More fun times in Austin & Beyond!

Days Abroad: 24

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It has been a long while since I updated! Which is terrible because so much happens every day that I want to write about! I already have two weeks of classes behind me, have been to yet another city, have been to a 21st dinner and a gun range, gone two-stepping, attended bible studies and had a job interview!

Let’s start with one thing at a time: school. Classes are 1.5 hours long team, and the first class at 9.30am was such a drag! 1.5 hours of going over a statistics (Yes Masty, I am taking stats again. Laugh all you want) syllabus and the driest dad jokes ever was painful! But I have come to love the long classes; it is a lot slower paced and there is more room for discussion and class activities. Here comes the shocker Scarfies: people actually participate in discussion, even raise their hand to ask a question or raise a point! Like, what!? I did just that today and blushed through my entire body (cheers to being slightly ginger and pale as hell…) because the whole class turned to look at the girl with the weird accent and the croaky voice. Yep, my immune system has taken another knock. Which totally goes against my constant proclamations that I never get sick, but it hasn’t stopped me from living my life so I still claim constant health.

Other than loving the new format of class, I love my papers and am so glad that I get to study something that I love rather than striving to study something that will get me money or status. Truth be told, I might one day make mere peanuts, but at least I will be doing something that I love. I’ll just have to marry rich *sigh*. Getting used to spelling things with a ‘z’ and dropping my u’s is difficult, because spell check cannot go with me into my tests and exams. Oh, another cool thing is I only have a final exam for one paper! That does mean that I have many more small assignments throughout the semester, but it is very normal here to not have an exam for your course (not paper Petro, we’ve discussed this before). I am all about this modern learning! I also have one class that is entirely online; it’s filmed like a t.v. show and is still interactive and I can even listen to the lecture and do my tests from the comfort of my own bed or bathroom. Really, academically I am living the life! Apart from actually having to do readings because pop quizzes are now more than just something people complain about on the internet. Two weeks in and I have done so many readings and have four assignments due in the next ten days. It is different for sure! But I am still enjoying it.

Exciting thing #2, my trip to San Antonio. Realistically, it was just a trip to the AT&T Center, but that for me is enough of San Antonio – I can die happy now. I went with the international department for a “Texas Excursion” to watch the AHL Ice Hockey; San Antonio Rampage v Manitoba Moose. Afterwards we got to skate on the ice rink, which was so surreal and gave me so much more respect for those athletes! It took me 30min to successfully go round the rink without touching the wall, because there is no way that my pride will allow me to take a gracious tumble. I am so glad I go the opportunity to go, even though I wish I understood ice hockey better so that I could have gotten into the game more. Side note: I went entirely by myself in a large group of people who had already formed groups and I had no energy to try to be peppy and a fake version of me to fit in, so I used it as an exercise in dating myself (blog to come about that later possibly).

A girl I met through the international department at orientation was so nice and invited me along to her 21st celebrations this past week; we went to a gun range (ironically the day after the inauguration) and then out to dinner a few days later. It was such an eye-opening experience seeing everyone at the gun range. There were regulars, couples, dudes with massive cases and professional set ups that made me wonder about my belief that assassins are only in movies, and the classic Southern Moms with their blow waved hair and 2.5 children. I am proud to say that after my shooting I got the response of, “Damn, Africa!” I feel like for a novice, I certainly did my crazy continent of birth proud. Going out for dinner was another great cultural experience as I was the only Pakeha (Maori for us whities for all my culturally deprived whanau) around the table and was able to be completely immersed in young African American culture. It was such a treat! And brisket enchiladas with Mexican rice, a chocolate-something sauce and refried beans – need I say more people!?

Oh, and I went to another basketball game – surprise, surprise. This one was super exciting though because it was against our (yeah, I’m counting myself as a Longhorn people) rival school, Oklahoma (sorry Cade & Mara, no love lost). It was so intense and since all the students are back I got to join in on all the student chants, yells and things during the game. Apparently only Alumni and families may sit during the game, if you are a poor student you stand. I do not know why, the game is just as intense for the others watching, be we only sit during breaks and timeouts. I paid for a seat but hardly ever used it. Much logic. But I didn’t mind, it was exciting and made me feel as though I had finally reached the culmination of the dream that started nine years ago.

The job interview was for a summer camp that I am hoping to work at (partly so that I am not homeless over summer), so I will leave that for a later entry if I get the job. I will not say much now because, hopefully, you will spend a few months reading all about it later this year. The bible study I have been going to is through Athletes in Action, the group that I went to the retreat in Dallas with. It has been amazing being around like-minded people and being able to spend time in the Word. It has also been eye-opening to see how sport has taken a backseat in my life to so many other important things and how I am now no longer defining myself solely as being an athlete. Part of me misses that, but another part of me is so glad because it leaves me to pursue my sport because I love it, without the pressure of having to be perfect at it.

Two-stepping and line dancing is such a blast folks! I have written so much already that you’re probably bored and it looks like I’ll be hitting the dance floor again this weekend with my Trashy T’s to prevent me from drinking so I will tell you about that next time. Fun story: there was an old man there that I kept ending up dancing with and he told me that I looked like Taylor Swift then proceeded to say that I must have a really thick little black book. In his day it was a massive compliment, in ours, not so much.. But cheers random old guy for a great story and a good laugh!

Last thing for tonight. I volunteered at the Study Abroad Fair on campus yesterday and spent two hours telling people why they should study in Australia and New Zealand. Naturally I highly promoted Otago, because we’re just the best, but I had so much fun! It was a weird feeling telling people how great Aussie was after growing up in Kiwi culture, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

Also, I am in the process of challenging myself with some pretty tough personal growth areas so am starting to feel a touch of vulnerability and homesickness coming on. Really it is just because I need a good cry because the challenges I have set for myself this year include some tough growing pains and a lot of leaving my comfort zone. Those of you that know me well, or even not so well, know that I cry on a fortnightly basis during a good season, so to go without tears for over three weeks is pretty good! I have been avoiding any sadness or tears because to me it signals the end of the honeymoon phase, as if the best is over. But I feel as though I am allowed to struggle and cry about things and still be over-the-moon excited to be here and be on this journey. So, I will continue honeymooning tomorrow after a good cry. Growing up is hard, especially if you have a made a point in challenging yourself to become a better, stronger you.

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