Getting adjusted // living in New Zealand

Hello world,

Getting adjusted has been a bit more hectic than i anticipated. First off, jet lag hit me like a train my first week here: fever, nausea, the whole bit. DON’T WORRY I’M OKAY NOW!

Lectures have started this week and I am finding it a lot easier to get more of a routine down. I am finally picking up on a few things, while also still clueless on others.

1. Dunedin is actually a city, not just a city-like town, but an actual city.

I have never lived in a city before. I’ve never had to wait endlessly to cross busy streets and had been able to walk to a large list of things in center city. To say the least, at first, it was out of my comfort zone. My first night in Dunedin I felt so out of place roaming George Street (one of the main streets), and deciding where to eat dinner. Over time I’ve left my denial behind that Dunedin IS A CITY! I guess in the states I am so used to areas calling themselves a city, when in reality they are far from it. Dunedin is a city, got it.

2. New Zealand is 120x more Eco-friendly than the US.

That could be an exaggeration, or possibly not. When first arriving in the Auckland airport, there were switches everywhere. Every single outlet has these switches and of course the first ones I managed to play with didn’t work no matter what I did with the switch. Slowly I am realizing that they make a lot of sense, and aren’t only a safety thing but an environmental thing (I have been ranting about this and other things on my twitter he he).

Every coffee I have purchased has either been in a biodegradable lid and cup, or compostable. It is also more common to see coffee shops to give discounts for bringing your own coffee cup or mug.

Reusable bags are more of a trend. Its not only better for the environment, but here they are a lot more common and people are accustomed to going out of their way to bring them places (maybe the states will get it eventually?).

3. Sheep run the country more than you think

Sheep are in charge more than I expected. Yes, sheep are common here no doubt. BUT a daily laugh I get from living in Dunedin is the massive trucks that drive through city filled with sheep. One of the main roads through the city is used as a highway for transporting sheep. HOW COMICAL IS THAT!!!!! My favorite is when a few stick their heads out to see what’s going on.

Yep, those are my three main surprises/shocks/fun adjustments I have made in the past week. Maybe one day I will catch on to Celsius, or the way the English I learned growing up is “American English” & not “English English”.

Nonetheless, New Zealand is continuing to excite me every day.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Auckland Airport // tips and tricks

International Arrival

Departing my plane was normal; I went through customs once getting off, etc. BUT after, there was bio security which takes a lot more time than you’d think (even if you aren’t declaring anything). New Zealand is very keen on keeping the country of New Zealand free from unwanted diseases and pesticides, which is awesome (but does add another long line to wait in).


top tip – If you are arriving in Auckland from an international flight and you are not from Australia/New Zealand plan extra time (if possible) to prepare yourself for the wait!


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Domestic Transfer

To get from the international terminal to the domestic terminal, or vice versa, there’s two options: walk or take a free shuttle.


top tip – there is only a coffee shop and a to-go convenience store once you pass security in domestic! take advantage of the food court right before security (learn from my mistakes!)


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Shaky Isles Coffee Co.

If you do have time after security in the domestic terminal, check this coffee shop out (is it a chain? im new here….)

The aesthetic of this little shop in the airport takes the cake…

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…and so does their coffee. So thrilled to have experienced my first official New Zealand flat white here.

I apologize for the delayed post updates, it has been very hectic since I arrived in New Zealand. Be on the look out for everything to come!!!

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

traveling with anxiety

It took me a very long time to figure out what anxiety was, and if what i was feeling fit that.

I don’t want this to be a sad post, I want this to be helpful for anyone who may feel the same.

Traveling involves a lot of indirect trust and loss of control; there are a multitude of unknowns. We don’t know if our flight will actually be on time and if it will arrive the time it claims it will. We don’t know how long the airport lines will take, or if you have time to eat before boarding. As I prepare to head to the airport tomorrow, anxiety is subconsciously on my mind. A reoccurring theme for me, personally, is time.


main questions

the kinds of questions that are most common when I am anxious

+ what is going to happen if I don’t get there in 5 minutes? will the world end? something explodes?

