every day.

Hasta luego,


Autumn in Aix

Hello from Aix!

It has been awhile since I posted an update, which is good because I have a lot of information to share! So, here is what I have been up to in the last few weeks…

The week after midterms was IAU’s Fall Break. This was such a fun and exciting time for me, especially considering how mellow and calm my daily routine has become. It all started when my host parents came home with Pepa, an 8-week old Shih Tzu puppy! Are you a fan of Shih Tzus? To be honest, I wasn’t either (haha) but after meeting Pepa and experiencing her joyful and goofy personality, I have been converted! She’s adorable!

Pepa, a Shih Tzu puppy

The fun continued on Saturday when my boyfriend Zach (shoutout dude!!) flew out of the country for the first time to spend the week with me! IT. WAS. AWESOME. I got to show him the apartment I live in, he met my host parents, he met Pepa (?), I showed him the university, the bakery I go to, the stores I like to shop at, and the beauty of the surrounding area. Then, we rented a car and drove to Lyon, France for one night, then to Switzerland for three nights, then to Italy for three days, and finally, we spent a night in Monaco! We laughed so much, drove over 1800km, ate like champs, played cards in every country, and explored with so much joy and contentment for the moment. Saying goodbye to him was hard, but it marked the exact halfway point before I return home!

Zach and I eating French croissantsMe at the Leaning Tower of Pisa

(If you are planning to study abroad in the future, I strongly suggest that you find out if and when your program offers a break and make preparations in advance to take full advantage of your “free” week. Most students that I talked to had grand plans of traveling all over the place, especially because it is so inexpensive in Europe compared to in the United States. Make a list of the top 3 or 4 cities that you want to see and just do it! Or wing it like Zach and I did… Either way, I truly believe that some of the best memories from studying abroad will occur in this week. Just be careful not to be overly ambitious when you are making plans because traveling is EXHAUSTING.)

The weekend following Fall Break, my host family went out of town for the long weekend (November 11th is Armistice Day in Europe, and the entire country of France takes the day off…) and is and left me in charge of the house and of Pepa for three days! I was excited for the peace and quiet for a few days, and spent my time working on homework, talking to my family back in the states, taking Pepa on walks, and COOKING! I had a blast buying fresh fruits and vegetables from the market and coming back to the apartment to cook lunches and dinners for myself. I made a silky butternut squash soup to pair with a Sancerre (white wine) from the Loire Valley, and let me tell you, it was delicious! If you are at all interested, here is the recipe I wrote for the soup! (Serving: 2 hearty bowls)

Homemade butternut squash soup



  • 1 med-large butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil (again)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup bacon, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (again)
  • 1 oz. goat cheese
  • Heavy cream


  1. Begin by heating your oven to 400°F. Peel the butternut squash, slice in half to remove the seeds, and then cube. Toss in olive oil and roast for 30 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow time to cool.
  2. In a stock pot on the stove set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is up to temperature, add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 2-3      minutes. Transfer the roasted squash to the pot and cook for 3 minutes, adding the salt, pepper, nutmeg and maple syrup.
  3. Transfer the items in the stock pot to a blender along with the chicken stock. Blend for 2-3 minutes, stirring to make sure that the soup is smooth throughout. Then, transfer the soup back to the stock pot, taste, and make adjustments as necessary. (You may need to add more stock, depending on what consistency you want the soup to be!) Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the soup to cook for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes! Add the bacon pieces and minced garlic to a frying pan and cook over medium-high heat until the bacon is browned and crispy. Drain on a paper towel to remove excess grease.
  5. Finally, prepare the dish. Drizzle a ring of cream around the center of the hot soup and top with the bacon pieces, goat cheese and a sprinkle of Herbs de Provence!
  6. ENJOY!:)

Anyways, I hope you are doing well… Thank you for taking the time to read all of this, it is fun to share my time here with you!

