Sunday, December 19, 2010


Since I'm a blogging failure for the past 5 months I decided to make a summary video of my exchange. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Barcelona Trip! 10th 'till 14th July

Sorry again for the lateness, I'm just slack okay sorry. But I'm here now writing you a nice little post to learn about my latest mischief. This trip was amazing AMAZING and I don't even really know where to begin. In Belgium, the school exams start in early June right, so as exchange students we decided we would do some cultural awakening as a part of our study leave and took off to Spain for four nights. I went with 4 other exchangees, my two lovely Canadians Patrick and Eric, Best-Exchange-Friend Danielle (australian) and Keely our resident American. We stayed at a family friend of Patrick's host family's appartment and had an awesome, awesome time. Here's why:

THE BEACH! It was so, so cold (the water) but absolutely stunning and so nice to be on the beach after so long! It was so nice and hot. There's nothing like spending the day lounging on the beach. Literally, they had loungers you could just pick up and lay on. It was bliss (:

So even though it was just us five doing our own thing, we still did some touristy stuff and visited the sites to see of Barcelona. The first day when the beach wasn't an option (look at the grey sky in the picture), we went to La Sagrada Familia. The church is really impressive to look at, I thought it looked like it was melting kind of. It's sad that he didn't get to see it finished (which it still isn't, by the way)

We also went to the Gaudi park which was really cool. A friend of Gaudi's owned the land and it was an area that was supposed to be like upper class Barcelona so he hired Gaudi to make it look the part I guess. Its something ridiculous like 15 hectares in size and the mosaics are fascinating to look at, makes you think about how long it must have taken for him to make.

The famous lizard thing.. This was cool too, I had to wait so long to get a photo of it with nobody sitting on it.
So yeah, that was my trip to Barcelona. Of course we walked Las Ramblas and shopped a bit, but it was mostly just a chill on the beach kind of trip. We went out and saw how lively Barcelona is at night too which was fun, the trip overall just made me want to learn Spanish, it was sooo hard to order in restaurants and stuff, you would think they spoke Englush but that wasn't always the case.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Berrrrrlin (:

I know it's late again, but better that than never: Berlin trip 21-26 May '10

Alrighty, So here's what went down in my 6 days in Berlin. I arrived on friday and me and Olivia just chilled out mostly, and that night she took me to get a Doner Kebab which is actually turkish but aparantly is what all the Germans like to eat. It was delicious and cheap and I couldn't finish it. I was staying with Ollie who is my friend from Rangi who is in Berlin doing her exchange (:

The the next day we went to Kudam. Which is a realy cool shopping street. We went to a place called the Ku De We or something like that.. I can't really remeber but it was like a million stories tall and all like designer labels.. But the food section was amazing.. I was THIS close to buying Betty Crocker brownie mix and potted frosting, but I resisted.

Then we visited a bit the typical shops and stuff, Then we saw this thing, which is a chuch that got bombed in the war. It blew my mind a little bit cause you never see stuff like that, like half destroyed buildings, in NZ. In this pic I'm with Grace, an Aussie born Germany-raised friend of Ollies. Her mum is Australian so she speaks perfect english.
The next day we went to The Carnival of Culture. It was really random, the floats were for like random cultures that definately don't exist in NZ. There was a heap of people though and a nice ambiance. I went with Ollie's group of friends and Sophia, a german girl who I know quite well because she did her exchange at Rangi and was in my french class (: So this was one float of some unidentifyable 'culture' haha: They were painting stripes of paint all over people in the crowd.
Later on we did an on foot walk about of Berlin. This is sad, but it was actually a highlight of my trip (being the MJ fan that I am), one of the first things we went to was this place, which is the hotel that Michael Jackson was in when he infamously held baby Blanket over the railings to show him to the world. I was so giddy when they told me, its just like in the magazines!

So yeah. The reason we were in that square though is to see this, the Brandenburg Gate. It's the gate that used to separate the borders of east and west germany. Now it's just a cool thing to see and kinda symbolises reunified Germany. It's design is based on some Greek thing. That's me, Ollie, Sophia and Lena (Lena is a penpal of Sophia who came up to Berlin for th long weekend) infront of the Gate.

