Don’t count me out –just a slump

Thank you to everyone who continues to check the blog for updates. During our recent road trip to Rotorua and Taupo the song Brown Eyed Girl played off my ipod!! As I sang along I thought of how unmotivated I have been feeling recently. It doesn’t help that I don’t have access to free internet. OR that the library and McDonald’s internet seems to become more and more unreliable as the days go on. It really doesn’t help that I haven’t been doing much of anything during the week. My days continue to consist of: walking, reading and eating. Job posting, submissions of resumes and job interviews are pretty much over. Fingers crossed.

I’ve typed up a few blogs that I will edit and add pictures to soon… Also I plan on going back to the old layout or trying a new one out. Still haven’t found one that makes me happy yet.
Thanks for all the well wishes and words of encouragement! I love you all and appreciate it more than you could understand.
Just a small girl in a big big world.

–Bizzle I LOVE you girl stay strong and know that I am thinking about you.

xoxo Amanda

Still Smiling and SAFE

9 days later with only one bed swap and I am smiling.  I can now laugh at myself for how terrified I was to move into a hostel by myself. The flooding of fears and anxiety were for nothing. Living in this hostel is like living in dorms. There are communal bathrooms and showers and you are always paranoid that you will forget to bring your key. You try to be as neat, and quiet so as to be as respectful as possible to your 5 to 9 other roommates. I chose the woman’s only quarters so there are only 6 beds in my room. The floors are carpeted and the bedding is clean and decently warm. I have heard from other roommates that the “Sanctuary” hall is nicer than some of the lower floors so I am glad I didn’t go with the co-ed rooms. Sounds like females get better treatment here! Woot! It was a BIG debate in my mind whether or not I should pay 3$ extra a night to have a room with a window or not. I decided the splurge would lessen my feelings of isolation. My bed used to have my head right next to the door. So I jumped at the opportunity to switch beds when one of the girls moved out. Now I am situated closer to a wall outlet and a better view of the window.

Internet is not free! My first day of moving in I was trying to seek out hotspots on my iPhone. A girl from Argentina kindly told me that the nearest places to get it free were McDonalds or the library. It wasn’t unlimited and would boot you off but at least they were nearby locations. So for the first day I tried to survive on just free internet. I found it extremely hard to be job searching, keeping in contact with friends and blogging while trying to remain connected on a free server. So by day 2 I had caved and paid for a 3 day package of internet. Not ideal to have to pay for internet while unemployed but I believe it helped me to stay sane.

I love living downtown. The hustle and bustle of the streets helps me to not feel so alone. I have been walking up and down the main roads every day. It hilly roads are becoming a great source of free exercise.

I have met lots of interesting people since moving in. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I have made many friends – but I have been involved in some great nightly discussions. ALL from my room. I do not talk to people in the lounge or kitchen. I just do not feel comfortable enough to spark up a conversation. So far from my room I have met ladies from:
2x Argentina
Washington, DC
Toronto, Canada!!!
2x German

It’s been amazing to hear everyone’s’ first time hostel experiences. It really is comforting to know we all shared the same thoughts and fears. I told them how on my first night here I slept with my passport and wallet tucked in my purse and my purse was under the blankets at the foot of my bed with a foot firmly planted on the strap. Another girl said she slept with her purse under her pillow but it was so uncomfortable. Everyone except for 1 lady travelled here with a backpack. We have laughed over Murphy’s Law about needing the item that is at the very bottom of the pack. Or how heavy the bag is to carry but thank goodness we packed what we did. New Zealand is expensive and we are glad we brought all the necessities from home. It has been sad to say goodbye! It sounds like everyone has been having great experiences and I have been encouraging them all to post pictures and blogs so I can keep in touch!

Job hunting has had its good and bad days. I have been in contact with families and had a few interviews and even went as far as making my own post on a website. Au Pair families don’t seem to be too interested in having someone live with them this late in the year. It seems like January is a really popular time for families to want someone to move in. It’s hard trying to stay in touch with wireless and no local phone number but I am doing the best I can. A roommate and I have seriously been discussing heading South and going fruit picking for a month or so. I had never considered doing it alone –but NOW that someone else wants to do it with me my interest has peaked. I opened a bank account and am in the process of getting an IRD number. Summer positions will start to open up soon so we are just looking into accommodations and rates of pay (contract vs. daily).  It would be ideal if I could fruit pick for a few months and build my savings then come back and move in with another family. That way, Emzie and I can still travel on weekends and I’ll have some banked money for Australia — A girl can dream right?!

