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New Zealand Student, American University.

a travel blog by Crosswood


Title says it all really.
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Where I live

Berkeley, United States


This is where I live...

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permalink written by  Crosswood on August 26, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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The First Week

Berkeley, United States


Dear Team
So much has happened over the last few days!

On Sunday I had an exciting game of soccer (which lasted for two hours!) with some amazingly good European students. The pitch was terrible because the Americans don’t play soccer in a big way, but we pressed on and it was a lot of fun. Next week I have to jump through several flaming hoops to join a team (they don’t make it easy at all!) and start playing the rest of the campus. It’s going to be sweet – how can my team lose when it has been stacked with crazily good German and Italian footballers?

Monday was the first day of class and it is... interesting. For one it’s a vast amount of work – homework every day and miniature essays every week. I own about fifty textbooks for about five classes and I have literally thousands of pages of readings every week. It’s like being back at school with a vengeance. It’s also very hard to listen to the American lecturers – not because they’re not fantastically good at what they do, but because their accent is so soothing. I literally have time to think ‘wow – this guy is gre... zzz’ before I fall into a kind of trance-like state of relaxation. It’s a real problem which I am working on.

I have gone to the US Military classes and it is shaping up to be very funny. They have done even less field-time than me, but that us fine. What is even more funny is that in America the only ones with Green Berets are speical forces, so when they first saw me they started to freak out, and now every time I come near they all ask to be allowed a photo with my hat on. Their drill is also cissy (even more cissy than ours.)

Another problem I had was that one of the classes I picked I couldn’t take because they had timetable clashes with more important classes on my schedual. I had to change courses on the fly! Cheers to Massey University - you guys are great! The first class I picked to replace this no-go class I also couldn’t take, because the exam was on the same time as another of my exams. In America (as in New Zealand) they don’t allow you to enroll in classes with that kind of clash. The second course I tried to take sounded like great fun – Early Modern Germany. I was all set to go to the lecturers, but I decided to get my textbooks first - and it was a good thing I did! They’d have cost me $200 USD! So I couldn’t take that course – rent and food has left me flat broke and I simply can't afford $200USD . (I AM STILL ALIVE AND HAVE PLENTY OF MONEY ENOUGH TO LIVE! DO NOT SEND CARE PARCLES (UNLESS THEY CONTAIN CHOCOLATE). THANK YOU.) I swapped to a course on Early Britain instead, meaning I could get my books second hand and save myself a heck of a lot of money.

I was also invited to a dinner party, and went. Unfortunately there was this weird anarchist there who high-jacked the entire evening thing and made it a vehicle for his weird ideas. I was bored silly by this guy who went on for THREE HOURS, constantly contradicting himself and roundly patronising everyone. Luckily everyone else was drunk. He also claimed he didn’t want to be president, but you know he’s lying. I was pretty exhausted by not saying anything scathing – I wanted to poke fun at him but he was frankly scary. He kept talking about his ‘humanitarian work’ in Palestine, which seemed to involve a little less peace and joy and more violence than normal.
So that wasn’t a success. But I am in Berkeley, the home of radicalism, and now I have been to a subversive group meeting, which I suppose you have to experience at least once.

Seriously, this place is wicked, but sometimes I wish I could come home and listen to a crisp and inflected voice on the news telling me about some sheep problems in the high country or something. I am getting more and more exhausted from the constant mental translations. But hey – I’m going to be great at University when I get home! Think of the work ethic!

Cheers everybody – this weekend is a public holiday (yes!) so I’ll try and do something exciting, so I can take photos and show you. (Yes that’s right – I do these things all for you!)

Wish you were here

Margie


permalink written by  Crosswood on August 31, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Labour Weekend

Berkeley, United States


Hey Team – it’s been a couple more days and a long weekend, so I guess I’m about ready to give an update.

I managed to get hold of tickets to a California vs. Tennessee football game, which was slightly spoiled by the people in front of me. I had a lovely old lady behind me who couldn’t stand up very much, so I sat down the entire time so she could have a clear view. This could have only worked if the people to my front had sat down as well, but they didn’t, and so a lot of the more interesting bits of the game were obscured by frantically waving hands. Since the game lasted four (yes FOUR) hours, this really wasn’t that much of a problem, because even these dedicated fans were getting exhausted by the length of the show. I still had a great time – the atmosphere was electric and the crowd was amazing.