This photo is mostly just funny, we went on a crazy five man bicycle ride. And also to prove that I was there infront of where MJ was.. R.I.P

Here's the Berlin Tower, we didn't go to visit it because Ollie told me it was boring. Not quite a skytower huh?

This is the Parliment Building.. This visit was really funny for me cause I could never imagine that many people lining up to go to the parliment building.. But apparantly it's because there's a really nice restaurant inside (: Thats Sophia in the corner with her starbucks.. I miss starbucks so much!

The next thing we saw was this, it's a monument to commemorate the Holocaust. Its a whole bunch of grey rectangles of different sizes, apparantly they symbolise "how confusing and random the Holocaust was"

Then we went to where the Berlin wall used to be, and there it is. I put my foot in so you can tell relitively how big it was.

The next day we went to the zoo, but we also found this place called Aoteroa and it's a New Zealand cafe. In the middle of Berlin...

... so we bought fish and chups. YUM!

This is the entrace to the zoo of Berlin. Apparantly it's like two hundred years old. You can't really see me cause my camera wasn't co-operating.. but there you go..

Then this is Ollie and I infront of the giraffes at the Zoo.

And then we got those hotdoggy things that Germans like. Not frankfurters (which did you know are called that because of Frankfurt? ) but nearly. They were pretty yum

So yeah, that is what I did in Berlin. It was a pretty nice little visit. It was so nice to hear Ollie's Kiwi accent and talk about stuff that's going on back home with someone who actually knows what I'm talking about. Next up: Barcelona with friends! Stay tuned!

Friday, May 28, 2010


Marseille! 12-05-10

Okay, so this is kinda a bit late as far as punctual blogging goes, but I'm getting there.

I'll start from the very beggining (I heard it's a very good place to start) I left Belgium in the middle of the day to head south in search of the sun. I arrived in Marseille that afternoon, and got a shuttle to the train station where I was found by Kyle's host grandparents who then took me to where Louise and Delphine were having dance classes, after telling me all about how Kyle is their adopted grandson and so on, so there you go Ky, they actually liked you (;

We just chilled out and chatted that first night because everyone was kinda sleepy.

The next day though was a public holdiay, a relgious holiday so there was no school or work, and we headed out to Aix en Provence. It was mostly warm, and I really liked the day. It was nice and relaxed. Here is a fountain we saw. Unfortunately we were only there because a pigeon pooped in Louise's hair so we were trying to wash it out. But I thought it was a nice fountain so I took a picture (: But the main thing we saw at Aix was the markets, it smelled so delicious there. They were mostly selling fruit and vegetables in this market but then there was another one for clothes and stuff like that. The guys in the background were busking, playing music in pirate costumes. It gives the market a nice ambiance.

Savon De Marseille.. smells sooooo yum! I bought some back for my host mums, definately scored some brownie points there.

And this is the Cathedral we visited there, I don't know why but it was closed. Pretty though isn't it? I like how gothic looking all the scultping is. It makes it seem more legit.

The next day was actually my 18th Birthday, so Guillame made me a cake. It was delicious, the parents and Guillame left though so we ate all of it just us three girls. He would probably like me to mention that he made it all by himself, considering he told me that several times. Cuteee (:

So then I spent the day in Marseille with Louise and Delphine. It was really nice but quite windy. We went to the new starbucks but the line was really really long. Then we just cruised around, we tried to go to the big church but the buses were all packed out cause there were heaps of tourists there, I don't know why...

So this is me and Louise by the old port of Marseille.

We went to a beach after that and just chilled out. It was nice. The next day was Saturday and we slept in after the celebrations from the night before. Then we went and got brunch in town and come back and made crepes.

Sunday, I went with the parents, Guillame and a family friend of theirs to Carry. We went there to do a walk which was pretty nice. It was a lovely day but the wind was cold.

So this is the beach we did our walk around:

We had brought packed lunches with us so after an hour and a bit of walking we sat down and ate, and then we just stayed lying down in the sun for a couple of hours.

