Up to Speed

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Ahoy!

As you may have noticed, my blog typically focuses on topics rather than my daily experiences.  While I enjoy writing in this way, lots of experiences fall through the cracks as they don’t conveniently fit into the specific topics I write about.  This blog will cover some of the events that I have yet to discuss but really enjoyed, and felt compelled to tell you about.  These will date from the beginning of my trip up until Easter Break, which ended two weeks ago.  I will then post a blog about Easter Break later this week, and we’ll be all caught up to present day.  Deal?  Great!

  • Trips to the Beach – There’s a lovely beach called St. Clair just a 15 minute bus ride away from my university.  Sam and I went there a few times when we first moved in to our flat.  Unlike most beaches I have seen in the United States, many people take their dogs for walks on the beach of St. Clair.  The natural beauty of the place makes even my amateur shots look somewhat decent!
    Beach
  • Open Mic Night – Sam and I befriended an absurd amount of people from Denmark.  Naturally, one of them is a percussionist/trombone player.  We all got together and played some songs at an Open Mic Night at the bar on campus.  Yes, there is a bar right in the center of our campus.  We serenaded the crowd with the soulful sounds of Bill Wither’s ‘Use Me,’ and some contemporary pop-songs.
    Open Mic
    Keep an eye out for us at the Grammy’s.

  • Oamaru – A few hours north of Dunedin lies a small town called Oamaru.  We took a weekend trip out here because Oamaru is home to a Blue Penguin colony – the smallest penguin species on earth!  Well, we saw them, and boy howdy were they cute, but we found something else of interest in the town.
    Penguin
    D’awww!

    Oamaru used to be a rather industrialized town, and quickly became viewed as a service-center for New Zealand’s agricultural goods.  In light of its growing status through the Victorian era, it developed an excellent port and railway system.  However, the economic growth trickled down, causing the port to close, and Oamaru found itself in hard times.  Sounds like your standard rise and fall story of a little town, eh?  Here’s where it gets interesting.  Some people in the town took the decaying industrial scenery around them, and turned it into something positive.  Thus, a genre of literature, music, fashion and style was born: Steampunk.  The best way to understand this bizarre phenomenon is by viewing it as ‘a Victorian person’s idea of what the future would be like.’   Basically, think of robotic people wearing top-hats, like in this picture of Steam Powered Giraffe – a prominent American Steampunk musical group:Steam Powered GiraffeThe community seems to embrace this offbeat lifestyle – penny-farthing bikes are all around the town, and even the playground boasts the style of Steampunk.  The world is a bizarre and wonderful place.


Penny-Farthing


Playground
I am perpetually seven years old.

  • OUSA Sports Week – In the beginning of the year, Otago Univeristy Students’ Association (OUSA) held Sports Week.  They split the student body up by their area of residence, be it a set of flats or dormitories (they are referred to as ‘colleges’ here). My group was called UniFlats, which is the company that owns our flats. These groups then played various sports (netball, rugby, football ‘soccer’) against each other.  Myself and some friends from my flat complex chose to play on UniFlat’s volleyball team.  Seeing as none of us have really played volleyball before, we expected to be pretty terrible.  Luckily, this was not the case, and we won all four of our games.
    Volleyball
    Just look at that form!

    So, those are some of my favorite random snippets of previously unmentioned life in New Zealand.  I feel like I could write a blog about every single day here – even on the most routine of days I find myself intrigued by the most random of things over here.  Hopefully have and will continue to give you an idea of what life is like in New Zealand.Take care,
    ~Jake

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