Monday, December 14, 2009

Final Months Of An Exchange Student


Christmas is soon and so comes that excitement of going to the beach and tanning....that is a little hard right now seeing as im finding myself shovelling snow in negative temperatures! Ive been having such a good time that i've forgotten that I leave in less than 4 weeks.

Christmas holiday time has been A little different so far. The presence of snow is just amazing, but the novelty wears off when it rains and the snow becomes heavy...which is somewhat annoying when you go to shovel it from the driveway. Ive been doing that often now, more often than when I arrived last winter cause my current host family has A 10month child which is totally different to my previous 3 families, and I guess its all apart of the experience- even being woken up by crying at 3am is apart of that! My host family have been no less than amazing- always asking if the baby woke me up etc. Instead of buying a pre-cut or fake tree for Christmas, my host family go out to A field, find a tree they like and cut it down. I was lucky enough to be the desegnated cutter-of-trees...oh JOY! So our tree is at least 8 1/2 feet tall and about 5 feet wide at the base- yea, the tree is big!

About 3 weeks ago I was lucky enough to go on an all expense paid trip to Chicago, Illinois. The outbound to NZ, his Dad coaches A rep hockey team and he was kind enough to ask me to join them. We set out from Burlington which is south of my town, Guelph, at around 8am. After a farely boring 9hour bus trip we arrived in Chicago at around 5pm. I thought it was cold in Canada but Chicago was definatley colder. So this was trip was all about sight-seeing and shopping, but I was lucky enough to stand in the penalty box for a game. This was such an experience. The referees pretty much lost control of the game and to make A long story short, I wasn't standing alone for very long.

The final day I was there my host Mum, Sister and I went for a downtown excursion. We walked down magnificant mile which is like the Rodeo Drive of Chicago. We ended up down at Navy Pier which we walked around for about an hour. It was amazing. The huuge Ferris Wheel was an amazing sight to see- at night the entire structure was lit up which was awesome. The highlight of my day however, was going to the House of Blues and watching the roof almost cave in. The restaurant part was on the lower floor and the concert arena was upstairs. Who wouldve thought that 800 thirteen year old kids would be able to move an entire concert floor? I was assured by my waitress that the floor wasnt going to cave in as the pillars in the restaurant holding the roof up were hydrolic springs.

We ended up leaving Chicago at 4:30pm, after the teams' final game and got back into Canada around 2am- it then took another 2 hours before I got into bed! I guess taking the highway headed to Detroit was a bad idea- traffic held up by almost 2 hours before we got onto the right highway! Passing through the boarder there and back was surprisingly easier than the time I went to Buffalo- no problems this time! Good thing we didnt go through Detroit, as Ive heard they're notorious for useless interrogations.

So for now, im making the absolute most of my time- keeping busy with rotary stuff, partying etc. I have my final last week of school this week, which is pretty sad. School has been so awesome. I have so many close friends now, and its going to be like saying goodbye to all the exchange students all over again- awesome.....

So this will be one of my final blog posts; ill try and get another 2 in. One after Christmas and when I get home. If not, see you all in about 3 weeks

The Navy Pier in Chicago

The 8-floor sports store with hand prints of famous sports stars....this is the size of a persons hands who is 6ft+!

Complete with a heart and stroke factor- the shaking roof restaurant

(sorry about the sideways pic) The ferris wheel on Navy Pier

Monday, November 2, 2009

Im Still Alive

Sorry for being so slack in terms of updating my blog. The flipside is that I have so much to write about.
So much has happened the last time I updated my blog: Start of school, Thanksgaving, My first Football game, Meeting the newbies, Speaking at the biggest Rotary Club in District 7080, Speaking at the District Conference, NHL game in Buffalo NY, CFL and MLB game in Toronto, Outbound Interviews....AND thats pretty much I can think of right now.

So school has been going pretty well. I have only 3 courses this semester which means I have a spare period therefore, I go to school from 9am -2pm...everyday! Within the first few weeks of school, I was recruited to play for the school Football team and to be honest its been awesome. Im only punting and kicking, but Ive scored the 2nd most points for my team. Kicking a Football is actually alot harder than kicking a Rugby ball. Im now kicking around 45-50 yards a punt, and In practice I made a few 55 yard field goals, so that for now, is keeping me pretty busy.

A great thing about being an "oldie" amoungst "newbies" is that youre looked upon for leadership, and this part im really enjoying right now. I was asked to speak on behalf of the Inbounds at the district conference. I think that my public speaking is getting better....compared to what it was like when I forst got to Canada! As well as speaking at the district conference I spoke at my larger host club which is also the largest in the District. I spoke about myself and New Zealand, and also spoke to convince people on hosting the next student coming to Guelph.
Ive been experiencing alot of the major league sports that people in New Zealand dont really know alot about. My amazing host family took me into Toronto to see the Toronto Blue Jays play the Minnesota Twins. We had wicked seats- so close we could hear the players speaking! The atmosphere was awesome. A few week after I was given tickets to the Toronto Argo's game, which is the Toronto team that plays in the CFL (Canadian Football League). From Guelph, it takes no longer than 2 hours to get to Toronto and find the seats. My friend and I got so lost on the way home, that it was epic. It took 3 hours to get home!!
So if you think getting into the US is easy...think again. About a month ago my host dad/counsellor and I went to an NHL game in Buffalo, NY state. Crossing the boarder is just as challenging as it is confusing. Everything aside, we got into Buffalo 5 minutes after the game had started, but I didnt miss the fight! Everyone gets on their feet and yells and chirps them! Hilarious! NB. Fighting is LEGAL in NHL hockey. Once again we had awesome seats. We were right next to the players' tunnel and 4 rows back from the bench; again so close to hear the players. About 10 minutes til full time and the puck from the ice gets flicked into the bench. It then got thrown over the screen to a teenage kid in the front row. To make a long stor short- I GOT THAT PUCK! It actually made my night.

