Bordeaux, France (Part 2)

Stone church with tower topped with a golden spire in Bordeaux, France.
Buildings in Bordeaux.

Before we decided on which cities to visit, we had the options between Paris, Toulouse, and Bordeaux. As you can see, we decided on saving Paris for later.  Kayla and Emily decided to go to Paris the next day because they did not have any classes on Monday. However, the rest of us did and we did not plan on missing any classes (Be Responsible!). Quick advice, if you want to travel, try traveling to places you wouldn’t normally visit. Obviously, I would have visited Paris, but decided to try cities I did not know much about. Which is why our final stop was at Bordeaux.

Breakfast was pancakes served with bananas, whipped cream, organge juice and coffee.
Breakfast at Books & Coffee

After we arrived at our Airbnb in Toulouse, we got ready for the next day before we fell asleep. In total, we probably got 4 hours of sleep. We had to wake up early in the morning and walk around to go catch our bus to Bordeaux. The bus ride felt long, but we were able to catch up on sleep. When we finally arrived at our location, we walked around and tried finding a place to get breakfast. However, I guess it was too early because most places were closed. However, we ended up finding a cute place that was opened called Books & Coffee. I wanted to get a traditional French breakfast but ended up getting pancakes… don’t ask.

After breakfast, we took a tour of the city, which I don’t remember much about, mainly because I was still tired. On this tour, we met some pretty great people, two of whom were teachers. Being an education major, I asked a couple of questions and they recommended I look into teaching abroad. Anyway, we also learned about the city and how it used to be very dirty. Once cleaned, the buildings are the color they have now. On our tour, the tour guide also recommended two places to go wine tasting. When choosing between which cities we wanted to go, Bordeaux was one of them because of the wine. (Reminder: The legal drinking age in most of Europe is 18. If you’re not 18, I’m sorry). However, before we went for wine, we got lunch at a crepe place. We also stopped for macaroons.

Savory Crepe with tomatoes, muchrooms for lunch.
Crepe… this time for lunch.
Vanilla and chocolate macaroons
Macaroons (had to get some because we were in France).

One of the wine places our tour guide recommended was called Vin: Cousin & Compagnie. According to our guide, the glasses of wine were pretty cheap and the customer service was great! We did not end up going to that place for wine. Instead, we went to Le Bar à Vin, which looked classy and had great prices for the glasses of wine. We also decided to go to that one because it was closer to where we were at that moment. This place offered many wines from Bordeaux. I ended up trying a white wine and rosé. Overall, it was a great place to relax after all our walking. I was able to know more about the girls during this time.

Enjoying a glass of rosé wine.
rosé at Le Bar à Vin
Mosaic art inside Le Bar à Vin.
Inside Le Bar à Vin

While we were enjoying our wine, a group of people sitting next to us started looking at us and laughing at us. Since everyone from my group knew French, they knew what they were saying. Apparently, they were making a rude comment about us. We decided to ignore it and not cause a scene. It was a bit uncomfortable but sometimes it is better to ignore some of the things that happen in order to avoid any problems and avoid looking bad in a different country.

After that little incident, we decided to walk to the nearby fair on Place des Quinconces. Our timing was on point because the sun started setting and it looked beautiful (just look at the picture). While we walked around, we decided to have our dinner at one of the stands. We got some doner kebabs with fries on top. It was good but not as good as the ones in Galway from Capital Kebab (the best and my fave food to get when I’m too lazy to cook). After that, we walked some more and Ciara and Kayla decided to go on the ferris wheel. The rest of us waited with their bags.

Deep blue and pink sunset over the buildings in Bordeaux, France.
sunsets in Bordeaux

After this, we came upon a stand with beignets. I regret not taking a picture so you guys can see how beautiful and delicious it looked. Anyway, they made it fresh and had Nutella and Biscoff Spread. I was full and did not end up getting one. However, Ciara got one and let me try hers. It was amazing, especially with the Biscoff Spread. 10/10 recommend. After walking around some more, we went to our hostel and said goodbye to Emily and Kayla. They were going to catch either a train or bus (I don’t remember which) to go to Paris.

French Breakfast with pastry.
Finally got my French Breakfast
French Breakfast with pastry, jams and butter.
Another breakfast pic

The next morning, we had time for some breakfast before we had to head to the airport. During our tour from the previous day, the guide told us breakfast at Karl was a must because of their affordable prices and their traditional French breakfast. I was finally able to get the breakfast I wanted! Also, the food pics turned out great! After breakfast, we caught the bus to the airport and waited to head home. I loved France so much and can’t wait to go to other cities in the future.

Tall narrow stone spires.
more pics from this trip 🙂
Stone Buildings in Bordeaux
Cute building everyone was taking pics of.
Student posing in narrow street surrounded by stone buildings.
Random pic of me.


Student standing in the large city courtyard with large stone buildings in the background.
Another pic








Narrow Streets lined with tall stone buildings with many windows.
Really loved how this photo came out so I had to share.
Group of girl students with the river in the background.
With the girls.


Back to Campus

Kia ora!

