New Zealand has the best coffee

Bear with me as I go on my coffee rant….

As mentioned before, I was working in a local cafe for several months before leaving Auckland for university (college as the Americans call it). It was a great work experience and my boss provided me with barista training. By the time I left my job, I could make a decent (ranging from averagely decent to good decent) cup of coffee from grinding the beans to extracting the espresso to steaming the milk to pouring the milk. You name it, a cappuchino, latte, flat white, long black, moccachino or hot chocolate. It took me a while to overcome the bitter espresso and the burnt milk but eventually I was happy to have picked up a new skill; although if you were to ask me to make one now, I wouldn’t have high expectations…

While I was overseas, I came to the realisation that coffee in New Zealand is truly of a gold standard. For example, I was shocked at the numerous times where I was served coffee with bubbly milk that was far from the velvety texture it should have been. There were also lattes filled with way too much foam. I would never have dared to serve customers some of the coffees that I was served. Keep in mind I am absolutely not, a coffee snob.  I don’t know a whole lot about the art of coffee making and coffee flavour. But at the risk of sounding like a pretentious customer whining about absurd experiences, I am disappointed by the overall standard of coffees overseas.

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Finding a good cup of coffee is a mission and the filter coffee served at my school cafeteria is very questionable. There are also several differences between coffee culture here and in the states. 90% of the time, cafés serve their coffees in takeout cups regardless of whether I was staying in or taking out. Also, I soon realised after my first few visits to the local coffee shops around my school that often just ‘coffee’ refers to filter coffee and self-serve milk over the counter as opposed to coffee made from the espresso machine with steamed milk. Another thing is that a flat white is almost an unheard of thing in the states. In February this year, I was in New York over the weekend and noticed signs with phrases along the lines of ‘try our new flat white!’ in several coffee shops. Given that flat whites have been around in New Zealand for many many years it was surprising to find that it is only being introduced in America recently.

Since coming back home for a month in my summer break, it sure is great finally drinking a tasty latte. My solitary café visits are reignited!

My recent embarrassing moments

“Dear God, please keep awkward situations at a minimum today…” –This should be my daily prayer.

 

Up till now, I have had so many small embarrassing and awkward moments that they all mash together to create one gargantuan embarrassing moment that is my 18 years of life.

My recent employment means I have several embarrassing work stories to add to the mix thanks to my clumsy and awkward self.

I have no idea how I ended up working at a café for my first proper job. Personally I feel that compared to many student jobs, one at a Café leaves much room for messing up.

I am still learning the art of taking orders at the till. If you have never worked behind the till at a café you may not understand how overwhelming the many little keys on the till for each order may seem at first (or so I hope every person starting out on this job feels this way initially and its not just my incompetency at memorising which button is for what).  

One particular embarrassment at the till happened when I was taking the very long order of a lady with her son and her parents. By the end of her order I was feeling flustered from making her wait several times while I scoured the till for the right key. I remembered last minute while processing the transaction to give her a table marker. As I reached across to grab the number, I knocked two of them off the counter and of which one fell onto the head of the little boy. All I could say was sorry. I AM SO SO SO SORRY. I wanted to bury myself in the deep hole of humiliation I had dug for myself. It’s no secret injuring a customer is probably not encouraged on your first day of work. Or ever.

Another embarrassing moment was when I was delivering two drinks to a table. In my defence I did not take the orders and was simply asked to deliver them to the table. I placed the juice down and said ‘orange juice’ and followed suit with the coffee to which I said ‘Latte’. Turned out, they were actually one pineapple juice and one flat white…. You can probably imagine the shame I felt. 

Hopefully the next time I write a post, I still have this job….

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What’s my next move?

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about where to next. My time in China has given me various aspects to think about. New things. I’m not sure if I like this ‘growing up and sorting out my stuff’ business but inevitably, I must deal with it. I think it’s important to strive to find a meaningful goal to work towards. It gives a greater purpose to the actions you make and the thoughts you ponder. In no manner am I saying that my life up till now has been a movie-like reel of single-minded motivation for the ultimate aim. I do not mean any of this in a pretentious way, as I am simply trying my best to express the thoughts that have been racing across my curious, jumbled and still foolish mind.

