New Zealand Journey

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Where I stayed
Tauhara Retreat Centre
Paul and Carolyn's in Karori, Wellington

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dearest family and friends,

It has been a little over one month since we first arrived in New Zealand and, similar to our previous travels, it has been a steady rhythm of exploring the unknown. Upon our arrival into this isolated country in the Pacific Rim, we made sure to set aside any expectations that we might have unwillingly set before our departure. Our minds were open and our schedules flexible for whatever opportunities would develop. What we did know was that the first week would be dedicated to interviewing with the directors of the programs that we were interested in---University of Auckland and Victoria University in Wellington.

Our time in Auckland was four days and we stayed at a cute hostel that backed out onto the beautiful Western Park.  Then we flew to Wellington so that Jake and I could interview with the directors at Victoria University.

After this first eight days, it became clear that New Zealand is not a country that is very interested in diverse studies.  The prevailing multi-cultural studies here are with Asian and Pacific Rim countries.  Thus there is hardly any funding for graduate programs.    However, the PHD programs that Jake interviewed for, especially Victoria University and Massey University---both in windy Wellington---are extremely respected and well known programs on par with several Ivy League schools.  His interviews went very well.  However, Victoria university is only taking 1 new student into their PHD program for 2011 and Massey University only 2.  Thus we shall see because they get close to a hundred applicants from around the world. 

After our interviews we headed up to Taupo where we we worked at the Tauhara retreat Centre for almost a month.  Jake essentially became the second head chef and I assisted him with creating and serving meals for up to 90 people at a time.  I also got the other helpers to do some art projects and decorated our living spaces and the lodge a bit.  We took many long walks around the beautiful area, got to stay in a caravan, and even took a bush bath under the stars---which is basically a bath tub placed in the forest and you pour buckets of water into it and then heat it up with a log fire.  It takes about three hours to get the water hot and then you just luxuriate out in the forest under the stars listening to the night calls of the various birds.  It was wonderful.

Now, we are staying with a couple, in Karori, a very dramatic hilly neighborhood in Wellington.  We are doing a Help Exchange for them, so Jake is their personal chef and I paint and do various projects.  There is also a girl from Buffalo, New York staying here.  It is fun and the house, as you will see from the pictures, has beautiful views of the city from atop its perch.

From here in Wellington, on November 5Th we take the ferry across Cook Strait and then do another Help Exchange on a farm outside of the village of Motueka near Golden Bay.  After a week there, we will take a bus to a water taxi and then head out to a remote bed and breakfast in the Queen Charlotte Islands in the Marlborough Sound, where we will do another Help exchange for the older couple who owns it.  We will have a caravan right on the beach as our lodging, and free use of their kayaks to explore the islands.

Then we will take a train across the New Zealand Alps. And...who knows after that.

We will probably be flying home on our planned return plane ticket on December 15Th, as I still need to take the GRE test before January 1st so that I can apply to graduate school in the States and Canada, as I am currently also looking at universities in Montreal so that I can keep up with my French as well.

If Jake gets into a program here and receives a fellowship, he will have the option to live wherever he chooses, as long as he returns to New Zealand (Wellington) for at least one month every year to meet with his supervisors and share his research. Thus, where we live will depend on where I get into school and get funding.

So, we should be back for Christmas.  But no guarantees.

We hope all is well with all of you.

Our love to you all,

Jess and Jake

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James Ville on

Sounds like very nice travels. Jess, I hope you can find a university that you like, and find it soon. :)
Also, good luck to Jake and we hope that he becomes accepted, too.

Hope to see you guys soon!

JoAnne Monnet on

Jessica, you have traveled so much do you think you will stay where your at for awhile. What a wonderful life and man.

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