I am back on campus at the University of Waikato after two months away from campus, staying in Thames with people who have become so important to me. I had no idea that the lockdown, something so uncertain, frustrating, and overwhelming would end with me forming some of the most wonderful relationships with my New Zealand whanau (family in Te Reo Māori–the Māori language). I am so lucky that I had such a wonderful place to stay and was able to build such special connections. In the last few weeks that I spent with them, we went on a drive around the Coromandel Peninsula, went fishing for snapper, and played lots of games! 

A view of the blue ocean with a blue sky and sparse white clouds behind. There is a green tree in the foreground.
I am already missing the beautiful views of the ocean in Thames!

The drive around the Coromandel Peninsula was absolutely beautiful! Exploring the area had been something that I wanted to do before I even arrived in Thames, and had actually been my original plans for the Easter weekend–before the lockdown. During the lockdown, we couldn’t go out for a drive, so we waited until we finally got to Level 2 to explore. It was a perfect day with great weather. We ate a tasty fish and chips meal and got to stop for all the beautiful views.

The Coromandel Peninsula is a popular vacation spot for Aucklanders, especially during the Christmas holiday, which is summer here. During that time, the roads are packed, but when we went, it was busier than it had been in a long time due to the lockdown, but was still relatively quiet. I am so happy that I got to have this adventure, even with all of the disruption that happened during this semester. 

A view of a green hill with the ocean behind it and the blue sky.
One of the first viewpoints that we stopped at. It was a clear day, so we could actually see the Auckland skyline in the distance.
A green hill with a tree and the blue sky behind it.
Another amazing view while driving around the Coromandel. New Zealand is such a beautiful country!

The day after we went on the drive around the peninsula, we got up early in the morning and went fishing for snapper. We left at 4:45 AM and drove out to the boat launch site with the brother of my wonderful host. He took us out on his boat into the Firth of Thames, which isn’t open ocean, so luckily I did not get seasick, which I was a little worried about, since I do get motion sick when riding in the car. We went out while it was still dark, so I had no idea which direction we were going. The ocean was kind of rough while we were driving out, so I got splashed and was already wet before we had even started catching any fish, despite wearing a waterproof jacket! I was a little worried I had made a bad choice to go along, because I was already cold and wet and we were still trying to find a good fishing spot! 

The ocean with a blue sky with clouds and golden sun
The sun coming up while we were out on the boat

It was then that we spotted a barge, which I expected to be like the cargo barges that I see on the Columbia River or taking goods across the ocean. Everyone was so excited to spot the barge and wanted to go fish next to it, which I did not understand, because the barges that I am used to would not make for a good fishing spot. As we got closer, though, I realized that this was not a cargo barge. This was a mussel barge, harvesting mussels from the farms that are all across the firth. They were pulling up long ropes covered in mussels, while machinery stripped the mussels, filled huge bags with them, and then dropped the ropes back into the sea. We dropped our fishing lines and within seconds, there were snappers on the hooks. The waste from the mussel barge attracts the snappers, making it the ideal fishing spot. We were the first boat out, so we had the best spot, right next to the barge. Within minutes, other boats started to show up, and there were about twenty five boats, all crowded together, trying to keep from hitting the barge and each other as the waves tossed us around and pulling up fish almost faster than we could manage. Fishing by the mussel barge lasted about twenty minutes before they finished the farm and sped off to go unload their harvest. In that time, we caught about twenty eight good sized fish. We moved into another area and reached our limit, thirty five fish, within the next fifteen minutes. I even caught a few and took them off the hook myself! In the US, I do not really fish much, I am usually the person who goes along but doesn’t fish, so this was a crazy experience for me. To fish for snapper in New Zealand, you do not have to have a fishing license, each person just cannot catch more than seven fish per day. I really enjoyed going fishing, and as soon as we started catching fish, I forgot that I was cold and wet, and by the end, the sun came out and I was warm. It was a really nice time!

A large boat harvesting mussels. There is a crane on the boat and the sea is rough.
The mussel barge. We got much closer to it to fish!
Fish in a cooler
Thirty five fresh snapper fish

Later that day, we made raw fish, which is sort of like ceviche. We cut the fish up and soaked the pieces in lemon juice and salt to cure. You could see a visible change in the fish as the color changed to a more opaque white hue, much like when it is cooked! We mixed it with cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, and bell pepper, and then tossed it all in coconut cream. It was delicious! We also had Māori style fry bread, eaten with butter and golden syrup, which was so tasty. I went back for seconds and thirds of that meal!

We took the remaining fish fillets and the rest of the raw fish to family and friends around town, so at the end, we had a meal of fish and then none left. This is the normal way of doing things here, if you are fortunate enough to get a large amount of a food, you share with your friends and family to make sure that they have enough to eat too. Everyone shares with each other, which means no one hoards and no one goes without. I thought this was a great way to care for others and very selfless. I asked, and was told that this is just the way they do things here, why wouldn’t you want to share with those that you love?

White fish in white sauce with sliced veggies
The delicious raw fish!
Golden colored bread on a white plate
Hot, fresh fry bread

Now that I am back on campus, I am focusing on finishing up the semester! My final for my Māori culture class is next week and then in the next three weeks, I have an essay and a test for my Anthropology class, and a rewritten essay for my Food Writing class. I cannot believe that this semester is already coming to an end, I feel like I just got here and the semester was so different from what I thought it would be. I have been spending so much time with my friends on campus and we have been catching up after not seeing each other for such a long time. This weekend, we are planning a night out for my birthday, since restaurants are open with social distancing guidelines. 