The other day, someone who loves me unconditionally; lovingly advised me:
“Just keep a vision of the right job/situation in your head and you will find it”
I keep reminding myself to stay positive. This isn’t what I had expected but this is life. I am living and breathing and everything happens for a reason.

Love that people are still reading the blog!
xox Amanda

Sorry about the Pillows!

I have felt alone before. My thoughts have a way of making me feel small. Feeling mentally alone tortures the soul. But you blink, breathe deep and move on.

Being physically alone. It’s different.

The unwelcome feelings that linger as you desperately try to FIGHT it away.
The more you
the more you look around and realize
how alone you are
in those moments you are completely ALONE.
All alone. ALONE.

To be physically alone, TO HAVE NO ONE was when I HAD to wear my big girl pants. And wore them I did.

I was told that I would be dropped off somewhere. When asked where I would like to go, I said, “Well I guess a hostel”. To which I got the reply, “I can’t drive you into town! I’ll take you to the train.” No specific time was given – besides the word evening. I quickly packed my bags so I would have as much time as possible to use the free internet. I frantically researched hostel locations, rates and reviews. I WAS actually going to become a “backpacker”. The difference between me and someone who was street entrenched was that I had money to pay for a hotel BUT there was no way I was going to one.  Sure Emzie and I had bought backpacks, but we weren’t actually dead-set on backpacking all around New Zealand and Australia. Maybe a day here and there, maybe more, but we would always be TOGETHER and travelling as a team. Not me fumbling with my bags in some unknown place alone.

Anxiety. FEAR. Depression. Anger. Shock. Pity. Despair. All these emotions were piling up and getting in my way. I plunked myself down beside a wall charger and kept my phoned charging as I sat for hours just waiting for the words, “time to go”. Dismal ratings, great ratings, horrible comments — the internet was inundated with reviews. Would all this preparation be enough for me? Was I going to be okay? Would I make it to the hostel? How was I going to carry all my bags? Would my shoulders and back give out on me?

For anyone that knows me. TRULY knows me. They know I am deathly shy. I will be the first to tell you I have NO confidence when in public. It scares me. In any new situation I am scanning, searching, and praying that there will be somebody to help me. As long as I have SOMEONE I am not alone. New jobs, new classes, new housing, new people it ALL terrifies me! I just need one person, JUST one person – and I am ok. It’s a confidence thing. I LACK SELF ESTEEM and I know it. THE very thought of me travelling to a new town by train worried me! Staying in a hostel petrified me. Living alone with no job had me fighting back tears.

I was feverishly researching WHILE texting friends to update them on my plans. I was beyond thankful that despite the time difference there were friends to talk to. I wanted them to know I was going to a hostel. Their worry for me elevated my fears and made me want to scream. Yet, it comforted me to know they knew what was happening. I needed them to know. I went from one bad situation, to another, and there was no way I was letting this decision be my worst.

Part of the fear was having never been to a hostel before. I have heard horror stories, and gross stories so I was trying to brace myself. I wanted to make the best decisions, that also fit my budget and time frame. If only I knew then what I know now! The worst part was not the hostel but getting to the hostel! And even then the commute wasn’t bad at all. It was really my imagination running wild. The build up of the situation was far more escalated than it ever needed to be.

My backpack, duffle bag and another bag full of food (there was no way I was leaving my food behind!!) were painstakingly heavy! Before Em left for Australia she brought me some of her hoodies, and 2 pillows and a library book. The pillows were such a nice surprise since the one I had been given was a brick that I never ONCE slept on for fear of breaking my neck. BUT unfortunately when it came down to choosing food over pillows I packed the food and had to leave behind the pillows. I very wisely packed the pillow covers so I could one day replace the two pillows. Love you Emzie!!

I was dropped off at the curb and cursing the skies that my shoulders were killing me. I made it onto the train (I was paranoid that it would be going in the wrong direction and asked a few times to make sure!) I had to ask what my stop would be as all I really knew was I was trying to get downtown. I was a little upset that the “train” was basically what we call a sky train or subway. I had really been hoping for a long scenic train ride. Once I arrived in Central Auckland I asked the information desk what bus I would need to take to take me to Queen Street. The person working the information booth was beyond helpful and even went as far as walking me to the bus. (He didn’t offer to carry any of the bags but I really appreciated the directions. He whipped out a paper map and circled where the bus stops were for each of the nearby hostels. Super great at his job!!) The hostel itself was the hardest part to find since it was on the 3rd floor of a building.  The building was LABELLED but I had to walk around the building a few times before realizing an elevator ride up to the 3rd floor was all I needed. (I have since been reassured that I am not the only one confused with how to enter the building. I have helped a few fellow backpackers know that they need to get on the elevator to find the reception desk! Go me!)

