Shorts from New Zealand

I’m back in Christchurch, which means I will have spent a third of my year in New Zealand in this city and the vicinity. My working holiday visa expires in a little over two weeks, so I’m working to sell my car and wrap everything up here. But it’s not quite time to return home–I’m taking the scenic route. I’ll first fly to Sydney and visit Australia, then I’ll visit Southeast Asia, Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. I’ll return home in October and revel in my second autumn of the year.

So for this blog post, here is some

Miscellany from Down Under

For this story, keep in mind I’d been working and living almost exclusively with Kiwis for the four and a half months prior.

All year, I’ve been told Americans are loud, and I’d felt that, too, often speaking more quietly by a few notches when talking with a Kiwi. I thought it was just the volume at which we speak (and how slow we speak) that people noticed.

But when I visited a sheep station in Queenstown during a week of touristy activities, there was a group of Americans who sat in front of me during the sheep shearing demonstration. Continue reading

On Being Homesick and Strategies to Help Half a Globe Away From the Farm

New Zealand in Numbers:

9 months and 25 days here
309,486 km (192,306 miles) on Pippin’s (my car’s) odometer
12,397 photographs taken
11,486 km (7,137 miles) traveled with Pippin
28 places stayed in (hostels, hotels, bed and breakfasts, homes; includes 24 unique locations with one location stayed at three times)
27 blog posts published
11-hour train ride from Auckland to Wellington
9 videos made
8 flights taken (including one in which I was the pilot)
5 stuffed animals purchased
3 cameras used
2 natural disasters experienced (7.8 magnitude earthquake in November and Port Hills bush fire in February, both while in Christchurch)
1 kiwi found
Countless pamphlets and maps gathered

1 fantastic adventure in Middle Earth.
And 1 homesick farm girl. Continue reading

Supermarket Shopping and Maple Syrup Ice Cream: First Day in New Zealand (Part Two)

See Part One here.

My Airbnb host came out to greet me and started showing me around right away. I took her up on her offer to take me to the local supermarket (grocery store), something I’d been looking forward to for some time. It was called Countdown and had a nice clean layout with a lot of good food. She showed me around and explained the different brands and foods I didn’t recognize. When we went to the deli, the lady behind the counter ended up chatting with me about my trip and what I was doing. As we talked, I was trying to make grams to pounds conversions in my head so I could buy the right amount of ham, but I just ended up with 200 g of ham, which is a bit less than half a pound. I don’t know how the price comparisons are.

But I found I need to become used to the friendly chatter and genuine interest in how I’m doing. I first heard of this in a video about the New Zealand accent. An American voice coach was explaining how we just say hello and then place our order in a store, but in New Zealand, people behind the counter carry on a full conversation with you. This happened at customs, too, when the officer read on my declarations card that I worked in agriculture and asked me for details, partly because it was his job and partly because he was taking a genuine interest in my occupation, as shown by asking where I taught.

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Some of the food I bought at Countdown. Feijoa (on the cereal box) is a type of fruit, and the cereal took some getting used to. It tasted better once the milk had soaked in. The milk I bought is sold in two-litre plastic containers (I almost wrote gallons), the kiwifruit is big and comes in green and gold, and the butter is sold in blocks wrapped in plastic instead of four sticks packaged in a box.

Continue reading