University of Waikato, SPRU outreach centre
Trip Start Oct 27, 2008
23Trip End Dec 01, 2008
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Where I stayed
The shuttle from Auckland airport to Hamilton worked fine; I went direct to my University 'mentor's' home where I was fed wonderful homemade minestrone soup together with wonderful homemade Finnish Pirakka with egg butter spread (sort of flour/thin bready stuff with mashed potato inside and you put a buttery/eggy mixture on the top - you might say it was a Finnish version of a Cornish pastry, but not exactly pastry, and definitely no meat - so maybe the resemblance isn't that strong after all!). I was then driven back to the motel I'm staying in for the next two weeks, to settle in.
And yippee, at long last I can get back to my old slutty habits. Except that hasn't proved that easy, as a maid comes in to clean up, fold all the bathroom towels and put them back in the right place, tidy up your PJs neatly, do the washing up (I could get to like this) and give you yet more toiletries after only one night. So the initial mess is now all neat and tidy, and I'll have to try again and see if I can make a better job of it this time.
I've completed my first day at the University of Waikato; it was a real success. And what were the criteria that I've used to evaluate 'success'? 1. I found it - well, I cheated really, as I was given a lift; 2. I got back to my accommodation at the end of the day - no cheating there, that was a combination of a short walk to find the bus stop, a bus ride and getting off somewhere near the right place; walking from the bus stop to my accommodation. 3. I found a supermarket and did some shopping to supplement the milk, bread, nanas and tea bags that were waiting for me on my arrival. So I'm not living in a totally food-free environment anymore. 4. I managed to book a coach ticket to Auckland for Thursday morning. 5. I bought a phone card, postcards and stamps for England. Now I've just got to work out a convenient time to call England, given the 13 hour time difference.
The work part of the day was mainly orienting me to the University, so a guided walking tour; organising a library card; sorting an office out for me - I'm now in my third; getting me a username and password to log on to the system (still not sorted out, which meant I couldn't do much work and instead had to concentrate on getting the Travelogue up to date!). They unlocked the stationery cupboard for me and let me loose in there - fatal, as I was always meant to work in a W H Smiths. I just couldn't resist the very last packet of post-it page markers - five different colours, how cool is that?
They have a brilliant system here of coffee breaks in the morning, and tea breaks in the afternoon. The admin staff join in, too, and they also have a one-hour lunch break (which they tend to extend to 90 mins). When I compared this with SPRU, I got told about health and safety and union rules - hummmmm......And I had to leave at 5pm, otherwise I might have been locked in. This is nowhere near the frantic pace of Queensland two years ago, but there again it's still examinations time here so maybe that's one of the reasons it's quiet.
I've just been watching Sky news. Lewis Hamilton won the F1 Grand Prix and the title, and England got thrashed at rugby league 52-4! I'm just glad I'm not in Australia so needn't share in the humiliation.
There are two big elections in the offing, one you may know about tomorrow in the US involving these two guys called Obama and McCain; the other right here in New Zealand on Saturday which you may not know about. Here, they're just hoping that the right person/party wins in just one of these places.