Ive gotten to know the newbies pretty well now, and theyre awesome. Different to the last group, but alot of fun. We had our weekend in a small town called Woodstock, where we had a dragon-boat race and a night under the stars. We basically chilled out all weekend. We then saw eachother last week at our district conference and now we're best of friends. It's going to be hard to say goodbye....
Ill try to be better with my blogging in the future. I go to Chicago soon with Blair's parents (Blair is the Outbound to New Zealand) so my next blog post will probably be about that. I think I leave the Thursday before US thnaksgiving at 8am and arrive at 5pm...looking forward to that 8 hour drive!

Our race- I was in the far boat, that won....!

Posing at the District Conference

The NHL Game in Buffalo- how much closer can you be??

My Counsellor and I at the NHL Game (Note the Montreal Canadiens scarf)

In Toronto outside the Rogers Centre

The inside of the Rogers Centre. The TO Blue Jays won back-to-back world series titles in '92 and '93Evidence- the puck from BuffaloToroto

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

!! CCT !!

45 exchange students + a common bond + a month = AN UNFORGETTABLE MONTH OF TRAVEL! ive been talking about my tour for a little while and now that its over, i now have to blog the ENTIRE thing! wooo! Talk about bringing up memories... The Cross Canada Tour was simply amazing. I made so many friends that I will miss from a range of countries; speaking of which, there was 15 countries on the tour (list as follows- in NO particular order...)


There were so many places we visited and I loved every minute of it so i think its only fair that I write about everything!

22nd June

It was an early start, leaving Guelph at 10am for Hamilton for the 1pm flight to Moncton. Slowly people started to filter into the airport filled with anticipation of a month of partying like exchange students. We flew to Moncton and were met by 'Uncle Mike', the head chaperone of the tour. We then drove to Shediac and were greeted by the other exchange students who spent their time in Nova Scotia, New Foundland and New Brunswick.

23rd June

Today was the day where we got onto the bus and headed for Confederation bridge that takes to PEI- an Island which is actually a province of Canada. We were hosted by the Rotary Club of Summerside for lunch which was (surprise surprise) Seafood. After lunch we headed ro the wharf and met with Capt. Peter Pigeon who catches Lobster for a living! We all went out Lobster fishing whoch was a neat experience. Again, we had Seafood for dinner, Lobster of course, then headed back to Shediac for the evening.

24th June

Another early start this morning! We headed off to a soap factory at 9am, which to my surprise was actually interesting. This was amazing- hearing about what you can use with natural soaps and how theyre better than all the chemically based stuff, and how BAD the chemicals actually are! We then headed to Buctouche, for a tour of the Sandspit that is known for its constant reshaping and wildlife. After that we went to the sight were the worlds largest Lobster is. We were addressed by the Mayor of Shediac and posed for photos infront of the giant structure. We then went back to Shediac to pack for the over-night train to Quebec City the next day.

25th June

Up at 6am......we had breakfast, packed the bus and left Shediac. We stopped at the Bay Of Fundy to see the famous Hopewell Rocks and to witness the highest tides in the world. The tides fluxuate with the seasons due to the tilt of the earth. In the winter, theyre only about 36 feet high, whereas in summer they can be up to 45 feet! We went for a cruise around the muddy rucks and tried to hold onto loose footware- please note, i do stress the 'TRIED' part. After a fight with trying to stay clean and get my Jandle out from the mud, we headed into the Mall in Moncton until it was boarding time for the train to Quebec City.

26th June

After the 14-hour train ride we were in the heart of French-Canada. This place was one of my favourites on the tour. We got there and met mike, and were given a challenge; to find our way to our hostel, in groups, whilst holding a peice of rope that we all had to hold at all times, and when that wasnt enough, try to ask for directions on French! Even the French exchangers couldnt understand the accent sometimes! Once we got to our hostel and had a much needed shower we had free time to explore the city within the old Quebec walls.

27th June

This morning wee went to a Crepe breakfast, which was unbelieveable! Myself and Julian from Austria posed for a fully canadian picture- we picked up the Maple Syrup bottles and made it look as if we were skulling it! After our breakfast we went to the Chateau Frontenac for a tour of the hotel and also a little history on the hotel itself. After the tour we had free time for a few hours; again just exploring, taking photos- all the good touristy stuff. We then dressed up and went out for dinner which was fully paid by a Gentleman who isnt a Rotarian, who's kids werent exchangers, just a guy who is really generous. After dinner, we were lucky enough to go go-karting!! Which again was paid for by the same guy!! Man, did i miss driving! I was in the hot seat for about 15 minutes and averaged 32seconds for a 400metre loop...beating EVERY Aussie....We got back farely late, around 10pm and were given time to go out and experience old Quebec at night. It was a completley different scene at night. There were people playing classical Jazz music, just for peoples entertainment, which was so cool to see! It was spectactular- dancing and having laughs right outside the Chateau Frontenac at night which was lit up...amazing.

28th June

After a week of traveling the east coast we landed in Montreal. It was an early start to get the train from Quebec. It was not an over nighter again, but it still wasnt the highlight of the day. The highlight was easily the part when we caught the subway to the Olympic Tower and Biodome! We got to the top of the Tower and saw where the Olympics were held- and also where Dick Quax won his silver medal for NZ! The view was amazing from the top; we could see the entire Montreal area! In the evening, a group of us went for a walk and found where the city was preparing for the International Jazz Festival, which was happening a few days AFTER we had left Montreal!

29th June

Mike's Magical Mystery Tour today!! PUMPED!! all for walking in the rain! Today we got into groups and had a walking tour of Montreal which was optional, to participate in the tour set by Unc. Mike. I managed to muster up enough enthusiam to walk around in a pink poncho for hours whilst completing tasks- again in French. My group won, of course...Kiwis, 2 - Auz,0 .... One task was to do something crazy, and it could be anything! So just before we finished we walked into the fire department and took pictures with the fire fighters with their gear on. We were almost about to leave and they got a call out; so we caught the whole thing on camera! The intensity of the fighters getting ready was nuts! Runnning, yelling....we were all amazed! On the way home, we walked past another station, and told them the situation about our make a long story, all the girls in the group, which was 75% of the group got a kiss on the cheek from a Fire Fighter. We got back to the youth hostel at mid-afternoon so for the rest of the day I walked around with Opal, another kiwi for the rest of the day, just cruising around downtown Montreal.

