A Travellerspoint blog

Teacher Registration.....


semi-overcast 15 °C

At long last I am confirmed and getting my number from the NZ Teachers Council. This has been a long drawn out affair and quite dramatic. I thought I might even have to drive to Wellington (10 hours by car). To make matters worse, Monday I was told they did not have my FBI Report of no report… what are you kidding me? Every time I sent my “agent” an email I received the same form letter. Finally I was able to break that cycle of ‘louder and slower’ & get her to HEAR me. I then used the handy dandy tracking number from DHL and discovered that Sue had signed for it at 1:16 PM back on April 19. So it was matter of finding it in the building. At that point I was ready to drive down and look for it myself!

What does this mean? It means I can start to look for work. I am polishing my CV – completely different format than in the US – so I can start the process. Today, Tuesday, I was fortunate to have an accomplished and amiable principal review it quickly and give me some good advice plus now have a model of a real one (vs. just off the internet).
Principal? Who is that? For those of you loyal fans who have been following my every word you will recall Howard and I met a teacher named Maureen at the Pasifika Festival back in March. She and I struck up an email friendship and she invited me to come to her school in a poor section of Auckland, about a 20 minute drive. Fortunately I gave myself an hour to get there and made it relatively on time! The AM commute traffic into the city is unbearable.

The school serves the lowest decile students in years 7 and 8 (grades 6 and 7). Students are all from Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, Maori, Pacific Rim, and one (token?) Caucasian student. Uniforms cost about $100+ and all students wear them. The enrollment is tiny (a bit under 150) while the grounds and building are spacious. Technology looks pretty impressive; I saw 4 interactive boards and lots of computers for students. The building was built in 1953 and just last year a whole wing (Maureen’s area!) was refurbished from top to bottom. She teaches foods, sewing, and graphic design. The rooms are done in gray and Kermit the frog green with white trim, really stunning with huge windows and high ceilings. The electives program is impressive. Every year there is big theatrical show, this year its Puss and Jandals (Boots!). Students have won the greater Auckland Battle of the Bands and are accomplished in sports. I’m eager to go back and learn more about this warmly welcoming, interesting, & lively school.

Posted by Hilary G 00:44 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (4)

Electricity and Roaming the Neighborhood

Excited about laundry? You bet!


Machinery has never been my forte so this is all a bit of a challenge and with luck – and lots of help - I think I have got it! First, electricity is different. We all know its 220 here but that means you turn OFF the actual outlet before plugging items in or out. On all the switches up = off. So to turn on the vacuum, you make sure the outlet is OFF, plug it in, then turn outlet on, then turn vac on. Reason being is that 220 can fry your stuff. Electrical systems in this sweet old house are old; Greg, the electrician, grimaced but got everything to work. He installed many spiffy new outlets + phone jacks too.

Next, the dryer: Well! It quite humid here (hair and cuticles feel/look great) so how do clothes dry just hanging out, in, or where ever folks hang them? Even towels can have that lingering tropical dampness. So I bought a dryer; a Kiwi brand at the local outlet appliance center. The cool thing is that it HANGS off the wall! Like a stackable unit.
In the telecommunications dept (… again not my forte) I struggled and conquered our new Brother Multi Function fax/scanner/copier/printer unit. Typing that was piece of cake compared to setting it up. It took hours but got it done and it so far works well. Had to install a new driver online…. as the printer did not accommodate Windows 7. BTW: NZ does not the iPad yet.

Afternoon walk: most every suburb has a small mall by the same “brand” of Westfield. Our nearby health club (4 km away) is adjacent to the Glenfield mall and yet Highbury mall is within easy walking distance in the other direction. Turn right for 10 minutes, turn left for about 15 minutes = straight shot. The suburb is called Birkenhead and has not only the shining glass 3 story mall (with big grocery stores, shops, restaurants, Kmart place called Warehouse & and traditional covered mall parking) but a myriad of international shops covering about 12 blocks total over several streets. The library is architecturally modern; the colorful flowers planted in front and along the street shopping are really pretty. I was pleased to see several “opportunity shops” run by local church or Salvation Army. You know I will be back! At the end of the main road is the Birkenhead ferry to Auckland.

Fun fact to know and tell: Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, named New Zealand in 1641; his was the first recorded European visit. NZ as a nation state began in 1840 when it became a British colony. The famous Treaty of Waitangi, signed by representatives of Queen Victoria and 500 Maori chiefs, is NZ’s founding document.

Posted by Hilary G 20:41 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (4)

Health Club, Helensville, and the Hillary Trail

Only one problem with solo excursions ... I have to keep my eyes glued to the front wind shield!