After the game we (some other Kiwi’s and myself: funny to note that every Kiwi here bar two were born and educated in Singapore. God bless immigration) went to a Chinese restaurant, where calamity and comedy resulted in me eating someone else’s rice, the wrong food, and then two hours later the right food. It’s a long and deeply boring story, so I’ll quickly change the topic.

On Sunday morning I again played soccer with my excellent German-Italian football team. These ultimate Frisbee people kicked us off the only good field on campus, so we shifted to the Memorial glade, which is kind-of shaped like a downhill ski run. Luckily I was on the team who were going down the hill, but the people who were going up this field had a bit of a rough time.

I also went sailing for free in the San Francisco Bay, which was very fun. When they asked if anyone had sailed, I put up my hand and was slightly embarrassed because they thought since I sailed dinghies then I must know a lot about sailing. They were so enthusiastic I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was a very average sailor, so I racked my brains and managed to hold a fairly decent conversation about how unsafe booms are – yes dad, I know that the story about me, the Hobbiecat and Club Med is funny, but we promised never to speak of it again. It’s funny how much random stuff I’ve done, and how most of it I’ve done really badly!

Homework here is pretty intense – I did two hours yesterday, just did another hour and have achieved practically nothing. I’ll get it done, but it’s still pretty demoralising!

Anyway, I have slept for 10 hours and it is now lunch-time, so I will sign off and when something interesting happens, will post again.

Thanks to anyone reading this blog – it means a lot to me that I know friends and family are thinking of me over here. You should all come and visit!


permalink written by  Crosswood on September 3, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Posting Again! Late - Sorry!

Berkeley, United States


Gidday Team

Yes, yes, I know it’s been a week since I’ve last posted – but to be honest nothing much has happened! I know – saying that is like some sort of blasphemy against the sheer awesomeness that is America, but mostly I’ve been really busy with homework and other things like that.

I bought more textbooks, which cost me another arm and another leg (I’m lucky that I have several more arms and legs to loose) and this has been the major expense this week. I can still eat however – American people from throughout my house have been feeding me randomly. I had these fantastic Russian Potatoe dumpling things yesterday (after a girl named Arielle showed me possilby the funnest video in the entire world - Romanian pop singers dancing.) Previously we went out to a jewish eating place (can't spell resteruant very well - sorry) and again, it was very nice. I liked the chocolate pudding - it's like chocolate custard, or runny cake mix that hasn't been cooked yet. I have also had something like Chocolate Yogo but it's called 'Jell-o' and it comes in lots of flavours (yes - including jelly types.)
Burretio's are also very nice - apparently they could be better, but I wouldn't know, because the Burretio's here are very different from anything I've eaten before.
I feel really bad about the random generousity that all my house-mates have shown – I would import some good Kiwi recipes so that I could pay them back in the same way, but Kiwi’s don’t HAVE any good recipes and feeding them what we normally eat would be unkind.

I am still struggling with the amount of homework you get here. I have a huge assignment due in on Monday and could only source the textbooks today! ARGG! I have lots of work to do tomorrow. Today was a bit of a write-off day because firstly my friend was ill, so I strolled idly down to the store with her to make sure she didn’t do anything stupid like die or something. Then we had this MASSIVE party for a girl named Jenny (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) where everyone had a great time, people started singing on the roof, lit a BBQ with logs to prove they could, and it all eventually ended up with me trying to explain the basics of rugby to a hyper and increasingly energetic crowd of teenagers. It ended well which was a huge relief for me.


I can’t remember posting the story about the rapper to you, so I will tell you it now in lieu of real news. I was at the pedestrian crossing, when this random guy came up to me and started to rap at me. He was pretty good, but I was a little uncomfortable. Luckily the little ‘walk’ man went white (! Who makes their little ‘walk’ man white??) and I started to cross the road. He screamed ‘THAT’S HOW WE ROLL!’ and ran off. I thought this was such a great expression that I have started to use it and people always laugh, because it’s something only black gangsters say.

