end of school, voting, and the SOUTH ISLAND!!!

It’s been almost a month since my last update, so I’ll try to wrap this up quickly. First, I just finished all my exams last week, so I’m all done with classes and am just working on my thesis now. It’s a standard here in NZ to have a 3-hour written essay exam for every class, something I never did in the U.S. But it went over alright. I got my grades back for one of classes (an A), so I’m feeling pretty confident about the rest. I also had to grade 35 research essays for the class that I was a teaching aid for, as well as help the professor grade about 400 final exams. In his words, “This is as close to hell as you can get.”

I also got my absentee ballot!!! I got it by email and have to fax it in. I’m so excited to be voting again. Not to sound all cheesy, but seriously, it is such a privilege to vote and everyone should take advantage of it, considering the number of countries out there that don’t have such freedoms. And please, please, PLEASE don’t just randomly check boxes! Don’t even go off the basis of the 2 sentence description. Please go online and read some bios about your candidates and your region’s proposed legislation (http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/ for CA Props and http://www.votesmart.org/election_state.php for candidate info from presidential all the way down to city council). Some of it may not matter to you, but it does to someone else. So if you have no opinion, leave it blank instead of arbitrarily checking a box, because then it negates someone else’s vote who is seriously passionate about it. For example, California’s Prop 2 – I honestly don’t give a crap about whether or not farm animals have room to stretch their legs. But I’ve taken the time to read the arguments and rebuttals to the prop because it does matter for some people and it has economic consequences as well, so it’s only fair to those who have strong opinions about it or have taken the effort to put forth the prop. But if you don’t have time to read up on your candidates and legislation, and you either trust my moral and political judgements or line up closely with my views, then email me and I’ll tell you what to vote (because I have actually read all the bios of candidates and the arguments for each proposition, all the way from federal down to local). So to sum up, take voting seriously and do it, because you actually have a direct say in who represents YOU and on how your state and local government spends YOUR tax money!

And as a side note, after watching the last presidential debate, I was really jealous of Joe the plumber. He must feel very special knowing that both presidential candidates are fighting over who cares about him more, and the fate of the nation rests on how well they can ensure his well-being. What about Steven the massively in-debt student?

Finally, this past week I took a vacation to the South Island! It was so relaxing and a much needed break from school. I went with two of my friends from classes. We took a 3-hour ferry trip and then spent time just visiting different places and hanging out on the beach. The official ‘tourist’ summer season hadn’t begun yet, so a lot of it was still rather empty, which was great. Even though we only visited like 3 towns and were there a few days, the South Island is soooo much cooler than the North Island. Wellington is possibly the worst place in New Zealand, being all windy and rainy all the time. And for some reason they decided to make it the capital. As I’m sitting in the library at Wellington writing this, I can see all the trees bent diagonally and sheets of rain moving horizontally as the building rattles and shakes. It’s like a freakin monsoon – yuck. But the South Island was absolutely beautiful, warm, and sunny. As all the Kiwis say, the South Island is the “real” New Zealand. There was so much more to see, so I’m seriously considering taking another trip down there again.

So now it’s back to school stuff and writing my thesis. Still undecided about when to go home, but definitely taking a trip to the South Pacific Islands. I’ll have pictures and videos from the South Island up soon, but here are a few now.

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