The next day was monday, so everyone had to go to work and whatnot, so I went to school with Louise for the morning. She had greek which was impossible but then she had english, so I understood haha. The teacher was a nutter though.. Anyway after that we walked around near her school and she showed me this place, that's where they eat lunch when its sunny. Its a fountain that was put in to celebrate that there was enough water for the whole town.
Then we had lunch at the grandparents house with all the kids, it was nice.
After that I met up with Flo because Louise had an exam and that would have been boring. We did a tour of Marseille, a tour of the coast line and then we went to the Haribo factory but it was too late and the boutique was closed. It was nice though, he taught me lots of swear words in french haha. This is the palace of Justice:

The next morning I flew back to belgium. It was a really nice trip and I had a lot of fun with the Poets.

Monday, May 10, 2010

ANZAC Day 2010

ANZAC Day in Belgium
This year I spent the big day in Ypres, Belgium, which is practically on the western front. The day started off (very early) at the New Zealand Embassy in Brussels. We got there at six am, and after revelling in the lovely kiwi accent for a while we headed off by coach to Ypres.
Before Ypres (or Iepers, depending on whether you're wallone or flamand) we went to Mesen. When we got there we listened to a prayer at the Municipal War Memorial, apparantly this was to commemorate the Belgians who fought too, as a respect kind of thing. I was still effectively asleep at this point so my understanding of that little moment is blurry.. Haha.
Oh by the way, Mesen is the sister town of Featherston.
Then we went to the New Zealand memorial on the other side of Mesen. There was a prayer, and then some soldiers laid wreaths, and a wreath was laid there from the Government and the people of NZ by the ambassador HE Peter Kennedy.

This is the NZ memorial at Mesen with the wreaths under it. We sang the anthem too, it was cool (: and the Buglers sounded the last post as well. It was really eerie because we also got a very brief explanation of what went on there in that exact place, and it just freaked me out a little cause it was where they actually fought.

This is the sign that says:

Next we went over to Ypres. Once there, we all got together and walked to the Menin Gate. We were lead by the Ambassadors of NZ, Australia, Turkey and also the Mayor of Ypres. Once we were all under the gate, we had a lot of speeches and prayers, a kiwi sang 'a lamentation' and the buglars played the last post. Then we had a moment of silence.

This is the Menin Gate. The names of all the soldiers who died round there are written on the walls. Its really powerful to see all the names just listed like that, its huge so there are HEAPS of names.
There you can see the names of the soldiers. After the silence, people laid wreaths. First was the ambassadors, and in the end after all the official folks my Kiwi friends Anneke and Nouzar (both Rotary students also) laid a wreath on our behalf; here it is:

So after that ceremony we sang our anthems again. It was really cool, except the Aussies weren't too happy cause the band cut out like two thirds of their anthem. I don't know why.

Next we all marched back to the Belgian Memorial and the Kiwi and Aussie Ambassadors laid wreaths there to be respectful. They then sang the flemish and belgian anthems (and, just quietly, I can safely say by the lack of knowledge of the words of their anthem that the Belgians are not even nearly as patriotic as we Kiwis)

Following that we went back to the Ieper town hall. Mayor of Ypres, Luc Dehaene gave a speech, the Kiwi Ambassador and Aussie Ambassador respond to the speech, then Erin and I gave our speeches too. Here's me giving a speech (video to come) :

After the speeches Erin (the Aussie exchange student who spoke) and I got given a present from the Mayor of Ypres. The NZ Ambassador gave me a present too but that was in secret as to not show up the Aussie Ambassador. The one present was a book about Ypres and it's history and the other was a book of New Zealand War Photography.
Next we went to Zonnebeke; and this was mostly for the Australians but there was some small kiwi aspects:
So here's a tombstone thing for a Kiwi Soldier: "A New Zealand soldier of the Great War" and at the bottom it said "Known Unto God"

And here's a picture of a lot of graves. This blew my mind a little bit, I'm not sure if they were all ANZAC graves but quand meme, that's an enormous amount of deaths.
So overall it was a pretty awakening day. I think we as Generation Y are kept in a kind of shelter from what the war was really about, especially World War One. We don't (and will probably never) know much about the reality of the big wars and I hope we never get to find out for ourselves, but de tout facon I was glad to be there and was a very proud Kiwi that day.

