This week has been one of preparation - housing, classes, meetings, orientation, and tours.  LOTS of them.  I didn't get off to a swimming start in my settling down in Wellington process.  I came into town one afternoon before moving to check out the new digs.  After a walk through Kelburn campus, I headed down to my new address.  Imagine the streets of San Francisco.  Now double their steepness and you'll come to an almost vertical line up.  Multiply that by two.  The walk to Adams Terrace was absolutely MISERABLE on the way back up, let me tell you.  I was huffin and puffin like a steamship, and I'm not in bad shape.  It wasn't pretty.  As far as the actual house, I had a feeling about it.  It seemed kind of dark and a bit ominous, and it's residents were described as less than tolerable.  All of these things brought me to the conclusion that I should probably find somewhere else to live.  I traipsed my red post hill face over to the housing office and tried to dial down on the high maintenance.  Fortunately, the housing folks found another place for me - I could live with a few Ph.D. students from Iran!  Lovely gentlemen I was told.  I went ahead and nixed that too.  Cue the high maintenance / good sense.  After I turned down that option, I accepted a place with three undergrads from America (worried to say the least).  I have been pleasantly surprised with all three of them.  It is early yet, but something tells me that my second home in the library will always be there as a potential refuge.  

Emily is from Wisconsin (go Pack go) and is my next door neighbor.  She is good people, loves horses, and is laid back - all good things.  Dan from Penn State is a senior on his way to Deloitte.  Another win.  Our most recent addition Zane from New York has been MIA, but I think I like him too.  Good to go!

The actual flat is probably the best this campus has to offer.  It is stripped down - made of sheet metal and bare plywood - blue carpet and blue walls from top to bottom.  No bells and whistles (minus the AWESOME water pressure) that might take away from the incredible view that is a part of each floor.  I'm fortunate enough to have a harbor facing room.  Every morning I wake up to the sound of seagulls, wind, and water.  I can see the ferry heading to Picton every few hours, and the clouds rolling by in their fast New Zealand way.  The wind rustles the leaves to the left, and I wake up happy, knowing I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.  As you walk up the staircase to floor #1 (mine and Emily's floor), there is a huge pane of glass that creates a window the size of an entire wall.  You feel like you are sailing over the city.  The view only gets better as you walk to the third floor (Dan and Zane's).  At night, the harbor glistens like a Christmas tree, the lights reflecting in the ocean.  It is magical.  

After settling in on Sunday, I began work on my schedule.  I was so disappointed to find out that the course on sustainable energy that helped draw me to Victoria was cancelled as the professor is in Japan working on the Fukushima disaster.  To his credit, what he is doing is far more important.  Still, I was sad and a little mad that it isn't being offered.   After a tough time tracking down my professors, I managed to speak with most of them and get a feel for their courses.  I'm not 100% it will stay this way, but so far, I'm enrolled in Climate Change Policy, Development Policy, Environmental Management, and Environmental Law.  It's probable that I'll drop environmental law to be replaced by a course one of my professors is making just for me on sustainable energy.  I would have to be in charge of the entire thing as it'd be one on one.  If I can manage to have enough self discipline to stay on it without lectures, it'll be a win.  We'll see.  I'm working on the details of a marine conservation course, so that might be in the woodworks too.  It is a great feeling to finally be enrolled in a program that has classes that I cannot wait to take.  No more core classes, no more nonsense, just things that matter to me.  All of the orientation has me a bit nervous - the students have been telling stories of intense exhaustion, frustration, and questioning - all a result of the horrendous workloads that their masters have placed upon them.  Fingers crossed I'll figure this stuff out and get back into the swing of things.  It looks like I'll have no classes on Mondays.  Good thing, because I have some traveling to do.

Class doesn't start until March 5, so the students have some time on their hands.  I live around an energetic bunch of undergrads who have been keeping me young.  Last night, we crashed a toga party...togaless (I've gotta keep my dignity people) and had ourselves a right fine time.  Giving 18 years old permission to drink, a stripper pole, togas, and reallllly loud music is an interesting choice - but seemingly fun for the kids.  I had a great time hanging out with some new friends and thinking about some old ones.  Most of the undergrads here are on their first study abroad, and I hope that they leave here with the love for this country that I have for Italy.  I hope they find their own Hailey, Sevan, Dawn, Julie, and Jacks, and I hope they realize how special this stuff really is.  As for me, I'm enjoying being a kid again.  No worrying about the five year plans, no stress, just fun.  When these girls scope out the gents, they don't think about how much money they make or whether or not they will age sooner rather than later with a bald spot and a muffin top.  Nope, they just think about their here and now, and I'm lovin it.  We stayed out until 3:30 am last night.  On the walk home, we layed down on the rugby field next to my flat and stared at the southern sky.  Things look different from this side of the world.  Tonight we are going at it again.  After about seven years of being in bed by 10 or 11 with a good book in my hands, this change of pace is welcome (until it comes time to wake up in the morning and I remember why I'm not a drinker...).  

I cannot wait until classes start, but I'm loving this in between.  In the meantime, trips are being planned, friends are being made, and I am not worrying about the future.  It is a sweet relief.  Friends and family, hope all is well!

PS - The water really does flow the opposite direction here.  WHAT?!  I know.
2/28/2012 10:52:35 pm

This is so dorky, but I'm going to write it anyway: Your posts are taking me back to my graduate work in Australia. I so remember all of the feelings you're talking about (including living with American undergrads). I'm wistful after reading and seeing your photos. I love love LOVE that part of the world so much. Live it up, lady. Enjoy every second.


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