Despite sounding like an oxymoron … water is very grounding for me so today, Sunday, joined the local health club. It’s about 5 minutes away in the next suburb over. There are many classes and I look forward to taking yoga and wonder if I can do the kick boxing?? The pool is my sanctuary. The water temperature was perfect, a bit warm and not a shock to the system. Of course there is the etiquette problem of speed. Lanes are marked slow/medium /fast in special cute fonts to denote the speed. What do you do when someone in the medium lane is slower than folks in the slow lane? It is very perplexing so I tried to be polite and got into the fast lane as soon as I was able. The club is all the same but different. Locking mechanism totally upside down. Lockers in the communal area not changing room. The shower cracked me up. There is one button to push and a vibrant gush of hot water blasts you, similar to a large fire hose, for exactly 10 seconds. Lather. Blast. Lather Blast. It was a blast!

I thought I would take a break to enjoy an excursion and drive North West to the little town of Helensville. I thought a guide book said a lot of artists lived there so was expecting adorable boutiques, art galleries, and oopsie-boopsie cafes. Well no such luck, but had fine latte bowl on the main drag. The drive was beautiful, rolling farm land, wineries (!!!), all sorts of produce shops and garden centers. It felt good to get out of Dodge and see something other than Auckland’s version of Kmart and Home Depot.

Next stop Muriwai Beach, which was spectacular. Western beaches have large waves, strong winds and currents. Thousands of Australian gannets fly to this beach ever year; their numbers peaking in November. I saw 3. There is a wonderful walking trail (the Hillary Trail!) along the headlands that offer amazing views. I had my snack, hiked around, and definitely put this on the list for a repeat visit.

Posted by Hilary G 22:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (2)

Telecommunications… and Brussel Sprouts

Saturday ~ a red letter day!

semi-overcast 19 °C

How to get a land line home telephone and wireless internet in New Zealand: spend about one hour on the phone with a friendly woman who chats with you about her family in the US and asks all sorts of interesting questions while she sets up the new account. Fax passport and ID. Over the next 2 days receive several calls/texts from her on status. Other people call too to check in and give status reports. The wireless modem arrives by courier the day after the initial call. An extensive power point describes how to set it up and here we are, in sweats Saturday morning, AT HOME, online. Interesting that if you exceed 10 gigs per month it goes to slow as molasses dial up – sort of like instant rationing. I’m not sure what a gig is anyway, but guess I will learn! Yes there is a meter I can log onto to check if I have any juice left.

Today, Saturday, is a red letter day because I get a bed! While floors are fine, beds are better. I visited many furniture stores and made notes of sizes and prices. The young man I worked with was smart and funny (my favorite combo!), helpful + gave me all sorts of other random information about NZ.

Produce here is the best ever. Seriously I have never had such good apples, even in New England. I have been exploring the various markets and there are many, both small and large, close by. One sells only produce and I even bought Brussel Sprouts b/c they were the most gorgeous ones I had even seen. Delish! Had my first upscale restaurant lunch (at the beach!) yesterday – cauliflower cumin soup drizzled with black truffle oil…. oh my…. fantastic!

Nothing has been frighteningly challenging but it has all been a bit overwhelming at times. So many decisions! Am I making a good deal? Is this the right thing? How do I do this? People have been helpful and I ask many many questions. Getting internet at home makes a huge difference. I’m a bit giddy right now and feel happily “connected” .

Posted by Hilary G 15:22 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Leap and the Net Will Appear!


Day ONE ~ May 4, 2010

It’s been several hours now since I have arrived and as I write I’m still in a daze … for those of you impatient (and you know who you are!), it’s all good. Everything is fine.

Thank you American, Qantas, and Super Shuttle! The actual transit part of the journey was flawless. Slept on the plane and watched a bunch of TV comedies and wonderful movie about Coco Channel and Igor Stravinsky. Lovers! Who knew?! Going through duty free plaza en route to customs etc., I spritzed myself with #5 in the spirit of independent women the world over.

Right now I’m sitting in the lounge (living room). It is mid afternoon. There are 2 hideous - but surprisingly comfortable - brown chairs and long brown divan. If the Jetson’s bought furniture in New Zealand this might be it! The sun is shining & it’s quite blowy so the sky is clear. My iPod is playing music to soothe my tired soul (hey the adapter/converter thingamajig for speakers works!). Groceries are on the counters, stuff is scattered; luggage has exploded.

More good news is that the car started w/o a hitch, the electricity is on, and there is hot water! Soon I will have a phone and internet; until then I will be here at the public library using free wifi. Neither cell phone is working. My ‘to do’ list is long and oh yeah… R&R is part of that too!

Day TWO ~ May 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo! No, of course not celebrated here…

Today was practical and all about logistics. Ordered our home phone and wireless internet. Bought phone & vacuum cleaner (while the house is very tidy there are many mysterious chunks of who knows what embedded in the bright yet worn “avocado/lime” shag carpet). Got a new library card and several books by notable NZ authors. Looked at furniture. Etc.

Fun fact to know and tell: While NZ has about 0.1% of the world population; the economy produces about 0.3% of the world’s material output. Largest four categories of goods make up 44% of total exports by volume. These are: dairy products, meat, wood/paper products, and metal, machinery and equipment. More fun facts to come!

Tomorrow – more practical things PLUS a long walk on the beach. Library is closing so I bid you adieu dear friends.

Posted by Hilary G 21:54 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (3)

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