June 30th

This morning we caught an early train to Canada's capital- Ottawa! When we arrived in the train station in Ottawa, our bus had broken down, so after an hour and a half wait for another bus, we managed to cram all our bags into the tiny school bus that had become our replacement. We arrived at out somewhat, infamous hostel which had some...we'll say 'rich' history- the youth hostel was once a PRISON! We setteled into our cells and eventually got used to the fact that sound travelled, which was due to the drum shaped ceilings which carried almost every word; even when you whispered! In the evening we had a guided tour of the hostel/prison; which revealed many dark pasts of the prison, which was, to my surprise, interesting to hear. The part which I found the most scary is that there is a working noose, still in the Prison! There was believed to be only 2 offical hangings throughout the prisons history, but a beam at the top of a staircase, which wasnt fitted with any anti-suicidal cages showed signs of a rope rubbing against the top of the beam- so there is a theory thats suggests there were many unoffical hangings. I also learnt that the prison is Ottawa's most haunted building!

1st July

After a sleepless night, we dressed up for the nation's day- CANADA DAY! Being in the capital city for the day of the year was a huge highlight- especially when the group I was in made the front page of Ottawa's premier newspaper the day after! We walked around for the day, all dressed up in red, just enjoying the atmosphere of whoch was really giant party. We managed to find these red plastic trumpets for $5 which made soo much noise, it was unreal! Later in the evening we wandered up to parliment hill and watched live performances which were amazing! One song which all of the students loved was a song called "wavin' flag", and it became the tour song! Also, that was the day when many of the other students from my district and a few others started theirs, which only took them from Ottawa and up the east coast; so i had the fortune to see the othr kiwi girl whom I had not herd from in 5 months! So the three kiwis stood together, talking the slang that only us knew. The best thing was to hear a similair accent! It made me realize how lillte kiwi accent I had left- opps!

2nd July

Today we caught ANOTHER train and headed for Toronto and stayed in a....wait for it....A 4 STAR HOTEL LADIES AND GENTS!! The hotel was built by the same people who built Chateau Frontenac in Quebec. I had already been to Toronto a few times and Guelph isnt too far from Toronto, so it was almost like coming home. We got there and went on a bus that could go into water, so we had an 'aqua tour'. This was fun as it was a new experience for almost all of the exchangers on the tour. After that we had some dinner which we had to pay for, which wasnt a problem as most days we were given money for food, then queitly nesteled into our HUGE beds!

3rd July

After a great and much needed nights sleep, we headed for the great Niagara Falls; but before we even saw the falls, we went jet-boating through white water rapids! This was amazing! I was lucky enough to sit in the second row from the front, so by the end I was soaked! After an hour of non stop fear filled rapid riding, we piled onto the bus again and headed for Niagara Falls. We got there and were greeted by the Rotary Club of Niagara-on-the-lake who kindly paid for a lunch which was just superb! It was easily one of the top supported lunches. We had some time to look in the super expensive gift shop...then head down to the lady of the mist ferry which took us right to the base of the falls. The power of the falling water was imense! We were also told of how a young boy survived going over the falls and how it had changed his life. We headed back to Toronto for our final night in a bed before the epic train journey that will take us to Edmonton in Alberta, but before bedtime we visited the CN Tower at night, which was breathtaking. The panorama of the city was amazing!

4th July

Today we had a mild sleep in, and visited the Hockey Hall Of Fame where we posed for photos with the Original Stanley cup. So much history in that building. I even saw skates from a stand out performer in the finals from Stanley Cup winners, Pittsburgh Penguins! Even just looking through the glass and seeing something that has been worn by a hero gives a sense of acomplishment. After that, we went food shopping for the train, looked around some more and went to the Hard Rock Cafe' for dinner which looked straight into the Rogers Centre, which is where the Toronto Blue Jays play. We had a good meal where I ate typical kiwi style- 2 plates! We then headed off to the train station and boarded for a 56 hour train ride across the most part of Canada.

5th & 6th July

The train ride for 3 nights wasn't all that bad. Although there wasnt a whole lot to do, there was a dome cart where you could sit and look outside for a better view; which most of the time was the same thing as Manitoba and Saskatchewon are flat and full of canola. Sleeping in the train was brutal. Because we cut down on costs by opting not to use sleeper cars, we slept on the same chairs we sat on all day; and because all we did was eat followed by a whole lot of sitting, I think majority of us said we gained some weight over 3 nights.

7th July

After the final night on the train we headed to the largest shopping mall in North America- West Edmonton Mall. To be completley honest, nobody really wanted to walk around for the day as we were all exhausted; although for myself, I needed the excercise! The mall was huuuge! There was a water park, rollercoasters and a skating rink in the mall! After the mall excursion we were hosted by the Rotary club of Edmonton for dinner; then headed back to our hotel for a real sleep in a bed!

8th July

This morning we went to the top of our hotel and went to a Rotary meeting! Sweeet! We had a pretty generous breakfast with the rotarians of the West Edmonton, again. After our breakfast we headed for Calgary via Drumheller where we visited the largest museam of Dinosaur bones! It was amazing to see how big Dinosaurs actually were. We then headed for the Fairview Hutterite Colony for dinner. These people came to Canada from Russia and Germany to escape religious persecution. We had dinner with them and had a tour of where they live and their day-to-day life. It really hit home how much we rely on technology on a day to day basis to have fun; as their fun was 'taking walks' and 'feeding ducks'. We then headed right into Calgary to see the world renound Stampede!

