As my study abroad experience nears the end, I have reflected upon some of the things I have seen, heard or experienced and have formed some opinions (go figure...) that I am offering to share with all of you.
1) The lack of footwear is disgusting. Unfortunately there are NO "no shirt, no shoes, no service" policies in AUS/NZ. Nasty ass feet walking around in grocery stores and restaurants makes me (a footaphobe (?)) very uncomfortable.
2) There is a KFC in every single town in New Zealand. I ask locals if they like it and they say, "it's shit"; I tell them that I could not agree more......well except for the mashed potatoes and gravy......delicious!
3) Aussie and Kiwi girls are awesome! This is not intended to be a jab at American girls, because I am fond of American girls too. However, Aussies and Kiwis are incredibly friendly and not stuck up in any way, shape or form. You will never see a guy get embarrassedly shot down in a bar/pub by an Aussie or Kiwi girl--they are so laid back and fun-loving. Very refreshing.
4) I am so excited to use certain new phrases/vocabulary
Standing on the Pacific Ocean....thinking of my momma and brothers!
that I have learned back in the U.S. Some examples: "How you going"--how are you doing combined with how is it going; "Bogan"--white trash; "Heaps"--tons, lots; "Give way"--yield; "Tramping"--hiking; "No worries"--no problem; "Holiday"--vacation; and "Give it a go"--try it.
5) Conversely, these are some words/phrases that I hope I will never use: "Toilets"—restrooms—it just sounds dirty….; "Uni"--University; and "Queue"--wait/line.
6) Every man, woman, child in New Zealand is an outdoor adventurer. Bungee jumpers, skydivers, kayakers, river rafters, trampers, race car drivers, BMX-ers....it is amazing. People are in great shape here!
7) Flying in New Zealand is awesome (minus the terrifying propeller planes....but I digress…)! I never want to fly again in the U.S.--it is such a hassle to fly in the States. In NZ, you do not even need to show your drivers license/passport to get a boarding pass, and only in the major cities are there security screening mechanisms. I am not completely comfortable with the lax security, but honestly, it is so much nicer to fly under these laid back boarding procedures.
8) The entire concept of "backpackers" is unavailable in America. I had never heard the terminology (except in passing when talking to
folks that have "backpacked" in Europe, which I did not actually know what that meant…) prior to leaving the U.S. Now I am a full-blown backpacker, living in a tent or in hostels, and I love every minute of it! I have met so many people from around the world while backpacking. Funny story…..while I was in Nelson, I met a 42-year old Israeli male named Danny who told me that he loved the U.S. and had an American flag he flew from his car during special events in Israel. I met him on the night of “Passover” right before he had to attend an important engagement/celebration, but before he went, he told me that he liked my style and wanted to know if I thought he looked good in his new shirt, jacket and sunglasses. He told me he was out to impress the ladies and hopefully find a wife. I gave him a big thumbs up and told him he looked great! I felt like queer eye for the Israeli guy. Ha! I am an idiot.
9) Assuming that I pass my classes (fingers crossed), it makes absolutely NO sense for students NOT to study/travel abroad. In
other words, if you still have time in school, immediately contact your Study Abroad Advisor and book a semester abroad. The amount you learn about yourself, others and the world is immeasurable. You get to study, party and travel in a different part of the world and learn about different cultures as you adjust to them. Plus, school is generally easier than back in the States and you get full credit just for having passing scores! Amazing concept. I wish I would have taken advantage of this opportunity while I was in undergrad as well.
10) I think Celsius is the laziest form of measurement in the world. There is absolutely NO precision to it! 20 degrees Celsius is between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. At 66 degrees Fahrenheit, I probably need a jacket. At 70 degrees Fahrenheit, I could get away with shorts and a tank top. Dammit Celsius.
11) When I watch American TV shows, I freak out for about a split second when I see cars driving down the right side of the road......I am sure that it is due to the fact that I have logged nearly 100 hours behind the wheel of a
Bad ass Santa
Love this picture.....ha!
car driving on the left side of the road in Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, I am a little nervous to get back behind the wheel of my Jeep…..