Base is on the corner of Queen and Darby and one street away from Victoria Street!!

And there you have it! Thus far, my 3rd place in New Zealand has been the best. Definitely not in terms of income but in terms of general health and well-being.

Next post will most likely be about hostel life…unless my observation blog comes first. We’ll see how I am feeling tomorrow.

Thanks for reading and blessings to all of you xoxo

If I Never Forever Endeavor

I would like to post things that inspire me.  It could be: pictures, quotes, things people have told me — anything I think is worth sharing!

If I Never Forever Endeavor

-Holly Meade

Shortly after arriving in New Zealand I took the kids to the library for their weekly story time   The 4.5 year old and I were looking around when I came across this book. I am not sure exactly what drew me to it out of the hundreds on the shelf, but for some reason I felt compelled to read it to her. The children’s picture book felt like a sign that I had made the right decision to move and that it was all going to be okay.

If I Never Forever Endeavor

-Holly Meade

If in all of forever,
I never endeavor
to fly, I won’t know if I can.

I won’t know if I can’t.

I won’t know if or whether
a flight I
might fly,
should I choose
to not ever give it a try.

On the wing,

I could try
and find
and I flap
and I flail,

flounder and plummet,
look foolish
and fail.

On the other wing,

I could try
and take flight,

rise high and
float free,
sail through the trees.

If I did endeavor, and found my wings clever,

I could see the world!

Or get lost in it.

My nest is so nice,

the nicest of nests.
Who needs to fly – ever?

I think I’ll forget
all about this “endeavor.”

But, look there…

if I don’t fly,
I won’t know
what it is
to swoop low
or soar high,

or what it’s like to

pluck a sweet bug
from the sky.

I won’t know how it feels to

scallop the air
with a dip
and a glide.

Or float alongside a friend.

I suppose
I could try
a little flap,

a flutter…
or two!


Look at me!
I’m dipping and gliding
and daring and…

If I hadn’t endeavored

and found my wings clever,
I never a sky
would have scaled,
never a world
would have seen,

And never a friend would have found.

Friends of a feather,

I say, endeavor and


I believe that I was meant to read that book and I am so glad I have chosen to live my life and “fly”!

xo Amanda

Big Girl Pants are ON

An excerpt from an email I sent to brother Reece a few days ago:

“Life could be better. A lot. Don’t worry I’m wearing my big girl pants! I’d let you know if it was anything serious…I can honestly say I feel grown up. Life is BEING experienced!”

Every word was the truth. There was a little sigh of relief in letting big brother know that my trip wasn’t ALL AMAZING and not everything I was doing these days could be chalked up to fun. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I was in now in Dannemora (about 45mins from Central Auckland) and I had not shared with any family members that my life got was getting a bit more adventurous. The timing of my situation coincided with Canadian Thanksgiving making me want to reach out a little bit to family. Not enough to worry them but just enough to keep them someone what in the loop!  (Reece, Tyler, Lisa, and Helle thanks for emailing me about your Thanksgivings! I ABSOLUTELY love emails and hearing about the day to day stuff! xox)

So how did I leave Mt. Roskill and move to Dannemora? What happened and why I am no longer in Dannemora right now is what this blog will be about.

Pretty much as soon as I arrived in New Zealand I knew I should look for a new family. My spirits were shrinking as the days went on. I’m a fighter and I hate giving up, so for me to recognize that enough was enough was a huge step! I knew that I could “put up” with the family I was living with but I wanted BETTER for myself. I didn’t want to “give up” on this family but I also did not want the next 9 months leaving me bitter and depressed. With encouragement from friends I concluded that I really had to step up my search for a new position. I posted an ad online and kept a watchful eye out for anyone needing an Au pair   I received a response from a lady seeking an Au pair to help her in her daycare. She lived in Dannemora which meant it would be a further distance for Emzie and I to commute. That said, I thought working in a daycare would be great experience and would look awesome on a resume. The accommodations sounded lovely as the lady had just moved into a 6 bedroom house. Laundry, queen bed, HEAT, TV lounge area, internet and access to an automatic car were all included. We emailed back and forth a few times and the lady said no interview was required. There was a 1 week trial period to see how I got on with the children. The only thing not included was food! It may not sound like a big issue but FOOD is SUPER expensive here so that and the location were too factors that I had to consider. Emma was heading to Australia (meaning no weekend relief) and I really wanted to get out of the living situation I was currently in. I agreed to give this new job a shot! At first the lady invited me to meet her at her house, but quickly made arrangements for her to pick me up as Mt. Roskill was quite a ways off from where she resided.