9th July

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! This morning I caught up with my Uncle Graeme who I have now met twice- once in NZ and now once in Canada! (Hi Uncle if youre reading this) We headed off the watch the stampede which was nuts! It was exactly the same as you see on T.V. We saw some of the riders get fully kicked off! It was crazy! Later in the day we walked back to the arena to watch the chuck wagon races, which was insane! The horses ran so fast; I was amazed! Later in the evening we watched live entertainment which was really cool to watch. We were in fits of laughter when the comedian came out! He did such a good impression of the British accent! Priceless!

10th July

After a delayed start to the day we were in Banff and this was the place which reminded me of home the most. The mountains were just breathtaking and this was why I was reminded of home. To be honest it made me a little homesick. We got to out hostel and had a little dance party type thing- it pretty much turned out to be Brazillia night; which was lots of fun!

11th July

This morning the people who payed to go white water rafting did so and left at 8am! I was left at the hostel with a few others as I saved some money for Ziplining in Vancouver. Myself and a few others went canoeing and saw the most amazing view. It was almost like staring into a screensaver photo you find on the internet. The type of photo you see on a calender. It was breathtaking. We canoed for several hours and by the end we were all farely peckish, so myself and Natalia from Brazil went and got a feed at Subway which was easily the best subway ive ever had. We then went back to the hostel and chilled until the evening as we went to the thermal hot spring pools! This was farely crowded; even more so when 45 exchange students jump in!

12th Juy

This morning was when my fitness was called upon- a 4 hour hike up Fairview Mountain which was right next to the beautiful Lake Louise. We split into groups and decided which walk we wanted to do. Before we even got to Lake Louise, the 'fit' people of the group started their 9 hour hike which they saw a Bear! It took 2.5 hours to get up Fairview Mountain, and only 30 minutes to get down! Crazy! At the top, the view was phenominal. We could see right out to the horizon and right down to the glacier which is the cause of the freezing water of Lake Louise, which is a milky blue colour. We went back to our hostel for a good night sleep after that, as we ALL needed it!

13th July

Today we traveled to Jasper via: Crowfoot Glacier, Mistaya Canyon, Athabascan Glacier, Columbia Ice Field, Sunwapta Falls, Mt. Edith Cavell. The place which parts which I enjoyed the most was the scenary. I remember looking out the window of our bus and seeing so many Glaciers! They were spectacular. Also, the Athabascan Glacier was imense. From afar the Glacier itself didnt look too big, but we went onto it and I was stunned. For the middle of summer, this place was freezing! Of course as a typical kiwi, I started the trend of taking peices of colthing off and posed (shirts only) and with a little help from Simon-Tim from Switzerland, we had almost the entire group shirtless! Even the tourists took photos of us! Hilarious! We arrived in Jasper and were met by the Rotary Club of Hinton for a BBQ and a game of Football. (Hinton is a small town 20 minutes out of Jasper).

14th July

Today we left our hotel and headed downtown for a wander around before we got on our final over-night train ride to Vancouver. The trains at this point didnt really seem all that long. We were on again for a lengthy 14 hours but cause everyone was so familair with everyone, we all made our own fun.

15th July

We arrived in Vancouver early in the morning, around 7am- so breakfast was Macdonalds in the train station, again... We got to our hostel, had a shower, got changed and went to the ferry where we went to Granville Island, which was known for its fresh food market. We walked around for a few hours and went back for a tour of Gas Town and China Town, but today I went Viplining! Whilst everyone went to Gas and China Town, myself and a few others went to Grouse Mountain to go Viplining. We got to the mountain where they have all the lines, and again, the view was great! Ziplining took around 2 hours to do and it was such a great rush! The top speed we went was about 60-70km and we were so high off the ground. I would do this again any day! We got back to dinner with the rest if the group at the Mongolian Grill which tasted so good, as you could make your own meal out of what was on offer. I even ate with chopsticks for the first time since I had got back from my trip to Japan in year 7.

16th July

Today was another day where our cardio was needed as we went for a nice bike ride around stanley park, which is the same guy who is named after the NHL's top prize- the Stanley Cup. We rode for 2 hours, swapping from tandem to single rides often which gave everyone the chace to get to know everyone better. We stopped at a beach for a little while, which was fun; although the beach wasnt nearly as good as a NZ beach! We got creative and posed for photos with our countries' names drawn in the sand and again, the kiwis started the trend! We got back and had free time until late in the evening. A few of us went down to a different beach this time and had a mini party, which didnt last too long as the beach 'closed'....

17th July

Today we caught the ferry to Salt Spring Island which took a few hours, and it actually was very relaxing. We just sat around on the top deck enjoying the sun and eachothers company. We got there and were greeted by our host families which we would stay with for 2 nights. I stayed with a hilarious family where their daughter was getting married to a British guy who had all the slang that I understood; it was awesome. Once we settled in we went to a Rotarians house and had a BBQ. This dinner was a highlight as once again we had so much fun, but the Rotarian who hosted us had to retire from being a school principal as he suffered a stroke. His house backed onto a lake, which was amazing. We got back to our host families for the night to wrap up a good day.

18th July

Today, myself, 3 Thai guys and a Swiss went got up at 10am......had breakfast and went downtown Salt Spring and checked out the local markets and had a look around. This was interesting as there was so much atmosphere for such a little town. At around 2 we got picked up and went back to our host families and spent the afternoon there. That afternoon was full of fun! Now, the Thai guys are known for their ability to make fun, and today was no exception. 3 Thai guys + a plastic tractor + hills.....go figure. We had a blast! Not to mention coming close to death a few times (joking). We had a BBQ in the evening and had some more fun with the plastic tractor, but in pitch black darkness! Good times....

19th July

We left early for the ferry to Victoria to join the rest of the group who went to Butchart Gardens. When we got there we joined the rest of the group and today was all about soaking in the city sights. Victoria reminded me of Quebec City, except an English version of it. A group of us walked pretty much all day, visiting the harbour where the whale watching departs. We also saw the parliment buildings and took photos of the Totem Poles, which were huuge! In the evening, we re-grouped and sat in the park that looked over the river towards the lit up parliment building, which was not only spectacular but a great way to wind down for the evening.