I have also exhausted my supply of tee-shirts. Admittedly I only took over two (one good and one gym) so this wasn’t exactly unexpected. I was gifted a nice one from the EAP office, however it is annoying that the weather hasn’t turned cold enough to wear anything nice. It is boiling over here. It gets to about 18c and they all wear jumpers.

The Army classes continue to be different from what I expected. In New Zealand, of course, my degree means that I major in Tactics and Command by default. I am up to 300 level tactics, which is ’Grand Strategy.’ Here I am learning how to read a map. It will be really useful, but it is still ridiculously easy and a bit of a letdown.

I managed to lock myself out of my basement the other day, as my key bent in a very funny shape. It was bent when I got it, but it got REALLY bent when someone gave me a jolt. I slept on the couch. I didn’t think I slept but I must have, because I woke up under the coffee table wrapped like a mummy in this blanket and wedged tightly under this leg. Honestly, I was completely stuck.
How did I get under there while asleep?

I still have not talked to Mysterious Graham after the infamous 30 second conversation. He lied to me when he said that we would.

Tomorrow I play ultimate Frisbee! BRING IT ON!

Cheers everyone

Margie


permalink written by  Crosswood on September 8, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Week 3

Berkeley, United States


Right team – its update time!
You know the drill – disjointed stories written down in no particular order, and with no particular malice intended. Thank you everyone who has sent me emails! I have gotten so many that it is hard for me to keep up, but I will slog on and hopefully will have replied to everyone by the end of this weekend.

This week has been lots of work, but also lots of fun at the same time.
Sunday was another Soccer day, and I was like Renaldo in my fabulous skills. Ahem.
I know that everyone who reads this will be trying to remember the last time that I was good at sport, but I am not kidding this time! I scored heaps of goals against my Italian and German teammates – pity it was just a practice. I need to do now is the exact same thing in the game. I can even do this, because I am officially relived of goalkeeping duty and am on the actual team which runs around and does stuff!
I know! I'm not a goalkeeper for once!! How weird is that???

Anyway, all this was before I realised I had a huge assignment due the next day (Monday), so I pulled an all-nighter to finish it off. (I misread the syllabus so I thought I had already finished the entire thing, when I had only finished half! It gave me quite a fright.) Luckily It turned out it was due in on Tuesday, and not Monday, but by then I had already finished it, (I really should have read that syllabus) so I had a sweet day of fixing it up so that it made more sense before I gave it to my lecturer. Truthfully the essay was pretty bad... but it could have been worse.

On Monday I hung out with a friend for lunch (this same friend who organised the communist tea party) and was determined to sleep well that evening. I was pretty tired after the random sleeplessness caused by the whole 'assignments due the next day' thing. Un/fortunately for me I got sidetracked by one of my wonderful housemates, who started teaching me basic Hebrew phrases and thus I spent my sleep-time talking about very little long into the night. Shana Tova everyone! (Happy Jewish New Year!)

I also went to a military lab offered at Berkeley. They’re not very organised, but they’ve got big heart. They told me we were going to do a swim-test, but it turned out we were actually going to do a commemoration service for 9/11 and also a swearing in ceremony.

I felt a little out of place wearing my togs underneath my uniform. Luckily no one noticed.

All the parents kept taking photos of me though, because I was wearing bright green in the midst of all this urban grey, and had a green beret on. They must have thought I was awesome, or possibly just confused.

The drill commands are also very different, and I made a lot more noise with my boot stomping than the Americans, whose marching-style reminds me forcibly of power-walking. The weather was also very hot!

Today I did the weirdest test of my entire life. I did a reading of about a million pages, decisibing the ‘Life of Saint Bernard’ – this holy monk in France. He was a pretty intense mystic! Anyway, the assignment was a page about if you were a hollywood director, who would you cast to play Bernard in a movie about his life? This writing assignment was worth marks overall, so I fought down the urge to crack up, and just did it.

I love my lecturer for this class. She’s gold. This is the same lecturer that, on my second day at Berkeley, randomly started to laugh in the first lecture. She then told us what she found funny. No one else laughed, (it was pretty lame) so she has since stopped telling us why she laughs. Now she just stops in the middle of a sentence, cracks up, and then keeps going on like nothing happened. She rocks.

