Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Awesomeness Known as Chartwell

As I'm walking home, sipping my Wendy's (not the burger joint) spearmint thickshake, I finally decide that this is a topic interesting enough to be posted about.

Anyway, disregarding the above phrase, you probably were thinking perhaps something along the lines of "Andy doesn't seem to have much to do other than go to school and play games at home it seems, he hasn't really talked about much else...", right? Well it's true that I haven't been talking much about what stuff I can do in daily life here, since playing paintball is a rare occasion. But as for the idea that there's absolutely nothing to do around here...

Heh, why would I make this post if I wasn't going to talk about one of the best things I have available here?
Anyway, just a mere 15 minutes walking or 5 minutes biking from my house here in Hamilton, there's a large shopping center known as Westfield Chartwell. Now since Westfield is just another annoying huge corporation, like AMC with movies, everyone just calls the place Chartwell. There's the mall itself, then there's the many things directly next to it. There's a library, gas station, like 10 other types of stores, including an office supply store, butchery, asian grocery store and...Curves? I thought that was only in America...But disregarding that pause, the best part would definitely be the inside of Chartwell. These photos won't be too good for describing because the place is big, but it's better than nothing...

There are a large amount of shops, as well as a full grocery store on the first floor, and a quite good food court on the second floor. The restaurants or other food booths that they have up there are... McDonalds, Subway, Pronto Pasts(never heard of it), some Thai place, Starbucks, this citrus shake or something place, and my 2 favorites: Umi Sushi and the Gelatopia. Why are those my favorites? let's see here... The gelatopia has really good gelato with quite a few different flavors, and a small cup of it which is still a nice size costs the equivalent of around, say...2 american dollars. But the best place is Umi. They always have fresh sushi out every day, and you pick out what you want with tongs, put it in a little plastic container, pay, and enjoy. The various types of sushi cost anything from 1.30-1.90 NZ, which is...say...80-1.20 american or something...I'm probably quite wrong, I'm terrible with exchange rates. Still, it costs a little more per piece than what you'd maybe find at Sakura or any other japanese place in America, but the quality and SIZE of the sushi makes up for it. Take a look...

You probably can't get a very good comparison of size, but I'll see if I can make it clearer... The 2 salmon and 1 prawn sushi I'd say are about the length of your thumb, and width and thickness of 2 of your fingers stacked on top of the other. Compared to sushi you may find at other places, that is GIANT. And it's really good sushi too, not just something really cheap. The rice is very flavorful, they don't overdo the wasabi in my opinion, and the salmon/prawns taste really good too. But that's not the biggest of the sushi...Those 2 rolls, let's see here...Make a circle with your thumb and middle finger...The size of the circle with the border being the OUTSIDE edge of your fingers is probably the best size comparison for those. Now THAT is some big sushi rolls, I can't even eat one of them all at the same time, and I never thought that would happen with sushi.
Next up on the list, is the Starbucks. I've only been there once, but it's very similar to the ones you see back home. The only thing is, they don't have peppermint syrup....I guess the next time I'll have a Venti-iced-mocha-4x vanilla-2x peppermint will be when I get back home, hehehe. Oh, and I never talked about this before, but the chocolate things here, like the chocolate muffin and chocolate Frappucino that I had yesterday, are not as sweet as chocolate in the US. It's a touch less sweet, and you taste a touch more of the plain chocolate flavor, though it's not like the flavor of dark chocolate...It's hard to describe.
The entire area has a lot of shops that I'm interested in...They've got a smaller asian grocery store inside, EB games, a bookstore, movie store, though not as many clothing places than the amount you would see in a US mall...Yeah, there's actually quite a bit to do there. My final thing I'd like to say is that I'm glad the Wendy's here has spearmint shakes, because those taste really good. Actually, my younger host sister works there currently, and I got a photo just for the heck of it...

