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Wandering with intent.
New Zealand Student, American University.

Shorthand link:


I am a second year Officer Cadet in the Royal New Zealand Army, going for a trip to Berkeley (University of California) in the United States. I have a sense of humour, poor organisational skills, and collect clocks.
What more can I say?

Final Post, Final Thoughts

Palmerston North, New Zealand

Final post, final thoughts

I am back in New Zealand.
I was met, tired and bewildered, at Auckland Airport by my father. Mercifully he used his frequent flyer privileges to get my entire 40kg luggage home. He then took me to the FF lounge where I had a New Zealand breakfast of unsweetened Muesli and some potato fritters, before falling asleep on one of the chairs. I was tired. I am tired still.

New Zealand is nice. It isn’t raining, which it had been for days in Berkeley before I left. My body seems confused about if it is cold or not, because for a year I have lived in constant autumn and winter. I love the food – never let someone tell you New Zealand food is bad again. It is so fresh! Mum cooked a lamb roast and it was easily one of the best things I have ever tasted. My grandparents and sisters were there as well.

My presents that I brought home went down a treat – electronics are very cheap over there in the States, so I got a couple of things that would have been hugely expensive – and sleeping in my own soft bed instead of an airline seat was simply amazing.

Friends have been ringing me left and right to invite me to things. Thanks guys – you made my weekend. Sorry I was so tired.

I feel very loved, and very valued.
I am also really homesick.

Don’t get me wrong – I love New Zealand. It’s just after six months of living with the most amazing people, you get kinda attached to them. Think living in the world’s biggest slumber party, then going back to boarding school.

I got back to the Army yesterday. To be perfectly honest, only one or two people were genuinely interested that I was back (not glad because that’s a bit much to ask for) and the rest looked at me like I was something they’d found on the sole of their shoe. It’ll get better as I get used to it again, but I forgot how happy a simple ‘Hello’ can make you, no matter how exasperated it may sound sometimes!

So this is the end of this blog. For four months I have posted weekly updates on my trip. The trip is over now, and my life is back to how it was. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed posting about my wonderful experiences. Hopefully one of you guys will get to go to somewhere amazing soon, and then I’ll get to read about YOU having fantastic adventures.

Signing off, from Palmerston North, New Zealand

Margaret Harris
Berkeley Student (Golden Bear)
17AUG07 to 25JAN08

permalink written by  Crosswood on January 27, 2008 from Palmerston North, New Zealand
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Last Week in Berkeley

Berkeley, United States

Well this is it chaps and chappesses. I am coming home on Thursday local time, and will arrive in Auckland airport Saturday.

You worked out I had a great time. This last week I watched two chick flicks, and hung out with friends while they did things like get textbooks. It's remarkably depressing watching people do things that you'd like to be doing... but that's all moot. On Saturday I'm home, and that's that.

The army hasn't said anything about me being enrolled in University, so I figure I'll ask them about it once I get home. I also need a haircut, which will mean most of you won't get to see my wild untamed locks before I army-style them again.

I'm getting ready to leave. I will post once more once I get home, and then you can ask me things yourselves!



permalink written by  Crosswood on January 22, 2008 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Berkeley, United States

Right. Quick run down of my activities since New York!

Day 1) Got back into San Fransico around lunch time, I went home and went to sleep.
Day 2) Woke up at 5pm, had a hamburger, and went back to sleep. Must have been REALLY tired!
Day 3) Went into San Fran with friends and walked around Union Sqaure. It was fun!
Day 4) Went by train to Sacremento, where I stayed with a good friend. Walked her dog, ate at a Texas BBQ and it was really nice.
Day 5) Left Sacremento (after Ice Cream) and headed up Chico by train to stay with Sarenna (the person I stayed with over Thanksgiving!) I had a great time. It was pretty chill.
Day 6) Chilled more.
Day 7) Woke up at some unholy hour and tagged along on a ride back to Berkeley. Basically just hanged with some friends today - Frozen Yoghurt, Pizza, buying Textbooks - typical geek good time!