A green tree and an orange tree in front of white buildings and a clear blue sky.
It is getting into autumn here, so the trees on campus are turning colors. My internal clock expects spring, so this is a strange sight for me!

I am proud of myself for handling all of the disruptions and disappointment that happened this semester. A lot of positive things came from this time, like new relationships and personal growth. I wish that I could stay here longer because I could really settle in and get my plans back on track, but I am lucky to have had the time that I did! Here is to making the last month in New Zealand amazing! 

Stay healthy and safe!


Toulouse and Bordeaux, France (Part 1)

Map of the city
Map of Toulouse

It has been a long time since my last post. Things have been crazy with finals, COVID-19, and returning home (more about that on my next post). Before all of that happened, my friends and I had an amazing trip to France!

After the trip to London, I had a trip to Toulouse and Bordeaux booked. It is a good idea to book trips in advance if you know what weekends are available. Sometimes, it is better to spontaneously book trips. This trip was booked right after the London trip. London was fun, but I was exhausted after the trip. I needed to catch up on sleep and have a day to do absolutely nothing.

For this trip, I had to meet Kimi and a couple of other friends at the Galway bus station in the middle of the night (2:30 am). Our flight to Dublin left around 7 am, which meant we would arrive at our first destination (Toulouse) in the morning. during the bus ride, I was not able to get any sleep. On the plane, I was able to get some sleep but the flight was short.  Sleep was nonexistent for any of us on this trip.  Besides sleep, I also had to worry about language because I do not know any French. My vocabulary consisted of ” Bonjour, oui, and, merci”. Thankfully I had Kimi on this trip who knew a bit of French. Enough to get us through. We also had the Google Translate App which helped us translate menus and other important things.

From the airport, we purchased bus tickets to take us to the city. Once we got off the bus, we decided to walk around and explore on our own. One of the first things we did was look for a place to eat because we were all hungry! First, we ended up at a Greek place. We were looking for breakfast meals but this place specialized in lunch and dinner meals. We only got drinks and small pastries here and decided to keep looking. We then ended up at a sandwich shop and decided to eat here, because our day would be long.

The Pink City... La Ville Rose
Toulouse aka The Pink City aka La Ville Rose
Walking the streets of Toulouse
Walking the streets of the pink city.
Crossing the Bridge
Walks across the bridge before the hail storm started.

After our brunch, we walked around the city but then the rain started. None of us were prepared for it, so we had to find a place to stay dry. Once we found a place, we had to stay there for around 10 minutes. After the rain stopped pouring like crazy, we walked some more and ended up at different cathedrals. We also took a walk around the river and crossed some bridges. While we were crossing the bridge, it started hailing hard and we had nowhere to go. Of anything that could happen on this trip, this was probably the worst. The hail was hitting us at full speed and we couldn’t turn back because we were halfway across the bridge. Our only option was to run to the end of the bridge, but we still had a long way to go.

Walks by the river
Walks by the river.
Inside the cathedral
Cathedral in Toulouse
Cathedral… if you zoom closely, you can see little figures spitting out the water from the rain.

After that, we decided to go to a cafe to stay warm and avoid the rain/ hail. While we were at the cafe, we started planning for dinner and needed to find the location of our Airbnb. We wanted to eat dinner as close to the place we were staying as we possibly could. That way, we wouldn’t have to walk a long distance very late at night.

Wine bottles
Wine from a small shop we stopped at.

Before our night plans, we walked around some more and looked inside more cathedrals. We also stopped at gift shops to buy souvenirs. We ended up getting postcards, key chains, wine openers, and other small things. I ended up getting a tote bag with some images of Toulouse and it has become my favorite thing I have bought! Throughout the day, I got to know more about the other girls that were on this trip!

Delicious dinner at La Gouaille.

As night came, we started walking towards the restaurant. The restaurant we went to was Restaurant La Gouaille. The person serving us was very kind and helpful to us, especially because he knew that we were not fluent in French. He recommended some of the dishes and I ended up getting a chicken dish that came with sweet potatoes, rice, and a salad. Before our food came, we all had a salad and some bread. The bread was warm and the salad had a lot of flavors. At that point, if that was all I had for dinner, I wouldn’t complain. It was THAT good. We also ordered some wine to share between us. Afterwards, we were just sitting and talking and the restaurant started to get busy. The person helping us asked us if we can go to the bar area because others wanted to eat. He felt bad about doing that but we understood. He ended up giving all of us a free shot of rum. By now, it was almost time for us to check into the Airbnb.  Ciara and I decided to walk around for a bit more. While we were walking, we came upon a small place that had crepes. Since we were in France, we decided to get crepes.

After this small adventure, we decided to head to the Airbnb with the other girls. The place we got was a small apartment and it was so cute! If I was living alone and had my own place in France, this apartment would be it. I regret not taking any pictures of this place. We were all tired and showered before we fell asleep. We had to wake up early the next day to catch a bus to Bordeaux.


I don’t remember where I took this picture but I loved this building!
Flowers at a cute flower shop we came upon.



A Move to Level 3

Kia ora!