Town Square in Aix-en-Provence

Until next time,



A trip to Busan

After midterms, a friend and I decided to take a trip to Busan, which is in the south of Korea. It was a nice weekend getaway from the busy Seoul life. And it was just what I needed after midterms. Although it was a weekend getaway, it was full of exploring, walking, and trying new things.  First, we headed to the Busan Tower. The view from the top of the tower is absolutely stunning, showing the whole city of Busan.

View of the city of Busan around a bay from the Busan Tower
View from the Busan Tower

While at the Busan Tower, a friend and I decided to try on a hanbok, which is traditional Korean  clothing for semi formal or formal occasions. This type of clothing dates back to the Joseon Dynasty period which was from 1392 to 1897.  The hanbok that I wore had made me feel like true princes, I had never in my life worn something so beautiful. It’s pretty custom that Koreans and foreigners alike rent the hanbok’s for a short period of time and take pictures. Since we were at the Busan Tower, it was perfect place to take pictures.

girl dressed in Korean Traditional Clothing called a hanbok.
Dressed in a hanbok, which is traditional Korean clothing.
The Busan Tower stands behinds female student wearing traditional Korean clothing.
Wearing traditional Korean clothing with the tall and proud Busan Tower behind me.
View of the metropolitan city of Busan, Korea, taken from the Busan Tower.
Looking at the view from the top of the Busan Tower.

We also visited the Yeongdo Lighthouse, which is a historical sight where the lighthouse provided a beacon of light to ships around Busan Port for over a hundred years. The air was fresh and luckily we got to see the lighthouse when the sun was out and shining.

Yeongdo Lighthouse
Yeongdo Lighthouse

One of my favorite spots to visit was the Busan Gamcheon Culture village. The tourist guide explained that the Culture Village was once a popular place for war refugees to settle in after the Korean War. Also known as the “Machu Picchu” of Korea, the village is full of paintings and murals on the walls and now has become a very popular tourist attraction. With cafes, shops, and many more businesses filling the area.

Culture Village, or also known as the Machu Picchu of Korea.
Culture Village, or also known as the Machu Picchu of Korea.
Student standing on balcony with the Culture Villlage in the background.
The beautiful and colorful Culture Village.

Overall, my trip to Busan was absolutely exhausting but it was so worth it. It was nice to get away from one of the busiest cities in the world and enjoy the beach and the breeze.

Ill update as soon as I can,


Kraków and Auschwitz

Our last study trip of the semester was a trip to Poland. We left at night by train and arrived in Kraków the following morning. 

women on bunker beds in a sleeping train
The three of us shared a sleeping compartment on the train

We were told to dress for cold weather, but I definitely wasn’t prepared enough. It was so cold and the wind was even harsher. 

On our first day there we had a city tour with Barbara, a local and long-time friend of Hermann.  One of my favorite landmarks was St. Mary’s Basilica located by the main market square. The gothic church was a work of art to look at as the walls were designed by Jan Matejko and created by Stanisław Wyspiański; all hand-painted!

colorful tall walls of a church
The walls of St. Mary’s Basilica

The next day we woke up to take a bus to Auschwitz and Auschwitz – Birkenau. Prior to our visit to Auschwitz, I read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl was a psychiatrist that survived the Nazi death camps. He later wrote many books on his and his patient’s experiences. 

The plaque reads: "for ever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity, where the nazis murdered about one and a half million men, women, and children, mainly jews from various countries of Europe.
At Birkenau

But nothing prepares you for the realness that are these ex-concentration camps. It was eerie to see people take selfies in front of the arbeit macht frei (work makes you free) entrance sign. But it was also a reminder of how one in a place like this shouldn’t act.

The next day, I went to Kraków’s modern art museum, where I found an installation that questioned the “novelty” around Auschwitz; in if people go there because it is an important historical moment to never forget or if they go there because you need to go there when in Poland. 