+ what else could I be doing in that time I’m saving/losing? Is it productive?

+ but what do I gain from rushing around besides saving time?

side effects

physical & emotional results of my questions

+ come off as impatient or pissy, but depending on the anxiety it could be distracting/consuming as well

+ faster breathing & rushed heart beat

+ can be paralyzing; only focusing on what is making me anxious

coping mechanisms

ways that I try to ground myself

+ deep breathing

+ focus on something else (listen to music, watch something, etc.)

+ call/text someone

+ but if that is not possible, then write

+ helps piece thoughts together

+make sense of what is rational vs. irrational

+ self pep talk!

+words, phrases or songs that calm me

+ telling myself to calm down (in a way lightens my feelings and brings humor into it)

question for you: How do you cope with anxiety over things you can’t change?

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I leave for the airport TOMORROW! A lot of fresh content is coming your way!!

stay updated  —-> twitter —-> instagram —-> bloglovin

All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you (somehow hit 100 followers??? AHHH)!!

Lots of love,

     foot

year-round Jersey Shore top spots

In the lines of coming to terms with my departure (where am I going?? check this out), I felt the need to stop by some of my favorite places while at home.

They range from cats to coffee (my two loves), enjoy!

1.Catsbury Park – Asbury Park, NJ.thumb_IMG_3626_1024“Catsbury Park” is a word play on the town it resides in, Asbury Park. It is a cat cafe that opened up in Sept. 2017.

My impression from the beginning: the employees’ main concern was making the building clean and comfortable for the resident cats, while also showcasing them to help them find a permanent home. All the cats living there are adoptable, and are from local animal shelters around Monmouth County. Most of the cats get adopted within 2-3 weeks (which is insane).thumb_IMG_3367_1024The cafe is split into two parts: the cafe and the cat room. The cafe offers tea, coffee, snacks and soups, with some vegan and gluten free options. thumb_IMG_3364_1024thumb_IMG_3624_1024The cat room does have an admissions fee (current fees can be found here) but was totally worth it. Around the cafe, were signs mentioning exactly what the fee and anything purchased at the cafe is used for (an example is a 25$ t-shirt they sell, can feed and provide care for a cat for a whole week). They do recommend booking ahead as there is limited space in the cat room. All bookings can be made on their website.thumb_IMG_3427_1024thumb_IMG_3490_1024Although, if you chose not to go into the cat room, the cafe is free to enter and you can easily view the cats while grabbing a hot drink to-go. thumb_IMG_3515_1024The staff was very welcoming and really informative about each of the 17 cats’ personalities. Different areas of the room had a “Catsbury Park” take on well known Asbury landmarks (with some hidden spots for the cats too)! thumb_IMG_3521_1024thumb_IMG_3421_1024thumb_IMG_3533_1024thumb_IMG_3608_1024I found it really fun and relaxing to spend time surrounded by little bundles of energy (with occasional cuddles).

2.Crust & Crumble – Asbury Park, NJthumb_IMG_3627_1024Next up is a pizza place and bakery located just down the street from Catsbury Park. An awesome fact is they have an entire vegan menu with loads of options.thumb_IMG_3629_1024They do have a massive regular menu as well, serving pizza, sandwiches, pasta, etc. I found the atmosphere to be warm with a retro feel (very Asbury Park-like).thumb_IMG_3631_1024thumb_IMG_3632_1024aaaaaaaand the pizza is to-die for, just saying.

3.Rook CoffeeMultiple locations throughout the Jersey Shore. Once you are hooked on Rook, well… you’re hooked for life. thumb_IMG_3649_1024Rook focuses on quality, simplicity and experience. The menu is very  straightforward, and I now understand why people are so obsessed. Their stores do not have seating areas, as they revolve around a more upbeat, on the go environment. thumb_IMG_3650_1024Personally, I prefer a less sweet, stronger coffee-taste and they never disappoint; they always give a flavorful cup of coffee.

