Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So there was no way to blog in Australia cause I had no computer access, so I'm going to fit my whole adventure in this blog. It was so fun! I could totally live there. We stayed on a river, that was right in the middle of the city, but on the other side of the city was a beach, which was walking distance. We stayed in Gold Coast, on a beach called "Surfer's Paradise." So cool.

Our hotel was really neat. It was called "Vibe" and it was really young and hip. There was a nightclub inside of it and a really flashy restaurant. Our room was kind of modern-y looking, and the shower was SO nice...Funny how you remember things like that hah.

It had everything that you could want in a city, and it was pretty young too. LOTS of shopping (which I definitely did) and food and malls and cool boutique places to look around in...but then it was right on the beach. Also, Australia is always sunny. Apparently, when we were there it was "cold" but it was like 75/80, so I was happy! Before we left, it was so cold that Tracy and I tried to watch a couple soccer games but we got back in the car, bought hot chocolate, and watched Sex in the City in our PJs instead. It was freezing!!!

So we didn't stay long in Brisbane, we actually just got into a car and headed for Gold Coast. Funny story: the car was in my name, because I have my full license and Sara only has a restricted one. I was planning on just driving it off the lot and then letting her take over (opposite side of the road thing still gets to me). Anyways, turns out it's a stick-shift...good thing I got one lesson a week before. I was so nervous. I hit the gas really hard and revved the engine inside the rental place. HA! oops...Sara was trying to walk me through it, and I did okay. At least I didn't stall, but I pulled over immediately after I turned out of that parking lot. What a start.

We met up with Pip and she was so good to catch up with! I miss that wee little girl...hah she's so small. We took pictures and I look like a giant. Maybe New Zealanders are just smaller, kinda like Asians...hah, I'm sure they'd love that comparison. I do find myself feeling really tall sometimes though, all Sara's friends are so short, even her dad...Anyways, weird tangent...so Pip showed us all around, and (of course) took us to her favorite food places. She really put some thought behind it.

Some of the food highlights included an all vegetarian buffet (LOVE) and this delicious market-like place with the freshest sushi in the world. It had all other kinds of stuff too, like fruits and soups and a chocolate place that was divine. There was a bakery and everything, kind of like a over sized Whole Foods, cause it was all organic and really fresh. We also had...drum roll please...a place called Igloo Zoo, which if I ever go back that could be the only reason why. SO YUM! (I know you hated that Bridget)...But it was! Fresh Frozen Yogurt with fresh organic toppings like white chocolate and pomegranate and all kinds of fruit and this thing called halva...OMG it was amazing. We went twice, and my size of choice grew the second time around. Loved it, well done Pip.

For my birthday we also went to this place called "Oh-Mi-Ly" which was a local favorite according to Pip. It was Vietnamese food, which I had never tried before, and it was pretty delish. Tomo and her girlfriend came that day to see us. Well, they came to see Sara really, cause Pip and I have never met her, but now we have and now we're friends..Tomo was exactly what I thought she'd be like, and nothing like what I thought she'd be like. She was funny though, I liked her a lot. Ha. We went after dinner to the big casino on Gold Coast, and that was neat. It was HUGE! I've never been to a casino that big, not that I've been to many casinos, but it was big. We had fun joking around, but our money didn't last long. The smallest minimum betting table we could find was $10 besides the pokies, and when you're only starting with like $40 maximum, that's like four games...give or take a win or two. Oh well. Cool to see, and Casinos are the most fun place to people watch...there are some crazies...and so much money! It's unbelievable how much money people blow in those places.

Other special things of note on our trip: we went to a place called Broadbeach (I think) and watched the surfers...They were sooooo good. And so far out, and surfing towards these big rocks...Seemed dangerous. We also went to a big shopping mall called Pacific Fair, which was neat because it was like a mall that went winding inside and outside. I liked the outside parts, but I would get lost it was so big...Like a maze. We spent a good bit of time at the beach, which just so happened to have just gotten demolished two days before by freak tropical storms that rolled through. There were like cliffs of sand where the waves were coming up to, they had the highest tides ever, and there were tractors up and down the non commercial parts trying to even the sand out. It was still a really pretty beach, even though Pip said it was normally much nicer. The water was super warm, which most of you know is the only way I can even come close to putting my feet in.