Still thinking about going somewhere else, like Texas. I only have until next Thursday though, so it had better be quick.

Cheers, love


permalink written by  Crosswood on January 18, 2008 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Back in SF

San Francisco, United States

Back in San Francisco

I woke up very early on Friday. I, because I wanted a cheaper flight, had booked the plane to San Francisco a mere day and a half after I arrived in New York, so I had to get round everything before I left.

The Hostel I was in was in the Upper West Side of New York, very close to central park and within walking distance of the upper city shops. New York is interesting in that it isn’t centralised – there are about four different nodes of tall buildings, each of which would qualify as ‘downtown’ in another, lesser city, but which are simply concentrations of businesses. Downtown proper is quite a wee way downtown, and the place is so big that you must take the subway.

I didn’t like the subway the first day, but it got better as I had more experience with it. New Yorkers are inherently selfish – I stood up to give my seat to an elderly lady (I guess my parents didn’t send me to that expensive school for nothing!) but she wouldn’t take it. She thought that if I wanted to give it to her there must be something wrong with it! And before I could overcome my surprise a young blonde women sat down in it nonchalantly instead. It was all a bit strange.

Anyway, the first and only day I got up at 5:15am. It was pouring with rain, and the snores of my ten roommates filled the room. I trotted softly to my locker, not putting on the lights or anything in order to not disturb them, and started to undo my lock. Suddenly there was a dazzling light and an outraged Chinese girl was demanding to know why I was going through her stuff. I was puzzled and not a little angry – not only was it 5am, but I was being accused of being a thief and I had stumbled around in the dark only to have this girl turn on the light and wake everyone up! It took me waving my backpack and my lock in her face to convince her that the stuff was mine, and even then she refused to talk to me again.

So at 5:45am I was out the door and swinging down Broadway to find a bagel store.

I needed a bagel store because I had been ordered by a friend of mine to eat one while I was there. Stumbling into the nearest small bagel-shop I could find, I had the generic trouble of trying to order something in my New Zealand English before giving up and resorting to pointing and making hand gestures. The bagel was excellent though – it was so early in the morning the bread had just come out of the oven, so it was crispy and delicious quite apart from it being great anyway.

By 6am I had reached the Rockefeller centre, certain that I would be the first person there and would get a great shot from my camera. Unfortunately I picked the day with some sort of high fashion show on, and the queue stretched all down the street. I just took a photo of the building I presumed was the famous one and moved on.

By 6:15am I had reached Times Square, as I intended, with just enough darkness left to make it impressive but no crowds. It was amazing – I loved it. It was like a fireworks display except more entertaining because the pictures moved and bubbled and shifted. It would have be tough to stick it out with crowds though.

At 6:30am I reached the Empire State Building. I didn’t go in, because it would have cost me a lot of money, but I did get this wicked shot of it covered with mist. It is an impressive building.

By this stage I had already walked about 20 to 25 blocks, and my feet were a little sore. I had walked a very goodly amount the day before, but still would have preferred to walk on the pavement as opposed to the subway. Unfortunately I needed to get about 60 blocks in less than an hour, so the subway was the only practical option. Today though the subway was better, perhaps because I had fortified my mind against what I knew was coming, or more probably because after one go on it I was as shocked as I was going to get. After a fairly pleasant ride to South Ferry, I jumped on the free Staton Island Ferry to Staton Island. This took me straight past the Statue of Liberty for free, which was a darn slight better than paying $40 for the same thing. It was a lovely hour ride, dropping me back off at the bottom of Manhattan Island.

