Leadership in the Classroom

I would not be where I am in life today, if not for those who led me yesterday.

No phrase has ever rung so true for me, nor have I ever felt so inspired to be that leader for someone else’s tomorrow. As a teacher, I have the invaluable opportunity and ability to cultivate the minds of the next generation, and it is for that reason that I have honed my leadership skills. As a woman in the field of science, I must lead with a unique style. I must be gentle, driven, fierce, determined, and inquisitive, all at the same time. In my classroom, I must be an impeccable leader.

A good leader, leads from a place of love for others.

A good leader, is one that knows their people’s strengths and weaknesses at all times.

They are able to alter their leadership style to best suit the person in need and situation at hand.

They are capable of dissolving conflict and inspiring the unmotivated.

A good leader, is a teacher.

One who does not teach the next generation success, but rather teaches them the skills they need to be successful.

A good leader is an exemplar.

They strive to live their life in the same manner that they encourage others to live.

However, they are not without flaws.

A good leader is relatable, she is humble, she is capable of making mistakes, and capable of owning up to them.

A good leader, is one who does not need recognition to triumph, but recognizes other’s triumphs.

In my future as a teacher, I will empower my students without fail. I will believe in them without waver, I will encourage their curiosities without doubt. I will instill confidence in those who do not see it in themselves. I will treat each student individually, so that they may know what it feels like to be seen and heard. I will command my classroom first and for most with love, so that my students will understand that failure is a part of learning, and learning is to be celebrated.

Rather than leading in front, I will lead my students from the side, and watch as they accomplish great things.

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A letter to Ms. Thomsen: the woman who changed my life without either of us realizing it, until now.

As of late, I have struggled to answer the seemingly simple question, “Why do you want to be a teacher?” My struggle is not founded in uncertainty, but rather the inability to transcribe what is in my heart, to paper. Teaching is not only the career I have chosen, but the lifestyle that I choose to live every day: a lifelong devotion to encourage others, lend a helping hand, & ignite the curiosity that burns within all humans. I want to be a teacher, because what makes me happiest is positively influencing others. More than anything, I want to leave lasting, meaningful, & inspiring impacts on my students, whether they realize it or not.

In 11th grade, my chemistry teacher, Ms. Thomsen, asked each of us to think of someone who impacted us in our scientific lives. We were to dedicate our lab notebooks to them. It could be a scientist, a mentor, or an inventor, anyone really. I don’t remember who came to mind that September day at Milaca High School, but whatever name I wrote down 6 years ago, is drastically different than the name I would write down if asked to do the same today.

Ms. Thomsen was everything that I strive to emulate as a science teacher. She created a welcoming learning environment for all students, & motivated each of us to do our best & work hard. Rather than forcing us to simply regurgitate information about Chemistry, she encouraged us to get our hands dirty & DO science. She always brought lessons full circle, by showing us how they related to the real world, & she had a gift for instilling confidence in those who lacked their own. Perhaps most importantly to the younger version of myself, Ms. Thomsen modeled what it meant to be a fearless woman in a field dominated by men. I could write numerous essays about all of the incredible male science teachers that I’ve had over the years, but Ms. Thomsen was the first female science teacher I had in high school. If it weren’t for the passion that Ms. Thomsen brought to her classroom, I am not sure that I would have pursued science at the collegiate level at all.

It took me a long time to grasp that there is no limit on what we can discover through science, but when I did, I knew that I wanted to explore it all, & share it with others. I quickly realized I didn’t really want a career in science. Rather, a career devoted to unveiling the scientists within the next generation in hopes that I might inspire students to pursue careers in the sciences themselves.

In three months I will be tossing my cap at graduation, & like I dedicated my science notebook in 11th grade, I’d like to take the time to dedicated my degree to someone who inspired me. I am very passionate about science, & yes, scientists make incredible, noteworthy discoveries every day, but I have come to realize they are not who has inspired me most in my scientific life. My passions were in fact galvanized by my past teachers. Unfortunately, Ms. Thomsen passed during my freshman year of college, so I never had the chance to tell her how much of an impact she had on my life, or that I am now dedicating my life to being the type of teacher she was, but that isn’t the point of teaching, is it?

