Tuesday, January 30, 2007

School and Akaroa Camping

Hullo again! so i know i haven't posted in almost two weeks, but i've been extremely busy! we started school last monday and things are going very well. we have another 3 and a half weeks left of our inquiry projects (i'm working with my flatmate, irene) and then we're off on placement. it will be our third and final placement which is both exciting and scary.
irene and i both joined the gym that is only a few seconds walk away from our apartment... with our membership we get 2 free sessions with a personal trainer, and so i met with ralph last week and again today. it's extremely motivating having a personal trainer - i love it! even though it's a little on the expensive side, i looked at my finances (once my osap gets in i will be in the gold) and decided that in the end i would rather have a body that is in shape than a trip to australia and so i'm going to keep meeting with ralph once a week for an hour-long session.
last weekend, andre and i went camping in Akaroa which is a small town on the pacific ocean that is about an hour and a bit away. we had LOVELY weather and ended up hiking up this HUGE hill called stony bay peak. unfortunately i forgot to take my digital camera with me (stoopid me, i know) and so i wasn't able to take any pictures, but i have been to akaroa before and so there are already pictures on my blog if you want to go back and look at them.
this weekend we are leaving on another trip (isn't it great when you only have to go to school once a week and the ONE day that you are supposed to go - tuesday - ends up being a national holiday in NZ?) for camping in abel tasman. it is at the top of the south island (i've never been up there before) about eight hours away so i'm very excited. think sandy white beaches and crystal blue oceans. we're going to go hiking again (the abel tasman national park is a wonderufl hiking ground) and hopefully be able to go kayaking, which i haven't done since i was a counsellor at camp couchiching a few summers ago, so i'm looking forward to the experience. we're driving our friend eve up to blenheim (where she lives and it is almost most of the way to abel tasman) and staying at her parents place for the night before heading the rest of the way on friday. i think we might also be meeting up with some of our friends from teacher's college who are also going to be up there, so that will be great! i promise to take my camera with me this time!
i think that is about all for now, really... been enjoying having an apartment where i can cook amazing food (tonight's dish is chicken stir fry with a nice fruit salad for dessert) and have peace and quiet whenever i need it. am DEFINITELY enjoying not being in residence anymore! haha!
alright, well my next posting will be after abel tasman and i'll try to get some pictures up too! ttyl everyone!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rangiora and Hamner Springs

Hello hello... see? This is pretty good, it's been less than a week (i think) and already i'm posting another blog entry...
Not too much to tell, really. The other day Andre and I took a day trip to Rangiora (it's a very small town about 40 minutes away) where we enjoyed the beautiful weather, had a nice little lunch and then had some ice cream in the park (awww... what a wonderful day - just like in a movie, haha).
Yesterday, my friend Monika picked me up (she got a rental car for the week) and we drove to Hamner Springs which is about an hour and a half north of Christchurch. There are beeeyootiful mountains everywhere in Hamner, but the best part for sure would be the hot thermal springs that they have! We took our bathing suits and (for $12) got to sit in the nice thermal spas for a couple of hours... it was really neat. Yesterday was also pretty much the most beautiful day that we have had here since I got back (it must have been about 24 degrees, no humidex with bright clear blue skies - just gorgeous). We also had lunch and wandered around this small town for a bit. When we came back we went to the movies and watched Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" - i do not recommend this movie... i think i just pretty much sat there waiting for the next character to die a horrible, horrible death.
today Andre and I are going to a bbq this arvo (afternoon in kiwi-speak) and then to a potluck/party tonight. should be fun and interesting! i made a HUGE batch of chili in my nice new slow-cooker that we'll be taking to the party...I'm sure that i'll tell you all about it in my next post, including (most likely) how my first few days back at school went.
this semester should be intersting, because instead of actually having classes we are doing this inquiry thing, where we pick a topi (can be done with partners) and pretty much just spend 150 hours (literally, in a five week period) researching this topic, while keeping a journal about it and creating a presentation to show to the rest of the class. Irene and I (Irene is my roomate, she is also the one that i went to thailand and singapore with) are going to work together - we are going to survey about 50 teachers to find out who their role models were and what characteristics these role models had that they admired to see if there is a correlation (surprisingly enough, a lot of teachers - myself included - have role models who ARE or WERE teachers themselves. for example, my role model is my momma - awwww - and she was a teacher at OD and Twin). at the same time, we are also going to ask these teachers for tips and hints about disciplining students and room layout, etc., to create a "Guide for Beginning Teachers". should be intersting...
and something that is really exciting is - we found out that our microwave is also an oven! irene and i were both a little bummed at not having an oven, until one of the other residents here in my apartment building told us about the microwave... so now i can make vegetarian lasagna and chicken breasts stuffed with feta cheese and sundried tomatoes! yeehaw!
that is all for now, folks! tty in a bit ("tty" means "talk to you", grandma!)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I'm BACK!!!!

