At the university's clubs day, I met several American students here on exchange, and it was fun talking about U.S. politics (more commiserating) and explaining some things about New Zealand. I like the immediate sense of camaraderie I can establish with most other American students here. You already have something in common and can launch into almost any topic without hesitation. It makes me feel old hat since I've been here for over a year. I also met a Canadian recently and we got along immediately.
We gave up on trying to mow the lawn ourselves and paid a lawn-mowing guy who left his business card in our mailbox to decimate it and trim around all of the overgrown edges. One of the best uses of $30 I've spent. It was done so fast and saved us a bunch of time and back-breaking work. I can't believe how much time, energy, and money people who have lawns spend to maintain them. When the water supply goes, I hope lawns will too. Xeriscaping is easier for everyone!
The Chinese Lantern Festival in Hagley Park turned out to be way more popular than the organizers anticipated. It was the most crowded event we've been to here, and a later newspaper article said it had 30,000-50,000 people (anticipated 20,000) over the two nights it ran. We met up with our Chinese friends and I suggested some business ideas they might want to look into beyond fighting for the few spots in academia, which excited them. It was hard to see the stage from the way back where we were, but we could hear the drums and the famous Chinese rock band, and then there were fireworks at the end. The lanterns in and around the trees were cool, too.