I again braved the subway, but this time my sense of direction failed me. I got off at the right station to look for the WTC (I had carefully mapped out my route prior to the day) but walked the wrong way up the street (to my eternal shame.) This took me through Greenwich Village, and Soho, both of which were amazingly interesting. Another subway

ride later and I was at Ground Zero, which was not much to look at. Waking under it to get to the subway station was amazing though, because the station is the only thing that survives from the original structures. The people in that station were totally silent. Not a whisper, not a sound, and all out of respect for the signs telling people that they stood in the WTC. It was strange after the huge noise of the outside.

The WTC brought me to the end of my ‘tourist’ stops, so I jumped bravely onto the subway again for the journey to the Metropolitan museum of Art, travelling though Central Park again.

The Met is amazing.

It has a real Egyptian shrine in it! It was Washington Crossing the Delaware! It has Salvador Dali, Picasso, David’s ‘The Death of Socrates’, it has a wing the size of an ordinary museum dedicated to arms and armour, another to classical statues, yet another to modern art. I was in there five hours and I didn’t look at anything in detail – I actually just walked through and occasionally read a brief sign when interested. If I was to stay there for a week I wouldn’t get round – a month maybe more realistic. After my feet began to swell in my boots, I wandered down the road looking for the Guggenheim building, which is very famous. I took a photo of the building which is just cool, but the exhibits, no matter how famously amazing, didn’t really interest me at all - so I didn’t bother going through the hassle of turning off the flash every time I wanted a shot (this is why so many of my photos are overexposed. Sorry.)

After wandering around strawberry fields (the part of central park dedicated to john

Lennon) I bought a hot-dog (again by the order of my friend. This friend lived in New York while growing up, and was invaluable in her advice on where to go and what not to do. It was so good, so relevant (I stumbled from crisis to crisis in pretty much the order that she wrote down instructions of how to get OUT of the situations) that I was printing it off for other people in the hostel). I then went to the hostel and sorted out my life to get through JFK airport security – throwing away everything that even resembled a bottle or something like that.

By dinner time I was again feeling adventurous, so I moved out onto Broadway to look for pizza (which was apparently amazing.) After having such luck with the ‘hole in the wall’ bagel place, I walked into a really dodgy looking pizza shop and ordered a pepperoni (you only get one topping for some reason.) It was the best pizza of my life. I ha#
I've a shot of it here to remember it forever. And it was HUGE!

Getting up at four this morning was tough – since I was in a dorm on a Friday night, it didn’t matter I got to bed at 9 because I couldn’t exactly turn off the light, or asked them to shut up. Also people were walking in an out every hour until about 3am (it was a Friday after all.) So I got no sleep. And then, after busting a gut to get to JFK by 6am, it turned out my flight was booked for tomorrow instead! I simply couldn’t deal with going back and doing the whole thing again, so I changed my flight while I was at the gate, and left as I thought I was scheduled for San Francisco. If you have to fly an airline in the states, fly JetBlue, because it was nice. Delta and American Airways are pretty average, but JetBlue was actually NICE, which lots of legroom and free eats and everything that used to be nice about plane travel (including good looking male flight attendants). We were a bit delayed, because as we were sitting on the tarmac during boarding a tire punctured, so they had to change that, but nothing to serious.

After that we were in San Francisco airport, and through a remarkable piece of misdirection I ended up in the international baggage terminal. I got out in the end, but not without having to go through customs, who held me up because ‘I didn’t have the proper paperwork to enter the US.’ I managed to convince them to show me to the domestic terminal eventually, and the manager thought it was pretty funny!
So I am back in San Fran, living in my basement, and I am pleased I didn’t give back my keys. I’ll have to give them back eventually, but not yet. The plumbing seems even worse, if that’s possible, from when I was here over the fall, which is impressive, but the place is simply too good a base to refuse. I am going to bed now, because I am so tired. Good night!

permalink written by  Crosswood on January 12, 2008 from San Francisco, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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To New York

New York, United States

Well I made it. After stress, another long train ride and wierd people looking at funny, I have made it to New York.

