Travel Flashback: Dunedin

I’ve always said that Dunedin was my favorite city in New Zealand – besides, of course, my “hometown” of Christchurch.  I spent a very brief but jam-packed day there with Erika and Katharina during our roadtrip around the South Island, and I just fell in love with the place.

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It had the energy and walkability of a big city, the beautiful rolling hills and bay views of a little seaside town, and a ton of fun and interesting things to do (Cadbury chocolate factory, penguin reserves, and Larnach Castle, to name a few!).  In short, I found it frolic-inducing:

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Such was my infatuation with Dunedin that I very much regretted the fact that we’d only penciled in 24 hours there, and I was determined to spend some more time there before the semester ended.  Fortunately, I had the chance when my flatmate, Chelsea, and I decided to go see the All Blacks (NZ’s national rugby team) play during our very last weekend in New Zealand!  Since I had so little time left there, I only blogged about that weekend in bullet points, but it stands out in my memory as one of the best weekends of the semester, so I thought it deserved a second look.

We got cheap bus tickets and hopped on for the five-hour drive.  The bus was super comfy and we spent most of the time dozing off or listening to each other’s music – Chels, this was the trip where I introduced you to Waltz #2!  Remember that?  Anyway, we finally arrived and were dropped off at the historic railway station in Dunedin.

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We legged it through the city and checked in at Chalet Backpacker’s, the same hostel that Erika, Katharina, and I had stayed at during our roadtrip.  I LOVED this hostel!  It used to be an old hospital and was just such a cool place.  It was also situated right at the top of High Street with an incredible view of the city and bay.

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Chelsea and I spent our first afternoon in Dunedin walking around the downtown area, popping in and out of cafes, and visiting the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.  We headed back to our hostel relatively early and relaxed in the common room with mugs of tea and some 90s movie that was on TV – I think it was Clueless or something.

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Oh, and we were Tim Tam Slamming!  Yikes.  That package of Tim Tams in the background is nearly empty.  Apparently we were hitting them hard.  This photo also contains foreshadowing in the form of my shoes (or maybe Chelsea’s… I’m not sure whose feet those are).  We both tried really hard to pack light and only brought a backpack for the whole weekend.  This was a great idea.  We also both wore Chucks and didn’t bring any other shoes.  This was a terrible idea.

The next day, we met up with some other University of Canterbury friends who were in town for the rugby match (Matt, Caroline, and our flatmate, Laurie) and all went to Tunnel Beach together.

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This is where the footwear problems began.  For anyone who has ever worn Converse, you will know that they are crazy comfortable provided you are sitting down or walking slowly for less than 20 minutes (which apparently was all I’d done in them – they were pretty much my kick-around go-to-class sneakers).  However, for hikes or strenuous walking, they are MISERABLE.  Bad move, Julie and Chelsea.  Luckily, we sort of forgot that our feet were starting to hurt when we got to the beach’s namesake tunnel:

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and emerged onto the beautiful, isolated beach!

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We frolicked about – I told you Dunedin was frolic-inducing! – and even practiced our best haka moves in preparation for the match that night (the haka is the pretty fearsome Maori war dance that the All Blacks open every game with).


Moving on to the main event.  After a quick change at our hostel, Chelsea and I grabbed dinner at Velvet Burger downtown, which is the most amazing burger joint I have ever been to, and began the two-mile trek (yup, we decided to walk) to Carisbrook Stadium.  If you’re looking for an update on the footsies situation, they were in extreme pain by this point.  Because of this, Chels and I were already predisposed to be a little cranky, so we were not pleased when we were just walking along and, in about five seconds flat, were engulfed by a spirit mob from out of nowhere.  We tried to escape and couldn’t.  Seriously, they would not let us out.  Then some guy handed us All Blacks flags and we gave up and realized it was sort of fun.


The crowd was huge and everyone was happy and excited – there were even a couple of bagpipers!  Which leads me to possibly the most epic event that I witnessed during my entire semester in New Zealand.

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I know the photo’s blurry, but it captures the feeling of the mob.  See the bagpiper towards the right side of the frame?  We were all carrying along on our merry way, chanting and skipping, and all of a sudden the bagpipe music stopped very abruptly.  They had been walking just behind us, so Chelsea and I turned right around, and realized that THAT BAGPIPER HAD FALLEN DOWN.  He wasn’t hurt, honest, so it’s okay to laugh.  He just sort of stumbled to his knees.  If you’ve never been present when a bagpiper falls down in the middle of a tune, trust me: it is the funniest thing you will ever see.  In fact, it may have set the level of hilarity by which I judge all funny things for the rest of my life.

He popped back up, carried on with his piping… and a few minutes later, HE FELL DOWN AGAIN!  This time, he seemed a little embarrassed and felt he had to offer some sort of explanation for this repeated behavior, so he said, “These darn slippery shoes!” and walked rather more carefully the rest of the way to the stadium.

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(How cool are the lights of the city on the hill in the background?!)

The stadium was packed to the gills.  Kiwis love their rugby, and this was also the very last match ever played at Carisbrook (the brand new stadium was opening later that month), so it was a big night.