Interestingly enough, this is one of the aspects of teaching that I find most beautiful. I am not becoming a teacher because I expect my students to tell me that I changed their lives, but I AM becoming a teacher to change their lives. I want to be a teacher, because dedicated teachers played a crucial role in my life, expecting nothing in return & I feel that it is my calling to do the same for the next generation, whether they realize it or not.

7 hilarious ways to thwart off your relatives when you’re single as f*** for the Holidays.

So, it’s that time of year again.

Holiday get togethers.

Of course I’m SUPER DUPER excited to see all my relatives & explain how single I am. So while I sit here with a tub of ice cream (kidding), I resorted to a little holiday humor, & I thought I’d share my mischief with you all.

Here are some tips & tricks to getting through the Holidays with your relatives, whether you are notoriously single, recently heart broken, or just looking for some laughs.

  1. Pet Lover???
    Are you an obsessive dog mom? This trick works best with relatives who don’t know your pets name, & it goes like this:
    Relative: “So, anyone special in your life?”
    You: “Actually, yes! I was going to bring Jack* because I wanted everyone to meet him. He’s usually so obedient, but I got worried that he’d get too overwhelmed with all the people & food here. I really didn’t want him to have an accident, or jump up on the counters & eat all the horderves. Besides, his farts smell really bad when he’s nervous. 
    * Insert your pets name here.
    – DO NOT ACTUALLY MENTION THAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT AN ANIMAL.
    – Continue to rant on & on about all characteristics of your dog, as if you were talking about your significant other that you are infatuated with.
    – The goal here is to have one conversation that means something completely different to the two people conversing. You clearly know you’re talking about your pet, but your relative is left dazed & confused about what kind of weird kinky relationship you’re involved in.
    – If they seem concerned about what you’re saying, quickly respond with, “Oh, you weren’t asking about my dog?”, & walk away.images-1.jpeg
  2. World Traveler?
    Did you recently return from an amazing trip abroad? When family members ask if you’re seeing someone new, excitedly tell them all about your new romance from your recent trip to *Spain.
    Don’t forget to include all the details about how it was love at first sight when you caught him pick-pocketing another tourist, & how you couldn’t get enough of his beautiful voice as he said, “¿Te casarás conmigo para que pueda convertirme en un estadounidense?”* over & over again.
    Admit that the relationship has been pretty rocky since you don’t speak the same language, but you’re working on it because you can’t get enough of each other.
    – *Insert the country you visited here.
    – If you google translate the Spanish phrase I used, it actually means, “Will you marry me so I can become an American?” (You can use this phrase in any language to match the country you traveled to.) BONUS POINTS if: A.) one of your relatives is fluent in this language, or B.) if they ask what the phrase means: admit that you don’t actually know, & google translate it with them. Casually mention that it totally explains why he proposed to you so quickly, & act like it’s no big deal.images-2.jpeg
  3. Recent Breakup?
    Are you concerned about your relatives asking why you & your significant other recently broke up? Let’s be honest, no one actually wants to discuss the details of their latest heartbreak with their family over the holidays, so here’s a quick fix. If anyone asks why you broke up respond with a ridiculous reason, & act as if it was as absolute deal breaker. Feel free to make up your own, but here are some ideas: Insert your Ex’s name/pronoun where it fits.
    – Jack likes pineapple on his pizza, & I just can not stand those type of people.
    – Jessie brushes her teeth in the shower, & she won’t listen when I tell her how disgusting that is.
    – Justin didn’t water my plants while I was away for the weekend, & obviously if he can’t water plants how could I ever rely on him to take care of our future children.
    – He didn’t call me back after I told him I loved him on the first date.
    – Lucas posted an ugly picture of me on Instagram on our anniversary. So inconsiderate.
    – He kept doing too many nice things for me, so I was suspicious he was cheating.
    – *** If you want to be extra risqué and really throw your relatives off: Use this one. He refused to do it *insert sex position* & that is just a deal breaker for me.
  4. Oh I’m just playing the field. *Use with caution.When a relative asks if you’re seeing anyone, go into a huge rant about your nonexistent dating life, Sex & the City style. Don’t forget to mention these crucial things to make the conversation really awkward & ensure your relatives never ask about your love life again.
    – Well I’ve been going on a lot of dates lately, & it turns out that the great guys never want to spend the night on the first date, & the ones that do, are either married or have an STD.
    – Tinder is a total bust, it’s mostly horny college kids & single baby daddies.
    – I tried dating a girl once, but I realized right away that I’m definitely straight.
    – Apparently guys are scared off when you tell them you want to have their babies right after you meet. Who knew?
    – & to be honest, I’m actually seeing two different guys right now, but I couldn’t decide which one to bring, so I told them both I was going to Alaska for the holidays to visit my family. That they wouldn’t come with.
    Side affects include, but are not limited to: Your family thinking you’re a slut, family interventions, your family thinking you’re boy crazy, your family thinking your unstable, or even worse, a family member asking for dating advice!
  5. Oh, didn’t you meet my new boyfriend? He’s around here somewhere.
    *This trick only works if you are at a very large gathering!
    If a family member asks if you’re seeing anyone new, act surprised & say, “Oh, you didn’t get a chance to meet my new boyfriend? He’s around here somewhere!” 
    Come up with different places he’s disappeared to as you see fit.
    – In the restroom.
    – Helping with dishes
    – Ran to the liquor store
    – Ran to the grocery store for any odd item.
    – Downstairs playing with the kiddos.
    When people start to catch on, leave the family get together. Run.
    BONUS POINTS: If people catch on too quickly, act like you can’t find your imaginary boyfriend & get your entire family to start looking for your boyfriend who doesn’t exist, & sneak away while you have the chance. I mean it, GET OUT.images-3.jpeg
  6. Star Crossed Lovers
    This one works for just about anyone. Explain to your family that you couldn’t bring your boyfriend home for the holidays because no one can actually know you’re dating, or you’re in love, but you can’t actually be together for various reasons. Here are some ideas:
    – You’re dating your boss
    – You’re dating your professor
    – You’re boyfriend is on house arrest
    – You’re boyfriend is in jail
    – You’re boyfriend is your sibling’s Ex
    – You’re in love with someone who doesn’t know you exist.Act as if  this is a totally reasonable excuse, and your relationship is totally normal & healthy. Watch as your family members begin to believe you are insane, but hey that’s better than being single right?!Unknown.png
  7. Holiday in Handcuffs
    If you’re still really worried about being single, you can always pull a full fledged Trudie from Holiday in Handcuffs, & kidnap someone to pretend to be your significant other. But watch out, you just might actually fall in love, & your life may turn into a RomCom.holiday-in-handcuffs-poster.jpgOn second thought, the odds are pretty good & this definitely seems like the best option!In all reality here’s to everyone out there that goes through the Holidays single (whether you’re ready to mingle or not). Curl up by the fire, & enjoy your hot chocolate alone, with no one to annoy you, interrupt your favorite Christmas song that’s been on repeat since Dec 1st, or judge you for watching ABC’s 25 days of Christmas Movies, 24/7.