I actually like it, although I have only been here a few hours. It is choclablock with people who are all hurrying somewhere. I haven’t been pushed about like I thought I would be, but I think this is a situation where the general lack of anything approaching height is to be appreciated in the American. They part before my determined stomp, which apparently shouldn’t happen. Admittedly my habitual scowl, which is almost de rigur when I am slightly frightened, possibly also had something to do with the general parting of the footpath.

I have seen central park. I can see why they need it. This place is massive and filled with random tall buildings. And so many people! It feels alive, although I have to be honest, the subway wasn’t fun for me at all. I can stand it, though the first time I got on we were all packed in like Sardines and I simply refused to move away from the door. There was no space anyway, but I needed to be able to see the way out. It also meant I could get off the damn thing, when other people were trapped and frantically pushing for their station. That was actually one of the best bits of advice that a friend gave me!

Tomorrow I will try and do all the touresty things, but to be perfectly honest I have to get to my plane early Saturday, and don't really know how. So it might be an overnight stay at the airport for Margie, unless I can assuage my fears enough that I will stay at the hostel. Home to San Francisco! Mum, you would love it here in New York. I like it too, but I wish you guys were here to bail me out with your greater experience. I guess this is how you get the experience though.

I will post again tomorrow. Cheers


permalink written by  Crosswood on January 10, 2008 from New York, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Philadelphia, United States

So after a slightly rocky start, Philadelphia has turned out to be great!
I jumped off the train in Philly station (I loved that train ride. It’s the best bit of travelling I have ever done. I recommend that line to anyone who wants peace for a little bit.) and then was in a pickle. Should I follow instructions and take the bus to where I wanted to go, or should I simply walk? I chose the latter option, remembering that Dad’s advice has always been to walk around a city to get its feel. So I walked about 20 blocks up from the train station, looking at suburban streets, the University of Pennsylvania, and large brick buildings everywhere. It was pretty neat, but my unintended stop in Delaware had pushed back the time and I was running dangerously out of sunlight. To compound my problems, the hostel didn’t have a sign out being right next to the ghetto area of town. This being the case, I walked right past it and into the less safe area of the city. After somehow managing to extricate my very silly self from a sticky dilemma, I wound up finding my hostel just as the sun set, for which I was impossibly pleased.

Today I went downtown and saw the Liberty bell (I always imagine these things to be bigger) and Independence Hall (where I was taunted by an 8-year-old about how little I knew about any of the important things that happened there. What can you say to an 8-year-old when she’s right?) My magic New Zealand army ID is great. I got free into all the museums, including unlimited access aboard another Submarine (they’re everywhere!) and throughout all the library’s. I don’t lie to these people – I never claim to be anything other than a New Zealand army officer cadet. By somehow I fail to mention I’m not here with the American army...

I took a few more photos of important things which I’m not quite sure the meaning of, and went back to the hostel before dark. I have learnt my lesson before NYC. I’m going to be bloody safe or I’m not going at all! But I am going, tomorrow, and hopefully I can get a lift with a guy who’s going up to check on his hostel up there. I am not staying at his hostel (I checked with a friend who used to live in NY before I made any bookings, and she basically guided me to a nicer area) but it would be good to save a bit of money.

Actually the whole trip has been remarkably inexpensive (relatively). I suspect that if I was a bit more experienced, or had been to some of these places before, then it would be even cheaper, but so far I haven’t had any trouble. The hostels and the train/flights are easily the most expensive (I have been living off left-over’s that people come and give me to get rid of. I trade them for a Muesli bar. And instant noodles! Yummy.)