 

Graduating from high school is an event that turns a monumental page in the 7 years of that chapter. Whether you couldn’t be more ecstatic about leaving that place, more sentimental or sad that you had reached the end of a wonderful chapter of your story, or like me, you were uncertain and filled with mixed emotions about graduating, leaving high school means leaving a place of the tried and safe and treading into the unknown waters of reality. Because lets face it, for most students high school, high school and all that before it is a time where we have others (namely parents and teachers) making the salient decisions and taking the greater responsibility for our lives. Our choices during that part do not have tremendous consequences on the bigger part of our lives and more often than not, we live in this sheltered bubble that does not accurately reflect the nature of reality. From hereon, bigger responsibilities and bigger concerns are

 

I’m going to university (or college as the Americans call it) in September and I desperately do not want to waste away these 8 months. It’s already February; I say this as I shake with abject fear at how fast time passes by. Time really does not wait for anyone. It hit me a few weeks ago that this period of my life, this ‘bridge-between-high school-and-university’ (the preface to the next volume of my life series) is a time that I will probably never have in my life ever again. When will I ever have the opportunity to take the good part of a year off where I am living for just myself? A selfish time where pragmatic concerns such as paying the bills, finding a job in this economic slump, or even taking care of my husband and children (if I ever get married and have kids…) are non-existent. So I hope that what I am doing now and what I plan to do in the following months will not only make me happy but also have a meaningful whether, big or small impact.

 

My life thus far has not been particularly eventful and I have lived a relatively sheltered life. I am not extraordinary and neither is my story. However, I feel that now is the start where I can orchestrate my next chapter and the many (I hope) to come into colourful pages full of adventure. And this is where I’m stuck. My initial disbelief and utter excitement at my acceptance to my dream school has worn off slightly now. Don’t get me wrong, I am still extremely grateful and happy about this news, but I feel that I can no longer just dwell on this news, I must figure out my next move. Since a few months ago, once adults realised that I’m not in high school anymore, the platitude questions started shooting. ‘What are you going to do now?’ ‘Which uni are you going to?’ ‘What are you going to study?’ ‘Which career do you want?’ For someone who has their next move and the ones after that planned out already, those might be easy questions to answer. But for someone who’s indecisive and can’t even decide on which meal to order at a restaurant without taking forever, those questions are awfully difficult to respond to. I have no clue how I managed to formulate responses to all those college application essays…

 

Through all my thinking and over-thinking I have arrived at two ‘next moves’ for the forthcoming 5 months. A) To write on this blog at least once a month (or at least 4 posts per month). I’ve always enjoyed writing and rather than keeping everything bottled in my mind and journal, why not publish it on the Internet. Although I don’t know who would want to read what I write, I hope someone in this realm of the web will find my writing somewhat interesting. If not, then at least I’ll always have an online archive to keep for my own personal musings. B) Get a job. A job will keep me busy and I need to find a way to make my bank account grow… Fingers and toes crossed that in mid March (which is when I arrive back in Auckland) I will be able to get a job somewhere. My plan is to apply online around the end of February as most students will be returning to university and hopefully there will be more job positions available.

 

So there are my next two moves. Not very exciting and as much as I would like to say by some dramatic epiphany I arrived at two very life changing conclusions, in reality it was a rather frustrating process. I am excited about whatever is waiting for me this year. Despite being an 18-year-old girl who is still figuring many things out, as aforementioned I know that the most exciting and bigger things lie ahead. Things always have a funny way of working out.

 

Here’s to new beginnings!

I love airports

A place of goodbyes, new beginnings or just the bridge to your next vacation. For me, I was on my way to China for 2 months. Confession: The hustle and bustle of airports gets me giddy and really brings out the 5 year old in me. Everything is interesting. Especially in big airports, where everyone seems to be headed onto divergent paths I feel a strange sense of insignificance but not in a depressing way. Just an awareness of the plethora of places and people left for me to discover and meet. I’m sure I am not alone when I admit that I will make up stories about the people I spot negotiating their way through the crowds. The ones rushing to their terminal. The ones struggling to lug all their carry ons. Despite being summer in NZ, practically everyone in the airport is dressed ready for winter. Except this one lady who thought it was travel appropriate to wear a stripped black and white body con dress. Talk about comfort…

I’ve been up since 4.30 am today (pre-trip excitement) and took off for flight en route to GuangZhou airport at 10am. I must say, each international flight I go on only gets less comfortable. Sleeping for 5 hours straight on the plane used to be so easy. This time, I managed a total of one hour. ONE FREAKING HOUR.

Once at the GuangZhou airport, Dad and I were pretty clueless. The maze-like layout of the airport was clearly too much for us country Kiwis… But dad insisted that his initial confusion was due to the immense change and extension of this airport since he was last here. In his defence it has been 10 years since he was last in his mother -land. I forgot how crowded and hectic China is. Somehow I always relish in the absolute manic of this country. 

Although its only 9pm in China thats 1am NZ time. I am currently waiting for our transfer domestic flight headed to Chengdu. I miss my cheeky puppies (Eddie and Power are actually dogs but I like calling them puppies) already and its less than 24hours. My eyes are blood shot, I look subhuman, I can barely formulate coherent thoughts in my mind and a shower right now would be wonderful. It has been a long day of travel and waiting and observing and eating.. Let this 2-month venture begin!