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    Walk into your family get together with confidence, & brag about how freaking amazing you are. Don’t forget to talk all about your awesome new job, wonderful grades, the amazing solo traveling experience you just had, & especially how much you don’t need a significant other to be happy during the Holidays! 

    I hope you all found this as funny as I did, & remember, these tips work just as well, if not better for high school reunions. (:

The Heart of New Zealand Pt. 1

Let me start by saying that I am well aware that Queenstown is a very touristy town in New Zealand.

That being said, to me, my experience in Queenstown encompassed all that I wanted New Zealand to be.

So here’s how my two days in the coolest place ever went:

I allowed myself to sleep in on Tuesday morning, knowing that I got to do whatever I wanted for the entire day. (Perks of solo traveling!) However, since I’ve been waking up so early every day for the last month, I woke up at about 8:30 anyway. Not my idea of sleeping in.

I woke up to some bad news from another girl sharing my room at the hostel. She had traveled all the way to Queenstown for an interview at a horse farm, only to be told that they couldn’t come & get her because it was raining. Charlotte & I were very confused as to why rain would prohibit them from driving to get her, but it was out of her control at this point. So seeing that she was in poor spirits, & I was about to spend the day by myself, we decided to go for a walk around the lake together.

Charlotte is from the UK & was fun to talk to. One of the most amazing parts of traveling is the opportunity to meet people from around the world, share, compare, & acknowledge one another’s ways of life. Also, luckily she didn’t mind my obsession with taking some photos of the beautiful scenery.