It was a faux souvenir stand where people could “buy” Auschwitz merchandise. It was a hard installation for me to take in, considering I was in Auschwitz just a day prior, but it also made an important commentary on the matter at hand. 

artwork at the Cracow modern art museum
The installation of Auschwitz souvenirs

On our last day, we took a trip to the Wieliczka salt mines a bit outside of Kraków. The mines are a UNESCO site and there is a salt church 150 meters (492 feet) below ground. Kara and I took the opportunity to lick the salt walls; it was safe to lick the walls since salt is an antiseptic. 

The stairs down to the salt mine
The stairs down to the salt mine

My favorite part of the Krakow trip was the time spent in the Jewish Quarter of the city. We ate at a restaurant in the area where they had live music Jewish/Yiddish music. The group was lovely and by the end of it, we were all in awe from the talent of the lead singer. It was also a reminder that Jewish culture and history goes beyond the horrors of WWII. 

Poland was a cultural experience that I would have not been able to have had without the help and planning of AAIE. They prepared me both for the fun and also the necessary educational experiences I had. 


Fall Break

It has been an active week and a half for me in Europe! At IAU there is a week break after midterms and this is the time when most people go out and travel as much as possible. There are an infinite amount of options and I have friends who were able to hit four countries while only spending $350 in travel and stay. Personally, I took an even cheaper option and went to a few spots with my parents. Although I at first thought I would feel like I was missing out on what my friends were doing, I loved having them come and see where I live. It was also particularly exciting because it was their first time out of the country.

We started our vacation in Paris and saw all the main tourist attractions. We went to the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and many other must-see spots. We stayed a little bit outside of central Paris, but I have this app(that I strongly recommend getting) called “Transit”. It shows you all public transportation routes to where ever you want to go. For us, a 4-day metro pass was well worth it and got us all over the city. A fun activity we did was a boat tour on the river. We did this at night which was an interesting perspective of this beautiful city. Seeing the tower glimmer on the river was a unique experience. My parents also put a lock on the famous bridge of love in front of the tower which was once-in-a-lifetime for them.

View of the Eiffel Tower from Pont d'Alma A bridge in Paris in front of a large tower.

Selfie with my parents outside of l'Arc de Triumph

Next stop, we went to Rome for a few days. Again, their metro system was super easy and takes you to every tourist spot. My dad’s personal favorite from this trip was the Colosseum and Roman Ruins. It was fascinating to see such an old structure and how it had changed over time. There was so much history to take in and the views were wonderful! We also went to the Vatican and Spanish Steps. These were beautiful places as well. I wish we had spent more time in Rome!

Roman Ruins in Rome, ItalyMe outside of the Vatican standing in front of a large fountain.  Ceiling art in the Vatican depicting angels.

The Roman Colosseum

After this, we returned to Aix so they could see where I live. My parents enjoyed the market with fresh produce and cheap clothing one street over! We also visited Avignon for the day to see le Palais de Pape, and just like that, they had to go back home. My favorite part of this whole break was watching a slight culture shock come from my parents. There were a lot of things that they did not expect from Europe or Europeans. They were constantly asking questions and pondering why certain things are the way they are. Fortunately, I was more prepped for certain culture differences so it was fun to watch and explain to my parents the “why” and the “how”.  Feeling more like a “local” was a cool experience and I am glad my parents got to share an experience like this with me!

View from the top of Palais de Pape


Finally Some Info on My Life

Hey everyone,

Sorry for not writing for such a long time, I think I have hit a point in my travels where I feel severely unbalanced in the time that I apply to school, friends, interests, and most importantly myself. 

I wanted this post to be fun, but I think it’s important to talk about some more “real” things — mainly how to travel and not feel disconnected from yourself and the struggles of navigating a society different than your own (JUST BRIEFLY).