hello hello hello... well, after a wonderful holiday back home in Canada for 6 weeks i am back in new zealand to finish up my final semester here at teacher's college. i'm so excited to be back!
my holidays were amazing... it was sooo great to see so many of my friends and my family. i didn't really do too much (mostly i worked at my old job, the panhandler in the orillia square mall which was awesome cuz i definitely needed the money) besides hanging out with people. being away in nz definitely made me appreciate my friends and family more (i never wanted to leave my house - just wanted to stay with my parents)!
really there isn't too much to say... i've got a nice apartment (or "flat" as they would say in kiwi) with my friend irene. it's a little on the expensive side but it is really nice to have our own little lounge area where we can entertain friends (which we already have). the best part about it is of course, the little kitchen where we can cook our own meals. and andre bought me a slow cooker which is amazing - i've already made chili and tonight we are having steak done in the slow cooker!
there's a gym that is literally a 10second walk from our apartment and so irene and i joined that the other day - it is a really classy gym! we get to have two free personal trainer sessions, so i'm going to try and do that next week before i start school.
planning on doing another road trip with andre in a couple of weeks - this time we are going to go camping up north near abel tasman (think crystal blue ocean and kayaking). we have a holiday coming up (yes, already) because it will be waitangi day on february 6th (this is the day when, hundreds of years ago the europeans and the maoris signed the treaty of waitangi stating that the europeans wouldn't take over the maori land, yadda yadda yadda, but of course they screwed them over in the end anyways) and so we will end up getting about a five day weekend during school time. i will try to take my digital camera and take lots of glorious pictures!
the weather hasn't been too bad - it's usually around 20 or so degrees, but usually it is pretty cloudy (welcome to life living on an island). today started off being pretty blue skies but of course, it is getting cloudy now. oh well, i guess i can't complain cuz i didn't really get much of a winter this year! haha!
i think that is about it. i still have one week off before going back to school. i'm excited to start up again - it should be interesting this time because we aren't really taking any classes - we're working on an inquiry program where it's more like self-directed learning. we have to pick a topic and then research it and show a presentation at the end of five weeks. irene and i are going to work together - we are going to try to find out if there is a correlation between teachers and their role models by surveying at least 50 teachers. while we're at it, we are also going to ask these teachers for tips and hints for starting teachers and create a beginning teacher guide - should be interesting!
i think that's about it for now folks... i promise to try and post on this more often (i got a few complaints while i was home about my lack of blogging, lol)! miss you all and just remember - i'm only here for a few more months and then it will be back in canada for me!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Countdown is ON! (A small rant about the not-so-nice things of NZ... or maybe just Christchurch?)

