I have been in New Zealand for exactly one month to the date. I have enjoyed getting to know the culture and the people. As I have wondered, gotten lost, and found, and then lost again, I have undoubtedly come across many differences and similarities between the American and New Zealand culture. Some good and some bad. So, let me start off my first blog entry by saying that even though I have formed my own opinion about the differences, I do not favor one culture over the other. It is simply different and there are certain aspects that New Zealand has perfected and visa versa for America. With that said, let’s explore my top 10 list.
Top 10 For My First Month:
10. “Sweet As”: This is the name where my blog comes from and one of many funny stories that comes from getting lost in translation. This is a Kiwi saying that sounds like sweet a** when pronounced. It took my ego a while to figure out they weren’t saying I had a great butt. They were just saying “cool.”
9. Cold or Cold: There is not central heating and air. The houses are just not insulated well. I have not gotten a direct answer as to why but this could be a potential market for a good builder.
8. A Kiwi’s Pace: There is never a rush to get anything done. This is taking a while to get used to. As Americans, we expect things to get done “yesterday.” Here, it is all at a “Kiwi’s Pace.”
7. Soup and a Seat: I have found a fabulous place called the Film Archive. They house all New Zealand made movies so you can come check them out for free and also have foreign film moving screenings. Even better, each Friday during lunch you can come grab a cup of soup and watch a feature documentary. I am finding out why Wellington is called Welly-Wood and how the move industry started here. It is quite a unique and eclectic place.
6. Let’s Meet At A Cafe: New Zealanders have this aspect figured out. A Kiwi’s pace fits nicely into the cafe scene here. It is neat to see everyone enjoying conversation and a cup of coffee/tea. It is not like in America where it is all business and let’s hurry off to the next item on our to-do list. They actually take time and enjoy the art of meeting at a cafe. Lovely!!!
5. Public Transportation: I have always lived in a place where you needed to have a car. This has actually not been that much of an adjustment. I walk/run everywhere, although my body is feeling this one, and I take the bus. It is actually quite liberating to not have a car. Not to mention, it is doing wonders for my punctuality. I have to be on time or I miss the bus. Personal growth already!
4. The Accent: Many people ask me what does the accent sound like. At this point, I cannot even try to mimic it. I like to describe the accent as a combo of Australian and British with a touch of Boston. A note for future encounters with New Zealanders, do not ask a Kiwi if he/she is from Australia. Although, it is funny because they seem to ask all Americans if we are Canadians.
3. The Drug Representative: I met a woman who is from Texas and is a drug rep here in New Zealand. She is my first friend in New Zealand but yet she is not a Kiwi. I think I was meant to meet her so we could sit down over a cup of coffee to discuss the differences between the two countries. I also enjoyed talking with her about the differences between the pharmaceutical industries in both countries. Being a former drug rep, it seems like they have a more realistic view of the pharmaceutical industry and the expectation of a drug rep. I know many have asked about the medical system here. I will write more on that in a later blog.
2. The German Student: On one of my rather overwhelming initial days I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful German student who is here on an exchange program with her university. She is student teaching at a local kindergarten. Again, I know, she is not a Kiwi but I do think at this point in my travels I need the non-Kiwi’s to vent to. It is also interesting to hear a Europeans point of view.
1. The Survivor: One aspect of my journey that I have truly enjoyed is the conversations. I can be on a bench, bus, train, or store and have some of the most meaningful conversations. My best conversation has been with a cancer survivor on the train last Sunday. We kicked up a conversation because he was reading a Lance Armstrong book. I was taken back by his honesty and bravery to talk about his story to 2 total strangers who only asked him, “what are you reading?” It was a conversation that touched my heart and one that I will always remember on my journey. He truly is a Survivor.