I would like to start by saying that I love Japan, the people here are very kind, very helpful, and there’s a certain comfort knowing that no one really cares about what you’re doing — with over 30 million people living in one area, it’s hard to think longer than 30 seconds about other people and their actions. With that, it’s also important to note that I have a pass because I am obviously a foreigner. I have friends that are Taiwanese, Korean, and Chinese and just because their nationality isn’t starkly obvious, their experience with some Japanese people have been harsher and much more stressful for them to experience. I can’t directly speak to this because I do not live and experience this, but I would just keep that in mind if you come to Japan. I am also trying to unpack how I feel about being on the outside (and the excuses you have because of it) and the truth that you will never be truly allowed in.

Self care wise, I am trying to put into practice saying no — this is the opposite of my original plan because I want to experience a lot of things, but it’s taking a toll on me and therefore I need to cut back on some things . I acknowledge that I am hypocritical because this is my main issue — but I’m trying to do one thing that is JUST for me, once a day. My dad says “find a garden” when ever I am stressed but that’s a bit hard when you’re in a city packed with buildings (haha). Since I am hyper-extroverted, the best I can do now is to take time by myself. I try to commute to school by myself so I can listen to music and read a bit before I throw myself into the lives of other people.


ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT, SO. Since I’ve last updated I have experienced a trip to see Mt. Fuji, a typhoon, a copious amount of classes, a shopping spree, and a temple — you ready for the briggity break down? 

“Leggo” — Alexander Hamilton


The town of Yamanashi with mountains, clouds and rice fields.
This is Yamanashi — it’s a much older town full of rice fields 🙂

Super fun! I went to Yamanashi Prefecture, which is roughly a two-hour drive from Tokyo (my friend Emi drove), and it is BEAUTIFUL — I needed to see some nature and you bet I got my fix. It’s very cool because Tokyo is just buildings but you get 30 minutes outside of the city (by car) and it’s just mountains and trees — so extremely green <3.

The downside of the trip was that we went on a cloudy day so we didn’t actually get to see the mountain (we’re dumb we know) — we still had a blast, we went and ate houda — a udon-esqe noodle that is famous within Yamanashi. The best part of this dish is that IT ONLY HAS VEGETABLES IN IT! WOOHOO! GO ME! GO YAMANASHI!! GO VEGGIE-BASED DISHES! FINALLYYYYYY!!!

a Japanese bathhouse on top of a mountain looking down over Tokyo
Image is original, not taken from Google Images (copyrighted to Isis Hatcher haha)

Afterwards we went to a lake (where you can see the mountain) but conveniently for us and our overcast weather, got to hang out on the lake and look at everything else other than the mountain. In our pursuit of some sick views, we went to a shine/lookout for Mt. Fuji (the one that you have most likely seen on every google search for Japan).

Woot! Woot! If you have kept up with our current trend, we didn’t see the mountain but got a pretty great view of the city. 

To make the trip worth it, we went to an onsen: a Japanese bathhouse that was on top of a mountain, where you can look out and see all of the city lights — it was seriously one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen (the entire city laid out against a mountain; the lights looked like extremely bright stars in the sky) I would have taken a picture but obviously cameras are not allowed in a bathhouse. Also if you were unaware Japanese onsen are primarily anti-tattoo, and requires you to be naked, so if you feel uncomfortable, that’s something to consider. 

Briefly on onsen’s, most are divided into male and female sections and then there are some that are meant for couples so both men and women can go, but that has a reputation of quite a few pervy men so attend with that in mind (yikes).

*** FUN FACT*** If I can be 100% honest, I totally forgot that I had tattoos until I was already in the water and my friend and I were freaking out that I’d be kicked out but we managed to attend one that is tattoo friendly without even checking 🙂 what great timing 🙂

THE TYPHOON was a little more concerning, we got the largest typhoon of the year a few weeks ago, and it was my first time prepping for a natural disaster so I made sure I had water and non-perishable food for three days. I also moved my bed away from my window because the wind was so strong a newspaper would’ve shattered it. In actuality I thought the typhoon was anticlimactic, I spent a lot of time playing mahjong, and taking naps, eating food and watching movies, until the next day when I found out that within my prefecture 15 people died, and several others died outside of my prefecture, with heavy amounts of flooding, but based off of where my building was located, I had no major issues with the storm. If you have a Japanese phone number you would’ve received alerts of the storm, where flooding has occurred , who needs to evacuate, etc. I do not have a Japanese phone number, so I found information on tv, they have specific apps to alert you, and the internet is always a good source (the internet doesn’t lie right?)