Overall, a great trip to Australia. I can cross that one off my list. I'd still like to go to Sydney someday, and I'm definitely planning on going to Perth in the near future to visit Sarah :) I'm glad I had a good first impression of Australia, though. It was perfect.

Today was the day to job hunt. Sara didn't end up getting that gym job (sucks), but I got a good prospect this morning...it's a job that's looking for a short term working assistant in an office. I called and they seemed to like me. I'll see how it pans out, it would be perfect though. We went to the mall and handed out resumes. That's when you know you're desperate. Ha. Oh well, it was funny, and I really just want a job for selfish reasons, so I can afford another trip to Fiji or Australia or something. A perfectly justifiable reason.

Sara's dad made me the COOLEST jewelry holder for my birthday. It's not really easy to describe, but it's perfect and neat and just take my word for it :) He's so talented!

So it's Thursday night now, and this weekend just so happens to be a long weekend in New Zealand; It's the Queen's Birthday! I'm happy about it. What does that mean? Another trip! Extending my birthday celebration. I don't know where we are going, but Sara has something in mind, so I'm gonna run with it. I love seeing new places, and New Zealand is so beautiful. I can't wait!

I am getting a bit jealous of my family because I know in a few weeks they're going to be heading down to the beach...it's on the back of my mind, and my little taste of the beach was really nice. Every now and then I think "What was I thinking!! I left SUMMER!" but then I realize I'm in one of the coolest, prettiest countries in the world and that sets my mind at ease...It's still there though, missing the summertime and all my friends and family.

I love you guys, and I miss you!

Take care of yourselves and write to me sometime :)

xoxo Ding

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh Happy Days...

I would like to keep you all up to date with the differences between here and home. Some of you may not even believe it, but I am not lying. First off, I wake up every morning by 8 AM. I know. Shocking. I also am sleepy by 10 PM, but not much really goes on round here that late, and most of the friends we hang out with have jobs. It's actually been refreshing. Next, I run every day. Like every day. Rain, hail, or sleet. I figure I'm not really doing much with my life, I have to at least run to feel productive. Next...believe it...I don't hate coffee. I know! And I LOOOOOVE tea. Hot tea. It makes me all nice and warm when I'm cold. And, get this Stace, I drink it with half a sugar and no milk. I'm kind of a big deal. I don't even know what that means....

Also, a few of my other discoveries. It hails here a lot. I still have an initial instinct to run and dive for cover like it's going to tornado or something, but it just will hail and people get out their umbrellas and go on with their daily activities. Weird. Another discovery, Bridge you'll like this one...Remember how far we drove Christmas morning to find a Catholic Church? Well there is one right up the street from Sara's house. Like walking distance. I changed up my run the other day and passed right by it. Ha! Oh well...

It's been a rainy few days. Monday we shopped with Megan all day in town, and I also discovered a whole street that is AMAZING! Sarah you would have gone crazy about it. And broke. I couldn't afford anything, but it was really cool to look around. The city here keeps growing and growing to me. I think I've almost got it down and then I discover a whole new street of coolness.

Tuesday I had an interview with a Temp Agency as I said. Well, what a bust. First, the car that we have been using is Aaron's (Sara's brother's) old car, a "Datsun Sunny" if you've ever heard of one of those. Ancient. Bright yellow. Almost as much character as the good old Saab, but nothing will ever have that kind of reverence, right Dad? Ha. Anyways, we get into Datty, as we call him, and he kaputs. Actually, he starts, we reverse into the middle of the street, and then he stalls and floods. Perfect timing. It was cold and I was in my nice interview outfit. We had to push him to the side of the road and call a taxi, that cost $20. I was too much of a wuss to find the place by myself so I made Sara tag along. She waited in Starbucks while I went to an interview to have a guy tell me that there weren't many jobs and I wasn't qualified to work in coffee shops or as a waitress cause I've got no experience, but he'd keep me in the database. Seriously. Why did he even bring me in again? It was an annoying morning... So I had to make a better day of it. I went to the store and bought crafts and Sara and I made crafts...personalized headbands! I love it and the day turned out good...It's the small things in life.