Anyway, I chose Sean Connary, because Bernard was both great at PR/had stage presence, and was apparently really emaciated. I can imagine SC being good at being a random mystic!

My sweet burglar skills have finally come in useful. I know that Mum, you especially, always worried about how good I was at breaking into peoples’ houses, but I finally have used these awesome skills for good and not simply to pop up behind people to give them a random fright. A friend of mine locked herself out, and I, with the sneakiness worthy of a sneaky thing, snuck around the edge of the outside of the house using a second story balcony and window ledges (the gaps between these things gave me a bit of a turn - nothing below but air and the hard ground). Finally I reached the outside window of this girls room. From there it was child’s play to get inside – not because I can pick locks or anything, but because this window was open and it's also the size of an average door. I was pleased that the young lady got inside, but I was slightly concerned by how easy it all was!

My friends at Westminster House are lovely. I hung out with two in particular today, and since I don’t have anything else to talk about, I’ll talk about them. (Creepy, aren’t I?)
Serena is dark-haired (kinda Portuguese looking, but she isn’t) who hails from northern California, and can speak Spanish. She occasionally does speak Spanish to me when she forgets that I can’t, so I have started a phrasebook which I hope will help me later. Several people in the house can speak Spanish, and they all laugh at my Kiwi accent because it severely interferes with the pronunciation of words, and which they say makes me sound like I am Italian. Apprently this isn't good.

The other girl I hung out with today, Bronwen, looks like a typical American LA actress, with long blonde hair and a habit of randomly singing on rooftops. She sings really well however, so life could be worse. Bronwen can’t speak Spanish, but compensates by saying inappropriate things in English entirely by accident. I won’t tell you some of the things she says, but think of Mum’s ‘Can you screw and talk at the same time?’ for an example of the type. It’s so funny!

Today I also had food from the ‘South’ which I have to say was much better than food from California, which apparently is ‘North.’ Mr. Whippy style ice-cream they call ‘Frozen Yoghurt’ over here, and so I also had some of that. It was delicious. The food is so rich over here though, and my poor body isn't used to it. I'm sure I am ruining my palate for things that aren't covered in litres of sauce!

I’m sorry for the randomness of the last part of the detail. I have had one of the best weeks of my life, and I will be sorry to leave Berkeley when my time is up.

Cheers everyone, again

Yours truly

Margie


permalink written by  Crosswood on September 14, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Half a week has gone by,,,

Berkeley, United States


Dear Team

Well, it has been an interesting couple of days. I’ll start with the good stuff.
I stayed up late on Saturday watching Lord of the Rings, and marvelling at how beautiful New Zealand is. I think the others could have done with less of the “And that’s Wellington’s Quarry!” but they were nice about the whole thing, and the movie is great.

On Sunday I went to Church, which is a little different from Church in New Zealand. I’ve never seen a crucifix and a large icon of Mary and Jesus in an Anglican church before. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Good sermon though, and the people there seemed pleased to see a young person show up so early (8am).

I also did my sweet soccer skills again, but I was much less like Renaldo this week. Possibly the fact I was running off no sleep was a factor, and possibly it was just reality asserting itself. We shall have to see, as the first game is quite soon.

On Monday evening I had a pillow-fight, which I lost. I also did heaps of homework, which made me feel good. I have discovered that to get any work done I need to be at the library, because otherwise I am distracted by my friends.

On Tuesday however, I did an Army Swim Test. I tell a lie (sorry – I’m writing this early in the morning and my brain is a bit scattered), on Tuesday firstly I did a job interview for a one-off EAP fair job, worth about $40 for the day. I was thinking about what to do with the unexpected money (buy new jandels, because mine have holes in them, or use it to top up my meal points plan?) but now I know exactly what it is I’m doing with it. The army swim test was great, and I crushed – but my DPM’s (army camo) got very wet (obviously), my plastic bag had a hole in it, and the upshot was leaked water all through my backpack. It destroyed nothing except my cellphone, and that is destroyed completely. So the money I will be earning will be going towards that.