So tomorrow NYC. I will tell you how it goes. I am nervous – people spin so many yarns about how intimidating this place is that now I am going I am worried. Will post soon.

permalink written by  Crosswood on January 9, 2008 from Philadelphia, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Just passing through

Wilmington, United States

It is very nice out here in the East. The train ride today from DC has been grand, and winter is well and truly settled here.Wilmington is a very nice town, if a little small and puny. I like it though - the trees and gray ocean make it seem very bleak. Life is good though - not much to see here. On to Philly!

permalink written by  Crosswood on January 8, 2008 from Wilmington, United States
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Last day in Washington DC

Quantico, United States

And so I come to the end of the epic visit to DC. I had a good time. I saw a lot of stuff.

I went down to Quantico for the Marine Museam (very interesting - lots of yelling. It was quite big and very well made.) and the library of Congress (WOW that is an AMAZING building. AMAZING.) I saw a REAL Guttenberg Bible. I also walked down Pensilvannia Ave and took photos of EVERYTHING, finishing with seeing the Declaration of Independance at the Archives.

Tomorrow at roughly 9:15am I'll go by train to Philly, which should be fun. I will tell you about it when I get there.

I will post some piccy's later - right now I am packing. Cheers team.


permalink written by  Crosswood on January 7, 2008 from Quantico, United States
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Monument Day

Fairfax, United States

Yesterday was a HUGE day. To start with I woke up at what my body considered to be 3am, but which locally was 7:30am. In fact here I am here looking tired and scruffy. And also sideways. Whatever. I am experimenting with embedding photos – tell me if they take to long to load, or they’re boring, and I’ll stop. Anyway, you agree with me I look terrible. I looked better after Bagels and some tea, before embarking on my great adventure around the United States Capital!

I left on the metro due to the kind help of Gigi and Steve, and headed in to the centre of town (‘the Mall’) for all those things to look at! I didn't realise it would be so hard to AVOID tripping over a famous monument. They made it awfully convenient for visitors, but you do begin to get jaded with fantasmic things after a while.

Anyway, I left with some sort of plan to see the Air and Space Museum, but walked the wrong way from the stop and ended up outside this grim looking building with a huge line outside. That looked promising, so I tacked myself on the end of it.

It turned out it was the Holocaust museum, and is incredibly famous. A funny story about the Holocaust museum, or as close to funny as you can get after actually seeing the stuff in there, was that I rocked up to the building not realising there is always a massive line, not just to get inside through security, but also to get inside the exhibits full stop. So I went up to the reception to get a ticket (there were hundreds of people), and this sign said to present your military or federal ID if you had it. I figured you had to pay to get in (which you don't), and that being a military person gave you some sort of discount, so I pulled out my New Zealand Army ID in the hope that would work. The lady at the front desk looked at it, blinked, looked at it again and gave me a ticket to go up straight away, jumping over the people in the wait-list, the people who had tickets that said they could go in at that time, and even jumping to the head of the line to take the elevator. It turns out that New Zealand liberated a concentration camp and the people at the desk give priority to members of forces that did that. I looked like a student though, so I got some amazingly dirty looks from the people who had been there for ages but hadn't been able to get tickets. It was an interesting museum, in a horrible way. I was pleased and not pleased at the same time to be in that building, which was a strange feeling at the time, but even more so now that I'm trying to remember what it was like. Anyway.

After I got out, I was a little lost, so I strolled down the street and around the corner. The Washington Memorial basically demanded my attention after that.

The thing is MASSIVE and the line outside to go up was just silly. I figured that my magic New Zealand Army ID wasn't going to cut it this time, so I wandered up the left-hand pathway that leads around the area. It’s just a tall building anyway – when I get to New York there will be plenty of those.

The next thing I saw was the new World War Two memorial. It's cool. What more can you say? It’s a little overdone, any it feels almost self-conscious in its attempts to tie-in to the neo-classical feel of all the other monuments. As I walked past it and the reflecting pool towards the Lincoln Monument, I was beginning to get used to it, but it took me a little while.

The Lincoln memorial was awesome. It is apparently really good at night, but it was pretty nippy there during the day, so I didn't hang round to admire Abe much. If you look at my photos, you'll notice all the water is frozen. Yes. Hmmm.