So getting to today, Wednesday. It rained/hailed/sleeted/snowed all night and morning and day. I got one break in the clouds where I went for a run (my longest yet) and then it started back up again and should continue throughout the night. Anyways, so we went to see Renee, who just had surgery on her knee to take out a pin (she had the same surgery as I did a year ago, and the screw was HUGE) and she's doing well, the surgery went really smoothly and she's even walking already. We watched Revolutionary Road with her and it was really good. Anyways, I'm rambling but the most important news about today is that Sara and I bought a plane ticket to go to AUSTRALIA!!! On Sunday! I'm so excited...!! (Squealing inside) We're flying into Brisbane, where Sara's good friend Tomo lives, and then renting a car and driving to Gold Coast, where our lovely friends Pip and Nels live. Among many other things, I'm so pumped to see them! And Alex, don't worry I will buy you a boomerang.

Needless to say, the next few days I'm laying low. Keeping up my "productive" days, and hoping for some sunshine, but if not Australia is supposed to be pushing the 80s, and I'll be right on the beach. I can't wait.

Hopefully I'll be able to find a computer while I'm there, but if not I'm going to keep a wee journal so I can remember every detail (Bridget style).

I miss you all so so so so much! I am also very jealous that you get the real-time American Idol, cause I'm not going to see it until Friday evening :( I'll already know who wins by then for sure...

Okay, much love from across the globe xxoo

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Crazy days...

The last few days have been pretty fun filled. Wednesday, I went down the river in downtown Christchurch on a paddle boat. We did the usual...fed ducks, tried to get them to eat off our hands, avoided getting splashed. It was really fun. We saw a group of little baby ducklings in the park and they were so cute! They would eat straight from your hand. Real fun. We also had a picnic that of course consisted of Tui. I tried a new fruit, a fijioa, which is really delish. Sara's dad grows them in his backyard, along with apples and pears.

Thursday was a bit of a quiet day. I ran and caught up on some reading. Boring, really. Went to a retail store for furniture and bought Sara's dad a table. It's for Sara, really so she can paint, but we put it in his house.

Friday was neat. I got Sara to drop me off downtown and I just kind of strolled around a bit. Looked in some shops and took in the scenery. It's really a cool city. That night we went with Tracy to the Casino and we all came out on top. I just played the slots, and I won $30! Sara and Tracy both played Black Jack. People are weird in Casinos though, one lady kept trying to tell me how to play and it made me mess up. How many different ways are there to play slot machines? I mean, I just pushed random buttons.

Saturday was really fun. I went with Tracy to Sara's and Megan's game, then we went to Tracy's boyfriend Matt's game. Sara's team won and her and Megan (the goalie) both scored goals. Matt's team lost, but it was still fun to watch. Then, we went to the clubrooms (after a shower). Clubrooms are like a room that the soccer club rents out and all the teams go there to drink and give awards for best game and best player every Saturday night after the games. Kinda cool really, there's nothing to compare it to really because it's just a big room and a bar that gets filled up with only people connected to the club, so everyone knows everyone else, and it's really neat.

Afterwards, we went to Marcia's birthday party at a restaurant called Pepperoni's. It was so good! Cheese pizza, reminds me of home. It was a BYO restaurant. We all brought a bottle of wine with us. I ended up getting sleepy and passed out in Megan's bed while everyone else went to town. Sara ended up back at the Casino and 4AM and won $140. She put her only $50 on a blackjack table and got blackjack. How random and something that only she would do...

This morning everyone woke up and went to see Tracy's game. Sara's mom also plays on the team, and Tracy's mom and dad are coaches. It was hilarous! It's the lower league so everything is a bit bootleg. Tracy's dad was the coach/linesman and was strolling up and down the line smoking a cigarette. HA! Then Sara's mom completely took out this girl right on the line. I don't think she touched the ball that much, but she got a good piece of that girl. So funny. We slept the rest of the day away after eating fish n chips for the first time since we've been here. Really great waste of a day.

This coming week I'm pretty excited. I've got an interview with a Temp agency on Tuesday that seems promising, if that doesn't work out I'm turning to gambling. Sara's friend Renee has something planned for my birthday on Sunday, and I'm starting two-a-days. I kicked a soccer ball today for the first time. Felt good. Everything's looking up.