A lot has happened since I last wrote. New Zealand has moved from Level 4 to Level 3. This does not change my situation much, as I am not yet allowed back to campus housing and everyone who can work and learn remotely is still being asked to do so. We can extend our bubbles by one person if necessary, and we can travel a bit more in our region if need be. In a few days, we should know if we are able to move to Level 2 and when that will be. At Level 2, I will be allowed to return to campus. I have a little less than two months left in New Zealand and I am determined to do as much as I can in the time that I have left. Since we can travel a bit more in our region, I got to go mushroom hunting and rock fishing! We went out to some paddocks owned by the family of my wonderful hosts and picked mushrooms. I don’t really enjoy eating mushrooms and I was worried I was picking the wrong mushrooms the whole time, since I don’t eat them. I was assured over and over that I was picking the right ones and that they were edible. It was such a cool experience, because I had never picked mushrooms before!

A paddock with green grass and a blue sky. A pine tree is in the background of the image.
The paddock where we went mushroom hunting.
A red bucket with white mushrooms in the bottom, held over green grass.
Picking mushrooms!

I also got to go fishing from the rocks at the beach, which is allowed in Level 3. We woke up  and drove about ten minutes to a nearby beach at 6:00 AM. I got to see the sunrise, which was beautiful. We were fishing for snapper, and we did not catch any because the season is coming to an end, but it was so wonderful to get out of the house and be in the fresh ocean air and see a beautiful sunrise. 

The ocean coming up to dark colored rocks with a sunrise in the sky behind them. The sky is pink and blue with a few clouds.
The sunrise over the ocean at Whakatete Bay, where we went fishing.
A fishing pole stands in the rocks with the ocean in the background. The sun is just starting to come up and the sky is deep purple and blue.
One of the surf fishing poles, just waiting for a bite when we first got to Whakatete Bay.
The sun is beginning to rise over the mountains. The mountains are dark and the sky is deep purple with some pinks.
The sun rising over the mountains. I couldn’t resist sharing one more beautiful picture!

One issue I have recently run into is that of prescription medication! I brought 90 day supplies of my prescription medicine with me into New Zealand, which is the most that you can legally bring with you. We had planned for my mom to send me refills of my prescriptions when I ran out, and her sending of the medicine kept getting pushed out due to my insurance in the US and the Level 4 stopping the delivery of packages here in New Zealand.

She went to mail my prescriptions today, and then we learned that sending prescription medicines via the mail is actually illegal! It completely makes sense that it is illegal, and so I have had to reach out to the Student Health Center at the University of Waikato to see if they can prescribe my medication to me here. Living without my medication will not necessarily threaten my life, and so I am really lucky that I don’t have more serious conditions. However, taking my medication does greatly improve my life and I need to figure out how to secure those prescriptions here. I hope that if anyone reading this story is planning to study abroad, you consider how you are going to get your prescription medicine while abroad, if you need any medications! I am going to get this figured out, so it will not end up being a big deal, but rather just something to learn from. 

Small red fruits in a plastic bag.
A new fruit I got to try! Everyone here calls these guavas, and they are not what I would think of as a guava, but I don’t know what else to call them! They are sour and sweet and so delicious!

Last week, I used feijoas, my favorite fruit here, to make a loaf (like banana bread) and a cake! I covered them with cream cheese frosting, and they were DELICIOUS!! I loved getting to make something and share it! I love cooking, and it always makes me feel better to make something in the kitchen!

A feijoa loaf, a baked good, with cream cheese frosting on top, still in the pan.
The feijoa loaf, covered in cream cheese frosting.

I also made my speciality – calzones. They are my family’s favorite thing for me to make and they always request it when I am home. I used my recipe from home, but altered the fillings a little with what we had available here. They turned out amazing and everyone loved them! Usually, in the US, I serve them with a pizza style tomato sauce on the side to dip into. When I said that here, my hosts went to the fridge and brought me back a bottle of ketchup, which they call tomato sauce here. I had to backtrack and say I needed something like pizza sauce, but unfortunately, everyone in New Zealand seems to be making pizza, because tomato products are one thing that the grocery stores are consistently out of. They ended up eating the calzones with barbecue sauce, because they put that on their pizzas here. They loved them, and that is all that matters to me! 

Three calzones, fresh out of the oven on a baking tray.
Calzones in New Zealand, fresh out of the oven!

I am hoping for good news in the next few days regarding a move to Level 2, since for the last two days, we have had ZERO new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand. That is absolutely incredible and I am so thankful to be here and be so safe during this scary time. I hope that you are all healthy and safe. Keep washing your hands and practicing social distancing!

A pink rose blooming with greenery in the background.
The weather has been unseasonably warm, and the roses are still blooming!


A Birthday in Lockdown and Updates

Kia ora!

I am writing from day 27 in lockdown. Originally, the lockdown was scheduled to end on day 28, April 23rd, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided to extend the lockdown to 11:59 PM on Monday, April 27th. This weekend is an important holiday, Anzac Day. This holiday is celebrated on the 25th of April and it is a day of remembrance for New Zealanders and Australians who have served and died in wars and all of the commitment and contribution of those who served. The holiday is celebrated in a similar way to our Memorial Day in the United States. There are barbeque parties, gatherings, and celebrations. It makes a lot of sense that Jacinda Ardern decided to extend the lockdown through this holiday weekend to prevent people from gathering and ruining all of the progress that the lockdown has made! After the lockdown ends, we are moving to level 3 for at least two weeks. After the two weeks, the government will evaluate the situation and see if we can move to level 2 or if we need to stay at level 3. 