Having never met my new “boss” I was quite anxious but ecstatic to be leaving and heading to a daycare environment. The lady was over 30 minutes late picking me up so I was extremely on edge as to whether or not she would be a no show. Having had previous interviews cancelled and job offers filled I had put all my eggs into this one basket. She pulled up in an old mini-van and I instantly knew it was her. She was 60 years old lady driving a minivan that had definitely done many days of carpooling. The inside had not seen a vacuum in years. All this excited energy was running through my body as we drove away. To my surprise she informed me that we were making a stop at the ferries to pick up a young man from Ireland. He too would be moving in and working as an Au Pair. Was she hiring 2 people for 1 position? Was she getting more kids in the daycare? He was only staying 3 months where as I was staying for 6 months so maybe she just wanted the overlap? Questions were running through my mind as she was explaining her expectations as she drove us both home. She explained that she had over 100years of experience working with kids: she was a teacher, owned a daycare, helped employ Au pairs in Auckland. Recently she had sold her Daycare center and was working on growing her home based daycare. She was licensed to look after 6 children and she currently had 3 and would have a 4th child by the end of the month. Not only did she hire Au pairs but she also boarded international students and couples and taught English and tutored from her home. She was always busy and was working on trying to retire in 5 years. She told us she just moved into a bigger house 3 weeks ago so there was lots of room for everyone. She has a lot of experience with Au Pairs and nannies as she has employed over 100 but at least 70 have only lasted a week. Hence the one week trial, if she likes you, you sign a three month contract and have to have a criminal record check conducted by the Ministry of Children and Families.

Long story short –even though she had a brand new huge house to live in we did not agree with how she ran the daycare. This was fine as she let us know she did not like either of us either. She had a 6 bedroom house with a huge front yard and backyard yet she was running the daycare from her garage! The kids and the Au pairs spent their time in the garage all day while at home. The only reasons we were to go inside the house were to get running water (dishes, and drinks) or to use the bath room. It was just so weird. We were meant to believe we had access to the car but soon realized when we weren’t working the car was off limits. We walked to the nearby grocery store and unhappily bought our groceries. We both commented on how we felt we were both  in college again living off cheap noodles and bread.

After the first few hours of living there both the Irish man and I were looking for other work. The car had 2 seat belts that were broken and the car seats looked ancient and very unsafe. The seat belt that was strapping the kids into the seats were twisted and not nearly tight enough. The daycare itself had so many safety hazards  from no childproof cupboards to tools lying around to sharp edges.. It was completely NOT at all what we had expected. The ad was so FAR in left field from what we were dealing with. After the first night of looking after the children the Irish guy was told he wasn’t what she was looking for. As soon as he told me I knew there was no way I was living out here alone with her. So I spoke with her and asked if we had been “applying for the same job” and if so, he could have my position as I was looking for an Au pair job closer to the North Shore. She told me even if I left she still wasn’t going to be hiring him. Then the very next afternoon she told me she was through with me too and didn’t need me. It’s a shame because the 3 kids were so much easier to look after  than the previous 2 I had. I preferred tag teaming them with the Irish lad but when he left it was still manageable to look after the 3 on my own.  So that was my three day experience in Dannemora.

This blog became WAY longer than what I was planning on typing. So I will do another blog about where I am at now…  mentally and physically! Thanks for reading!

Still smiling,

Confession time

I have had a lot of people ask me, “How’s New Zealand?” Followed by, “Are you enjoying your family?” I realize that everyone is assuming that the two situations go hand in hand and are hoping that I am having a positive experience for both.