The Army swim test was fun though – a 30m DPM swim (easy as pie), a 15 rifle swim (in New Zealand to pass one has to keep the rifle out of the water, and so I did, but apparently this isn’t true in the states and everyone was surprised by my sweet skills/amused at my ignorance.) A entry into the water whilst taking off gear, and an entry into the water whilst blindfolded. Then we made improvised floatation devices. The best line? “Take off your pants! I’ve always wanted to give that order.” (We filled the legs with air and floated on them.) A close second has to be “This is the way I always wanted to die. Floating on my pants.”

So that's life. Classes and stuff. I wonder if I really need to replace that cellphone - the whole thing is really expensive.

Anyway, cheers

Margie

permalink written by  Crosswood on September 19, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
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Berkeley Rocks. Again.

Berkeley, United States


Hey Team

This’ll be a really short post, and the next couple of posts will be as well, because my computer cord has broken and won’t charge my machine. Every time I want to use the computer now I have to ship myself and my gear to the library. This is not good team! I am in the middle of mid-terms!

Briefly updating:

1) I felt a bit sick over the weekend, and figure it’s just that America has different nasty buggies than NZ. I’ll bring some home for you to all try later.

2) My cellphone stopped working (ref previous post) because I got it very wet. It randomly buzzed, spent three days looking pathetic, and then started to work again. I thought it wouldn’t receive or phone other people and was quite disappointed, but it turns out that the phone bill hadn’t been paid and they’d simply disconnected it. Easily fixed!

3) I got my first couple of assignments back from Berkeley. I was terrified I’d be out of my league here, and I kinda am, but at I’m getting OK grades. Not fantastic, but OK.

4) Robert Jordan, the man who wrote books about a million pages long and who was half-way through the final book of the longest series in history, died. Now I will never know what happens to the two thousand characters I have read about for the last eight years. I feel sad and pathetic.

5) I acted as private security for a football game on Saturday. It was very boring – they told us ‘come with a white shirt and black pants.’ Then they gave us a clip-on tie, dressed us up in this suit jacket that was about nine sizes to big, and told me to guard the press-box. I looked like Charlie Chaplin, and I was about as scary as him as well, because I got randomly abused by people who weren’t allowed into the press box, but had tried to come in anyway. It made money for the ROTC program, so I figured I’d do them a favor and show up.

6) I am getting itchy feet and want to go somewhere else. Not that Berkeley and San Francisco aren’t the best places on planet earth, because they kind of are, but I want to go and see other places now. Utah – Salt Lake City is apparently worth visiting. New Mexico – my friend’s dad works at Los Alamos. South Dakota – Mt Rushmore. Washington - Seattle.

7) I’m going to get to Seattle if it kills me.

8) Tonight I have a soccer practice. Last one before the big game!

9) I also have Military Lab tonight. Land navigation – blurg. The most boring thing ever created. Our protractors are a riot though – they’re made really badly. If you put two of them together, the degree bars are out of sync with each other by as much as five degrees. I’ll tell you how finding our way around with them goes.

10) I got a job working as the student assistant at the EAP fair all day on Friday. I’m going to either buy new jandels (I have exciting holes right through the soles of mine) or buy snacks for a week. I’m leaning more towards the jandels, but something might come up so that I can use it better.

And that’s all’s I can think of. I did a map quiz today, and I didn’t study, but found all the places on the map no problem. Normally I hate people like me.

Cheers team, and keep warm over there (I'm thinking of you in the glorious warm sunshine.)


Margie


permalink written by  Crosswood on September 25, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
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I'm really bad with titles.

Berkeley, United States


Dear Team


Evil and mean.
Yeah.

My computer still isn’t fixed, so I am writing this on a friends’ computer. That is why some things are disjointed. Yes… they’re not disjointed because I’m not that great at typing. It’s all to do with the lack of the computer…

This week has been interesting, as has every week since I have been here. You know what I was up to before Wednesday, but that day was boring and you don’t want to hear about that, so I’ll start with Thursday.
On Thursday I played my first game of soccer for real. I can’t quite remember the score now – it wasn’t important – but lets just say my team played much better in the second half than the first. I was also quite embarrassed – a cry went up before the game ‘They have too many guys on their team!’
Nope, sorry other team. We had three guys and three girls. One of the girls just happened to have short hair. Moving right along.