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Luckily during our walk Charlotte got a phone call from the horse farm that they were in fact coming to pick her up so we walked back to the hostel and she was on her way! (Charlotte, where ever you may be, I hope you got the job!)

So now my solo time actually started. Kim (another hostel mate) asked my if I wanted to go up the gondola (enclosed ski lift that goes up one of the mountains) so I knew that I needed to go purchase my ticket. I set up in that direction, but was quickly distracted by some hot chocolate from Bob’s Weigh.

If you’re ever in Queenstown, Bob’s Weigh is a must. It’s a small cafe, but well worth it.

This was my BOWL of hot chocolate. YUM.

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Yes, I did get hot chocolate from Bob’s Weigh three days in a row… It was that good.

After I read my book and finished my hot chocolate, I walked the rest of the way to the gondola station, bought my ticket, & even found a cool trail that I planned on hiking the next day when the rest of my friends got to town.

I still had some time to kill before Kim was ready to do the gondola ride (she was busy Canyon swinging – like bungee jumping, except swinging over a canyon). So I found a dock & grabbed my book.

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I could have sat in this spot reading for hours. Queenstown gave me the same feeling that Duluth does. A homey vibe, with a spark of adventure. (Or perhaps a flame of adventure in Queenstown’s case). I was 100% content.

But, I bought a gondola ticket, and nothing was going to keep me from the top of the mountain, so Kim & I headed up at 1:30.

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Not only was the view at the top gorgeous, but included in my gondola ticket, were also a couple runs on the luge at the top! I also had a blast on the luge. At one point it started to drizzle, so the track got wet and slippery. The wipeouts made it even better! It reminded me of something both my dad & my brother would have had a blast doing! (go pro videos to come)

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We took the gondola back down, & I waited to have dinner until Emily, Jack, Kelcy, & Ro arrived in town. I was very happy to see the four of them as they got off the bus from Fiordland, & they came baring lots of stories from the Keplar track.

Much to my surprise, Kelcy didn’t arrive with the others, but I quickly learnt that she ditched them to go & see Milford Sound. Okay, ditched was perhaps an exageration, but none the less she showed up about 45 minutes later, with quite the tale of her past 24 hours.

We went to Fergburger again for dinner, & this time I decided to get a hamburger (still going to only eat fish from here on out). After dinner we went to a place called the Beer Cafe for some drinks.

New Zealand has some really amazing heat lamps outside everywhere (like at Tavern) so even though it was a bit chilly, we enjoyed our beers (& Ciders) outside, as we swapped stories from the past week since we split up in Auckland.

We were all very tired, so with full tummies, rosy cheeks, & good spirits we turned in for the night, knowing that Wednesday would hold just as many laughs that would turn into fond memories.

Dunedin to Queenstown

When Kaitlyn & I woke up yesterday (Sunday) we went to a place called Tunnel Beach with two of her friends, Leah & Angela. In order to get to tunnel beach we took about a twenty minute bus ride, & once we got off the bus we walked about 30 minutes to the ocean front.

What a view. I’ll let the photographs speak for themselves.

 