So as it is right now, I only have 18 days and 5 assignments until I leave for Canada for the summer (NZ summer)/Christmas holidays... and I can't wait! Don't get me wrong, I love NZ and am so happy that I was given the opportunity to do my teacher studies here, but there are just sooo many things that are great about Canada/Canadians that I miss incredibly! I know that it is because I was born and raised in Canada and so that it what I am used to, but being here for so long makes me really appreciate my little hometown!
First of all, the humour is really different - it's so hard to explain, but other Canadians have agreed with me. I just don't think that Kiwis get our jokes and often take us serious when we're really not. Of course, this goes vice versa - there are many times when I'm not sure if someone is joking with me or being completely honest!
And of course, I miss Canadian food - mostly my mom and dad's cooking... the food here at Sonoda is wayyyy below par (I didn't realize how well I had it when I was in Guelph - the cafe food there can NOT be beat!). Give me my mom's yorkshire puddings or my dad's steak with garlic/chili rub ANYDAY! East Side Marios, Pizza Pizza, Doritos, Dairy Queen, Kraft Dinner, hot dogs... mmm... toronto street meat - how much I miss these foods!
I think one of the main differences that I've really noticed here though, is how people treat each other. Don't get me wrong, there are some incredibly nice Kiwis, just as there are some incredibly horrible Canadians... but it just seems like the people here are only concerned about themselves! No one opens the door for you, they just let it slam right behind them and in your face! At the clubs, people run you down to get where they want to go - no apologies, or anything... even in the bars/clubs in Toronto I got better treatment!!! I don't know, maybe I'm just homesick and so right now I'm noticing these things more and more...
But then of course, there are the AMAZING things about New Zealand - like obviously all the incredible people I have met here... and the incredible travelling opportunities that I'm being given (in no way could i ever travel to Thailand and Singapore for two weeks for only $1700 including hotels and transport from Canada!), the beeyootiful scenery (mountains, oceans, plains - it's all here in such a small land mass).
Alright, well that's my small rant for now... looking back the last nine months have gone by incredibly fast! i can't believe that i'm almost done my second semester here. it seems like not that long ago i was counting down the days until i CAME to nz... not to when i would be going home for a bit. I definitely think that being here has changed me (hopefully for the better!)... i feel more mature (ya, right!) and definitely more independent. and feeling like i can handle anything that comes my way... who knows what the next few months (and years) are gonna throw my way, or where i'm going to be - but i definitely know i'm ready! Bring it ON!
luv kari

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Some Thailand pictures

Okay... don't get too excited, because this site only lets me post about 5 pictures at a time and i've got over 500 pictures from thailand/singapore - and that's just digital! here is a random view...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Thailand and Singapore!!!