Friday was the day of the EAP fair, and I had a paying job to do! So I skipped out on a class, showed up very early and started to help out. I was cheerful, I spoke to people about New Zealand, and I did all sorts of random work to do with checking people in and out of the hall in which it was being held. I was there nine hours. Myself and another New Zealander even gave a short rendition of ‘God Defend New Zealand’ for a crowd of students who wanted to go to Australia. After the nine hours I and another bloke (an Italian named Tom) went back to the office to collect our pay. It turns out that since we don’t have a social security number we might not be. This is silly – they advertised among the international students for the fair. If they can’t pay us, then why ask us?

The saga of the computer is this – it has stopped charging. I rang up a call centre in India who were quite keen for me to be someone else’s problem. After several frustrations, I managed to get a name and an address for a repair company in Emeryville, which isn’t that far away from Berkeley. It’s a mission to get around by public transport here.

Yesterday (Saturday) I went to find this place. Firstly I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, and then my friend asked me if I wanted to go with her to San Francisco. How can I refuse that type of thing? SF is great – it’s a fantastic place.

I went to an American restaurant, which can be quite stressful. I had no idea what I should be ordering (neither did the Americans I was with however, so I felt better.) so in the end I got Turkey. It tastes nothing like chicken! It makes you really sleepy.
I got ranch dressing on my salad. Ranch dressing on a salad defeats the point of a salad. It’s very nice, but it’s really heavy, so go easy on the stuff if you’re offered it in the States. The food they serve is in massive quantities as well, so if you can don’t finish and get a little plastic doggie bag. It’s not considered bad or rude at all (although I still have problems with it – cultural programming is hard to break). I also went to Union Square to a “Candy Shop” that sold mostly chocolate. I had ‘peanut brittle’ which was absolutely fantastic (don’t eat too much of it though because you’ll be huge) and some chocolate in a bar. The chocolate wasn’t very good, but they tried very hard.
New Zealand chocolate is a hard act to follow I suppose.

Time for more of Margaret’s Random Friends:

One guy in my house is a computer genius, (Austin is his namo) who kinda looks a little Australian around the edges. His father is a rocket scientist for NASA and his mother is a consultant for Nuclear Power Plants. This probably gives you a wee hint as to where his interests lie, yes? He has short brown hair, which you hardly ever see because he’s always wearing a floppy hat with the two sides done up, and you won’t see him without his IBM workstation because apparently it kinda attaches to his arms. The tie-dry shirt, the tramping shorts and the hiking boots complete the picture of what he wears every day. Building robots since you were three does that to a person I’m told.

There is also this girl who is very patriotically Mexican and American at the same time, and she lives downstairs in the Library Suite. (Dyana.) She is short (ish), speaks Mexican Spanish (which is ruddy cool) and wants Obama (the African-American running for the democratic vote) to win the presidential campaign. Being in the library suite must be tough sometimes – everyone hangs out in the common area till really late, but I’ve never heard her complain, which is either very self-sacrificing, or she can sleep through a hurricane. She comes from Merced (which looks very nice in the photos, but most everything does) and I have no idea where that is, so I normally just guess on a map.

Cheers team

Margie

Ps. Flowing tresses.

permalink written by  Crosswood on September 30, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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Another day, another post.

Berkeley, United States


This bloggy trip thingy must be sick of me typing Berkeley into the "What City Are You Visiting?!!?" box.

It’s Friday morning in the basement library, and I’m typing on a computer here instead of my own machine. My own machine is fixed and healthy (barring accidents)! Here is the extended version of my labours in that regard. Skip past it if you don't won't a tale of woe.

