Thursday, June 5, 2014


Living in a different country comes with a lot of big exciting things, a lot of frustrations, and also a lot of minor differences that aren't necessarily good or bad, but can be pretty interesting. A lot of these neutral differences take some adjustments, some just catch you off guard once, and some are impossible to accept.  Here's a list of some differences I've noticed over the past several months, most of which I've come to terms with...

- We drive on the left here, and the driver is on the right side of the car. this one is mandatory to accept. It actually feels normal now, so it's gonna be another adjustment when I get back. If you see me get in the passenger side of my truck at home to drive, feel free to laugh at me.

Driving is always a big attraction for guests.

- The seasons are opposite. so I'm just now getting into winter mode. Coincidentally, it is virtually impossible to find an ice scraper anywhere here. So I just have to sit in my care for 5 minutes while it defrosts before I can actually go to work in the morning.

- America has better candy. no contest.

- Restaurants can be tricky at first. Firstly, there is no tipping here. Also, appetizers are called entrees, and entrees are called Mains.

- And supper means a light snack/meal late at night before bed. the big evening meal is referred to as 'Tea'.

- NZ doesn't really do Mexican Food.  I mean, I guess they are PRETTY far from Mexico, but come on! this is one of the things I have had trouble accepting. I miss Mexican Food, including Chipotle. Especially Chipotle.

- The NZ definition of fudge is much looser than the American definition.

- Chocolate chips just aren't the same here. they are usually dark chocolate pieces. they're no Nestle's.

- Moving from the kitchen to the bathroom: the bathroom is typically a room with a bath tub and/or shower, and a sink. The toilet usually gets its own room. Mine is actually all the same room, but most NZ homes them have them separated.

- There are buttons on the toilets to flush them. A little button for little flushes, and a big button for bigger jobs....

- Most people keep their plates/glasses/etc in drawers in their kitchen instead of in the cabinets. Mine started out that way, but I had to overhaul the kitchen so it would make more sense.

- electrical outlets all have an on/off switch for each plug.  and the switches are funky: down means on, up means off.
I probably should have cleaned that before posting a picture of it...

- Mushrooms grow in the Autumn here. So they actually grow during the same months as they do at home, but the season is just opposite! Whoa.  And some of them look like this:

- We are supposed to be able to see the Southern Lights from here on occasion. I think I saw them once, but it was a pretty weak showing. We have an alert from some website set to tell us when they should be visible.

- There are signs at most public building asking people to leave their dirty boots outside. So people walk around the grocery store, or come to my office, in the socks or bare feet all the time. There are always a few pairs of boots outside the door to the grocery store. Everybody just walks out and puts their boots back on without any fuss. Doesn't that just make sense? I feel like people in the states would be furious if they were asked to take off their filthy shoes, so instead we all have to deal with them messing up our floors.  Time for a Change!!!  Who's with me?????? (sorry, I just read the first two Hunger Games books, so I'm still revolution-happy).

- School Children wear bright reflective vests as they walk to school. Like highway workers. It's not only adorable, but safe!

- Zippers on jackets and stuff are on the left side here for guys and girls. Guys stuff in the US has the zipper on the right, so I always get briefly stuck in my coat until I figure out that the zipper is just on the other side, and not actually broken.

- There are no hunting seasons here for most animals. Ducks and other water fowl are the biggest exception.

- There are no native mammals in NZ. Only birds.

- Crayfish are very large here. People go diving for them, and they are referring to lobsters. the first time said they went diving for crayfish, I was very confused, thinking they were trying way too hard since crayfish in the US live in shallow water, and are tiny.

That's just HALF of it!

- The system for filing taxes here is shockingly straight-forward. The government magically just does it right or doesn't bother you about it. You don't have to file anything yourself unless you think you are due a refund. Most people in a steady job and/or tax bracket have the right amount taken out, and they don't ever have to worry about it. For me, I should get a refund, and the combination of US and NZ taxes is very tricky. My tax guy in the US was put to shame by the kind guy from the government tax system of NZ. The NZ guy solved all my NZ questions in about 5 minutes on the phone. For other people who think they might be due a refund can contact a service to check on their taxes. if they would actually have to pay in, they don't file, and they aren't charged by the service. If they get a refund, the service keeps 5% of the refund.

I think that's all for now. Just thought it might be interesting to get some insight into some of the little daily facts of living in another place. Clearly these are all pretty minor obstacles, but you'd be surprised how frustrating it can be when all you want is 'normal' chocolate chips!

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