20th July

Today was the day of the final banquet as we all flew back to our host districts or native countries. The morning was used as a good opportunity to sleep, while others went whale watching. We all got together for lunch which was one of the last opportunities to be together as a group. Myself and a few others headed to the mall for a final look before we got ready for our final dinner. The final dinner was good fun. We ate in at an Italian restaurant which was so good! After we went back to the hostel and just sat around, as we all knew we had to say goodbye which wasnt easy at all. We all signed flags, wrote in others' books and shared some of the good times we've spent together over the last month.

21st July

This morning we all headed to Victoria airport for our emotional goodbyes. I was on the last flight which also had a stopover in Calgary for 2 hours. I landed in Hamilton at midnight and had an hours commute back to Guelph. It was so weird to think, everyone was somewhere else. 2 Swedish girls were somewhere on their way back home. It was so hard to say goodbye, especially when you spend an entire month travelling with the same people.

Its the summer holidays now which means lots of spare time. Ive been to my counsellors' brother's cottage which was wicked fun! We went tubing and got air of the waves! This was insane. Ive also been to a different rotarians cottage for 3 nights, and learnt to water ski! Its actually such a good feeling to fly across the top of the water.

The CCT was the highlight of my year to date. Ive seen majority of Canada now, and I've made friends from all over the world, which was the best thing about the trip. Hopefully I've told enough about my tour which will make you want to travel Canada.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"Lets Stay Till Summer-time Ends, Together"- Luis Oliveria

Firstly I must apologize about the lack of posts lately...things are getting a lil hectic!
So i have now adapted fully into a new home and new routine of things, not to say I dont miss the Ryders (first host family).

Ive been lucky enough to be able to expereience the magic of the school Prom which was held last week. I must say that Prom is nothing like the movies make it out to be, just to ease everyone's anxiety on if Prom is as big as it is made out! It was really strange to turn up to school on Friday and see that the hallways were almost completley empty! why?...So the list of reasons as follows:
  • >9.00am, wake up
  • >9.45am, Nail appt.
  • >11.00am, Pay for nail appt.
  • >11.30am, Hair appt
  • >1.00pm, Pay for hair appt.
  • >1.30pm, Make-up appt.
  • >2.30pm, Pay for make-up appt.
So clearly the ENTIRE day needs to be taken off...Needless to say, i had a fantastic time and the atmosphere was amazing!

The limo driver, Josh and Myself. Did i mention we rolled in a H2 Stretch Hummer?!

Last weekend, which was also the day after prom, was the weekend when all the Outbounds & Inbounds get together to learn about how to give presentations and that sort of thing. Basically orientation weekend. This was an extra special weekend as some of the Inbounds leave soon and arent on the same tour as myself and an Inbound from Brazil wrote and sang a song which bought tears to everybody's eyes. The song name is actually the title of this post, and really exemplified the way exchange students have this bond that is beyond the words that describe it. So we all sat through a presentation on presentations...(?) and the guest speaker was a former Inbound from New Zealand!! where he spent his time in Rotorua. For me personally, this reminded me of home. Just the way we both talked of New Zealand made me feel so good and excited about the life after being an exchange student.
On the Saturday night we had a program that was run by rotex, which really was alot of fun! We had what was called "canadian dancing"...We danced to the song thats all about doing the cha-cha, the YMCA song and the chicken dance and lastly the infamous, Macarena! Just dancing around was more fun than I originally anticipated! So after that we had the choice of either dancing, playing a mass game of Twister, or just chilling out and talking. My competitive nature lead me to having desk-chair races down the hall way against an Inbound from Ecuador! The night was just full of atmosphere, which really made me appreciate the work Rotary does to ensure we have the best time of our lives! Then, to top the night off, we were given name tags that related us. For example, this one girl whos headed for Germany in a month or two was given the name "party-girl" as all she ever wanted to do! And for some strange reason i was crowned the "ladies-man" of the group. And even to this very moment i am still trying to figure out why!

Bringing out the Aotearoa pride!
NZ to the world!
I guess i should also briefly touch on my very brief Canadian Rugby season. Overall we played 12 games over a 3 week period. We had a pretty solid season with 3 wins, 3 ties and 6 losses...yea ok maybe a little less than satisfying but it was such an honour to play with some great people. And socially it was an opportunity for me to meet more people and just play the game that i love but in a new country. Overall i had a pretty good season, scoring 32 points which was made up of 4 tries, 2 penalty kicks and 2 conversions.

The CCVI Spartans after a hard fought win!

School, the very emotive topic that it always seems to be. Im finding the range of courses avaliable is alot broader than in NZ. Im taking Marketing, which is all about trends in demographics, types of advertising and exploiting factors in a product to make it appeal to a specific target market; Personal Fitness which caters for people who want to do more than just play games in class. We very often work out in the weights room and are always working on some basis of fitness. Toady in personal fitness we combined all the classes of all the grades who take that course, and competed against one another in a 5KM or 10KM race. Things like this dont seem to happen at school back home. And again something that dosent happen back in NZ is the various ideas that happen for in-class projects. For marketing we have just completed a task where we're a vacation company and we offer packages in which we are trying to sell. We could advertise our packages in anyway we wanted, we could even scam! School here in Canada has offered me so much and i am really enjoying everyday.

Working out or posing? You tell me!

So I am soon to leave the Haverson family, as my trip (CCT) seems to be coming closer very quickly! I am scheduled to stay here until July, but that is when i get back from my trip across Canada. I am really enjoying the country life right now! and im sure ill miss it when its time for me to go back towards the centre of Guelph. Already the Haversons have done so much for me. We have been to Toronto for the day, which was so much fun! We went to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) where there was all kinds of art on display; Sculptures made from 200pairs of the same style of shoe, to bicycle parts to make a face. All kind of wierd and wonderful things.