THE TEMPLE on the other hand, was really quite lovely. My friends and I went a few days after the typhoon since the weather after a typhoon is always extremely sunny (I don’t know why that is but it’s been very consistent so far). The temple was situated within a very quite part of town, semi-large apartment buildings, a vending machine directly outside, and a 7-11 down the street — you enter into an older, silent, more peaceful world when you cross into the temple. When you first enter, it is customary to wash your hands and mouth, to purify your body before you enter a holy space. Although it was primarily Shinto, it maintained a significant amount of Buddhist influences and the marriage between the two faiths was beautiful. Although I was not allowed to take photos of the inside of the temple, and I don’t consider myself to be religious, there was still this overwhelming amount of comfort that settled on me when I entered. I felt like I was able to receive some clarity, could see myself and the world around me a bit better — what I needed to do and what I needed to do specifically  for me and my health. I’m sure my experience is not the same as everyone else’s, but if you ever have a chance, I recommend going, sitting quietly, and taking some time to listen to what the earth wants to tell you. It’s extremely rewarding. 

Alrighty folks, that’s all I got for ya this time around! I’ll write more soon I promise 🙂

Live long and prosper,



Finals and last minute exploring!

Kia Ora!

When I first got my finals schedule I thought there was no way it was accurate. Finals at Otago last an entire month! Most people have 3-4 finals within that time frame and have a decent amount of time in between. This allows for lots of last-minute traveling and hanging out with friends. I’ve fit in a trip to Milford Sound, another trip to the Catlins, and lots of beach days taking advantage of the warmth before I head home to another winter.

My favorite paper this semester was Pacific Health. We learned about Pacific cultures and customs and the history of their migration to New Zealand. The last lecture for this paper was bittersweet saying goodbye to the lecturers that I’ve come to know enjoy. We had a talanoa, a talk, about what we enjoyed through the paper and what we would recommend for next semester, we ate Sapa sui, a traditional Pacific meal, and created a facebook page for the class to stay in touch for the future.

class of students in the Pacific Health paper course
Pacific Health class members and lecturers!

Finals at Otago are very different than at Linfield! My first final was Environmental History of New Zealand, consisting of two essay questions. There was one overall question relating to the entire course objectives and the other question was more specific about one of the main learning outcomes. My exam started at 2:30 pm, so everyone was expected to show up at 2. At 2:15 the proctors opened the door and gave you a number indicating where you must sit. All bags had to be left at the front of the room and you weren’t allowed to wear a watch, have any electronics on you, or have anything at your place other than your student ID and two pencils. The front page of the exam had a place to bubble in your student ID and write your name and at 2:30 you were allowed to begin with two hours to complete the exam. No one could leave within the first hour and no one could leave within the last 15 minutes. After the 2 hours, the proctors picked up your exam, checked your student ID and were very strict about no talking. The atmosphere for the exams is much more stressful and formal than exams at Linfield, adding, I believe, more pressure on the situation.

My second exam was Maori Society and a different format than my first one. This exam had 40 multiple-choice questions about lecture content and then 30 multiple-choice questions about two provided readings. The first 40 questions were only .25 points each and the other questions were worth 1 point each. The readings were also given to us before the exam so we could read and interpret them. My final exam is a combination of the first two, consisting of multiple-choice questions and two essays. All of the exams are also worth a lot of your final grade. My first one was worth 60%, the second 40%, and my last 50%. This made me very stressed considering I don’t always test well and the exam score could make or break my final overall grade in the paper.