A bagel with avocado, cream cheese, and smoked salmon on a white plate on a white tablecloth
A delicious lunch of a bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and fresh avocado! We have been getting avocados fresh from the tree, and after tasting them, an avocado from the grocery store will never be the same!

Level 3 is going to be really similar to level 4, at least for me. Some people can go back to work, like construction and forestry workers. However, the government is encouraging us all to work from home if we can, and stay in our “bubbles.” We can extend our bubbles a bit, but we have to be exclusive with those who we let into our bubbles! Meaning, we have to only extend to each other and then stick to that! We can get take out food, which we are all excited for! We can also travel in our regions, but are being urged to stay close to home and stay away from activities that could lead to emergency services being called. Schools are being opened for young children whose parents have to go back to work, but, if children can be kept at home, they should be. 

Yesterday, I celebrated my 21st birthday in lockdown! This was truly a birthday that I will never forget. We had homemade pizza for dinner, my favorite, and delicious pudding for dessert. I got to talk with my family in the United States, which was very nice! It is hard being so far away from family and friends who are familiar and comforting during this uncertain and overwhelming time, but I am really thankful for technology so that we can talk, especially because mail is not really being delivered during this time.

Overall, it was a nice birthday and I feel very thankful. I was supposed to be in Australia during my birthday, so I am definitely still dealing with some disappointment with the way that things have turned out, as we all are to some degree, but I am doing my best to just be thankful and positive. 

A slice of white pudding/cake with chocolate chips
The delicious pudding dessert for my birthday!

A few days ago, I got to try a delicious, classic Māori meal! The meal is called a boil up, and it consists mainly of a green that grows wild here, called puha. There are also bacon bones, delicious little dumplings, potatoes, and pumpkin, all in a delicious broth. It is not a soup though, and is eaten on a plate with a fork. I loved it!! I really enjoy trying new foods and I am glad that I have had that opportunity during the lockdown. 

I am hoping for good news from the University of Waikato that I will be able to return to campus during level 3 to see my friends again. I really want to be able to finish the semester and enjoy New Zealand as much as I possibly can. I hope that you are all staying healthy and safe and keep washing your hands!


Living in the Lockdown

Kia ora!

I am coming to you from day 20 of lockdown in New Zealand! Due to being in lockdown, I have not gotten to have any big adventures, but I have gotten to have a sort of “host family” experience here. Many of the study abroad programs that Linfield offers have a host family component, but New Zealand is one of the locations for study that does not have host families. Because there is no language component of study in New Zealand (but believe me that at times, I feel like New Zealand English is a foreign language), there is not an immersive language aspect of studying here. This has its pros and cons of course. I did not have to learn a language in order to study abroad here and living on campus in the dorms makes it easy to make friends and feel integrated on campus.

However, living on campus means that I miss out on the chance to have the immersive cultural experience of living with a Kiwi family and being a part of the home life. Well, thanks to Covid19, I have been able to have this experience! It is important to look at the positives during this time, and I am so thankful that I have been able to stay with such kind people! During this scary and overwhelming time, it feels so much better to be staying in a comfortable home.

A beautiful, full rainbow over the backyard and a grey sky.
A beautiful rainbow; a positive sign during a difficult time!

I have gotten to learn new card games and try new foods. We watch movies, make desserts, and work on projects together. I am getting a host family experience, staying with a kiwi family and learning about New Zealand in ways that can only happen living in a home.

I learned that I have eating habits that are distinctly American, like eating cake with a fork instead of a spoon and holding my fork in my dominant hand, which is backwards from how they use their fork here! I also learned to make a pudding, which is actually a steamed cake, not at all like American pudding that we make from a box and then chill. I love to cook, so it was a lot of fun to make a new recipe, and it was DELICIOUS! 

A pudding (cake) sitting on the counter.
The delicious pudding that I got to help make!

I am still getting used to online school, but all of my professors are doing their best to make learning online as easy and interactive as possible. The Prime Minister has said that she will make a decision on April 20 about the future of New Zealand after the lockdown. The lockdown will either continue or move to a Level 3, which still has restrictions, but we will be able to move more freely through the country. I still have hope that I will be able to finish the semester here in New Zealand and perhaps do a bit of traveling and sightseeing around the country!

The people of New Zealand have been so cooperative with the lockdown. During the Easter weekend, there were police checkpoints around the country to look out for people potentially breaking the lockdown and trying to travel for the long weekend. There were a few people who tried to break the rules and the police did have to give some charges and fines, but it seemed that people behaved themselves for the most part. It is incredible how much the number of cases has gone down in New Zealand and how the lockdown is working. I am so thankful to be here during this time and have the Prime Minister working to protect the country and help New Zealand heal and overcome. 

Green fruit on a plate in the sunshine on a white tablecloth.
It is easy to stay positive when eating delicious fresh feijoas!

I hope that all of you are safe and healthy! Please stay in and protect those around you. Thank you for reading!


