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More from The Land of Thai (part 2)

Alright, to be honest, Thailand was a long time ago. I didn't write at all while I was there, I was too busy being there. And while I remember it so vividly, the order of events is a little jumbled. I can't remember what we did for dinner that first night after exploring Khaosan Road. I think I was pretty wiped out from the journey so nothing too outlandish, I might have even eaten on the plane? But I vividly remember breakfast the next morning, and every morning actually. Leave it to Ryan to find the closest thing to an American diner in the middle of Thailand. I was in a new country, a new timezone, and a new mindset of not knowing what was coming next, so the familiarity of scrambled eggs and toast was more than welcome. The proprietors of this cozy little hole-in-the-wall establishment welcomed Ryan like a son, something I'd learn to expect and thoroughly appreciate in all the Tai people I encountered. Unlike the Parisians I met during my time in the 5th arrondissement…

Hey, Thailand! Your wires are showing!

During my semester abroad in New Zealand, I had the extraordinary opportunity to visit a friend in Bangkok, Thailand. I'll do my best to do it justice, but some places are too unique to be described second-hand. If you can, go there. It's worth it.

The best way I know how to describe Thailand is to compare it to a carnival. A riot of people. A sensory overload that somehow manages the delicate balance of overwhelming and fun that makes you want to keep going every year. And if Thailand is a carnival, then Bangkok is the giant Ferris wheel in the middle of it all. Stay with me, I promise the metaphor makes sense.... My 10 days in this indescribable place taught me more about humanity than I have learned in my entire life. One such "the more you know" moment occurred when I had a conversation with a local about our national identities. I had been struggling with mine since I was often painted with the broad brush of ugly American tourist. I asked the local what the wo…

Rollercoaster Weekend: Gala, Skydiving, Memorial Service, Motutapu

This is the last blog post I wrote in 2012 while studying in New Zealand. Because of the emotional nature of some of the content, I chose not to publish it right away. Unfortunately, I didn't publish anything else after saving this draft, either. But I didn't stop writing. I didn't stop traveling. And I never stopped seeking my next adventure. SO, nearly five years later, I continue my story by picking up where I left off. 

On living in Auckland: I was talking with a friend the other day (thanks, Alice!) about my blog and took some time to reflect on the whole experience of writing about and trying to explain what my day to day life is like here. It is easy to talk about things like my spring break trip, but how do I describe what it feels like to live in Auckland? On the surface everything seems really simple and beautiful (VERY beautiful) but there is a strange kind of complexity that is just under the surface that I can’t quite seem to describe... maybe it's because …

A True Kiwi Experience: Motutapu Island

May 6th(Yup, the day after the Americans celebrated Cinco de Mayo)

As part of our Study Abroad program all of the Loyola students have to do an immersion project; we get to choose between interviewing and writing an article about a Kiwi who has lived in New Zealand for all/most of their lives or do a significant amount of service hours with one organization. I opted for the service as I figured I could get the best out of both worlds. A friend of mine who studied abroad here a couple of years ago suggested a conservation project on Motutapu Island, where he did his immersion project. The island’s ecology has been suffering as the introduction of non-indigenous plants have been destroying the native ecosystem and spreading to other islands too. I figured that since I have enjoyed my time here so much the least I could do is try and preserve what makes New Zealand so beautiful as best I can for the next generation of students and maybe even my kids who want to come to this amazing countr…

Back to Reality: Stride for Success Race

April 23-29th

It wasn’t until Rotorua that I remembered I had signed up for a road race set up by the university the weekend after spring break. What was I thinking?! I had no time to train and it was a team effort so it wasn’t like I could back out or just accept doing poorly (not that I would do that anyway). So, once my spectacular spring break came to an end, I had a harsh reality to face; not only did I have to jump right back into classes, but I had to push through my exhaustion and start running my heart out. And I am really glad I did! I’ve know for a while that I am always at my best when I am at my busiest. Preparing for the race was a great way to quickly get me back into my school routine. I needed to get organized, stay organized, and time manage so I could get all my work done and train so I wouldn’t hurt myself come the weekend and race day. It was also great to actually exercise again! Living off of pb&j and pasta in the South Island was fun but not healthy. I plann…

Spring Break: Rotorua and Taupo (day 3 and 4)

April 21st

After a lovely but light breakfast (as we were all still stuffed from out delicious hangi the night before) we headed to Te Puia where the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute is located for a tour of the cultural grounds and a glimpse at the way that the modern Maori are preserving their heritage. Our guide was sweet and showed a real love for her job and thus for us. I’ve been really struck by the kindness and patients all of our guides have been throughout these trips to share that which they are most passionate about with us. I love watching and listening to people talk about their passions like that. You can see the change in their face, in their eyes, even in their voice. It happens to my mom when she talks about her love her country and its history, my dad when he is talking about his family and memories from the past (especially ones involving sports). Next time you are talking with a friend, bring up something you know they love and watch how they change. I…

Spring Break: Taupo and Rotorua (day 2)

Friday April 20th

Today was a great change of pace since we got to spend most of it outside instead of riding on the bus like the day before and the weather was gorgeous. After breakfast in the hotel and a very quick bus ride, we went for a walk around the Huka Falls which we then got up-close-and-personal with on a crazy speed boat called the Huka Jet! I must have been a silly mood or something (and the giant water-proof jackets they gave us didn’t help) because I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard! As we were whipping across the waterway in this little boat I was hard-core belly-laughing and making the girls in front of my crack up too! I was also sitting next to Amanda, and as we learned in the South Island, we feed off of each other. So I would laugh, she would laugh at me and then I would laugh harder…. vicious circle ensued. We were doing 360 spins all up and down the river and got really close to the falls. It was so much fun! Little did I know until we made it bac…