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Our time at tunnel beach was limited because we bought tickets for a Brewery tour. Speights is New Zealands largest brewery, & the Speights location in Dunedin is the largest on the South Island! The 2011 earthquake in Christchurch took out the Christchurch location, & Dunedin picked up the slack.
The tour was mint (prime/awesome/on point). It lasted about an hour & went through the history of beer in the world, Speights beer, & ended with a half hour all you can drink “tasting”. Yum. Their 5 Malt Dark beer was good, but The Brewhouse’s Beaver Bay Brown still has my heart.
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After the tour we were quite exhausted so we walked back to Kaitlyn’s house stopping at some shops along the way, & getting some take away pizza.
We basically relaxed, ate food, & watched shameless for the rest of the night. For the record, this was exactly the kind of night I needed, as the last 3 weeks have been pretty go go go. We did however go out at around 9pm to get real fruit ice cream/yogurt. & man was it good. I got a raspberry yogurt, & it’s the best frozen yogurt I’ve ever had, raspberry chunks & all.
This morning (Monday) Kaitlyn woke up to go to Uni, & I hung out at her place while my laundry dried, so that I could pack up my things.
*Side note: Let this be the official record that I will never use a suitcase again. If it doesn’t fit in my 50L backpack, it doesn’t need to come with.
After I had showered & repacked my luggage, (Man did I overpack for this trip.) Kaitlyn returned from class & we walked around the botanical gardens. The gardens were beautiful & also had an aviary we could walk through.
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Unfortunately [most] good things come to an end, & that includes my time in Dunedin. I’m currently writing from a coach bus that is bringing me from Dunedin to Queenstown where I will be spending the next three days before I’m off to Christchurch, & then Sydney, Australia.
Kaitlyn walked me part way to my bus stop before going to her next class, we bid farewell & I continued on my way to the bus station. I’m so thankful that I was able to visit her while in New Zealand! It was a great weekend, & it was fun to see the place she studies, & meet some of the people she spends her time with.
*Side note: if you’ve been thinking about studying abroad (or traveling) in New Zealand, or anywhere for that matter, stop thinking & just do it. It’s amazing. If you’re worried about the money, a wise woman once told me that your 20’s are the best time in life to be broke. Maddy was right, I don’t regret a dime I’ve had to spend on this trip. It’s been too incredible, & money can always be made.
The view on my bus ride has been awesome as we progress westerly across the country we have gone from rolling hills with sheep everywhere (like most of NZ) to beautiful mountains with mountains & rivers cutting in-between. Oh & snow. Damm that white stuff, I thought I was rid of it.
Upon arrival in Queenstown I checked into my hostel & got settled. One of my hostel mates actually has a friend studying his Phd at Goat Island Marine Reserve, which is where we stayed for the last 2.5 weeks! Small world!
For dinner I met up with & old friend that I know both from summer camp in middle school & Bemidji State. Ryan & I walked around the city center & then got Fergburger (famous burger joint). Per my trying to eat less meat, I got a fried tofu burger, & it sure was tasty!
For now I’m just chilling at my hostel planning tomorrows adventures. Since my bus got in after dark today, I’m looking forward to stepping outside tomorrow & being “wowed” by Queenstown.
Cheers!
Since I’ve forgotten to do them for a few days here’s another translation:
Flipflops = Jandals

A piece of home, in a land far, far, away.

This morning I rose at 4:00am in order to catch a 4:30 shuttle to the airport. I was set to fly from Auckland to Dunedin, & luckily my excitement made it quite easy to wake up so early.

It was a pretty quick flight, most of which I spent alternating between reading & a state of unconsciousness. Upon arrival in Dunedin I easily found my shuttle which dropped me off at Kaitlyn’s front door on Castle Street.

Castle street is hoppin’. & that’s no exaggeration. Filled with international college students it seems as though theres always a party going on. As I’m writing this (11:12pm) I can hear the bass thumping across the street, & the mulling about of college students… I mean, Uni students.

Today was fun exploring the city center of Dunedin with Kaitlyn. First off, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other, so it was great to catch up, & meet some of her friends.

We started off by grabbing some Mcdonalds & checking out an old bookstore/antique shop with Kaitlyn’s kiwi friend Taylor. Afterwards we headed back to Kaitlyn’s flat, I had a shower, & we got ready to explore the city center. The city center is modeled after another city in Scotland, called Edinburgh, & is in the shape of an octagon. Even all of the street names are the same!

First, we walked through the campus of The University of Otago, where Kaitlyn is studying. The campus is quite beautiful, & because it is autumn here, feels very similar to the beginning of the school year in Minnesota.

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We explored a church that had beautiful stained glass windows.

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As well as a train station, & the near by Chinese Gardens.

*disclaimer: we didn’t even pay to enter the Gardens, we just walked in, took a picture, & left.

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At the train station there was an open art gallery going on, so we also took a peak at that! There was lots of very beautiful artwork on display, but unfortunately being traveling students, far far far out of our price range.

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After the train station we walked to the Cadbury Factory for some hot chocolate. YUMMM. This was the most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever had. (:

*side note: this place was exactly like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

After we finished our hot chocolate we headed across town for Baldwin Street, which is home to the worlds steepest residential hill.