The All Blacks match was SO much fun to watch, especially since NZed absolutely smashed Wales!  All the Kiwi fans in the stadium started throwing their beer bottles in the air in celebration (you can see them all over the field in the photo… thank goodness they were plastic!), which was hysterical.  When the game started, we noticed two girls behind us wearing what looked like hooded plastic painter’s suits, which we thought was super weird… but when we got showered with the last drops of a hundred people’s Steinlagers at the close of the game, we wished we’d thought to bring protective gear.  Ah well, all part of the experience.

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Good thing the Kiwis are big into recycling!

Chelsea and I joined the post-rugby festivities in town for the rest of the evening before heading back to our hostel and falling asleep instantly.  The next morning was gray and rainy, but we woke early and spent a few hours in a café with a roaring fireplace, drinking lattes and writing in our journals.

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After that, it was time to hop on the bus and head back north for our last six days in Christchurch.  Chch will always be my home there, but Dunedin is a favorite visit, and this weekend didn’t disappoint.  I had the most delicious burger I will probably ever eat.  Chelsea and I got asked if we were twins, our only real goal for the trip (I know, we really don’t look like it.  It’s amazing what wearing matching outfits will do for you.).

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Last but most certainly not least, we saw a bagpiper fall down.  Twice.

Funniest thing you’ve ever seen: go!

Where In the World…

My current grad school decision looks like this:

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I mean, really?!

Luckily (well, sort of), I don’t just get to pick where I’d like to jet off to and roll with that.  There are program requirements and differences in class offerings to consider… and, of course, the whole “paying for your education” deal.  Once I have a chance to really sit down and hash out all those factors, the decision will most likely be a little clearer for me.  Right now, though, it’s overwhelming.

If anyone would like to knock me out, make the decision for me, and wake me back up, that option is sounding really great right now.  Also, as a quick disclaimer, I am being very facetious about this whole situation because I don’t know how else to respond right now – I know this is not a bad problem to have and I am truly grateful for each of the options I have.



A little PostSecret inspiration that came right at the moment I needed it.  Tina and Amy ended up okay!  I’ll probably be fine.

Gonna Make This Place Your Home

The new year is usually thought of as a time of change.  Making resolutions, adjusting habits, moving forward… it’s all about switching things up, and that’s certainly true for my family right about now!  Over our Christmas vacation, my parents decided to move out of the house they’ve lived in for 17 years and into a new one.

I always thought I’d be much more traumatized when my parents sold the house I grew up in, but I’m not… and I probably would be if they were moving out of Rexford, but they’re not.

I’m mostly excited for them, and a little wistfully reflective.  While my parents have been in one place for a while, it feels like I’ve moved around constantly for the past few years, and I started thinking about all the different homes that have figured in my “a girl with too many homes” tagline.

My First Home

  • Year: 1989
  • Location: Alplaus, New York
  • With: Mom & Dad

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I don’t remember living in this house at all, but I do know that it was blue then, not green.  We moved to Vermont less than a year after I was born.  We also had our two awesome kitties, Tweeg and Fob, and some sweet boxes to play in.

Childhood Home

  • Years: 1990-1995
  • Location: Montpelier, Vermont
  • With: Mom, Dad, & Paul (1992-)

Even though I was only five years old when we left, I have such vivid memories of Vermont.  It really was the perfect place to grow up.  I know it’s just because I was a little kid, but I remember Vermont as this happy little bubble that my family was in, where my dad would take me on hikes every day after work and my mom would put on the Dancin’ Magic CD for Paul and I to bop around the living room to every single Saturday morning.

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Maybe I was just so happy because I was busy sportin’ a turtleneck and baby mullet.


  • Years: 1995-2007
  • Location: Rexford, New York
  • With: Mom, Dad, Paul, & Camilo (2007-2008)

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I wrote 2007 because that’s the year I went away to college, but I still completely consider this “home.”  When I was in elementary school, I really wished that my family lived in a neighborhood development so I could be near my friends, and when I was in middle school I daydreamed about our neighbors with a gigantic house asking us to switch with them… but I love this house.  My friends love this house, too – mostly the twisty staircase and the rec room basement – all through high school, my house was the place that everyone always ended up hanging out.

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I love my room at home, too.  It was always colorful and usually messy, but it was so comfortable and it was really my space.  I had photos, art projects, and classic rock posters papering the walls (because I was cool and retro, obv).  I had sleepovers and birthday parties in this house, family holiday parties and dinners in this house, and got ready for junior prom in this house.  It holds a lot of good memories.

Freshman Dorm Room

  • Years: 2007-2008
  • Location: Livingston 1A314 – Geneseo, New York
  • With: Carly (and the Transformer and the Sun)

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This was my first time living away from home.  My mom was extremely worried that my dorm room would be a pigsty (like my room at home usually was during high school) and that my new roommate would get fed up with me.  Carly and I met through the Geneseo Class of 2011 Facebook group (and not on eHarmony, as many of my family members like to say) and had a lot of our room planned out before we even got there.  We were going for “a very colorful, organized jungle,” which is pretty much exactly how it turned out.  1A314 was comfortable, full, and a perfect mishmosh of Carly and I.  We had decorations for every major holiday up all year long and an awesome Mary-Kate and Ashley rug, and there were always fun things going on.