4.Broad Street Dough Co. – Oakhurst, NJ thumb_IMG_3635_1024Come here if you want fresh, cake-y donuts, with options that will blow your mind. A majority of the menu is vegan, or does have vegan substitutions. thumb_IMG_3642_1024thumb_IMG_3644_1024Each time I visit, there are new specials displayed behind the counter. They also create custom doughnut concoctions for special occasions (their website can be viewed here).thumb_IMG_3640_1024Let me remind you.

They are made fresh to order.

genius.

Although I created this blog to document my time abroad, I felt my at-home preparation is important to fill in the gaps of my personal story.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

…let the countdown begin

I leave for New Zealand in two weeks.

I’m going to repeat that to help my personal denial wake up, I leave in TWO WEEKS!!!!!!!!!

how am I preparing? did I actually start packing? what do I still need to get? culture shock, what!?

Packing has begun (as of today), and I am trying to be as minimalistic as possible. I’ve always been pretty good at packing and going over what I need and what I don’t. I have gradually been crossing off things from my “opposite-land” list (almost done EEEEEEE), and surprisingly don’t need to get as much as I thought I did!!!

I think most of the preparation for my departure abroad is mental preparation. I am still in shock thinking that this is happening. I feel it won’t hit me until I leave the states. I have been so consumed with what is in front of me that I am not necessarily thinking of where I will be two weeks from now. On one side, it’s a good thing because I’m actively practicing one of  my goals (see: What I hope to accomplish abroad). Although, on the other, I don’t want to be consumed with so much awe that I get distracted (let’s be real I am going to sit on the beaches and stare at fur seals and sob #marinebiomajorsunite).

Once I get there, I think I am going to be so overly ecstatic with everything new and exciting that I will be living on a cloud for a while; there’s nothing wrong with expressing happiness and excitement.

Any tips for me? for possible culture shock? packing? breathing?

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Fortress Hohensalzburg – a photo diary || Salzburg, Austria

When visiting Austria this past summer, Salzburg was one of the main stops. Besides the attraction of “Sound of Music” tours and filming locations, the Hohensalzburg Castle was pretty hard to miss; It overtakes the Salzburg skyline.

The fortress was built in the eleventh century, under the rule of the Archbishop at the time. The castle only went under siege once, in the German Peasant’s War in 1525. By the 19th century, Hohensalzburg was made a staple tourist attraction. It is known as one of the largest and best preserved castles of 11th century Europe.

At the time, I sadly only had my iphone for taking photos so I apologize for the quality.

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To make it to the castle you have two options: hike or take the tram. To save money, my family and I hiked (yes, I mean hike. the pathways/stairs get very steep at the top). Although, the steepest part is at the end; so, even if you take the tram, which goes almost to the top, you will have to hike up the steepest part (which thankfully had spread out steps to help hold your grip).

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There was some signs showing us where to go, but at times it was guessing (& thinking, well ok I know I’m going to head up somehow…).

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A good tip is knowing that there is an admissions fee to enter the fortress grounds. I don’t remember it being that reasonable, especially if all travelers are adults.

After admissions there is, in fact, another steep hill, and a few staircases!!! (Yay!! time to treat yourself to some Austrian pastries!!!!!) The path opens to a large court with a gift shop, restrooms, etc.

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Upon entering the very top, there is a few museum-type exhibits going into the history of the fortress (the lines get long but move quick).

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The top has multiple 360 viewing areas. The amount of photo opportunities even on a cloudy day is insane.

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I recommend leaving yourself a lot of time to explore all the rooms and viewing areas. The views are worth every broken sweat. Times like this, only make me want to explore European castles to the fullest extent possible.

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Continue reading “Fortress Hohensalzburg – a photo diary || Salzburg, Austria”

3 hours in Thun, Switzerland

It would not be “my type” of vacation without some reckless running around.