Wow... I am a horrible blogger (grandma, that is someone who writes a blog, like this one). An entire month has gone by without a single post from me? I'm surprised if people even continue checking my blog... I am sorry!
As many of you know, i recently went on a wonderful holiday to thailand and to singapore over the two-week break. it was an amazing time and now i'm going to tell you all about it!!!
first of all - if anyone ever has the opportunity to fly with singapore airlines i strongly suggest you do - they are the best airline in the world! first of all, you get to choose which movies you want to watch WHEN you want to watch them (and they have the best movies - i watched sooo many... even ones that haven't come to the theatres here in NZ yet!). secondly - they never stop giving you food! ours was a ten-hour flight to singapore and we had two meals (dinner and breakfast) not to mention as many snacks and such as you could possibly want! it was heaven...
we landed in singapore first but this was just a stopover before our flight over to phuket so i will tell you more about singapore later.
we got into phuket on tuesday and had a pick-up to our FIVE STAR RESORT! we stayed at the le meridien and it was gorgeous! directly on the beach, huge pools (yes... pools)... simply marvellous. by the way i went with kelly and irene, and irene's sister pam and pam's boyfriend ryan... just so that you know!
for the first few days we pretty much just lounged around by the pool or the beach and then went into town at night for dinner and some shopping... the markets were incredible and there is a lot of things to buy (if you've got the money, which i didn't). those thai people certainly know how to heckle... pretty lady... want to buy a t-shirt?
during our stay in phuket we decided to take a day-long boat trip through the krabi islands. it was awesome. they took us to one of the spots where the leonardo dicaprio film "the beach" was filmed and we got to swim in the lagoon! gorgeous! we also went to monkey island (filled with monkeys and people were actually going right up to them! but our tour guide wouldn't let us cuz they are wild and are known to bite people) and we went snorkelling! it was a great day and sooo beautiful!
but it's good that we went that day cuz the rest of our time in thailand (and singapore) we barely saw the sun! kinda sad and i didn't get much of a tan (some people would say that is a good thing, right kirstyn?) but it was still sooo hot that it didn't matter much.
irene, kelly and i also went on an elephant safari! that was a lot of fun and we got to ride elephants and see an elephant show... it was a good day... but then that night - tragedy struck. we went out to a nice restaurant and i had been craving a hamburger all week long and so i had one. and it was delicious... until i got back to the hotel about five hours later and had the worst case of food poisoning ever! it was horrible and unfortunately, but me out of commission for the rest of our stay in phuket (i got food poisioning about the second to last day there) and for the first day in bangkok...
oh bangkok... what a dirty, crowded and disgusting place that was! everything with the coup was fine, there was nothing at all going on and we definitely didn't see anything. on our second day there (and my first day being able to step away from teh bathroom) we went on a half-day tour of the temples which was great fun. we also did some more shopping in bangkok (as in, i watched irene and kelly shop... fun!) and that was bangkok... nothing more to say. it was cool to be there but i don't think i'd ever want to go again, truth be told - but i LOVED phuket...
but i think the best part of the trip was singapore. a beautiful country with sooo many flowers and colours and it's sooo clean! we stayed with irene and pam's aunt and uncle (lillian and rudy). they were sooo nice! they took us out to a really nice dinner and then on our first full day in singapore they took us to sentosa island (and you have to get there by cable car). we also went to the underwater world at sentosa island and to a dolphin show and we went on a few rides. then we went to the only night safari in the world! it's a zoo that is only held from 7:30pm until midnight and because it's dark (they have lights that make it seem like there's a full moon year-round) you can't see the wires and so it's almost as if the animals could come out and attack you - so cool!
we also went to the singapore zoo and it's incredible how close to the animals you're actually allowed to get... never in canada could you get soo close. i have a picture of myself with a lemur that was NOT in a cage, just hanging about and the monkeys and orang utans are free-ranging meaning they are allowed to go anywhere they want in the zoo (but i think they pretty much stick to their own habitats).
in singapore i was given the amazing opportunity to go and visit the gravesite of my great-grandad, ernest william louch who was killed in singapore on valentine's day, 1942. he is buried at the kranji commonwealth memorial site and i think that i may have been the first family member ever to have visited! his grave is extremely beautiful with flowers all around and my nana's name is on the grave as well (it says beloved father of brenda and iris and husband of elsie may). it was really emotional seeing his grave. i took pictures!!!
and that's my trip! now i'm back in nz for another five weeks before going home for the christmas holidays (and counting down the days, trust me!) i love new zealand but it will be great to touch base for a bit - i miss my family and friends!
well that's all for now - i'll try to post some pics soon, but it never seems to work cuz our internet connection is sooo slow.
bye!!! kari

