Oh right, yeah…

…this is a thing I do, completely forgot. Only that my domain name renewal is due this week and they came looking for money I may never have remembered. Today is day 65 of my time in the Middle East, so it’s probably about time for an update.

It’s been a very quick 2 months, and I can see the next 22 going just as quickly. Is teaching my calling? No, 7 hours a day surrounded by children has not made me any more enamored with them than I was 2 months ago, but I can definitely think of worse things I could be doing, and as agreed, I have not slapped any of them. Snaps for Clodagh.

Snaps also for Ras al Khaimah, which has proven to be the much superior choice of city. From the rebel county to the rebel emirate, I’m very happy call it home. Dubai must be the Dublin of UAE, because like my experiences of Dublin, only bad things happen in Dubai.

Such as my second Paddy’s day abroad. Unlike 2014 where I was the only Irish person around and I went through all the plastic Paddy nonsense cheerfully thinking “This is wrong, this is all so wrong, you people are ridiculous”, Dubai put on a proper Paddy’s day, because Dubai is full of Irish people. Loud, messy, irritating Irish people. There were some brief shining hours early on where it was wonderful to be around the accents and the singing, but give it a couple of pints and I quickly remembered, “Oh right, we’re the worst”. We are the actual worst. And it wasn’t that I was too sober for it, because believe me, I wasn’t.

 

RAK has beaches, malls and a healthy dose of mountains thrown in too. It is the most ridiculous place I have ever been in my life and I love it for it. Should you ever find yourself here, my advice is to give up on logic early and save yourself the headache. Because no one else gives a fuck. When people U-turn or randomly reverse in 4 lanes of traffic, just go with it. When people refuse to let you open doors or throw anything in the bin yourself, just go with it. When the restaurant is “Italian Salsa”or “Canadian Pizza”, just go with it. When you go to open the door of a taxi and 8 taxi drivers pile out, just go with it. After 2pm on Thursday? Sorry hun, that’s it for the weekend. This place is everything.

Weathers been shite though.

I mean…mostly

Auckland City

In spite of (or maybe because of) growing up in the absolute middle of nowhere, I’ve always been more of a city girl. I can fall asleep regardless of noise and I love being able to walk to anything and everything. I love it in Limerick and I love it here.

I had my first shopping trip into the city didn’t involve buying much, thanks to a minor panic with my bank card, but I did get to go up the Sky Tower. Wow. Like I’ve said before, Ireland has a lot of great views, and we can certainly match any natural beauty NZ has going for it. What we don’t have is many epic cityscapes, which the Sky Tower provides in buckets.

I was also introduced to the shop Typo, which I absolutely adore and will no doubt spend way more than I should in over the next few months.

The Utter Sameness

I knew coming out here that NZ was the Ireland of the southern hemisphere,. “Era, sure it’s grand”=”No worries”, agriculture is still a big deal, and full of Irish people. But I wasn’t prepared for just how exactly the same things would be. Other than sun, which is still strange and alien to me.

This startling realisation occurred to me last Saturday, when, instead of being out bungee jumping or anything else the guidebook suggests, I was sketching products that will never exist for a project I’ve already lost interest in. Exactly what I’d be doing on an average weekend in Limerick. That’s the thing about peoples accounts of studying abroad, no-one mentions the study parts. I’m studying at the same level I would be at home and I spent ~14hrs a day on PD last semester. I had to quit the archery club, and basically all outside-PD friends. Where am I going to find time to spend on weekends away?

And even on these weekends away, a major part of NZ tourism is the impressive landscape. Ireland, like, invented using pretty views and clean air to lure holidaymakers.
I took the top one on Waiheke Island last week, the bottom at the Atlantic Challenge in Bantry in 2012. The only major difference is the shorts I was wearing when I took the one on the the top versus the 2 coats I was wearing for the other.


You know what, I retract whatever it is I’m trying to say here, that is a completely acceptable difference. Never mind, I’ve just wasted this post.

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.

In 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 Building 1. 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.