Entering Lockdown

Kia ora!


I wish that I had a story of a big adventure, travel around New Zealand, or a fun day out with friends, but unfortunately, I am writing to you from a country wide lockdown. We are currently 6 days into a four-week-long lockdown. The whole lockdown happened pretty quickly. Two weeks ago, we found out that we would have a week off from school while the university transitioned to online classes to avoid the spread of Covid19.

Then, out of nowhere, international students started to leave. The lockdown was announced, domestic students from New Zealand were all asked to move out of the dorms, and within just a few days of the lockdown being announced, it had begun. The entire country has closed, domestic flights and many international flights have been cancelled, and we are all stuck at home for the foreseeable future. Only grocery stores and pharmacies remain open. Only essential workers like health care workers and grocery store employees can go out. Law enforcement officers are out during all hours, patrolling, stopping people walking and driving, questioning them, following them to make sure they were being truthful about their destination, and giving out fines and even criminal charges to people that are out without a reason.

I am staying with one of my mom’s friends, who lives in Thames, a town about an hour and a half from Hamilton. I know that I am right by the ocean, but I cannot even go out to see it! It is really nice to be staying in a house, but I had to pack up all of my belongings and move out of my dorm room, which was very sad. I am being cared for and I know that I am much safer and better off here, rather than being shuffled around at the university as they try to adjust to the situation or trying to return to the United States and getting stuck in an airport somewhere without a flight. 

A view of a cloudy sky with the sun shining through and the mountains in the distance.
The view of the mountains from the home I am staying at!

People seem to be taking the lockdown very seriously here, which makes me hopeful that the lockdown may end within four weeks and life might return to some sort of normalcy. However, I know that a true return to “normal” will not happen for many months. This is so overwhelming and it is hard to deal with the uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic.

A view of a cloudy sky above the green meadows which are used to feed dairy cattle.
The meadows on the way to Thames seemed to stretch forever. These meadows are used to feed dairy cattle.

I find that I am experiencing a wide range of emotions, which change throughout the day. I will wake up in the morning feeling one way, and by the time I have breakfast, my emotions have completely changed. This is truly exhausting and overwhelming, but I know that I am not the only person feeling this way, and I need to make sure that I keep feeling and processing through this experience.

I am experiencing disappointment, which is natural and makes a lot of sense. I had such high hopes and big dreams for my semester abroad in New Zealand and I feel crushed by how many trips I had to cancel and opportunities I won’t have the chance to take. I am also scared. I do not know what the future holds, how or when I will get back to the United States, and how long New Zealand will be in lock down.  Everything seems to be so uncertain, even how long we will be in lock down.  It is overwhelming, and no matter where you are in the world, I am sure you can relate to this feeling.  

A collection of beautiful blue ceramic pots on a deck
The beautiful outside deck of the house that I am staying at. I am trying to appreciate and soak up as much beauty as I can.

In a bit of good news, I got to try a delicious new fruit yesterday. It is called a feijoa and it is a well loved treat here in New Zealand. They are originally Brazillian but grow really well here in New Zealand. The outside looks a bit like a small avocado, and you cut it in half and scoop out the delicious fruit with a spoon. It is absolutely delicious! The flavor is sweet and sour, a bit like a pineapple, a guava, and a little bit of strawberry and kiwi. It is unlike anything I have ever tasted before! It was so tasty!! I am glad I got to at least try some new fruit, despite being in lockdown. At this point, it is so important to be thankful for the little things in life. 

A small green oblong shaped fruit being held by a hand over a bag of more fruit
A delicious feijoa!
A cut feijoa. The flesh of the fruit is light green.
The inside of a feijoa

Please take this global pandemic seriously. Wash your hands, do not go out unless you absolutely must, and please check in on the people around you, especially if you can do it virtually. We all need to do our part to flatten the curve and save lives and help the world move forward. 

Thank you for reading, I hope you are staying healthy!


What Is Going On??: COVID-19 and Coming Home

Hiya, folks!

Soooo, a lot has happened since my last post—both in terms of my life and the world. With much sadness in my heart, I decided to come home to the US because of the COVID-19 outbreaks in South Korea and all around the world. I really wanted to have my semester abroad, but I know that it’ll happen someday, and I’m grateful for the time I had abroad while it lasted.

Me showing a thumbs up outside a bus stop, wearing a mask.
My first time outside after my two-week quarantine! Waiting for my bus to the airport.

First, I wanted to address a few things regarding COVID-19. While it’s most dangerous for older folks and immuno-compromised people, it’s still important to take care of yourself and others to help stifle it before it spreads to an astronomical level. You can help by washing your hands for 20 seconds, coughing/sneezing into your sleeve or a tissue (and then dispose of the tissue), keeping a physical distance between yourself and others, and being considerate of others. Click on this link for more information from the CDC

I understand that it’s easy to be scared of what’s going on—you just want to protect yourself and your family, so you resort to behavior that might not be normal for you. Or, you don’t want your life to change so you continue doing what you always do.  Fear does that. But, I encourage everyone to think past themselves and about the bigger picture. There are shortages of toilet paper, masks, and other supplies that many people and, especially, healthcare professionals need in order to do their jobs. By limiting contact with others, you can help stop the spread of the virus. Please think about the consequences of your actions is all I’m saying.