So i have to fly now!
I have much studying to do......YEAH RIGHT! (no, seriously, i have to study)

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Oh Canada...Our Home And Native Land"


Summer is OFFICALLY on its way. How do i know? Besides knowing everything.....i have seem to be getting this thing called a "tan"...its quite funny how this happens. Anywhoo things have had a change since my last post. I have changed host families and have had a birthday which was pretty sweet (16)
So my new host family is alot different to the last family. Im now staying in the Northern end of Guelph; getting out towards the country which to my surprise im starting to enjoy..ahh the quiet life! Personally reflecting with my time with my last family i often find myself missing them and when you think about it, we only had met via email. When the time came to say goodbye and move on, it was a mix of indifferent emotions. Unfortunately im only staying with my new host family for a shortened time as my trip (CCT- Cross Canada Tour) takes a month to go from East to West and that takes away from my family time! Not to say that im super pumped for a whole month with exchange students!

Touching briefly on my birthday now- i was unfortunate to come down with a chronic case of an ear infection is both sides, which lead to almost unbearable pain, but i wasnt going to let pain stop me from having a super-fantastic day! It started with a Rotary meeting which was really funny as i had my own table with balloons! And when i thought that singing happy birthday was enough, my first host dad bought out a birthday cake! WHAT A SURPRISE THAT WAS! Other than that, the guest speakers talk quite possibly the most touching speech ive ever heard- the speaker was a Man who was completely blind and had lost bith eyes to cancer at a young age. He went on to speak about his life as a cyclist and how he is tandem cycling across Canada for cancer in kids awareness in tribute to his kids who have both survived as eye Cancer patients. So after that i went to school and had a pretty relaxed day. It was just one of those days where everything seems to go just right.

So whats going to happen in the near future for me? I have club rugby starting next week which i can not wait for- the experience of meeting people with the same passion as myself is just great! Exams soon...[ which i cannot wait for! =D ] and most importantly the CCT!

Ill try do another post before then but if i find that im too busy studying, i do apologize!
Ill also add more photos when the Internet isnt being so uncooperative...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

3 Down...9 to go!


Its a little scary to think that its been 3 months since i arrived here; and the thing that gets said the most about me is that my accent in now other words i have nearly no kiwi accent left...which is a little sad- but hey, i think ill get over it! And i also cant believe how much stuff i.e. crap ive gathered over 3 months...CRAZY TALK!

Since my last blog post, there are a few things are worth mentioning- first; i have just moved host families...this is too strange. I didnt realize how attached to a new family when they are just simply the best. I was living in the south end of Guelph, now im living in the complete opposite end of the city, so far out im almost in the country! This is a nice change i have to say, although its a little different.

Also which i think is pretty cool is the fact that i played the snow! WOW! This was truely an experience i will always be proud of. I remember that we were scheduled to play at the tournament on the Wednesday...and it snowed all day Monday. So when we got to the field at 8.30am Wednesday morning, i, to be completley honest, was scared at the sight of playing in snow. I guess we were lucky as by the end of the day majority of the snow was gone, which allowed for a better game of Rugby, but nevertheless it was fun to play in the freezing snow!

So by this date i have played a total of 5 games with a 1-1-2 record...if you're wondering how to decipher the intense intergration of numbers...we've won 1, tied 1, lost if you're wondering why we have lost honest answer is i have no idea...

Like most parts of the world, Canada has just had Easter! So i went to a place called Sauble Beach to spend the long weekend with my host mum's sister and brother in law, also along with Shoni the dog, Emily my host sister and Sam, whos at western university in London, Ontario- not London, England! So on Easter morning we all went to church and for lunch, we had LAMB! how i miss that made me feel somewhat homesick to be eating lamb when i wasnt with the Fambam...

Whats happening for me in the future...sweet 16! WHOOP! More rugby games, adapting to a new family and surroundings, and the CCT! Oh, and im also looking forward to all the presents that you all are going to send me...

The Intense Snow covered field

Eating lamb with whom i now call 'Jesus' for supplying Lamb...on easter!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Michael Jordan Got Nothin' On Me.......


So its been a few weeks since my last post and lots has been done. First thing that scared me was when my host brother said to me, "youre losing your accent"! I almost cried....nevertheless i held my head up high and said "NO!", and which to my delight he said, "Im joking!" - NOT cool when you pride yourself on being known as the "guy from New Zealand". So its supposidly spring now, and to be quite plain with it, it still FREEZING!! I find that ive been asking myself if it will ever be a positive temperature....we shall soon find out!

In the last little while ive been lucky enough to venture into Toronto again for the second time in two weeks! But this time i went and NBA game!! Toronto Raptors were hosting the Chicago Bulls at the Air Canada Centre. This was an event i shall never forget....the atmosphere was UNREAL! I wasn't in in the V.I.P section but was close enough to hear the players shoes squeaking on the floor and it was truely amazing to see how these players make it look so easy to dunk the ball with almost no effort involved!

What also was really interesting, was how they could hold an NHL hocky game where the Toronto Maple Leafs played the night before which is played on ice, and then put a floor down and hold an NBA game!

The nuts crowd at the raptors game

The start of the game

On the movies and the american TV shows we hear of things like "Prom" and the "School Dance". Well i was fortunate enough to go to the "Semi-Formal" and needless to say, i had alot of fun and it really was exactly like the movies...lots of people, the raging mosh pits, laser lights, strobes, the whole nine yards! and not to mention the Dinner (kai) that was served! So i sat at a table of 10, which was neat. We even had waiters! And they were talking and asking how the food is, if we needed any more drinks and that sort of thing- it was really a good night.

Myself and a few buddies.

A nice picture at dinner...

My host Dad took me out the annual Maple Syrup Festivle last week; and i actually learnt that to make 1 litre of actual maple syrup, you have to boil 40 litres of sap! which explaines why 4 litres is almost 40 Canadian dollars (almost 90NZ Dollars!)