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We returned home from the hill, & got ready for dinner. We met up with Kaitlyn’s friend Jamie from DC & went to Mac’s Brew Bar for dinner. We started out sitting outside, but got cold so we tried to move inside. We accidentally took a gentlemen’s table, but he was willing to share. Unbeknownst to us, we got to have dinner with the live musician, for some good conversation, good food, & even better beer. He tried explaining the game of rugby to us as we watched the Highlanders play, & his music wasn’t too bad either!

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Baby get your [glow] on, [glow] on.

Today was our last day on the north island & it was well spent in the Waitomo Caves black water rafting, & viewing the glow worms.

Glow worms are in fact fly larvae, & not worms, but they look pretty amazing none-the-less. They are actually pretty vicious creatures as they produce a webbing that hangs down from the roof of the caves & grabs hold of anything that flies into it. This webbing has paralytic properties, & allows the larvae to feed on live food. Pretty fascinating that such a gruesome little larvae can also be so beautiful when you turn out the lights.

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Lexi & I

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Lexi & I again!
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The exit of the cave.
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The group post-Glowworm caves!

The caves were really cool,  but sadly GoPro’s aren’t allowed, & all the photography is done by the company guides.

Speaking of guides, we had three great guides with us. Brendan was quite funny, & knowledgeable about the caves & the Maori significance of them.

The caves were in fact used as sacred burials many years ago, as they believed the glow worms symbolized the stars, & the caves were a portal to the underworld. Don’t worry, we definitely weren’t tubing near any of the burial tombs.

After leaving Waitomo we ventured back into Auckland to a hotel near the airport. For dinner some of the group headed into the heart of Auckland, but Lexi, Maddy, Kendra, & I opted to stay at the hotel. We walked to a near by liquor store, got some Feijoa Ciders (seriously you have to try these), & proceeded to watch Frozen until we were hungry enough to head to the hotel restaurant.

I am very sad to leave so many of the group from UMD, but also very excited for the travels that tomorrow brings. I will be meeting up with my friend from high school,  Kaitlyn, in the city of Dunedin where she has been studying for the last three months.

Again, I wanted to say how thankful I am for my time on the north island of New Zealand, all the opportunities we had as a class, & the amazing TA’s (Ros & Jenni) we had while we were there. I met so many wonderful people, made some great memories, & friendships that I really do think will last a long time. It feels as though we just arrived, & yet our course has come to an end. Thankfully, the rest of my travels are just beginning.

E noho ra (goodbye) Leigh

Today we said goodbye to our home for the last two weeks. The people at the Marine Lab were so welcoming to us, & we enjoyed our time there so much, we are sad to leave.

As we left Laura said, “We all have to come back here at some point in our lives.”

& although New Zealand has been an amazing place, I find myself thinking of all the other places there are out there to travel to. Being torn between coming back to an incredible place, & going somewhere new. Truly, when the travel bug bites, it’s hard not to crave to see places you haven’t yet.

Anyway, thankfully, my time in New Zealand isn’t over yet. We left Leigh & made our way to Auckland to drop off some of our group at the airport. Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to five of our classmates today, because their flights left a day earlier than ours. Thankfully, I have the chance to explore Queenstown with Emily, Jack, Kelcy, & Ro in a few days, so it was just see-ay-later.

After we dropped them off we continued into the more southern region of the North Island for our second excursion. Our first stop was at the Kiwi House, a bird sanctuary in  Otorohanga. We stopped here because on our original Kiwi hunt, there were a few people that didn’t get to see the unique nocturnal creatures. I saw the first kiwi, so I enjoyed looking at the other birds in the park.

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We left the bird park & continued to the Holiday Park we are staying at. Holiday Parks are like a glorified campground with cabins & such. We unpacked, & took advantage of what little daylight we had left by going to a nearby water fall & cave.

When it got dark we ventured back to the Holiday Park & walked to a nearby bar for some fish & chips. After stuffing our bellies with deep fried Dory (the type of fish we ate) we walked back to our cabin, & jumped in the hot tub.

Right now we are chilling out before bed. Tomorrow we are going black water rafting in glow worm caves! All of us are pretty jazzed to explore the Ruakuri caves.

Sea time. Seal time.

