So, I’ve arrived in New Zealand. Well in truth I’ve been here for 8 days now, and I suppose it’s about time I tell you a bit about it.
The first thing I noticed, already on the plane from Los Angeles to Auckland was that tea-drinkers are not considered a bizarre minority and tea comes in a variety of kinds. And not only is it commonly understood that milk goes in it, these beautiful people also grasp the not unsignificant difference between cream and milk 🙂
And there was real cutlery – fork, spoons and a nice stemmed glass for my morning juice on the plane. The knife was still plastic, but at least it could cut
By now I’ve also learned that they have quite a variety of herbal tea here, some of which are surprisingly tasty. My favourite so far is a divine liquorice root clove fennel and cinnamon blend – overpoweringly sweet even with no sugar in it.
Waiting outside for the inter-terminal bus in Auckland before my connecting flight to Wellington it was hard not to notice that it’s summer here 😉 Straight from the snow in Ithaca to 20 degrees and sunshine. Most of the time anyway. Because in Wellington it’s _always_ windy and the wind brings rapid weather changes. As I noticed the day I forgot to close my office window and found a huge smelly puddle of water on my carpet the next morning ;-/
The jetlag I got over quite easily, but getting used to a summer daylight-cycle is much harder. My body expect it to be afternoon until it gets dark and when twilight finally creeps around it knocks me out instantly when I notice it’s late, and worse: my body doesn’t want to wake up in the morning. Imagine that: Me having a hard time getting up. What is the world coming to?
I’m told that usually people put on weight when they move here, and I’m partly wondering if that might not be bad. Some extra kilos might reduce my risk of getting knocked over by the wind. Yep, it’s that strong.
Wellington is a city of stairs. The 77 steps up to my front door being the least of what I climb every day on my way to and from campus. From almost every point there is a view, and the mountains are always seen in the background. It’s beautiful, but harsh at the same time.
The city itself is not very pretty though. Spread wide and low for earthquake safety the pastel coloured houses look a bit like scattered crumbled paper when seen from a distance.
Here is where I live, the yellow house up top.
I share the house with Sonya and Aidan, their cat Anoushka and Aidans sister Moifa.
They have been very helpful and are lending me all the things I don’t have here: a mattress, bedlinen, towels, the use of their kitchenware and as you see, a mirror.
They aren’t all home right now, so you’ll have to settle for a picture of Aidan cooking.
Many evenings we cook and eat together – it is nice that there is sometimes someone home in the evenings.
Especially as campus is still rather empty. The semester does not begin till next week, and so far the only people I’m introduced to are Rod Downey and his postdoc Guohoa. I’m hoping the situation will improve once I start following a class or two, but don’t really believe it will.
One thing I’ve noticed is that kiwis abbreviates everything. It’s not Wellington, it’s Wtgn, not about but abt and not No Parking but NP. And it’s not only words that are reduced for convenience. Right where I get off the bus in the morning, a shoe store has a sign saying “All womens shoe reduced”. I wonder what people with big feet do.
Another thing that perplexes me is the kiwi accent. I am maybe a bit handicapped by my hearing problem, but this is going to take a while to get used to.
One part is the words that are different here than in America: It’s not trunk, it’s boot, it’s not sidewalk, it’s footpath, it’s not trash it’s rubbish. This is not so hard – it is just a question of remembering the synonyms, and as I am appalled at how American my English now sounds I am pleased to learn better ways.
What is hard, though, is the way vowels sound different here. When I hear “peegs” I think grunting farm animals, not plastic things for fastening wet clothes to lines, when I hear “breed” I think procreation or subspecies, not sandwich ingredients 😉