Monday, May 16, 2011

And it's all over... Well the study part at least (written on May 16)

Somehow my semester at Purdue is over. I'm still trying to figure out how time disappeared quite so quickly. As I write this, I am sitting in Chicago's Midway Airport, wearing my Purdue hoodie and preparing to fly to New York to start the next adventure. Tears have been shed as I said goodbye to new friends, including my favourite bar staff of course, and left my wonderful little home of West Lafayette.

My time in the Midwest has certainly been an adventure! From the first weeks where snow plagued the campus with, apparently, unusual harshness, to the beautiful sights of spring, I've had a brief glimpse into another world. West Lafayette is a city created around Purdue University, and as such everything is designed with students in mind. It's a lovely campus, especially when it gets a little warmer, and thankfully everything I have needed has been in walking distance.

Since returning from my trip to Nashville, the focus has undoubtedly been on spending as much time as possible with friends, and enjoying the experience till the final day. School has been noticeably easier in the United States than what I'm used to at home, though I should probably be careful to say much whilst I await the release of my final grades, which has been a bonus as it allows me more free time.

In a couple of hours I will board my flight to New York where I am going to be based for a few days before starting a trip with a company called Trek America. It will be a three week camping trip through the Southern states, beginning in New Jersey, and passing highlights such as Washington D.C., New Orleans, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas before ending in Los Angeles. After that I will spend a few days in San Francisco before returning to Christchurch. I am looking forward to seeing as much of the States as I can, and particularly spotting the differences between what I have experienced in Indiana, and how the rest of the country operates. I will try and post a couple of updates while I am away, but I am not planning on spending too much time online so anything I do will be sporadic.

But to end, a few pictures from West Lafayette.
Cactus night: Mika, me and Galen.
A blurry picture of our Easter dinner.

Mika before our easter egg hunt.

Dinner at a local Mexican restaurant: Anna and Katie.

One of the fountains at Purdue.

James, me and Ben.

James, me, Ben, Sinead, Monica, Mika and Jonna.

University Hall - slightly different from earlier in the semester!

Our most famous former student.

A sculpture with the bell tower in the background.

The bell tower.

My hallway.

My floor.


My door

The final dinner at Anna's house: Henni, Jonna and Anna.


Family portrait: Jonna, Mika, Anna and I.

My room - very tidy as I'm about to leave!
My desk etc.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cowboys, Breakfast Club and the arrival of Spring.

As crazy as it sounds, the end of my exchange at Purdue University is creeping ever closer. There are now less than three weeks to go in the semester, and on May 7 I fly out to New York for my month of travelling. It feels very surreal, and as such there has been an effort to try and fit as much as possible in lately. Unfortunately, there is still this little thing called school so I don't have much time to write a long entry, but for those who are interested here is a brief look at my world for the last few weeks.

Tippecanoe Battlefield Monument: the venue of a battle between the local Indian people and the British in the 19th Century. Was an exciting trip for me!
Drinking at Jake's. One of my regular haunts, the beer is cheap and the people are fun.
It's a heart attack in a meal. On the way to Nashville we drove through Kentucky, it was only fitting we had KFC. Fascinating watching three Scandanavian girls have their first KFC experience.

Nashville: Country music at it's finest. Every bar had live music and it was so much fun.

Not the best picture, but the crowd was massive and the band was great. They could play anything.

Outside Tootsies, a little grungier and so fun. Could have stayed there for hours.

Fort Nashborough in Nashville. A set-up showing the original settler homes, was actually really well done.

Pretty sure this was the Tennessee State House. Went on a massive walk to find it, though more fascinating was probably the people dancing in the water fountain outside or the creepy old dude sitting with no pants on. Okay, that last one was just disturbing.

And just for Mom.... Yeah, that's me driving a car on the wrong side of the road! I was the only 25-year-old in the car who could drive, so I managed to get us from Indiana to Tennessee and back safely. Quite proud of that effort I must say.

To the undoubted dismay of the others I took us on a slight detour on the way home so we could check out where Abraham Lincoln was born. Unfortunately we were there too late so it was closed - but I was still excited to get this close!

My baby. The car I drove for more than 800 miles across America.

My true American love.

Breakfast Club. A mad Purdue tradition which involved us lining up at 5.30am, dressed in all sorts of costumes, to start drinking at the campus bars when they opened at 7am. We were all a little excited about the arrival of Purdue Pete. It cannot really be explained if you're not there.

This really sums up Breakfast Club. Note it would have been no later than 8am when this picture was taken, but the drinking started at 5am. My liver may never recover from last week. It might also explain why my face appears to be such an odd colour... 

Last week was also Grand Prix week, and Spring arrived for a little while. It's fun watching the season change and shedding the winter clothes. Was funny reading a story about the cold snap which had hit NZ last week, a little snow and 0 degrees does not make a cold snap anymore! Alas, winter often reappears here so I'm excited about heading south in a few weeks. At the same time I'm dreading leaving this wonderful little world and especially about saying goodbye to my friends. So the next three weeks will undoubtedly be busy but hopefully they will be a lot of fun. I will try and write again before I finish, and if I have time I will update this while I'm travelling in May.

I hope everyone is safe and well.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Break

Right, no updates for ages then two in quick succession! I just thought I would share some of my photos from my recent Spring Break trip to Chicago and Cancun, Mexico. I travelled with my good friend Christina, leaving West Lafayette on Saturday before heading to Chicago for a couple of days.
Waiting for the bus.
We spent the Saturday evening celebrating St Patrick's Day with friends of Christina's, then spent Sunday exploring the city. I am definitely a Chicago convert now, and loved being back in a big city again. We went shopping, sight-seeing and ate a lot during our day there.

Chicago, note the green river - they really get into St Patrick's here!

Christina and I

In Millenium Park in Chicago, in front of a thing called Cloud Gate.

Cheesecake Factory. Dangerous for the waistline.

Chicago, a beautiful, beautiful city.
After exploring Chicago, we started our trip to Cancun, Mexico. It took a long time, but we were excited to arrive at our hotel which was amazing. We were staying in the Hotel District, so we were definitely in the middle of tourist central. A very different from what I'm used to, but with a hotel on the beach, beautiful pools to swim in and a hot tub in our room I was not complaining.

Hanging out by the pool at our hotel.

We were there for Spring Break so there were a lot of students around, good fun.

In our hot tub.

Isla Mujeres.

With Christina.

Yeah, it was just beautiful.

Love this guy.

No complaints at the moment.

On the boat back to Cancun from Isla Mujeres.

Our hotel pool, we also had access to the one next door.

Almost time to leave, feeling very relaxed at this stage.
Cancun was the perfect way to combat the cold of West Lafayette. I'm not sure what the temperatures were, but there was no need to wear a jumper all week so returning to Chicago yesterday was a shock to the system. I learned a little Spanish last year so it was fun to try some of that out in Mexico. As we were in tourist central most people had at least basic English, but they humoured me as I tried to chat. I'm looking forward to continuing my studies back in NZ and travelling more in South America.

We had a long trip back to West Lafayette yesterday, and now I'm back at Purdue and getting ready to go back to class tomorrow. The end of the semester is looming too fast now, and I'm definitely not ready to leave here! My last exam is on May 8, then I head to New York to start a trip for my last three weeks in the States. However, between then and now life is sure to be super busy. There are plans for a weekend trip to Nashville, and I'm really hoping I might be able to go back to Chicago for another weekend. As well as that, there will be lots going on at campus. It's going to be fun, I'm just hoping time slows down a little for the next few months.