Friday, September 15, 2006

Placement, Chris' Visit and Other Things

Soooo... it has been over a month since I last posted! I am soooo sorry, but you'll have to blame it on placement - i've had two weeks of full control which pretty much means that i AM the teacher of the classroom (seriously, planning, marking, management, everything) which has kept me super busy. So because it's been so long, be warned that this is probably going to be a longgggg post.
Where to start? Placement has been incredible. This time i have been placed at a decile 10 (really really rich) school called Thorrington. And i have year 0/1 which means that my kids are 5! they are adorable... i really love it at this school. everything just seems to be clicking for me. I actually was questioning myself before i started this placement as to whether or not becoming a teacher was really right for me. and now i know for sure - this is definitely what i was meant to do. i definitely think that i am more geared towards the younger kids (kindergarten, grade 1 or 2) because i love acting like a goof in front of them! i've been teaching all the great action songs i remember from when i was in Brownies (Boa constrictor, Purple Stew, Father Abraham) and they just eat them up - "Can we sing it again? Again! Again!" It's incredible. And last time i was on placement, i found that my management skills really needed fine-tuning - not this time! The kids listen to me.... i love it.
It was a little tough at first. My very first week in the junior and middle syndicates at my school were putting on a production - "Jack and the Beanstalk". And on my very first day at the school they decided that i should be the one in charge of sound! So all day monday and all day tuesday i didn't even see my kids cuz i was up in the sound booth, trying to figure out how everything worked! And once the actual shows started they just kept giving me more jobs... first i was just in charge of pressing play and putting on the write songs for the kids... then i had to turn on the microphone for when the "Giant" speaks... then i was in charge of turning on and off all the microphones on the stage (about 5 of them) when any child speaks or off when they start singing - gah! but it all ended well and we ended up having a party a couple of weeks later to thank the student teachers and parent helpers - free alcohol and food! yum!
my second week of placement my associate ended up having the flu and laryngitis so she wasn't there for the whole week! in a way it was good because we had a couple of different substitute teachers in so i got to see lots of different teaching skills and tricks, but i hadn't yet been able to observe my own teacher! i also got to do lots of teaching myself in the first couple of weeks, which usually doesn't happen - usually you're just observing or interacting with the kids. and then i started full control on my third week in and it was great! even though for this placement we are only required to teach for one full week, i ended up doing two because everything was going so well - my associate teacher was really happy with me. i even started up two units - technology (we're going to bake muffins and the kids are making their own packaging for the muffins) and music (i bring in a guitar and teach the kids a few songs and then we work on beat, rhythm and pitch with body percussion and with simple musical instruments - they love it). with my technology unit i've been given a display board in the room that i've been decorating with all of our packaging designs and our muffin survey (to determine which muffin to bake - of course, chocolate won). it's really great to see something that you've been working on in the classroom - and my professors at college always said to leave something behind! i'm really proud of the work i'm doing at this placement. i was even talking to my associate about coming back after the holidays to help out because i have a few breaks in my schedule (a morning off here, an afternoon off there) and she's really excited for the extra help!
so that's placement. onto chris' visit! my roommate from guelph, chris came down for the weekend a few weeks ago (right after placement just began) after teaching in japan for two years and then visiting our other friend lauren in australia. it was so great to have someone from canada! i met him in kaikoura on friday night and we just hung out for a bit at one of the bars (kaikoura is really small, so even though i say "one of the bars", it's actually about the only one). we were staying in a hostel that night and both of us were actually coming down with colds AND were tired (me from being on placement all week and him from travelling so much) so it was a pretty early night. but that's okay cuz the next day we were going WHALE WATCHING!
now my only other experience in whale watching was on a boat in mexico when i was 11 - and we didn't see any whales. this time chris and i paid to be taken up in a float plane which circles around the whales! just being in the small plane was exciting enough. i got to sit up front which worked out well cuz chris brought his amazing digital camera from japan and had the big windows in the back to take pictures out of. the plane flies out to the middle of the ocean and the circles around the whales for ten minutes - and we saw two sperm whales! we actually saw one of them dive under the water and chris even managed to film a bit of footage of it! it was an amazing experience and i just sat there dumbstruck for sooo long!
after kaikoura we drove back to christchurch and just hung out with so of my friends at rez on saturday night. we tried to go out on the town, but i was just sooo tired and feeling sick that i couldn't do it, so we came back and watched a scary movie in the lounge. it was still a good night!
on sunday we decided to do the "touristy" things here in Christchurch which of course, i hadn't done yet! we went up the gondola which gives you a 360 degree view of christchurch, lyttleton and the banks pensisula and then we went on the trams through the city of christchurch. we also went to the aquarium and even got to see the rare kiwi birds (they're actually only found on stewart island which is wayyy down south and they're nocturnal so the aquarium has two which they keep in a quiet, dark enclosure. Sunday night we went to see a movie (Snakes on a Plane which was stupid, but funny) and then finally crashed out! And then chris left on monday - but it was a great weekend! i do have some pictures so i will try and post them after this.
other than that i really haven't done too much. placement takes a lot outta you, because not only are you planning for school and actually being a teacher, but you have to be a student as well because we have so many assignments due! but now i only have one week left of placement and because i'm already done my full control it should be a pretty easy week. i still have my technology and music lessons to teach, and i'll help out with the reading and maths groups but other than that - i'm free! in about 9 days i leave for thailand with kelly and irene and i'm super excited for that.... a week of lying on the beach in phuket sounds really nice right now! then i come back for about another six weeks (in which i have about ten assignments to do) and then i fly home for the holidays! yes, for those of you who don't know yet... i'm coming home! i've decided that it's the best thing for me since my mom and dad can't come out to see me. i even contacted my old job and will be working there for christmas vacation - yay to having snow again for christmas!
that's all for now... i warned you it was a long post!
miss you all and will see some of you soon!