On a more exciting note, I finally got to see Milford Sound! We had tried to do a cruise on the sound before but it got canceled due to weather, and many other people also had their cruises canceled due to weather. We went to Te Anau the night before, stayed in a hostel, and left early the next morning for our 12 o’clock cruise. The cruise we did was 2 and a half hours long and described as the best one there is. It definitely didn’t disappoint! The weather wasn’t the best that day so there weren’t too many people on the boat making it more comfortable to move around and enjoy the scenery. As we were leaving the harbor a couple of dolphins came up and swam next to us for about 30 minutes. This is probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen while being here! The tour guide said there were one male and two females and they usually don’t come into the harbor as they did. They were much larger than I was expecting and I loved watching them play in the water doing jumps and just gliding along. They eventually swam off and I finally took in the scenery around me. I felt so tiny on the boat surrounded by huge snow-capped mountains on both sides of the sound that looked never-ending with the fog. Pictures don’t do justice to how big the mountains actually were! The cruise went along both edges of the sound going right up to the waterfalls. The first waterfall we stopped at was one of the “smaller” ones and the boat went right under it! We stayed on the upper level and got a little wet from the mist, but the people on the lower level got soaked. They also put out cups that got filled from the waterfall and we got to drink the water! It was some of the most refreshing water I’ve had! We then went to the end of the sound and the came back along the other edge. On this side, we saw baby seals and went under the biggest waterfall. We stayed on the upper edge again but we all got soaking wet! I wore jeans that got soaked through and all of our hair was dripping wet. It was so worth it though, it was so much fun! After the cruise, we stopped at Te Anau for dinner and dessert and then made our way back to Dunedin.

Milford Sound surrounded by mountains
Milford Sound from the Dock
Milford Sound surrounded by mountains
View from the front of the boat
Milford Sound and mountains with fog
The mountains were huge and the fog added to the effect!

Another trip I’ve gotten in is to the Catlins with my flatmates. We left in the morning and made our way to Nugget Point. We hiked up the hill overlooking the lighthouse and took in the views. After Nugget Point we stopped at a cafe to eat lunch where I got fish and chips. Our next stop was Purakaunui Falls and after that, we went back to Matai and Horseshoe falls. During the car ride, we played games and listened to good music.

grassy slopes of Nugget Point surrounded by the ocean
Nugget Point

Another quick trip was to Queenstown. Victoria and I boarded the bus, which only cost 20 USD, at 8 am and got to Queenstown at 1 o’clock. We ate the best Mexican food I’ve had in New Zealand and then walked around looking for souvenirs and taking in the scenery. We also made a stop at Patagonia Ice Cream since the line wasn’t as long as it usually is. The next day we studied in our hostel and at a Cafe then boarded the bus back to Dunedin at 4 pm.

I really love Dunedin itself so I’ve also spent lots of time just walking around and trying to take it all in before I leave. One of the things I really enjoyed was renting bikes and riding around the peninsula. It cost 30 NZD for 4 hours, so we went at sunset and enjoyed the beauty of the city.

Otago Peninsula surrounded by water with mountains on the horizon
Bike riding the Otago Peninsula
St. Clair beach looking out over the ocean with an ice cream cone in hand.
Patti’s and Cream ice cream at St. Clair!

St. Clair Beach is the closest beach to Dunedin so we’ve spent lots of time there the past couple days with the nice weather. Some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had is from Patti’s and Cream ice cream truck! Their truck is usually at St. Clair and the best part of going to the beach. We also celebrated a couple of early birthdays at the beach the other night with all of our friends. Many of them are leaving soon so it was probably one of the last things we’ll get to do together. We brought burgers from ReBurger and ate it on the beach while watching the sunset, playing games, and hanging out with fun people!

Sunset at St. Clair over the ocean with an orange sky
Sunset at St. Clair
Friends at the beach
Celebrating early birthdays at the beach!