A week before I boarded a trans-Pacific plane eleven months ago, I wrote about the anticipation of beginning my New Zealand journey. A couple months ago, I entered the bittersweet limbo season and began to detect the light barely glimmering at the end of the tunnel. Welp, two months came and went (flash!). Today, the impending assignments are all done and dusted. I’ve completed a Master’s degree, slotted in and smashed out about as many adventures as I could manage, and in one short week, the #JCompinNZ journey will come to a close. What a significant, memorable year it has been.
Two weeks ago I returned to New Zealand and hit the ground running. I landed about midnight on Sunday and got bombarded with new assignments in class the very next morning. I’ve moved flats and am now house sitting in a real house with two fantastic flatmates from Christian Union, the campus ministry we’re all a part of (more on that awesome situation and the lack of NZ housing insulation in a future blog post). I’ve hosted an amazing couchsurfer (also deserving of its own post), gone tramping, and returned to UCanDance.
The last four weeks I have been on full time placement student teaching. It has been a rewarding, fast-paced month that kicked off the day after I returned from my packed two week trip through the North and South Island over the autumn holiday. I managed to write briefly about Wellington and the Tongariro Crossing, but I slacked off after that. I wish I could write it all, but there are some priceless video recordings that really do more justice to the main highlights. It started with wanting to share the main recording – the time I went irrationally ape shit on my sister and she happened to pull out her phone halfway through my ranting. When I had finished, she calmly responded, “Hey, wanna hear something funny?” and then proceeded to play the recording back.
A lot of our trip through the North Island has been checking off the classic “NZ Must Dos.” One of those is a 19.4 km day hike – the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Three active volcanoes define the geography of the national park – Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe, which starred as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. Given their eruptive nature over the last few few thousand years, the landscape is eery and desolate. The grassy plains at the outset of the trail give way to rocky, jagged ascents. There were times when our legs dragged up the mountainside, just like Frodo and Sam. Fortunately, we were not bearing the weight of all evil in a little golden ring. Foggy clouds came in waves, hovering over us and then dissipating to reveal the desert valleys and charcoal grey volcanic fields we just traversed.
For the last month and a half or so, I have been observing Mrs. Litten’s English classes on Mondays and Tuesdays at Lincoln High. Twenty minutes outside of Christchurch, the township of Lincoln is kind of the “country” of Canterbury, but developments and suburbs have been growing ever since the earthquake.
To an extent, teaching is teaching, regardless of place. But there are so many idiosyncrasies, both formally in the structuring of school and assessment, and less obvious cultural differences I notice in the undercurrents of my interactions with students.
There is nothing quite like a sibling relationship.You’ve known them since birth, and they’re probably the ones with whom you share some of the most ordinary but memorable moments of growing up – rubber ducky bubble baths, first day of school photos, movies and board games, tag in the front yard, family vacations. As you hit adolescence, perhaps your sibling is the one you confide in or sneak out with, the one you gang up with against your parents, the one who teaches you about older things you’re just discovering, like make up and fashion and boys, or sports and hunting and girls. Through it all, your siblings are always, always, the ones you can argue with. If you live to old age, siblings are the people who you end up knowing the longest in your whole life.
“I think we just need to take a moment and acknowledge that we have very different lifestyles.”
It is 6:45 in the morning, and Georgia’s comment is a blend of serious, sass, and silly. My sister and I just endured a pretty terrible night’s sleep, and I suppose she’s right. I don’t think it was that bad, but my optimistic, only semi-planned adventures have a knack for inevitably turning into misadventures. This past weekend is no exception. Having experienced it firsthand, my sister will adamantly advise you to respectfully decline if you ever get a camping invitation from me. Whoops.