12) Speaking of American TV.....I am absolutely amazed at the impact that the U.S. has on the world. 90% of popular music, movies and TV are U.S. related. Now of course these media outlets are not disseminated to AUS/NZ immediately, but they play a major role in the everyday lives of Aussies and Kiwis. What I am even more surprised about is the infatuation with older American culture. People absolutely love James Dean, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Marilyn Monroe, etc. and talk about them with such fervor that you would think they are still alive and producing movies/music in Hollywood.
13) I want to sound as politically correct as possible, but there an exorbitant amount of disabled people in New Zealand. I am unsure if it is due to the fact that NZ is an island country and certain medical practices have not been made available here or if it is due to the passing of repeated recessive genes over time in a relatively uninhabited island country which has
caused some malformations.....maybe it is due to the fact that my only available means of transport (besides rental cars on the weekends) is public transportation which (staying as PC as possible...) is often reserved for the poor, less fortunate and disabled. Maybe I am completely off base......maybe the majority of the disabled are the way they are because they are extreme sports adventurers and have had an accident or two......
14) NOT having a cell phone is an unbelievable luxury! Never did I develop a craving for my cell phone. For the first few days in Australia I missed texting people.....however, those feelings subsided quickly. There is absolutely NO need for a cell phone in this country or in Australia. Business and immediacy/urgency takes a backseat to comfortable living and enjoyment. I think it is something that Americans should consider, but will never happen because the U.S. is so business oriented. I fully expect to get back into the routine of having a cell phone when I return, but as for now, I love being free from it.
15) Speaking of business.....on a whole, AUS and NZ have business practices that would NEVER fly in the U.S. Store
owners will take months of "holiday" and will shut down their operation during the entire time they are gone. In addition, most restaurants/bars do not have closing hours--they all have signs that say "noon until late". What the hell is late? I still have not figured it out. If you are not eating at a restaurant by 7pm (or 7:30 at the latest), good luck finding food. Stores shut down whenever they feel like it. I most definitely appreciate the U.S. business mentality, slash, I love ordering pizza/Chinese/sub sandwiches at any time of night.
16) People raved to me about how great public transportation is in AUS/NZ. Those people are liars and incorrect. In my experiences, New York City is the only place with decent public transportation.
17) In Australia, nearly everything you ordered (i.e. chicken, hamburgers, steak) had beetroot thrown on top of it; apparently Aussies love beetroot. In New Zealand, nearly everything you order has pumpkin and avocado thrown on top of it. I am not a fan of the pumpkin, but I love the avocado addition on everything!
18) I absolutely love sushi. It is my new favorite food. I could eat it everyday.
19) Although I never saw anyone in KSU purple in Australia, I met two K-State students at Canterbury University in Christchurch. One male and one female—both were wearing KSU apparel when I spotted them in the crowd. Absolutely brightened up my day to see K-State purple in New Zealand.
20) First six things I am going to do when I get home (after hugging/kissing family and friends): 1) Purchase and destroy somewhere between 25 and 95 Chipotle burritos; 2) Throw away and most likely burn my tennis shoes—I would guess that I have walked approximately 4 bajillion miles in those shoes and lets just say that you may be able to smell them when my flight pulls into LAX; 3) Attend a Royals game--let me know if anyone is interested...; 4) Sleep--I am so far past sleep deprived that I feel normal again; 5) TiVo, TiVo, TiVo!!; 6) Purchase real deodorant--the deodorant here is subpar to say the least--they have miniature, baby roll ons that have the diameter of a U.S. quarter--no lie--terrible stuff.
21) This has been the best experience of my life. I would not trade it for the world! The friends that I have
made, the places that I have visited and the experiences that I have encountered have enriched my life greatly and have made me a better person.
22) I look very forward to visiting New Zealand again in the future! It is a beautiful place and I highly recommend it to anyone!
Attached are some random pictures from over the years that I have found, laughed at and decided to share. Hope you enjoy!
Oh, by the way…….I have finalized my travel plans for my return to the U.S. I am flying to Auckland, NZ, for a day, then off to Fiji for 8 days, then back to Auckland for 2 days and then I am coming home!!! I will arrive in the U.S. on April 24th at 11pm if all goes accordingly. Feel free to say some prayers for my travels (Fiji is still in the midst of a military coup……yeah!) and also feel free to purchase some Miller High Life’s if you are interested in cracking a couple of cold ones when I return.
Lots of love,
PS—I am going to post more updates of past travels/events as soon as Final Exams are
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