Another thing that this fear and panic have brought out in people is subtle and overt racism towards Asian people—especially Chinese folks. Asian businesses have been suffering from a lack of customers, Asian people have been verbally and physically attacked, and Asians all around the world have been denied certain services because they’re Asian. As an Asian-American, this is all extremely disheartening for me to hear and read. To be honest, I was a little afraid of coming back to the US for fear of being looked at weirdly or treated badly because I’m obviously Asian. Just hear me out—try to recognize and acknowledge your biases and fear and then think about how you can not let those control you and your actions.

OKAAYY, so what have I been up to, you’re wondering?

Well, it’s been weird and ironically funny. So I was in South Korea doing my two-week self-quarantine in the dorms mid-February. There was someone that delivered food to me and left it in front of my door, and I wasn’t allowed to leave my room at all (except to open the door to get the food). Fast forward to a few days before the end of the two weeks. I had been mentally preparing for anything to happen because the COVID-19 situation was escalating in South Korea, and I knew it made my parents nervous. So a few days before the end, my parents and I decided that I should come back to the US. With the help of IPO, I was put on a flight back to the US the day I got out of quarantine in South Korea. Then when I arrived home in Alaska, I was put into another two-week quarantine because I had arrived from a high-risk country. FOUR WEEKS of quarantine…like I said it’s kind of funny how it worked out.

So, now I’m done with my two-week quarantine/isolation, and I’m planning on taking online classes until the fall. Part of me has been not wanting to write this because I don’t want to admit it’s all over. But, alas, even as the world is on fire, the show must go on. Thank you all for the support, whoever is reading this. I wish you all the best in these times of uncertainty. We can get through this together.



Weekend in London

Buckingham Palace
Me + Buckingham Palace

Last weekend, I went to London with a couple of friends. Originally, this trip started out with five people but then grew to around 11. Since it was a big group, we all did our own thing but we all had such a great time! I spent most of the time with Kimi, Katie, and Elaine. Mostly everyone going on this trip took the same flights and stayed at the same hostel.

On our way to Dublin airport, Kimi and I took the bus that left Galway at 4:15… It was not a good idea. According to our ticket, we were going to arrive at the airport at 7, giving us an hour at the airport before the gate to our flight closed. That was not what happened. We arrived at the airport at 7:30! At that point, I was freaking out. Once we got off that bus, we ran to our gate. The good news was that we made it! After this incident, I have decided to take earlier buses to get more than an hour early to the airport. We arrived at Stansted airport at around 10 p.m. and took a bus to get to the city. Once we arrived,  a couple of us decided to get food before going to the hostel. We went to a kebab place that was open until 3 a.m. It was great because it was late and we were hungry. Also, kebabs have kind of become our go-to food for late nights.

The next morning, we woke up early to go on an all-day walking tour of the city. Our tour guide was great! She knows her history and made it interesting for us. We learned about the monarchs, the city, and the history of the city. She also gave us recommendations for things to do over the weekend. Part of our city tour included looking at the changing of the guard. We were not in front of Buckingham palace because it gets crowded there, instead, we were more further away and were able to see at a good distance.

Ceremony with the guards marching at Buckingham Palace.

Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
Changing of the guard

We then had a little break for lunch. For lunch, our tour guide recommended us to go to a pub called the Princess of Wales. The girls got the pies and I ended up choosing a chicken dish. The food was amazing and if I go back, I would definitely go back here. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the food or else I would have posted one. After our lunch break, we finished the rest of our tour. We walked by St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower of London, and more.

Tower Bridge in the background
Tower Bridge
Friends with Tower Bridge in the background.
Elaine, Katie, Me, Kimi
Student standing in front of tall church in London.
random pic
Girl in red phone booth with St. Paul's Cathedral in the background.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
















After our tour, we were soaked and tired of walking around all day so we

Taxi ride with friends
Taxi ride around London

decided to take a taxi to Peggy Porschen. One of the reasons I wanted to go to London was because of the place called Peggy, which sells tea and pastries. After walking around ALL day, it was nice to sit down and enjoy the views from the windows.


Peggy Porschen cake and tea house with lots of flowers decorating the door.  Girl posing in front.
Me + my fave place in London

At Peggy Porschen, we got some cakes, cupcakes, and teas. It was a good place to relax and just talk. looking back at it now, I am so glad to have been able to spend time in London with this amazing group of friends. We spent that afternoon laughing, getting to know each other more, and enjoying the tea and pastries. We also talked about our future travel plans while studying abroad. After tea, Elaine went to go meet up and spend the night with one of her friends studying abroad in London.

Tea and cakes at Peggy Porschen's tea house.
Tea at Peggy’s

Later that night, Kimi and I decided to walk around the city and go to different pubs. On our walk, we ended up in a pub with karaoke. We also walked across many bridges and I took a pic on Tower Bridge. Walking around without any plans was so much fun. At one point, we did not know where we were but we had our maps on our phone to get back. We got to see the city at night and we were able to get some sick pictures!