Next I visited the Vietnam memorial, which is overhyped. I’m not saying it wasn’t a little moving, but it wasn't great like they say it is.

Perhaps what was missing was the people who were genuinely there to grieve, because while I was there all there was were a bunch of war protesters. Felt just like Berkeley, only less appropriate.

The Korea memorial was much, much, MUCH better. It has files and files of statues, each kitted out in a different allied countries’ battle gear, also marching in the same direction and with their names engraved into the granite. It is very cool, and I hung around there longer than I meant too


After that was the Roosevelt memorial, which I ran into on the way to the Jefferson memorial. Both were awesome, and the Roosevelt one, which made copious use of flowing water, was totally frozen. It was also totally at odds with reality, portraying the man as honest, caring and kind. He lied about having polio for 10 years, to the entire country!! Moving along.
Jefferson's words, engraved around the edge of the building's dome, seemed to me to be admitting grand theft, but it might be impolitic of me to point that out. I certainly wasn't going to point it out there with all those patriotic Americans around! I did laugh a little though. It all turned out well in the end.

Then I ran into the John Paul Jones memorial. Long story, but a cool monument. Dad might fil you in if you ask nicely.

I know it seems like I went everywhere, and yes. Yes I did. Here is the White House from the back

, here is the Sherman monument,and here is me being nice and warm with Washington’s Memorial in the background.

AEROSPACE MUSEUM! Oh yeah baby! They had the American history Smithsonian closed for renovation, so all that stuff was in the Aerospace as well. Gold. Here is Sherman’s Hat.

Americans are so funny - they had Edison's light bulb, then the original telegraph, Bell's telephone, and then... Kermit the Frog. I laughed, but no one else did. Eee.

They had the REAL Columbia Command Module from Apollo 11, they had the Enola Gay hanging from the roof, they had everything and ANYTHING they could lay their hands on displayed in its glory. I was thrilled. I spent three hours there. I could go back, but won't, because I'd never leave. Here is a real FE-8 pusher biplane from the First World War, with a Spoilt Camel in the background.

I also went to the White House information centre, and then went home to spend productive time on a Wii.

Please think of my friends the West Coast this week - they got wacked by a huge storm. One was without power or communication when a tree toppled over the power-line onto the cell phone tower. They live in an orcharding area and apparently some have lost 50% of their trees. One has had a neighbour lose her house when a tree fell through it. A couple haven't responded to my emails or call, so I'm a little worried about that. I might cut this trip short if they need some help with the clean-up.

Cheers Team

permalink written by  Crosswood on January 6, 2008 from Fairfax, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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DC take 2

Fairfax, United States

Dear All

Today Gigi and Steve had their open home, and so I slept in. We couldn’t leave until the Real Estate Agent arrived, but his church ran over, so he was late. We went out for lunch and had a really good Chinese meal, before heading over to Arlington National Cemetery

to see all those famous monuments over there. My camera has been truly excellent – I am so glad I paid the extra fifty bucks to get the rechargeable batteries, because I would have paid twice that in AAA’s by now.

I saw the changing of the guard (which I saw with new eyes since being in the army), the
Kennedy memorial, the USS Maine memorial, the Columbia memorial, an
d the Lee House. Also the Air Force memorial, and the side of the Pentagon that the terrorist plane crashed into. It is actually a slightly different colour
than the rest of the building, so you can clearly see where it hit. Then we drove home

I’m heading up to Philly and New York Tuesday and Wednesday and hope to stay in New York for maybe three days? I know it’s not enough to see everything, but it’s better than nothing. Then a bus ride to Boston (a day or two there) and then either Chicago or home, sweet Home, to Berkeley. This doesn’t sound very adventurous does it? Well, it’s probably enough for me.

For more pics check out the pic page.

permalink written by  Crosswood on January 6, 2008 from Fairfax, United States
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