Quirky New Zealand

My time in New Zealand is coming to an end in just a few short hours, and I thought I'd share some of the things that are different here in the Land of Long White Cloud! It's definitely a completely different atmosphere than the Southern US, and I would be lying if I said I didn't experience any culture shock when I first got here. Over the past four months, I've become adjusted to the Kiwi culture, but I am ready to be back in Tennessee.

First of all, guys wear really short shorts in New Zealand. I mean really short shorts. It's not attractive in the least, and there have been a few instances when I was cringing walking behind what I thought was a girl with very unattractive legs and discovered that it was just a guy with a man bun and tiny shorts. (This is definitely something I will not miss about New Zealand.) I believe it comes from the popularity of rugby in this country, since rugby uniforms are fairly short.

Case in point. This is a picture of the All Blacks doing their signature "haka."
In general, clothing is somewhat similar to the States, but it has more of a high fashion, European twist. “Hipster” and beachy styles are more common here. Also, students dress up for class here more than we do at Tennessee. (But, I suppose that’s probably true of other colleges in the states.) Many girls I’ve seen wear heels (!) and fancy-ish dresses to class, while it’s rare to see me in something other than a T-shirt. (Given, I didn’t bring very many dressy clothes with me. T-shirts are much easier to pack and to wash.)
Many Kiwis walk around barefoot all the time, and that’s considered totally normal! Now, I love walking outside barefoot in the summer, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable getting lunch in the cafeteria or going to the grocery store without any shoes on. It just seems kind of really gross to me. Living is more laid back, it seems like, and that may be why going barefoot isn’t that big a deal. (This laid back lifestyle is great and all, but I’ve heard it said that Kiwis run on “island time,” meaning that they tend to run a little late. It drives me crazy sometimes, although I’ve gotten more used to it. I think I’ve become much more “chill” since I’ve been here.)

         Having tea or a “cuppa” is very popular, whether it’s in the morning or afternoon. It’s almost like Kiwis are always eating or drinking something. (Which might be one reason why they are third in the world in obesity rates after Mexico and, you guessed it, The U. S. of A.) I’ve actually grown to like a hot cup of tea, although I add more sugar and milk that most Kiwis do. Given the choice between tea and coffee, I’d rather have coffee, but I’m not a huge fan of the coffee here. I haven’t quite figured it out, and it’s very rare to find regular drip coffee. Most people I know use instant. (Ew.)  Usually with morning tea, people have a biscuit (cookie), a slice (like a brownie), or some kind of snack. At church in between Sunday school and the morning service, we all have tea and eat the world’s best brownies. (I’ve got to get the recipe for those. I miss them already!)
         McDonald’s is really good here! (No, really! I'm not lying.) While they don’t have chicken and biscuits for breakfast, they do have really great bagels. The McCafé section has muffins, sandwiches, macaroons, and all sorts of goodies to go with the drinks. I haven’t had their coffee, but they have a lot of good sounding options! I’ve eaten at McDonald’s and Burger King here more than I’d like to admit, but sometimes cheap trumps quality. Plus, they have free wi-fi which is always a deciding factor when you’re on the road.
         “Fish and chips” (pronounced like “fush end chups” with a Kiwi accent) are the go-to “takeaway” meal in New Zealand. You buy them at the shop wrapped in newspaper, and more often than not, it’s pretty delicious! It’s basically fried fish and French fries, but I’ve really enjoyed trying it out here. (I’ve tried a lot of new foods since I’ve been here. I’ve discovered that I really like sushi, even though I was very skeptical. I’ve tried kangaroo, Thai food, about half a dozen different flavors of gelato, and more Chai teas that I can count.)

Good old fashioned fish and chips.
Kiwis use a lot of words and phrases that I had never heard before I came here. Here’s a little list of a few with their definitions and an example of how someone might use them:

Sweet as
Adj. Incredibly cool, awesome, great.
“That All Blacks game was sweet as!”

Cheap as
Adj. Incredibly cheap.
“Bus tickets to Wellington this weekend are cheap as!”

(Note: You can basically add “as” to the end of any adjective. I know it’s hard to wrap your head around that. I mean, sweet as what? Sweet as pie, maybe?)

Adj. Prime, good.
“This time of year is choice for hiking.”

Adj. Sketchy, unsure.
“The weather on the mountain is looking a little dodgy today.”

         Expression. No. Just no. Ignore the “yeah.”
         “Did you do the assignment for Māori studies last night?”
         “Yeah… nah. I’m going to work on it later.”

She'll be right.
Expression. It doesn’t actually mean what it sounds like. It’s more like, “Oh, that’ll be great!”
“I’m studying abroad in Palmerston North for the semester.”
“Ah, she’ll be right.”

         Noun. Sandals, particularly flip flops.
         “Don’t forget your jandals for our trip to the beach!”

         Noun. Sunglasses.
“The sun is so strong in New Zealand that you’ll need to bring sunnies.”

Noun. Bathing suit, swim trunks, anything you swim in.
“We’re going to the hot springs. Did you bring your togs?”

         Noun. Convenience store, corner market.
“I’m going to grab some L&P from the dairy before my bus leaves.”

         Adj. Tons, a lot, a great amount.
         “I have heaps of homework this weekend.”

The weather here, for the most part, has been one of two types: warm and dry or cold(ish) and wet. There have been very few humid days, which has been a nice change from Tennessee. When it rains, it’s always windy, and using an umbrella is futile. (Actually, it’s quite windy all the time.) At least the “cold” here isn’t too bad, at least in Palmerston North. There were a few nights on the South Island that were very chilly. We’ve had some beautiful weather these past few weeks. Spring has finally arrived, just in time for me to go back home. (Of course.) A few afternoons were warm and sunny enough to study outside, get some sun, and throw around a football.

Normal weather in New Zealand.
Speaking of the sun, it really is incredibly strong. I’ve always heard people say that, but I didn’t realize just how true it would be. You can really feel how hot and strong the sun is, and you burn (or tan, if you’re one of those lucky people) much more quickly than you would back in the states. I’ve worn sunscreen most days, and sometimes I still end up with my cheeks and nose a little red. Even when it’s cloudy you can burn if you’re not careful.

I’m sure I’ve left out “heaps” of other quirks, but maybe I’ll do a second part some other time. Right now, I’m sitting in the Auckland airport killing some time before I fly to LA in a few hours. I’m using the 30 minutes of free wi-fi to post this. It’s finally starting to feel real that I’m actually leaving. It just blows my mind how quickly this semester has gone by!


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