New Country, Same Course

First week back at the sketchbook for 2014, and despite the half-planet distance between colleges, the class stays very much the same.

via Buzzfeed

The studio is weirdly broken up rather than the one giant communal space I’m used to, which I don’t love, but then I only like the the openness because of our little co-dependant group, who are all about 12000 miles that-a-way (points generally north-west.) *sob*
The first half of the semester in studio work is going to be spent on the Electrolux Design Lab competition, which, while a little too sustainability-concious in ethos for my liking, offers a pretty broad brief to work within.

“Practice in Context” turns out to be a research paper that can be on anything. It’s prep work for the FYP that the class here have to have done by the end of next semester. I have the luxury of 18 months to think about/work on it (it being the project, not the paper). That’s one of the major pros to coming here, it’s a sort of dress rehearsal for the first semester of final year. I get to start my FYP before I start my FYP.

My third class was supposed to be in Photography but my lack of a DSLR is, understandably, an issue, so I will be swapping that on Monday.

Getting Really Freaking Lost

The theme of this weeks Study Abroad post is getting lost. And yes there’s a reason.

When you come to a new anything you expect to get lost to a certain degree. I remember my first weeks in Limerick, wandering down corridors and into classes I had no business being in. But at least in UL the room numbering makes sense and the buildings have names instead of just more numbers. This is a floor map of “Building 1” at Unitec

There are no corridors really, you either get lucky with the right outside door or you walk through a series of classrooms to get where you need to go.Thankfully, because of my swapping from Photography I won’t have too much more to do with this building. Even the Product Design building, beautifully titled “76” has to put signs with arrows for all the rooms. I understand first years needing direction for a while, but if you require multiple signposts for the third year studios, something is wrong with your building. I’m liking this university, really I am, but Jesus, they don’t make it easy to get around.

Getting lost outside of college is more fun, or at least it should be. In my first week I took a wrong turn out of the supermarket and turned what should have been a half hour trip into an hour and a half, but that was a learning experience, I found a lot of shops and no harm was done. The same cannot be said for last weekends excursion to Waiheke Island.

In hindsight, I think he was trying to warn me

It started out as a pretty grey day, but Auckland had fooled me into dressing warm before, then hitting 28° by 11am. It was rainy and foggy for the ferry ride over, but still I was sure it would turn around, and honestly, I kind of liked being cold for the first time all week. The held up when we arrived, so we made the art gallery our first stop. It was a quick stop because it was considerably more concentrated on the selling than the viewing side. With the weather still miserable we decided to give it until we walked around the village before we gave up and went home. Lo and behold just as we were trudging back to the ferry, defeated, there was a break. Not beach weather, but enough that a 5/6k hiking trail didn’t seem like an awful idea.

But it was. Waiheke Island is pretty, and from the top of a hill the views are great. However it was when we were at the top of this hill that the sun came out. Great! Lets finish the trail and find a beach! The trail never ended. We walked and walked, the signposts continued to lie to us. We started the trail at 11.30am, we crawled onto the ferry at 6pm. I got the worst sunburn of my life, the kind of sun burn that makes you think, “Yup, I’m going to get cancer”, and blister that looks set to last me a number of months.
Oh and it rained for the ferry ride back too, so there’s that.

Goodbye Ireland!

So a week ago I packed my bags and flew 18,000km away from home to Auckland, NZ. This is the first of what will be a weekly post on the subject of studying abroad.

Before mentioning anything about NZ itself, I want to rant about long-haul flights a little, because they are a special kind of torture. To get here, I flew Cork to Heathrow, Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur and then on to Auckland. Cumulative travel time- 27 hours. 24 of them spent in the air. I wanted to die.

It didn’t help that despite leaving on Thursday morning, 30hrs later it was Saturday. Here is 13 ahead of home. I spent the first 3 days incapable of staying up past 5pm and waking up at ridiculous hours in the morning. I’m still about 3hrs behind.

Does. Not. Compute.

So the country, my initial impression is hot. So freaking hot. I expected it, kind of, coming from an Atlantic winter to Pacific summer, but it’s like I can’t remember a time I wasn’t sweating. I’ve found I can’t wait until it gets Autumn/Winter here and it’s a more reasonable 15 degrees. The second thing is the cicadas, it’s never silent here, there’s just this constant hiss. That never goes away. It sounds like I’m complaining here, which I guess I kind of am, but these are both things I’m sure I’ll adjust to, by the time Winter does roll around I’ll be missing the sun!

College-wise orientation was this morning. It’s really weird Europe not being a dominating force in the International scene. The co-ordinator asked “Who here is from China?” and what seemed like the entire room raised their hand. I’m the only Irish on campus, but that gives me a USP, so definitely not seeing that as a bad thing. Being “that girl with the blue hair” also helps.