Life as a Kiwi (8/12/09)

Sunset, Kelburn, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

It’s been over a month since I departed from New York, but it feels like so much longer. After five weeks here, there are some things that I have become used to and some that I still find strange to adjust to. Something that I was a little concerned about prior to arriving was my living situation. It reminded me of freshman year, in that I would be living with people whom had never met, but in the environment of a house. However, after just over a month of living with Elizabeth, Kevin & Natalie, I can only hope that HKLZ house is as fun as ours here.

Elizabeth reminds me incredibly of Kathleen, with little bits of Heather & Danna mixed in. We both love to eat and I love to cook, so that works out wonderfully. We drink gross amounts of juice each week, but luckily found NZ’s version of Kool-Aid, Raro, in order to save money. Elizabeth adds cheese to EVERYTHING that we eat, and I’ve started to do the same. The cheapest cheese here is Edam, which is a Dutch style cheese. It’s surprisingly good with everything, even Chinese food. A favorite pastime of Elizabeth and I is sitting in the lounge and Skyping from across the room as the flat watches TV. Even though we’ve only known each other for a few short weeks, we already have inside jokes that can make both of us burst out laughing in an instant.

Kevin, aka DJ Whatevskies, has one of the most extensive iTunes libraries I’ve seen and is our regular DJ on Friday nights. He’s also an incredible photographer and I’m really happy I was able to steal some of his work before he added a digital watermark. Kevin is our resident “old man” since he has begun drinking scotch (Drambuie) and can’t wait to find a pipe to smoke.

Natalie has been missing a bit in my life, but when she’s here, she always makes me smile. To describe her, I’d say she’s half Heather and half Danna. We have very similar senses of humor, leading to plenty of laughs at any time of day. Natalie has gotten almost hooked on Shortland Street, the only New Zealand soap opera. I’m not the kind of person to sit down and watch soap operas, but this one is growing on me. We’ll see. Natalie makes amazing eggless cakes, even though she doesn’t think so. Thankfully, we both have similar political views, which makes our discussions of Parliamentary much more interesting (and less heated haha). I’m ridiculously excited to visit Natalie in Blenheim, the heart of New Zealand wine country, to visit vineyards with her and her family.

Other than my living situation, Aotearoa has some cultural differences that I’ve really come to love and others that I’m still working on understanding.

New Zealand has a tradition known as the “sausage sizzle” which basically means a grilled sausage served with grilled onions on bread spread with butter and topped with tomato sauce. (Side note here…tomato sauce is NZ refers closest to ketchup…its a little less sweet and I definitely prefer it to Heinz). Sausage sizzles are absolutely amazing and are available often in the quad for free or one dollar. Healthy? No. Delicious? Yes.

I mentioned both Tim Tams and pies in my last post, so I’ll take some time now to explain them. A Tim Tam is a wonderful cookie that is extremely popular here in New Zealand. The best way to describe it is an Oreo wearing a chocolate blanket. There’s also the notorious Tim Tam Slam, which involves biting off both ends of the cookie and using it as a straw for a full glass of milk. Delicious.

Referring to a pie here means a meat pie, that is eaten as part of a meal. They come in a huge variety of flavours. My personal favourite at the moment would probably be steak and cheese. Last week I made my first traditional Kiwi dinner; Peas, Pie & Pud. I grabbed a picture of it for this blog. It was a really good and I’m sure I’ll repeat it before I leave.

Peas, Pie and Pud

As for other culinary endeavors, cooking on my own is amazing and I really am learning to cook on a budget. I don’t think I’ll have to buy meat again until October since I recently visited NZ’s version of Sam’s Club, Pak’n’Save and stocked up on chicken, steak and shrimp. Fish and chips is huge here and I’m going to have to get that again soon, because the first time I was really happy with it.

Some things I’m still getting used to here include:

* figuring out which way to look for oncoming traffic when you’re crossing the street
* the spelling of certain words. I really don’t want to lose points on a handwritten assignment because I spelled centre wrong
* the way Kiwis text. its rly hrd t0 rd a txt whn its ritn lke this
* The accent. I love it. But sometimes I have NO idea what’s going on. For instance, when Natalie says beer, it sounds like beeah and when she says bear, it sounds like beeyah. Very subtle difference. So when she told me she was going to dress up as a cute, cuddly beeyah for a Canadian themed party, I was trying to imagine how a Molson could look cuddly.
* In the choir I joined, the way that they talk about crotchets. Yes, I know a crotchet is a quarter note, but when they keep saying it, I can’t help to giggle.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a list of some Kiwi slang that I’m picking up, so you all understand me when I get back =)

* Kia Ora – Maori for hello, goodbye, how are you and basically any other kind of greeting or farewell. Similar to Ciao or Shalom
* Sweet as – Really sweet. haha by adding “as” to an adjective, you are saying its really —-
* Biscuits – as in the UK, this means cookies, but only crunchy ones. Chewy cookies are cookies. And in case anyone was wondering, explaining what an American biscuit is to someone who has no idea is so difficult, but I think Natalie got the idea eventually.
* Jandals – flip flops
* Oz – Australia, with whom New Zealand actually has quite the rivalry with.
* The Ditch – the Tasman Sea, which separates Aotearoa from Australia
* Hokey Pokey – Not the dance we all did in Kindergarten, but instead a flavour of ice cream that incorporates bits of toffee-like things. Really tasty.
* Zed – The letter Z. All of their websites end in and every time they say a website on TV it gets me.
* Uni – University. They abbrev here a lot.

That’s all for now…I’m heading to New Plymouth this afternoon, so I’ll be blogging on that next week, which is the halfway mark for classes. (what?!) I’ll leave you with a picture I got from Kevin of the three Americans. Natalie was home for the weekend 🙁

6A - USA

Kia Ora,


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