Annalise, my host sister, is on the right. I got this shot right before Chartwell closed for the night. This is the Wendy's that is the ice cream/smoothie/shake place. It's quite good, and as I said, they have spearmint shakes. AWESOME.
Well, I guess there's nothing more for me to say about Chartwell. Thanks for reading,'m terrible with closing lines, hehehe... Ja....bye then!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The College Calamity

Well, many of you have been asking how school has been for me, and I guess I'm finally obliged to talk about it, since I've been in for about 2 weeks! So, where to start...

School here is extremely different from Allderdice back at home, and trust me that's a good thing =D. First, I walk to school, which starts at.....*drum roll*...8:40 AM!!! Take that Allderdice, who forces us to be there at 7:30! I usually start walking at 8:00 though even though it only takes me like 15 minutes to get there. The school day is also different. I only have 5 classes a day, which are all an hour long (with the exception of Wednesdays, which because of a teacher meeting the periods are slightly shortened), and I take 6 classes total, missing 1 class per day (or 2 on Wednesdays, because I have study hall for some reason). And now for my favorite parts, which I will use pictures to illustrate...

Yep, Fairfield College allows you to go OUTSIDE!!! Actually, it's quite required, since various classes are in different buildings. I've got 3 classes in the C block, and classes in F, B, and Y blocks. I get just about NO HOMEWORK WHATSOEVER!!! This is in the middle of the year, and I only have one project to do that the first part is due in 2 weeks! W00t! Another thing good is that we have 2 LUNCHES which are both 30 minutes, and we have them outside! The 2 lunches are for everyone, so I can eat part of my lunch in the morning and part right before my last class, solving my constant hunger problem at Allderdice =D.
So, seeing all this, you're probably wondering, "Why did Andy title this 'The College Calamity'?" Well, coming in in the middle of the year, actually close to the end of term 3, means that I don't know a whole lot if any of what they learned. And there are currently exams going on, which I have taken just about all of. This is where the calamity comes in. I'm sure I epically failed the physics exam, and I didn't do too well on most of the others, except for maybe Spanish and English. And, if I don't take the final forms of these exams, I might have to repeat the 11th grade... the biggest calamity of all. But the year is young, so I can still have time to figure out stuff!
Other than that, Fairfield College is awesome! And...that's all I have to say about that. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rally Time!

Hey, in the past weekend, I've been helping out for 3 days at the New Zealand World Rally! No, it's not some giant protest...It's a race that takes place over 3 days, with 16 stages of dirt roads all over the north island! I helped out at the Mystery Creek Events Centre, where 3 of the stages took place, one per day. Most of the time I was BORED OUT OF MY MIND because I was working with the RATS (Rally and Track Services), by... standing at a crosswalk with Cameron for a total of 10 freaking hours!!! But I did get to look at the various things around the rally area. The Mystery Creek Events Centre had a giant room filled with the main WRC (World Rally Championship) teams such as Ford Abu Dhabi, Citroen, and Suzuki. Next is the merchandise area, carrying various types of racing jackets, two small cafes, a bunch of cars, and the area where people were filming live for the media. However, there were a few good things at the rally, two in particular:
The Takiyama University is a team that isn't part of the WRC and usually doesn't do very well, but they have something that many people like to see. It's called the Ghost Service. I only took around 2 minutes of video since the entire thing would be a half an hour, and we were also called back to our posts soon after.

The link to the video since it won't seem to upload is here.

The next good thing that I saw at the rally site were the remote controlled cars. While it may seem like something that wouldn't be very interesting, these things ran on internal combustion engines using gasoline! This allowed them to get some pretty good jumps, like in the video I took...

Yeah, it was rainy, so it wasn't perfect... but still. The main other thing that was good about the rally was seeing the final stage of the rally at Mystery Creek, where I got to see...

Yeah, I've never seen a car jump before, so, yeah. I thought it was pretty awesome. Anyway, after I finally finish this school week, I'll post about that too.