I have alot coming up soon! Sweet 16 in a month- so dont forget to send something! And the CCT (Cross Canada Tour) is in June! Cant wait!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

2 Months without REAL heat.....?"YEAH RIGHT"

So after 2 months in a country where 7 degress is warm, i find that 2 months have passed and i finally get a break from school- not that i dont enjoy school.....
Anyway, in the last month i have:
-Gone to 3 Rugby trainings in 1 week (all in the morning!!)
-Got locked out of the house for an hour and a half
-FINALLY been to Toronto!
-Been asked to work in Hollister, based around the way i was dressed (yea, only in Canada...)
-Been to another OHL game (Ontario Hockey League) where i was able to sit in V.I.P......yes, they DO know a VIP when they see one!
-Been told that im going to stay at my counsellor's house as my host fambam are going to Panama for a week......and i didnt get asked on HOW i felt about this situation! I mean, who wouldnt want to go to PANAMA for a week!

So as my host family were soking up the sun in Panama, i was left behind in Guelph. So my March break, also called in the USA called "Spring Break", has been pretty uneventful, until today! My counsellor felt bad that our exchange student get-together fell through as not enough people were coming to make it worth while, so he and his family and i took off to Toronto for the day; and WOW! This place was amazing! The atmosphere was somewhat ALOT different to that of the infamous Queen Street in Auckland.....needless to say i had a blast.

Toronto is home to the tallest man made structure in the world (to date)- the CN Tower, which is very similair to the Sky Tower in Auckland; shape, the rotating restaurant, even the glass floor which i can proudly say i stood on!! So after about 30mins in altitude with my counsellors daughter, we headed off the the Hard-Rock Cafe! for a good-old, genuine whilst we were eating there was the "Annual Toronto Square Pillow-Fight". So there was entertainment involved! It was so funny to see about 200 hundred people take after one another with pillows and it was even more funny when the pillows popped and feathers went everywhere!

Then it was off to the Eaton Centre which is a 5-floor shopping mall which is about 100m in it was pretty big! To cap off a good day, the managers of the Hollister shop, which is a brand similar to American Eagle, came up to me and asked where i was from; then asked if i had a working visa! Only in Canada...."eh"!

Outside the CN Tower

The Glass Floor Level

The Funniest Advertising i've ever seen! SCREW YOU RECESSION!

Hard Rock Cafe

The Eaton Centre

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Grey Saturday...

Today, March 7th 2009 will be remembered as a day where the sky was grey and i had a sudden epiphany- that i have forgotten what home looks like! Is this a good thing? I dont know; either way im having the time of my life and i cant see myself being anywhere else, other than living it up in the land of Maple syrup, aka'd as Canada!

Since announcement day things were going smoothly until an outbound to Ecuador, drove the opposite way from home.....went around in cricles for 20 minutes trying to find a coffee shop......went the opposite way to traffic on a 1 way street...... and missed the turn off to get to Guelph from the main highway (similair to a state highway in NZ). So after tiki-touring around for about 3 hours i finally walked through the door to a stressed host mum who ended up laughing at the reason as to why i was so late getting home!

That fateful day were my life flashed infront of my eyes, was about 2 weeks after announcement day. A few of the exchange students (Inbound & Outbound) went to Brampton which is a suburb of Toronto (closer to it than what Guelph is anyway) to support the Youth Exchange Programme which was the fundrasing event that was happening at the Womens hockey game which was being played.....a mouthful i know.....but it was a chance to see all the exchange kids and we all had a ball! We even got to walk on the ice and hold up our flags and yell and scream!

The after match function was great also. We got time to talk to the players and talk about hockey and the programme which was funny at the same time as humbling as the players were all VERY laidback people! So we're talking away and theyre making jokes all the time so that was also quite entertaining!

School rugby has also started within my last post. I guess the major difference between NZ Rugby and Canadian Rugby is the difference in average skill level. I actually got told to stop passing the ball so fast which was equally fustrating as funny! So we're playing in a tournament in a city called Hamilton in about 3 weeks at the local University and we're actually playing on a turf field similair to the ones which the NFL is played on.

Carol from Brazil and Blair the Outbound to NZ!!!
Amateur modelling poses at the hockey game! (Carol Barzil, Myself, Avery to Ecudor and Poori from Thailand) We should just stay as exchange students- not sunglass models!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

1 Month Anniversary! + Announcement Day


Today, it is the 23rd February 2009; which means that i have been away from NZ for 1month and 2 days. It is really hard to believe that it has been only 1 month; time really does fly. Enough with the cheesy cliche's; in a month i have,

-Been to Los Angeles and visited Universal Studios, Disney Land and Venice Beach
-Had a spa in -20degree weather
-Been to 2 ice hockey game
-Had my laptop broken
-Slept for 14 hours straight (oops!)
-Had my laptop fixed
-Shoveled the driveway after being in Canada 2 days
-Slept in a Quinzhee (snowhut) in -25degree weather
-Gotten lost at school
-Been to the "mall" at lunchtime
-Caught the yellow bus to school
-Played bingo at an elderly persons residense

For 18 outbounds, their lives have been influienced by the magic workings of Rotary. These 18 extraordinary people found out what country they would be spending their year abroad in. Most importantly, it was the 1 lucky person who will experience the laidback lifestyle we have in NZ. It was amazing to see how happy these people were to find out where they will be going. The smiles were from ear to ear. And from smiles, then became questions. From questions became excitement. From Excitement, became fears. For me it was the most rewarding thing was to be able to say "Hi, im Marcus from New Zealand" to the parents of the person who will be venturing down-under. And by that i dont mean Australia!!
Karen from Japan, Katharina from Austria and Myself at announcement day

(from left) Carol from Brazil, Poori from Thailand, Avery bound for Ecuador and Myself at announcement day.