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Some of my favorite memories of this room are the nights of Enrique dance parties, and coming back from class on Friday afternoons to find Jon Hoose laying on my bed, eating my homemade granola out of the jar and watching America’s Next Top Model.  Even though I had a lot to learn about living on my own and with a roommate, I had the best freshman year I could have ever imagined.  There are still days where I wish I could be back in this room with Carly, snuggled in our beds with the blinds pulled down and napping for hours in our “cave.”

Sophomore Dorm Room

  • Years: 2008-2009
  • Location: Steuben A106 – Geneseo, NY
  • With: Well, you know.  And Sam and Brianne – unofficially.



My time in this room was interesting, to say the least.  The first semester may not have been my most enjoyable at Geneseo, but looking back, I really grew up a lot from having gone through it.  And hey, what college student’s experience is complete without a wacky roommate story?  Second semester was much better – the gigantic bed, the nook (!!!), and lots of nights with my very wonderful neighbs.


Even though A106 was technically my room, A104 and A106 were really treated as one giant conjoined room that Sam, Bri, Katie, and I all shared.

Junior Suite

  • Year: 2009 (August-December)
  • Location: Wyoming A2C – Geneseo, New York
  • With: Liz, Sierra, Kate, & Drea

Sometimes I almost forget about this suite when I think back on college.  Kate and I had been close friends since the first week of freshman year, and by junior year, all five of us were friends and chose to be suitemates.  It was really busy and none of us spent too much time there – it was my first semester as an RA, Drea and I were finishing our requirements to study abroad, and we were all prepping for the GREs or other tests.

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The semester may have been a whirlwind, but it was a good one.

Apartment Abroad

  • Year: 2010 (February-June)
  • Location: Flat O-119, Ilam Apartments – Christchurch, New Zealand
  • With: Sarah, Laurie, Mikaela, & Chelsea

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Oh, how I still long for O-119!  I LOVED this place.  It was a great little flat with a perfect kitchen and living room for hanging out (and Gumping) all together, but we each still got our own spacious bedroom and super comfy bed.  Oh, and by “we” I mean my four flatmates and I, who were assigned completely randomly to each other and ended up being the best of friends.


Chilled-out movie nights, crazy dance parties, international girls’ night dinners, Scrumpy hands… there was always something fun going down in this flat.  I miss it so much!

Senior Suite

  • Years: 2010-2011
  • Location: Allegany A2B – Geneseo, New York
  • With: Julia, Jana, Jordan, Colleen (2010), & Soraya (2011)


It’s strange to me to remember how bummed I was when I first moved in to Allegany – all I wanted was to be back in NZ – because in the end, I loved it so, so much.  We scrapped a lot of random stuff together to furnish the common room… most notably the cheap Walmart futon that we all lived on and the lighthouse bookshelf, nautical barrel stool, and amazing vintage rocking chair we got from a flea market one of our first weekends at school.  Nights in were just as common as nights out because of how much fun we all had hanging out together on that futon watching Conan O’Brien or John Hughes movies.


Yup, Jordan’s in there somewhere.  It was comfortable and inviting, and once again, I lucked out like crazy with my roomies.  All of my suitemates were younger than me and randomly assigned, and I was worried they’d all think of me as the lame old RA, but we ended up getting along SO well and they’re still some of my closest friends!

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My First Apartment

  • Years: Summers 2009-2011, 2011-present
  • Location: Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
  • With: Abby & Haley (2009-2010), Sarah (2011-present)


This was the first time I really lived on my own.  I moved to the Outer Banks after my sophomore year of college to spend the summer working in a coffee shop on the beach before returning to Geneseo.  I didn’t even know that I had a roommate until the morning I moved in, much less that she had a then-five-year-old daughter, so Abby and I still laugh about how unlikely it was that we’d end up being best buds.

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Sarah moved in after Abby moved to Asheville in May 2011, right when I moved back after graduating from college.  Again, another great and unexpected friendship… in general, I really have been crazy lucky with roommates in my life!  The place is pretty old school (read: a wood paneling bonanza), but it’s really home right now.


That picture is actually from when I first moved in in 2009.  Thankfully, we’ve since traded in the mustard-colored appliances, little table and space chairs, and funny gray couch.  Actually, Sarah and I have really done a lot to make it feel like ours.

So What’s Next?

Well, for me, I’m staying put  in my home on the Outer Banks until I set off on the whole grad school adventure.  It’s between New York, London, Boston, San Francisco, and New Zealand… so yeah, no idea.

More importantly, for my parents, it’s this place:


A new home to make their own!  I’m so excited for you, Mum and Dad!

What I noticed while I was writing this blog post is that I continually veered off into writing about who I was living with, as opposed to the place I was living itself.  It’s by no means an original thought, and certainly a bit Hallmark-y, but the places I’ve called home in my life have really been defined by who I was with instead of where I was.  That’s why I know my parents’ new house will eventually be as much of a home as our old one is, and why (provided my stellar roomie luck doesn’t run out), I know my grad school destination will be, too.

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