Monday, April 19, 2010


This year, I spent my Easter holidays visiting various Archeological sites in the beautiful Ancient Greece. We left Belgium at six pm Easter sunday by coach, 112 students in total and about 8 teachers. We had three coaches and were heading towards Ancone, Italy, to catch a boat. After a somewhat tedious 18 hour bus trip and several french films later, we arrived in Ancone. There, we took a giant ferry (our coaches came too) for 22 hours and landed in Patras. Here; the journey begins. I put the photo's up in a random order so the captions aren't chronologically correct - tant pis les gars!

This here is a theatre in Epidaure. Its huge, and the people down in the centre were singing to prove that the sound carries really well. It's true, we could here them. The theatre is still being used today.

This is the view from my hotel room in Tolo, the water was really clear but cold, some of the Belgians swam, i paddled.. being used to the southern heat I was a bit more sceptical of the water. I would like to note also that i spent the days in broad daylight without suncream (sorry, mum) , and didn't get burnt! This European sun is extrodinary. It was on average about 20 - 25 degrees.
This was my favourite spot in Greece, Posiedon's Temple. It was a beautiful day when we were there and the view was amazing, we even found a wild turtle (they aren't as cute in real life) but i thought it was really cool. I think I liked it so much because of the link to Greek Mythology, which is what a lot of people my age associate Greece with (that, and toga parties) haha.

Posiedon's Temple again, from a different angle. This is pretty much what Greece looks like, old rocks and Columns. Its cool though, we don't have many old rocks back home so it was nice (:

This is at Mystra ( i think) anyway it's an enormous Canal, heaps of kilometres long and deep. I was scared of losing my sunnies every time i looked down haha. It was impressionnant!

The Acropole: It's pretty famous I think, but we saw it by night first all alight and I thought it was pretty so here's a photo. We spent that night at the "Plaka" which is a place in athenes which had a lot of fake ray bans and chanel bags. It wasn't that safe so we weren't allowed to stay long or go anywhere without boys (this humoured me, belgian boys couldn't save you from anything). Oh and another note, there are stray dogs and cats everywhere, not just mungrels but like huskies and every breed you can imagine. It was weird and unhygenic, but i guess that's Greece.

In Delphes, another Archological site. There were people doing yoga there which i found cool. We strolled around a fair bit, but it was the same as everywhere else we went to, old rocks..

The museum in Delphes, I think that thing is famous but I'm not really sure.

This was in Delphes too, the tombe of something or other, it also has something to do with a sacrifice to Cronos.

Olympia! A column. I'm not sure at all what it's for. This is where the first olympics were held so that was cool. I did a running race on the original track! Far from won, but atleast I did it!

Rocks at Olympia, not sure which olympic sport this was used for, Greek dominos?

The Acropole in Athenes by day, it was cool there, except we were constantly hounded by people who thought we needed to by 100 postcards for 20 euros and so on. The view of Athenes from the acropole was interesting too, its a randomly designed city, and is jam packed.

A little thing near the Acropole, the city of Athenes in the back ground.

Me and Morgane, a lovely Belgian friend, at the Acropole, still no suncream, and no sunburn!

So that's that. After all the sight seeing was done we headed back to Patras (4hour drive) caught the boat (22hours) and then drove for another 18hours to get back to belgium at 6 in the morning. Luckily I could sleep in the car, a blessing of the exchange student -ability to sleep in all situations- the others werent so lucky. The only other thing I can think to mention is the food, it was awful (sorry Greece! but my mothers Greek salad is better than what I got here) The Greek seem to like to drown everything in oil, to the extent that the taste is of oil rather than the actual dish. In Greece's defence, I was on a school trip so was potentially cut short of luxury nutrition but I will say that the ice creams we got were impecable, right up there with the italian gelato, so well done on that front.
Well that's that little adventure. The next will be ANZAC day in flanders field (: until then!