I rose extremely early (5am. On my sleep-in day!!) on Tuesday morning to get on a bus that went to Emeryville (the place where the call centre said I could fix my computer.) After a seriously heart-stopping trip (if I stayed on too long I’d end up on the motorway and in San Francisco) I reached the place I needed to go - BDI computers. Unfortunately the call centre was a year out of date and the company didn’t exist anymore (the lady inside the office seemed exceptionally surprised to see a New Zealander with a computer stroll into her lounge.) Hmmmm.
Going back to the call centre, they then told me to head for the nearest radioshack. This I duly did (after my classes). This was a mistake because I was supposed to be a speaker on a discussion panel talking about comparative higher education. I missed that while I was arguing with the radioshack guy. (The machine was under warranty and he still wanted to charge me heaps of money.)
So I rang up the call centre again, and they hung up. After wailing and gnashing my teeth, I tried again. And again. And again. Never buy a HP product, their service is rubbish. Finally I got someone who could speak English, and by this time I was pretty hacked off, so I basically told them to give me a new power-cord or else. Again they tried to fob me off onto the non-existant BDI computers, but I was adiment.
The conversation went something like this.
"You should..."
“Let’s not do that. Give me a new power cord. You will send me one.”
“Ok Ma’am. I’ll send that out to you right away.”
“How long will it take to get here?”
“About 1 to 2 weeks.”
“No, that isn’t going to happen. How about tomorrow?”
“………… Thursday?”
“Ok. Thursday then.”
So finally by being rude/decisive I got what I needed and now my computer is working like a charm.

On Thursday I played another game of soccer, (again at 11pm) and it was much better. I really need to figure out how to score – my team-mates describe me as a ‘moving wall’. I head in one direction until I run out of space. The Australians keep laughing and saying that the only reason you’d have a New Zealander on a soccer team would be to rugby-tackle the opposition. hey - I was pretty good. I'm a ruddy goalkeeper for goodness sake! My entire life is spent getting cracked on the noggin with the ball! I can't change the habit of a lifetime just because I'm now doing way more running than normal.
A guy on our team was very funny though – he showed up as the game was ending, but he thought he was on time. It turns out his watch started to go backwards instead of forwards, which is a little unusual. Poor guy - he cycled for an hour to get there.
Moving on.

Another large essay was due today, so I scrambled to make something up that sounded right. The topic was Slavic Folklore and its effects on the individual perception of Heroism. Good fun!

Today I also have a coffee thingy with a few friends, was invited out for drinks AGAIN by my soccer team (but you can’t drink here unless you’re 21! I don’t even want to drink, just to hang out, but they won’t even let you in) and also have a couple of admin things to do (like figure out how to apply for a California Drivers Licence.) I mentioned that I was invited to the Brizilian dance party, yes? It sounded like fun, but only for over 21's. Those Brizilains were very lucky.

Yesterday on the administration side I applied for a social security number, so I can get paid from the job fair. It’s pretty gold – whenever I come back to the states that number will always be the same. I also looked into getting a part-time job somewhere so I can start to save money and go on a bit of a travel adventure. A Social Security Number is also useful for those types of things.

I’ve got a couple more friends to describe, and then I’ll let you rest from the blog. You know how in every dorm there is one person whose got more ‘go’ than the Energizer Bunny? Stephen is that man in our house. He doesn’t walk – he bounces. When I’m in my basement I can hear exactly where he is in the house because the noise is quite distinctive. He’s about 5’7”, but works out a lot, so he is almost shaped like a triangle. When he doesn’t smile the mood of the entire house plummets – I know because he had is mid-terms, got tired, and then everyone got cranky. Weird how these people infect others eh?

Speaking of short (well, not really) we’ve got a 4’10” girl in our house. She studies way too hard, and gets a little stressed about the whole thing sometimes, but if she wasn’t like that she wouldn’t be Arielle now would she? She is the friend who introduced me to the ‘Numa Numa’ song which is possibly the most disturbing song in the entire world. It’s sung by Romanians. She also knows the entire score of every Disney song ever produced, and will sing them at the drop of a hat, forcing you to join in. I would never have got to Emeryville without her – I was so confused! Public transport here isn’t the greatest.

I have also been invivited to speak at an EAP lunch thingy for a small group of people, about EAP and golbalisation. That's cool - I'll just talk about how America was nothing like I expected it to be from the media. It makes everyone happy, because then I can throw in a few good jokes about what I thought America would be like.