This past summer, my family and I decided to get a Eurail pass for two weeks to start in Vienna, Austria and end in Paris, France. So naturally that entailed some spur of the moment stops, *cough* *cough* Thun, Switzerland.

Being in the middle of the Swiss Alps was breathtaking (there I go again with my “dramatic landscape” needs). Personally, I preferred Thun over a more touristy city of Interlaken. Interlaken, Switzerland is filled with more hotels, hostels, chain stores, and gift shops over Thun. Thun is a relaxed village town with a gorgeous castle overlooking the old town.
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if you ever find yourself in the Swiss Alps, and want an adventure filled with climbing stairs and hills, keep reading.

Ashleigh’s top three

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1. Thun Castle
Although getting up to the top of the castle is not free, its worth every penny. Especially after climbing up the cobble stone streets of Thun, the view is the PERFECT reward. There are a view levels and each are set up with museum-like exhibits. After about three levels, and more stairs you climb a modern narrow staircase to reach the top level.

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At first it’s a bit overwhelming; each of the four pillars is open to climb up to. Each side brings a depth to the landscape that you don’t expect and you just stand there in awe. Yes, my pictures look just like the popular google-search photos, THATS WHEN YOU KNOW ITS REAL!!

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2. Walking the Streets
With the limited time, and the approaching National Swiss Holiday, what better to do than engulf yourself in some Swiss National Pride. The streets of Thun did not disappoint; if you have the time there are some adorable outdoor cafes and restaurants overlooking the canal.

In my case, I was too excited for my third course of action to dilly dally.

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3. Oberhofen Castle
When conducting my research on Switzerland, I came across a photo of Oberhofen Castle; a stunning castle on the outskirts of Thun. I somehow talked my family into taking a 10 minute bus journey from the center of Thun out to Oberhofen (in fact just to get photos, oopsies).
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Sadly the castle gates were closed that day, so I did not get a chance to walk around the gardens and pathways that surrounded the castle. Nonetheless, LOOK AT THAT ARCHITECTURE!

why New Zealand?

A question I get often is why New Zealand? Why would you want to study abroad there? Why go so far away?

I find myself drawn to the mountains: the elevation, the dramatic landscapes, etc. I vacationed to Alaska a lot growing up (I mean I’m still growing up.. but you catch my drift), and seeing what rocky coasts had to offer struck an interest with me.

With my major at university being marine biology, the undergraduate programs abroad are limited. Europe has more graduate level programs over undergrad, and with myself being fortunate enough to have traveled there a few times before, I was craving something different. South America is rich with options in a tropical scene, so that was indeed an option. Although, that part of the world has not sparked my priority just yet (Galapagos, I’ll come for you soon).

A far-off-opposite-land existed in a distant dream. Oceania is far from me, to say the least, but distance has never stopped me; It brought the difference I yearned for. My father has told me stories about his trip to Australia and New Zealand, and raved about the landscapes of the South Island of New Zealand. With that in the back of my mind, I tended to flip immediately to the “Oceania” section of the massive study abroad books. The books were filled with programs I could choose from, and some specialties of each university.

I came across the University of Otago, which is located in the southern part of the South Island of New Zealand. The specialty courses listed happened to be marine biology, and with further research, I found how famous their science program is. Long story short, I had my heart set on attending this university and was accepted this past summer.

My excitement cannot be contained for how this semester abroad with advance my future career as a marine biologist.

 

fund my travel campaign!

As we all know, traveling expenses add up quick. I decided to create a campaign to help lessen the burden of my expenses (like flights, program fees, etc.). Flying to the complete opposite side of the world has proven to be a bit pricey. I will be studying abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand in their marine biology program. I’ll be working alongside reputable biologists in a setting which could sky-rocket my future career opportunities.

I’m asking for any little help that your heart can give. Anything will be appreciated and used directly towards the development of my career in the field of marine biology. Thanks so much!

the campaign can be viewed here