I’ve not updated the blog recently so I spent some time noting differences I’ve found between life in the States and NZ. Most are trivial but it’s often the small things you notice the most. I’ll start off with the least significant but most difficult to adjust to.
1. Light switches are backwards. Flipped up is off; flipped down is on.
2. All outlets have switches too.
3. The voltage is 230 compared to 110/120 in the states. I plugged my razor in and it exploded. So I’ve not shaved since I’ve been here.
4. Toilets have two flush settings. One for standard business and the other for heavy duty.
5. Two lane road the lanes are split with a white line as opposed to a yellow line. This line is dashed 99%, the only time you can’t pass (solid line) is around severe turns. The center line only turns to yellow when one or both of the sides shift to two lanes.
6. Everyone uses their turn signals, always.
7. There are rarely stop signs, most 4 way intersections have roundabouts. It is a law that you must use your turn signal entering and exiting a roundabouts. If there is no roundabout then instead of a stop sign there is a “give way” sign. Looks like a yield sign.
8. Don’t see sports cars and no half-ton pickup trucks (eg F-150, Silverado). Semis have two shorter trailers instead of one long one, I imagine to help on the curved roads.
9. Gas is often priced in NZ$ per 100 litres.
10. If you ask an establishment where the restroom or bathroom is they will looking at you quizzically. “The toilets?”
11. Everyone assumes I’m from Canada.
12. People are generally more “liberal” here on the political spectrum. I’m often asked my opinion on Obama. The two major parties are the National (think Republican) and Labour( think Democrat). Their colors are switched however. National=blue Labour=red
13. The news channels aren’t as obviously politically biased. No Fox-MSNBC dichotomy
14. The world stops at 10:00AM for tea time. Everyone drinks tea. And everyone has an electrical kettle. And a bread maker.
15. The minimum wage is $14/hour. My inner economist predicts this would be one major factor in the higher food prices.
16. Flipflops are called “jandals” like sandals with a j.
17. Data for home Internet is often capped. My current host has 30gigs/month. Used it all in 20 days.
18. The water taste amazing. I noticed in Atlanta that if I left city water in a glass to heat up to room temperature you could smell the cleaning chemicals. New Zealand has been ranked as having some of the best tasting water in the world.
19. Pies are very popular. These are meat pies with steak and cheese being the default. Fruit pies seem rare.
20. Most of the population is small, in stature and weight. I’ve joked that no one can put on any size with food being this expensive. I’ve looked for clothes and XXL would be large in the States.
21. If you are larger, you must play rugby. I get asked daily.
22. Everyone loves rugby. It’s about as religious as college football in the south.
23. There is a popular sport called netball. Think basketball with no backboard and you can’t dribble, only pass.
24. Lots of people walk around without shoes or socks. Grocery stores, sidewalks, even the gym.
25. Even grannies wear gumboots in the rural areas. Most stores will have a sign saying leave your dirty boots at the door.
26. There is a hole in the ozone layer near Antarctica which affects the NZ. This is quite noticeable as the sun seems much brighter, I squint a lot, and you can feel the heat on your skin more severely. You can easily sunburn year round.
27. American Pit Bulls are illegal to import.
28. “How you going?” is the standard greeting. Still sounds strange though I’ve heard it 1000 times.
29. “Yeah nah”, “yeah, yeah, yeah” and “eh” are very common filler in informal conversations. I’ve found myself using these as a subconscious assimilation technique.
30. People like to talk. I’ll often be told random tidbits of personal history or going-ons through none of my own initiation.
31. Some areas are known to experience all 4 seasons in one day. Weather can change rapidly and to the extremes.
32. A lot of houses don’t have insulation or central heating/cooling. No ceiling fans. Lots of wood stoves & fire places. Clothes are often dried on lines, only used a dryer once. Conservation is much more ingrained in the Kiwi lifestyle.
33. Tipping is not customary.
34. Pharmacies are called chemists.
35. Less governmental red tape. For example, I bought a car with cash. Went to the post office the next day to “register” the car which was as simple as filling out my name and address and make and model of the car. Done. No taxes, no registration papers, no hoops to jump through. Also, I was in Auckland, the largest city in the country, and didn’t have to wait in line and the people working there were more than pleasant.