Missing everyone back home, I'll call sometime this week :)

Caitlin xoxo

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunny Days!

The last two days have been so nice and sunny it's hard to believe it is winter here! The days are perfect, but the nights do get shivery cold. I had to buy a jacket today because my layering wasn't very sufficient for the evenings around here.

So Monday was really nice. Sara and I (although still unemployed) were very productive. Because of our jetlag and my waking up every morning at 5 AM, we actually have been getting things done. After a run and shower and all that good stuff, we applied for a handful of jobs and then went around and I got an IRD number, which is something that I need to work, and she got her license renewed. Then when she went to training, Tracy (Sara's best friend) picked me up to take me to Quiz night. I wasn't really sure what quiz night was, and it actually didn't sound like fun, but when I got there I realized that it was Trivia, so I was really excited. I was on a team with Trace, Matt (Tracy's bf), Moir (everyone's favorite Maori boy), and Roitter (I know I spelled his name wrong). Although we were horrible, it was fun and I got to meet a few more people. I really liked it a lot, and it helped me to stay awake past 9 PM.

The next day (Tuesday) I still woke up at 5 AM, which sucked, but it was such a good day! I got a call back on one of my applications, but the lady told me that my visa was too short and they were looking for a long term person otherwise they'd hire me, Oh well. After my run (I was a bit faster than the day before), Sara, Ruba, and I went to the Port Hills, which are just to the east of here, to hike. Some of the hills are pretty high, I mean they already have snow on them, so we went up a closer, shorter one that had caves in the top. It was so cool! And hard...man was I sore today. Here's a shot from the ground. You can kind of see the cave we hiked to, in the top center left of the photo.

About halfway up we heard some running water and decided to go off the path to find out where it was. We climbed up some rocks that I know my physical therapist woulda killed me for, but it was so worth it. There was this waterfall about a 25 yard climb up, and it leveled off into a bit of a pond, and past the pond was this entire wall of climbing holds and stuff. It was so neat! I'm so glad we went up there...The only thing was that it REALLY made me miss my friends. Stace, you would have loved it! You would have hopped up there and been ten times better than Sara and I feebly trying to hoist ourselves up on these holds. And I could just see Sarah and Bridget prancing around in your Keens...that you all definitely would have worn that day. I really miss you guys! I wish you were here...

Anyways, after that coolness, we started back on our straight up hill hike, that brought us past a few cows and sheep that really excited me, and up to a couple caves. They were neat, like kind of frozen in time bits of nature. I really liked em. I took a bunch of pictures that I will eventually upload for everyone to see. The walk down was almost more difficult than the way up, cause we were practically running. It took us an hour and a half to get up and like twenty minutes to get down!

That night we went to Trace's for dinner, she cooked a stirfry with a special vegetarian pot just for me :) so nice. It was delish. I accidentally ate too much and then passed out on her chair drooling a bit. Quality night. So I called it a night, came back and read. Big night.

Today's been about the same. We hung out with Megan a bit, and saw Sara's friend Scotty. Applied for a few more jobs, but I think I'm going to have to go to a Temp Agency tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be doing something inside though.

Miss you all, and thinking about you all the time!

Sending lots of love!

Ding xxoo

Saturday, May 9, 2009


So the first day of travel was full of ups and downs, highs and lows, hunger and stuffedness, and fun times and really really boring times.

We left Kennesaw (as most of you know) straight after my last final at about 7 PM to go home to Kentucky. That ride seemed so long...I was tired. Then we spent a nice day with mom and Matt and Alex in Lexington on Thursday. I got my immunization shots for the Cook Islands, and my teeth cleaned, and then bought a few last minute items. Mom made a delish pound cake and we grilled out on the back porch. It was BEAUTIFUL. A good last day that I can remember while I'm here in the cold winter!

Friday, we left Lexington at 5 AM. Holy early. It was raining and we drove to the airport with our enormous bags (that we didn't end up having to pay for them being overweight because they honored the international flight rules we were on). On to Dallas for a layover then San Francisco for the day.