TRUTH TIME in most cases I have purposely been evading the latter question. Along with that, I had only been posting on the weekends. The reason was because I really had nothing to share about my weekdays. Weekends were my time away from the house. Emzie drove over to the house to grab me and we do something fun together…well actually anything we do together is usually fun. I mean that weekends or Friday night were the only time that I actually got to see New Zealand or do any sightseeing. I would actually start to feel like a tourist and start enjoying myself. Why does Em get me out of the house instead of me just leaving the house? Her family has 2 cars, and mine has 1 car that they don’t like to use. My area of town was not as “nice” and there aren’t many restaurants or places to walk around and see. So my darling Emzie was always scooping me up and taking me out to see the rest of the world.

I had always planned on not sharing too much about my Au Pair family. For respect to their privacy and to keep this blog more about my experiences – not about my time with the family. As time went on, the saying If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all kept swimming around in the back of my mind. What I can now say to everyone is that >> I am no longer living with the family as our expectations did not match. My definition of “good kids” and that of the mother’s were completely different. I ALSO really hate being cold and the house had no heat and the provided bedding was nowhere near substantial. The family kept the backdoor open every night so their dogs could go in and out at night which kept the house cold during the days and nights. Em actually brought me: gloves, slippers, a blanket, pillow and hot water bottle because she was shocked by the temperature of my bedroom and rest of the house. The walls were thin, from my bedroom I could hear what was happening in any part of the house at all times of the day. Besides the temperature and noise there were just a lot of issues I was being faced with that I believed to be unreasonable and I began to hate my life. The job hours and expectations were not syncing up with what had been outlined to me. It’s unfortunate that through all the correspondence of emails and skyping I got described a reality that was far different from the actuality of the household.


So I would like to share with all of you — I still love travelling and I have been enjoying the positive experiences. I did NOT like my family and I am currently seeking another family to live with.

Good bye Mt. Roskill hello Dannemora….
or so I thought. That’s the next post 🙂

I see more people checking out the blog! Thanks for stopping by and reading. Makes me smile to know people are interested in my thoughts.
Still Smiling –Always,
xoxo Amanda Sumalee

Speechless. So much to say.

This title just took on a whole new meaning 30 seconds ago. I AM without a voice because I am sick. My little 4 year old says, “You have no sound! Will you have sound tomorrow?” That said — I have lots to tell you now. I am ALSO speechless because I just FINISHED my blog and was adding pictures to it when I accidentally deleted my WHOLE post. So angry so angry. Hate when this happens!

The weekend was amazing. Emzie and I got the sunshine we prayed for on Saturday. We walked around Sky Tower!!! The tallest man-made structure in New Zealand with views up to 80km (52miles) in every direction. *Thank you pamphlet! When we walked the SkyWalk platform we were 194 meters (636 feet) in the air. Our guide Sibohan was great. She offered us lots of “activities” we could try. Sitting backwards over the edge and leaning forwards and back were great. I just wish that the walk included a jump off the building. We watch a handful of people jumping and it took around 25 seconds for them to get down. They descended pretty slowly…I guess to make the 300$ leap worth it? I was very proud of Emzie for not letting her fear of heights get the best of her.

I kept reminding her that this was her warm up to skydiving! After our walk around the tower we took the elevator up to the Sky Deck where you can get a 360degree view of the city from 722 feet up. The elevator ride with its glass floor and windows was a neat experience. Once we got up to the top we took a ton of photos. I posted them all on Facebook if you want to take a look 🙂

We decided that we wanted to be really touristy that weekend so we drove up to the top of One Tree Hill so we could get lots of shots of New Zealand’s rolling hills and their sheep/lambs. Emma and I rocked our I love NZ shirts and fit in well with all the other tourists trying to take photos. It started to rain and got dark really fast but I still think our iPhones captured some great pictures! I wish the lighting was better but we had a fabulous time posing for all the shots.

Sunday was a nice sleep in day for me. I slept most of the morning trying to see if I could recover my voice. Emma couldn’t stop laughing at my manly husky voice air bubbled voice. Every time I tried to talk some weird sound would come out of me or I would think I was talking but no sound would come out. We took advantage of the sun and went to Mission Bay again. We got a lot of exercise walking along the beach and taking action shots of us by the water.

The weekend was great and I can’t wait to get out and see more of New Zealand.   Thanks to everyone that is reading my blog. I am trying really hard to update my Facebook photos regularly as well as my aPAD. I wish this post was as detailed as my original one 😦

My next blog will most like be about my observations since moving here.
xoxo Amanda

~~If you want to see the pictures on the blog BIGGER just click the picture and it will appear in a new window in a larger format!