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

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reflecting on a plane

I took advantage of down time, casually reflecting on a flight to LAX.

Traveling is hard and stressful, no doubt about it. Security can take way too long but…. here I am!

It’s amazing how relaxing flights can be; once you’re in the air you don’t have much room to stress about what is going on down on land. It’s like I’m in my own corner of the world, just watching TV.

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…but I’m flying through the stratosphere. Weirdly, it makes the emotions and anxiety worth it, to have time like this.

Every flight is different: some are relieving but some are hell; the emotions range from time of day, to who you’re sitting around. Right now the key is hydration (no mater how in the mood I am for a coffee). I’ve had the most water I ever have on a flight (wooo!!!) and I have a carry on hand cream and all that jazz. If i can knock out some of the dehydration to come that’d be great, because to have anything on top of jet lag is not ideal.


Finally it’s starting to hit me where I’m going (see here). Look at me being so optimistic!!!!!! (when next, I have a 7 hour layover and three more flights)! Emotions are weird let me tell you!!!

question for you: How do you stay sane on a plane?

okie,

over & out

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

packing essentials i didn’t know i needed

Today I have officially made a dent in packing for my departure, (only took me a few weeks). Over time I have accumulated things that I originally didn’t realize they were essentials.

1.Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack

I have had my eyes on a new mini backpack for a while, and just recently got this one as a birthday present. I AM SO OBSESSED. I am not much of a purse/handbag user, so I rely more on backpacks to lug my belongings around. This time around, I was more after function over fashion and I’m so happy I was.image14

For some reason, I am in love with the fact that the zipper is in the front of the big pocket, versus the middle like most backpacks. I feel it opens up the bag more, and structures it making it easier to bring around. This will be perfect for hikes, day trips, shopping, lounging, breathing…the whole bit!

2. Cord Wrap & Portable Charger

I came across this cord wrapper on etsy and am in love with the function and simplicity. Yes, I love cats, but also, this is my first cord wrapping experience and am already so relieved to have one.

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I have gone through a couple portable chargers over time but I never dropped the extra few dollars for a good quality one. I did get this as a gift (thanks mom!), so I didn’t have a chance to make up excuses; as in….. I will continue to use ones held together by duck tape.

3. Daily Planners

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Yes, I am so extra that this year I feel I need two instead of one. The bigger one I see myself using for more daily tasks: school work, errands, and small lists. I could go on for a bit about how grounded I feel once writing out little things I want to get done each day, even as a reminder. The smaller one is a moleskin, which I got as a present (thanks brother!). What I really appreciate about it, is in the beginning there are pages for international phone codes, and a map with all time zones. To have easy access to information like that, and also with it being visual, could come in handy! My moleskin I use for bigger dates, in-detail travel plans and also longer lists. Another pro, is with each weekly page is a whole empty page for notes.

4. Journal

Let me tell you, I am SO late to the journal game.

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I decided not too long ago, to drop the money on a good quality journal that I would enjoy carrying around places. Barnes and Noble had so many fancy ones with the antique feel and FUN LATCHES so I was all for it.

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I see this journal full with endless possibilities. I like to jot down stories, blog post ideas or thoughts that are overwhelming my head that day. I am 100% a visual person and again, I am confused why it took me so long to get a journal.

5. An Eye Mask

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The trend only continues here: this was a gift (thanks megan!) & I’ve wanted one for a while. This one is so much more high tech than I would have gotten myself. It’s weighted a bit to help stay on my eyes, and block out light. I am excited to try this out especially on planes and see how it helps block out what is going on around me (also could be helpful during a little meditation). aaaaand its super soft!!!!

6. New Luggage Tagsimage11

Shout out again to my Mom, who is adorable and got me a set of luggage tags with marine mammals on them. In case you forgot, I am a marine biology major and am always rocking some seal/whale/sea otter merch (YAYYYY THE OCEAN)! These will make it so much easier to spot my luggage coming off the claim and they’re so much fun to look at.

7. Waterproof Phone caseimage10

I am an outdoor person; I like hiking, kayaking, being on boats for leisure and also my major. This is something I did not even think about but I know could be vital. I am also a prone klutz, who can be seen chucking their phone across the room without even realizing. This is perfect for that exact mix.

8. Life Strawimage9

Going alongside the waterproof case, it is better to be safe than sorry. A Life Straw instantly turns contaminated water into safe drinking water. Yet again, another birthday gift that will fit my needs abroad perfectly.

9. Packing Cubes

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I recently discovered these existed, and will update you on how they are put into use. A big pet peeve of mine is opening my suitcase and NEVER being able to find what I am looking for, or having to go through hell to get there.

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They seem really easy to manipulate and squish, so we shall see! Next post will be how these packs are used to organize this mess…..

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Stayed tuned as I am leaving in ONE WEEK AHHHHH!!!

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

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

What I hope to accomplish abroad

Yesterday I sat down and expressed in my journal what my personal goals are for my adventure abroad to New Zealand. I didn’t realize until writing them down, how many there are (looks like i’ll be keeping myself busy!).

  1. Focus on what’s in front of you: I tend to look towards the future and forget about what is going on around me in that moment. I’m an avid planner; I love to organize my life months in advance (like “oh! what else could I be doing now?” or “where will I be going next week?”). One that I am currently battling with myself, is: “Where else could I travel to during my semester? What other countries could I get to explore?” (ash, calm down and breathe for a hot minute). I hope to step back and instead admire the beauty and my opportunities in New Zealand first.
  2. Spend more time outside: Along with admiring my surroundings, I want to take a break from my phone and laptop and spend more time taking in the scenery. Hopefully I will go for more walks/runs and find excuses to instead, go outside (maybe even combine the two and work on my laptop while at an outdoor cafe? hmmm). thumb_IMG_2088_1024
  3. Be wise about money: I didn’t find this one surprising since money is a stressful topic. For me personally, it is a lot of making sure I am working enough at home to save up for travel and school. I hope that with my new “planner” obsession, I will be able to track my spending more and keep an eye on what funds to keep aside for the weeks to come. On the other hand, I do love to treat myself, especially to a nice coffee; so for me, it will be important to find a balance between the two.
  4. Gain connections both socially and in the field: I am not only traveling to New Zealand because I think it is an awesome place to visit, but I am for my future science carer (for a more in-depth reasoning of “why New Zealand” check  this out). I hope that with my planned research for my capstone project, I will able to secure connections in a country that has endless opportunities for a marine biology major. On the other hand, I hope to make some life-changing friendships with memories I can look back on for the rest of my life (awwwwww!). thumb_IMG_2067_1024
  5. Learn new techniques, specifically in research: Additionally, I aspire to pick up techniques and ways of thinking that I have yet to learn. With my hopefulness of conducting my own research one day, my excitement to learn will sure help me push through.
  6. Step back & be proud of accomplishing a big dream of mine: It takes a lot in me to be proud of myself, I think that goes along with my first personal goal; I do not always step back and realize how far I’ve come. Studying abroad has been on my mind since first actualizing that it exists. Before enrolling into university, I thought it would be even cooler if it was possible to learn at a different school each semester. Although, now I realize that my idea isn’t actually practical. I am, in fact, very happy with my choice to get my undergraduate degree at the University of Maine.thumb_IMG_2090_1024

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.