Well i guess i should write something about where in Canada exaclty i am! I stay in a little town, about 117'000 people, called Guelph (gwelf) and im the only exchange student in Guelph.....sad, but true. I go to school which is alot smaller and different than the average school in NZ. School here is split into Academic halls, Athletic halls, and Trade skills. Intertwined in this is the school weights room, cafeteria, 2 full sized basketball courts, a swimming pool and a full gourmet buffet! NZ so needs to upgrade!! In a nutshell, the school is a whole lot of box-like buildings put together to form a school. The school i go to is called Centennial Collegiate & Vocational Institute (yes, a mouthful)

So far, i am enjoying my time here so much and i cant see myself at home in NZ anymore (to be honest, i cant remember what my house looks like!)

The house at which im staying at for the first 3 months

The main street of Guelph with more pubs than people!

The cathedral "church of our lady" located in Downtown Guelph

The view from uptown Guelph with the Church of our lady in the background.

My counsellors business which is located at the University of Guelph

Just some modest advertising at the University

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

......And After 19 Days Away.....

Kia Ora,

19 days after my epic farewell from the land of the lond white cloud, i have had (so far) the experience of a lifetime.

Firstly, Los Angeles Stopover- After 12 hours on a plane, we arrived in America, the land of fun, ready to explore the land of dreams, which is exactly what we experienced when we arrived on the infamous Venice "muscle" Beach. Just cruising along the beach, you notice a number of things. The thing i noticed instantly was the people who were selling homemade items on the footpath/sidewalk. Anything, wether it be big, small, wide, fat or short was on sale. And for reletavley cheap aswell (not that i bought anything......) The next thing i noticed was the aray of bongs and pipes that were for sale. Just walking along i counted 13 pipe stores!! The smell of .... became more evident as we walked further down the beach, so we decided to head back into some more, "fresher" air.
The next day we were off to the world renound DISNEY LAND!! This place had its ups and downs. Great atmophere with all the Disney Characters walking around and all the little kids fighting over which ride they want to go on next but the food really made me miss home and my mothers' cooking. Also, CALIFORNIA LAND!! was a spectacle in itself. The giant letters outside the gates was just amazing.

The next day was UNIVERSAL STUDIOS and after missing the wake up call, we were on our way at 9am. The USA is truely the land of fun. The rides make Rainbows end look like a whole lot of nothing. I guess with the rides being actually "themed" helpes the atmosphere and enjoyment of things. Rides similair to the log flume, dont compare to rides like the Jurassic Park or the mummy. Just so much more adreneline.
After leaving Universal early, we headed on our sightseeing sidetrack of the area of LA. Beverley Hills, Rodeo Drive, Sunset Blvd was just amazing. I guess our Queen street was similair but after venturing casually into louis vuitton and seeing a manbag (aka as fagbag) priced at US$800 i quickly realized that this place was different. US$800 was at the time double the NZD, so it was equevelant to NZ$1600....Justify spending that on a bag.

The 24th Jan was d-day for all exchange student. The bulk of the group were headed for Frankfurt, Germany and then onto their host country. For me, It was onto the land of the Maple Leaf and COLD! On arrival i was greeted with warm smiles from my first host family.

So after almost 3 weeks gone, i have been to America, the land of the weird and wonderful and have been greeted with a smile and a hug. What i have also done is gone winter camping with 17 Inbounds from all over the world and 18 Outbounds which are in the process of finding out which country they will be living abroad for 12 months on this experience of a lifetime.
Camp Wanakita, also known as winter camp was again held in Haliburton, ON which is approx 2 hours north of Toronto city. We were treated with each others company, smiles, fears and hopes of going on an exchange. 4 days of snow was a treat for a little white boy who lives in New Zealand. Cross country skiing was a huge step. Falling over was another. And getting back up was harder than trying to stay up haha
Another experience which i will never forget is sleeping in a "quinzhee" which is a hollwed out mound of snow which can room 4MAX! If it wasn't for the moment of being inside a quinzhee, i surely wouldve froze which is real as the temperature outside was a whopping -25degrees celcuis.....which was very, very cold.

The next evet for us is the announcment day which will be on the 22nd of February....until then ill spot ya later!

The exchange students outside LAX

The graffiiti along a FLAT wall- quite trippy

The Venice Beach Sunset (notice the hippie van, bottom left)

(From left to right)- Shona-France, Caitlin-Denmark, Chole-Germany, Myself-CANADA, Cameron-Switzerland

Cars- love that movie hahah

Louis Vuitton on Rodeo Drive......very expensive

Me outside Universal Studios

Crash and burning at Camp wanakita!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Inbound/Outbound Zoo Day

Reflecting on this day, the 27th September, i can honestly say i went to the infamous Auckland Zoo for the first time in many years; only this time it was with a bunch of people i thought id never meet in my entire life; Rotary inbound students from Germany, Belguim, Sweden, France, and Finland. Too bad Denmark & Switzerland were not present with us on this fine day but beggers cant be choosers.

This day was a chance for the Inbounders to explore one of Auckland's most exciting attractions, although Auckland isnt all that exciting to begin with. They all had the opportunity to expereience New Zealands wildlife, on show, as well as some more foriegn and exotic animals for example the Sumatran Tigers and the African Lions.

I guess the weather wasn't too kind for us, but i can say from a personal point of view that i enjoyed everybody's company. We all had some laughs; like some of us getting our faces painted (people, how old are we again???), and some dissapointments, like the world renound Kiwi wasn't witnessed in its own little enclosure thing. Sorry goes out to Sweden, France and Finland- its not my fault the Kiwi is shy.

Overall, a sucessful day all around. We were treated with Native and Exotic wildlife, Bad weather (that isn't soo good but owell), and eachothers company. Believe it or not, we hadn't seen eachother in about a month- gosh dosen't time fly?!?!

I have attached some photos also. Hope these bring back some laughs which were plentiful and some memories. Enjoy team.
Lucy; you aren't in year 2 any more!

One of many species that Caitlin wants as a pet! (sorry there were no pictures of Meerkats)

Everybody has height asperations- Dam those Giraffe things!