My morning started abruptly when Kelcy grabbed my foot to wake me up. Last night we decided to do an early morning hike up the hill to watch the sunrise over the ocean, but I was still in REM when Kelcy was ready to go. I groggily got out of bed, brushed my teeth, & put on my hiking boots. At the top of the hill we ran into LJ & Madel for some good conversation, & beautiful views.

After breakfast we hopped aboard the Hawere, the labs marine vessel, for the second time. Jenni & Ros showed us how they collect under water acoustic data.

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We collected data at four different distances (other students will be using the data in class later on in the winter when the weather is not good enough to collect new data), & then set off for a cruise down the coast.

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Today’s boat group! (Minus Roland & Chayse) (PC: Ro)

On our coastal cruise we were lucky enough to see a pod of six dolphins!

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Bottlenose Dolphins we saw today. (PC Lexi)
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Bottlenose Dolphins (PC Lexi)
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The Dolphins saying goodbye after they got bored with us & swam away. (PC Lexi)

After returning to the bay we went back to the lab for lunch. Because our course final is tomorrow morning, we began to study as we ate. After lunch the other half of our group went out onto the Hawere, & we stayed back at the Lab.

Looking for any excuse not to study, Kelcy convinced me to go snorkeling one last time before we have to return our wet suits, & boy am I glad that she did. On our snorkel we saw loads of Snapper, Red Moki, a couple jelly fish, & many Rays (both Sting Rays & Eagle Rays).  Last, but certainly not least, after exploring a cave, Kelcy & I were lucky enough to sea a New Zealand Fur Seal!!!

Unfortunately, for the first time on this trip, I had a mishap with my GoPro, & did not manage to record any of these awesome sightings, so you’ll all have to take my word for it. Just so you get an idea of the incredible marine life we saw, here are some google images.

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This is a photo of a New Zealand Fur Seal.
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& This is what it looked like when we saw it today, except there was only one.
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Red Moki: Usually seen in pairs because they mate for life.
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New Zealand Snapper: Beautiful sparkly specks on their backs.
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One Sting Ray pictured on the far left, & two Eagle Rays on the right.

In all honesty I do not like snorkeling very much. I get freaked out about what is around me that I can’t see due to the limited peripheral vision & tend to feel very vulnerable. Regardless of feeling uncomfortable, todays snorkel was well worth it. Between all the marine life we saw & the cave we got to explore, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that swim. & that is why you should always push yourself out of your comfort zone. If I wouldn’t have, I would have never seen that seal today.

We finished the day with delicious stir fry, courtesy of Megan of course, studying for our exam, & more cards.

Todays US -> New Zealand Translation

Garbage = Rubbish

Father of the Forest

Today marks the beginning of our weekend excursion to the Far North.

The Far North is the northern most region of the north island of New Zealand.

We packed ourselves in to the vans & began the four hour journey to Ahipara, a costal city that is near the beginning of 90 Mile Beach.

About two & a half hours into our journey we stopped at the Waipoua Forest.

The Waipoua Forest is home to massive Kauri trees. The name Kauri comes from the Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand), & the trees are thought of as a great tie between the modern world, nature, & the spiritual world.

According to the spiritual stories, Maori believed that the ancestor of the Kauri tree created life. When Sky Father & Mother Earth were locked in a passionate embrace, it was the Kauri tree that separated them, creating space for light.

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We visited four different viewing points of these magnificent trees. One of which, my favorite, was actually four trees growing from the same point, called the Four Sisters.

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Unfortunately, a disease called Kauri dieback was discovered in the 1970’s & puts these beautiful trees at great risk. The most rapid spreading of Kauri dieback is facilitated through dirty shoes. To combat the Kauri dieback there are stations at the entrance & exits of each of the trails so that hikers can wash their boots to minimize spreading.

After a couple well spent hours in the forest we jumped back in the vans to continue our journey to the North. Our next stop was in Rawene. We needed to catch the ferry across the Hokianga Harbour. This ferry cut at least two hours off of our travel time, & reminded me of the ferry I once took across Lake Michigan, it was pretty fun!

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We finally arrived in Ahipara around 8pm. We then went to the local Pack n’ Save (grocery store similar to Aldi) to get food for the weekend, & returned to the Holiday Park, where we had a cabin that sleeps 20 people all to ourselves. We ate dinner & bonded via Pear Cider.