Again guys, cheers for reading. If there is anything you particulary want me to talk about or describe for you, post it on the comments thingys (which I do read!) and I'll do my best to get it up here for you.

Wish you were here

Margie


permalink written by  Crosswood on October 5, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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The Weekend

Berkeley, United States


I’m going to be one weird New Zealander when I get home.

It’s time for some social studies team! After all, that’s what I’m here for isn’t it? To learn about the mysterious American Culture! Gold.

Right first thing’s first. In New Zealand we have HEAPS of personal space – Americans don’t have quite so much. Admittedly some of the people I apparently hang out with have no personal space whatsoever (creeped me out big-time when I first arrived, but you get used to it really quickly). They hug a lot. A lot. That’s fine, but I’m getting used to it, and who am I supposed to hug when I get home? No one, that’s right. Everyone will just look at me funny and edge sideways out of my reach.

Americans don’t mind people being randomly happy. I’m happy all the time – in New Zealand someone would have gotten grumpy by now and told me to shove it. I love the American accent – it just makes me happy. It’s so light and smooth. My vowel sounds are heavy and dropped in comparison. I like the way they say Margaret – with three syllables. I’ve realised that NZ’ders put ‘ie’ on the end of every name (eg Margie, Bexie, Annie) because it makes the primary vowel sounds longer and nicer to listen to. Try it out – or maybe you need a living breathing American to appreciate the difference.

Americans understand your cultural stupidity. I went to the waterfront in San Francisco today, but was freaked out by the number of people. No, really, I was really uncomfortable. Stupid isn’t it? And we were watching the Blue Angels Jet fighter team who were AMAZING but every time they buzzed the crowd I wanted to dig a hole to hide in and then fire something into the air. And I was paranoid about where they were going to come from next. Gah.

Americans are really nice. I haven’t met one I didn’t like yet. And they seem to like me, or at least they don’t tell you when they hate you. It’s gold.

They do have opinions. Often I’ll be uncomfortable about how strongly they voice opinions. And they’ll argue with you because they want you to have their opinion. I suppose we figure in NZ that the other person just isn’t worth that?

Americans are polite with actions, not words. They’ll stand aside for you in the door, but they won’t make a big deal out of it. NZ’ders are polite, but they’ll draw attention to it with ‘excuse me’ or ‘I beg your pardon’ or something like that.

Anyway, back to my life. Homework is intense – I have about four very large essays due in a very short space of time. Church over here is a bit unusual as well – it’s very Catholic feeling, which is fine, except I go to an Anglican church because it’s different from Catholic churches, not because it’s similar. And they don’t sing. Perhaps there is another Anglican church around here somewhere...

I went to another Mexican restaurant today and had more Mexican food. It is lovely. Someone should start a wee business up and see what happens. I love ordering things that I don’t know – but only if someone that does know what it is knows if its good or not. If that makes any sense. Possibly I’m just like that because I can’t pronounce what I want to order. And the company was good as well – two lovely people from my house came along and we talked about everything and nothing.

A great recipe my friend made me eat today – get plain yoghurt, dump walnuts on top of it and drizzle it with honey. I know it sounds kind of yurgh but it’s really good! Apparently it’s a Greek thing. Those Greeks really know what they’re doing then. I also had chicken that wasn’t covered in sauce. I loved it, but the Americans thought it was a little bland. Obviously I haven’t lost my taste for the simpler things then – this is probably good. If I got a ‘rich palate’ then NZ food would be hard to swallow when I get back! It’s going to be hard to swallow enough as it is after all the yummy stuff over here.

You guys already know that I went to SF and saw the blue angels, but before that I had another soccer practice. We lost our game again the other day – I think I might have already posted that. The upright on the goal is now first-equal in my teams’ goal scoring ranking! And this random bush is the best goalkeeper we have on our team – it didn’t let a single thing through. I have a problem with hand-balls. I leap into the air to try and catch it, but of course I’m on the field now so it is a bit of a sticky habit.

I also got lost on the way to SF and ended up in Oakland. Hmmmm.

Nothing much else happened. I don't want to know about the Rugby.

Cheers

Margie

permalink written by  Crosswood on October 7, 2007 from Berkeley, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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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.
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