We got into SFO around 10:30 AM, and it was such a nice day. We planned to have a really long layover so we could tour the city a bit, and it was a great decision. Once we found a place to store our bags (it cost $60, but we figured it was making up for us not having to pay in Lexington), we then hopped a BART train into downtown San Francisco around Powell St. It was so cool!

We bought a day pass for the cable cars and while we were waiting in line two guys jumped on the platform and started tap dancing away. Behind them was a one man band with a banjo, a drum on one foot, and a tambourine on the other foot. He was actually good. The cable cars took us pretty much all through the city. It's just like the movies, the long windy roads with the steep hills and the fire exit ladders leading up to each of the rooms.

We took the cable cars all the way to Fisherman's Wharf, where we snapped photos of the bridge and Alcatraz, and the sea lions at pier 39. We even ate at the famous sourdough bread factory right on the water. We were total tourists. There were a couple shows we stopped to watch on the side of the road. The breakdancing boys and the rapping tin men were my favorite. Sara liked the spray-paint artist and a horrendous violinist. After our Fisherman's Wharf tour we didn't have much time so we took the cable car and BART train back to the airport.

The flight was SOOOOOO boring. 12 and a half hours. It was overnight though, and I slept most of the way, but I got a sore neck from the awkward position I was holding for so long.

Once we got to Auckland the drama began. First, we went the wrong way through the airport so we passed through customs too early (we were supposed to go through customs in Christchurch once we got there) and they wouldn't let us go back, so we couldn't get to our gate cause it was in a different terminal before customs. So they had to go and find our bags, show us where to go, and get us on a new flight because by that time we had missed our flight. Might I note we were dealing with grouchy people working at 5AM.

Once we got to the ticket counter at the domestic terminal, the lady asked us for our identification and Sara realized that she had lost her purse containing everything from money to her passport, and didn't remember when she had lost it. It could have been anywhere...from the bus we took in between the terminals to still sitting at the customs desk, or maybe even in the bathroom where we stopped to wash our faces. Panic ensued, and she ran off while I sad and waited with our still over-sized bags.

Two policemen somehow found her bag and brought it over, so there was no harm done and we made our flight that was only an hour later than the one we were initially supposed to be on, so long story short, we got to Christchurch today, Sunday the 10th around 10AM, safe and sound. Her mom and dad met us there.

It's almost 7PM now and I've managed to stay awake all day. I'm pretty proud of that. We showered, ate, unpacked, and met up with a couple friends. Good day. I'm tired.

The weather here is rainy today, but not as cold as I thought.

I've written a novel now, but I felt the first day experiences to be necessary.

Much love to my homies,

Ding xoxo


So here's my blog. It's for family, friends, randos, and anyone else who'd like to know about my three months in New Zealand. I decided after visiting for a month in December that I'd like to see what it's like to live here, for real. Not just a vacation, but a living working playing soccer three months (with a few vacations in the mix).

I got a work visa for a holiday- which took about one email and one day- I booked a flight ($740), I passed my classes for the semester, I said my goodbyes, and I booked it out of the country.

While I'm here in Christchurch (the majority of my stay and where I will be trying to find a job) I will be staying with a few (responsible and trustworthy-love you mom) people. First, my good friend Sara and her dad. He's great and he is so nice and accommodating. We'll also have short stints of stays with people such as Tracy, Sara's best friend who lives about two streets away from Sara's pops, Curls, another very good friend who has a spare bedroom in her apartment closer to the city, and possibly in a couple other random places of Christchurch. In Auckland, I'll hope to visit and stay with my lovely lil Pip, a friend from the team.

I'm also hoping (once I get a job) to plan a trip to the Cook Islands (Fiji, Rarotonga, etc.) and to Australia (Brisbane and Gold Coast/maybe Sydney). But that is still pending. No plane tickets yet.

I miss all of you back at home. I'm going to update this as much as possible (ie, the nights that I'm still wide awake cause it's almost impossible for me to stay up in the day and get accustomed to the time change). I can have limited texting and calling, but I'm suspecting after the first month mom and dad will see the phone bill and probably limit me even more....so now's the time :)

Okay, love you miss you and thinking of all of you while I'm having the time of my life (as always).

Caitlin (aka Ding)