Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stepping back in time. Well sort of...

Well I have managed to survive my first two weeks at Purdue, with one week of classes now completed as well. I am taking an interesting selection of papers, and so far I have found the class set-up to be similiar to New Zealand, though my assessments are quite different. Instead of essays I have quite a few small tests during the semester which should be a little easier. This is reflected in the grading scale which requires a much higher mark to pass.

However, the highlight of this week was probably a trip I took yesterday (which was a public holiday for Martin Luther King's birthday) to Shipshewana which is the centre of an Amish community. For anyone interested, here is a website: Shipshewana or for more information on the Amish people It was an interesting experience though it appeared to highlight some contradictions in the community. We started with a trip to an RV manufacturer ( in Topeka which was not the most interesting part for me I admit, though I was intrigued as the business employed a large number of Amish workers who appeared to have no problem with using electricity and other modern technology whilst working. I'm yet to understand why they are comfortable with that, but strive for such a simple life in the home.

Two men working on the carpentry at the RV factory.
The finished product: a top of the line version of what they were making at the RV factory. More details here:

Welcome to winter in Indiana.

After the RV trip we grabbed lunch at a diner which once again was staffed and patroned by many Amish visitors who seemed to enjoy making the most of electricity and other technologies, but whom still rode in their horse and buggy to the restaurant.

A common sight in the community, the horse and buggy is the only mode of transport for Amish families.
We opted for a slightly different form of transport, group shot time.

Moving on, we visited a Mercantile in Shipshewena - this was basically a small mall in the village. Davis Mercantile included a variety of shops, ranging from handcrafted goods, especially quilts, to outdoors shops and other gift shops.

A selection of fabric available at one of the shops, with a particular emphasis on quilting.

A gift shop which featured an array of handcrafted quilts.

From the Mercantile, we headed to Menno Hof - a visitors centre designed to explain the story of the Amish and Mennonite people. It was incredibly well done, and an interesting look at the background of these religions. However, at many times it did a good job of oversimplifying the story - though I guess that is to be expected when such a broad overview is delivered.

Outside the Menno Hof.

Self potrait time.
After the Menno Hof, our large group descended on an Amish family home where we were provided with a home cooked meal - all created from scratch and without electricity. Unfortunately I was hungry, so ate instead of taking photos. However, the food was great, simple fare. From mashed potatoes and gravy, to fried chicken (still not sure how this was done without electricity) and homemade bread and salad. Dessert was a selection of pies: cherry, apple and banana cream - I opted for the latter option and it was tasty. The women who created the meal runs a business doing banquets and explained she had awoken at 3.30am that morning so she could do the laundry and then started preparing the meal - I think I would rather make the most of electricity myself!

All in all it was a fascinating experience, and has prompted me to spend more time reading into the ideas of these people. However, I will struggle to understand their reasonings as their concept of a simpler life does not really appeal to me.

This week is shaping up to be a busy one, but I will try and post again soon.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Campus

Well it has almost been a week at Purdue now and it definitely isn't any warmer than when I got here! The last few days have been reasonably busy as I get myself ready for classes to start tomorrow - I now know my way around the local Walmart too well for my liking and now own a fridge and a coffee maker (yeah I don't even drink coffee, but I'm using it to heat my water for milo and it's working a treat!).

Today things are getting a lot busier on campus, as the rest of the students arrive. The last week has been a lot of orientation events for the international students, but with classes starting tomorrow everyone else has turned up as well. Purdue has a student population of about 40,000 I think so there are a lot of people to move in.

For anyone who is interested, the university website is:

I've been trying to remember to take photos (it is a goal for this trip, I'm always useless at remembering to take pictures), so I thought I would post a couple to give you an idea of what the campus is like.

This is University Hall, the oldest building on campus. I have two classes which will be in this building.

Purdue Memorial Union: Just across from my building, the Union has a bunch of eating places which have been visited regularly this week. I think there is also a hotel in there.

A fraternity or sorority house - I'm not sure which. They all look a bit like this.

Hawkins Hall: My home. I live on the sixth floor and I think the whole floor is made up of girls' rooms. I have met a few of them and they seem pretty nice. The Hall is basic but does the job, we have a cardio room downstairs, as well as a laundry, kitchen and multiple television rooms.
Sunset from my room.
So classes start tomorrow, I'm taking three history papers and a political science paper. It will be interesting to see how it all operates when I get into it. At some stage I will take some pictures of my room etc. so you can see where I'm living. Hopefully I will get off campus in the next couple of weeks and see some more of the country. I would love to go to Chicago and as it's only a couple of hours away hopefully I will make a trip there soon.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Being winter and all, it started snowing today. Unfortunately it started snowing while I was outside, it is much more fun watching it from inside.

The view from my window

Despite the snow I'm about to head off on a mission to the mall. The bus is free for students and I need to do something to fill in some time so the mall seemed like a good option.

I also wanted to mention that my cellphone doesn't work over here. I'm going to try and replace it this afternoon but anyone who may have tried to text in the last couple of days - sorry.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

And so it began....

Well here I go, I'm starting this blogging business with the best intentions but we will see how it works out! I'm sitting in my new room, dressed in my winter gear in January. It just seems odd. But in all honesty I'm just pleased I managed to make it here in one piece - United Airlines and LAX seemed to do everything in their power to make me miss a flight but I made all four flights yesterday which was a successful start.

The definite highlight of the trip over was the few hours I spent in Sydney catching up with some great friends. It was my first time in the city and I was sad to leave to make my connecting flight.

Me, Sam and Saira in Sydney.

The flights themselves were pretty uneventful. However, the trip hit a hurdle in LAX when I came super close to being stuck after a two and a half hour wait in immigration. We were told later the system had crashed but for a long time we were just left waiting with no idea what was happening.

LAX immigration - good times.

Thankfully there were interesting people around to chat to, and I managed to clear immigration half an hour before my connecting flight. Luckily, customs involved a guy waving me through and I somehow managed to get through security again and run down what appeared to be the longest corridor in the world in time to make my flight just as the doors were about to close.

Next stop was Chicago, which boasts my new favourite airport. A bit of a worrying moment there after our flight was delayed because the pilot was late arriving in the city - if I had missed my shuttle I would have been stuck till the morning. However, the flight ended up being super short because we didn't have to de-ice the plane and so I made it to Indianapolis in plenty of time. Was pleased I had my new birthday present (a possum fur/merino hat - thanks Mum!) to wear because it was pretty cold. I think they said it was about 30F, so about 0C?? Anyway, it was cold but not too bad and I was just happy to be out of an airport after about a day and a half of travelling.

University seems okay from the tiny amount I have seen. My room is super basic but it's all mine so I'm happy. I am about to head out an explore but even just looking out my room it's obvious this is a big place compared to Canterbury Uni. Tomorrow morning I have orientation and classes start on Monday - looking forward to getting started now.