People walking on the tower bridge with St. Paul's in the background.
Over the bridge towards St. Paul’s
Girl sitting on Tower Bridge at night with bridge lights in the background.
Tower Bridge at night









The next day, we did a Harry Potter tour (which was short) and we went to different museums.  We went to the National Gallery, Tate Modern, and another museum that I do not remember. It was also sunny throughout the day, so we tried spending time outside as much as we could. I did not charge my phone or portable charger before the day started, so I do not have as many pictures like the previous day. Overall this trip was amazing and I can’t wait to go back one day. After this trip, Kimi and I had to get ready for a trip to France with another group of friends.

Jessica Lopez

Blue Skies in London sailing down the Thames river.
Blue Skies in London
Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square
Inside the National Gallery of Art.
National Gallery

New Classes and Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Kia ora!

Classes are underway and I am exploring New Zealand more and more! I am really enjoying all of my classes so far. I am taking an Anthropology of the Polynesians course, an Introduction to Māori Culture course, and a Food Writing course. Here, classes are called papers, and what we might call a paper in the US is an essay assignment here. I have had to figure out when to schedule tutorials for all of my classes, because there are two lectures for each class every week, and then a one hour long tutorial, which is where discussion happens, questions are asked, and assignments are addressed. All of my classes are much bigger than I am used to at Linfield, my Introduction to Māori Culture class has 113 students in it! In tutorial, there are only about 10-20 students, so this is where students have the chance to talk and ask questions.

There are several options for tutorials each week but they filled up fast! I had to figure out how to schedule the tutorials around my classes and other tutorials. At Linfield, I am used to classes being at the same time every day, such as a 9:00 AM-10:40 AM on Tuesday and Thursday, however, here, one of my Maori Culture lectures is from 9:00-11:00 AM on Tuesday, and the other is from 2:00-3:00 PM on Thursday, in completely different buildings! I am really thankful I am not trying to organize my classes around a work schedule here, because it feels almost impossible! 

Two girls smile for the camera
My pod mate and friend, Anusha, and me!

I have also been working on obtaining my Kiwi Access Card. This is an ID card that proves your birthdate and your residence in New Zealand, either as a foreigner or a New Zealand citizen. I visited one of the local shops that carried the application, brought my visa, proof of enrollment, passport, and a passport photo, filled out the application, and the shop verified my application and sent it off for me. The card is $55.00 NZ dollars, and essentially eliminates the need for me to carry my passport to prove my identification and age.

I think this is a wonderful alternative to carrying my passport, and keeps that priceless document safe, while still allowing me to prove my identity in whatever situation asks that I do. My card should arrive within two weeks, and I would recommend that all students studying in New Zealand work on obtaining the Kiwi Access card as soon as you can! 

A group of students sitting at a group of tables
My pod mates and I at a popular nightclub in Hamilton. We all live in the same section of the residence hall and share a bathroom and kitchen.

I also visited a club fair on campus, where I had hoped to find some clubs to sign up for. I did not have much luck signing up for clubs, and I am still looking for some groups to join, however, I was able to sign up for a group focused on being environmentally friendly, and they are running sessions with eco-friendly DIYs, and educational information each week. This week, we made beeswax wraps! It was a ton of fun, and I brought home my own beeswax wrap, as well as the knowledge to make them again.

Beeswax blocks and grated beeswax in a bowl
Beeswax blocks and grated beeswax for making beeswax wraps

Last weekend, I went to visit Waitomo Glow Worm Caves with the International Office, which was amazing! We toured the Waitomo Caves and learned about the processes which formed the limestone caves. Then, we took a boat through the dark, and gazed up at the millions of tiny blue glow worms. It was absolutely magical to see all of the glow worms, they looked like beautiful little stars. They were on the walls and ceilings of the cave, and it was like constellations in the night sky. We all had to remain very quiet and we could not take photos because the noise and light could disrupt the glow worms and they might stop lighting up if they are disturbed. With only the sound of the water lapping at the boat in the dark, the whole experience was unlike anything else. I had such a wonderful time there! 

Milky blue water at the entrance of a cave
The exit of the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. This was actually the entrance that the Māori chief and European explorer who found the cave used.
Emmaline standing outside of the cave entrance
After getting off the boat ride inside the cave!

Then, we visited an area in the Waitomo region where we went on short hikes, and then enjoyed lunch. Afterwards, we went to Marokopa Falls, a beautiful waterfall in the Waitomo region. We hiked down to the waterfall and looked up at the spray coming down from the falls and dipped our feet in the cold water! Then, we visited a natural limestone bridge, which was very interesting and a unique natural phenomenon! I really enjoyed the trip and I am looking forward to more adventures with the International Office!

A waterfall with greenery on the sides and a blue sky above
Marokopa Falls

I am doing my best to soak up as much as I possibly can while I am here in beautiful New Zealand. I have been having such a wonderful time here and I love the University of Waikato, Hamilton, and New Zealand! I am monitoring the Coronavirus situation, and really hoping that nothing escalates here so that the University stays open and continues in-person classes.

New Zealand has closed their borders, which means that both others and I have had to adjust travel plans. A festival for Pacific culture that I wanted to visit was cancelled in order to try to eliminate large gatherings, so I hope that this does not continue for the rest of the time that I am here! I will just continue to participate in as many events as I possibly can! 

A group of students at a table
Out to dinner with my hall mates and friends!

Thank you for reading! I can’t wait to share more of my adventures!