Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adjusting to Life in New Zealand

I have know been here for over one month.  I'm already starting to work on plans for my birthday celebration.  I thought this was an appropriate time to remind people (and myself) why I chose New Zealand in the first place. 

It's easy to say that the people make the difference. But New Zealand doesn't throw me into an entirely new culture and it doesn't offer as much bang for the American buck as other countries could....they even claim to speak English here.  Here are some fun facts (that may or may not be true - depending on the reliability of the Internet) about the country I'm now living in:
  • There are over 9 million beef and dairy cattle in NZ.  (There are only 4.3 million people.)  Actually, less than 5% of New Zealand's population is human - the rest are animals. This is one of the highest ratios of animals to humans in the world 
  • The world's first commercial bungy jump took place in Queenstown, NZ in 1988. (The city is now the self-professed "Adventure Capital of the World" due to the wide variety of crazy stuff they come up with to pass the time.)
  • At 41.2o South, Wellington is the most southerly capital city on the planet. Cities on similar latitudes in the Northern hemisphere are Barcelona, Istanbul and Chicago.
  • The last fatal earthquake in New Zealand was on the West Coast of the South Island in May 1968. Three deaths resulted. (However, smaller earthquakes hit the islands annually)
  • New Zealand gave its women the right to vote in 1893, a quarter century before Britain or the US.
  • New Zealand has 15,811 km (9,824 miles) of coastline, and no matter where you are in the country, you are never more than 128km (79.5 miles) from the ocean.
  • Auckland, the City of Sails, has more boats per capita than anywhere in the world with 80,000 privately-owned boats - one for every eight Aucklanders.
  • New Zealand was named after a group of Dutch islands called Zeeland, thanks to the Dutch cartographers that mapped the area.  "Zee Land" is loosely translated to "Sea Land."  (This is all assuming that Wikipedia is correct). 
And some random information about my own experiences:
  • I watch just as many (sometimes more) American television shows here than I did back home.
  • I occasionally catch what could be an American accent, and feel a rush of excitement when it turns out to be true.
  • I'm living in a big small town.  Everyone knows everyone within a few degrees and it only took one month to insert myself into this small world and start playing the game.
  • I love that the toilets have two flush options (a half flush and a full flush).
  • But clearly the flushing isn't about the environment, because all of the towel bars are heated so that you not only have a dry towel every time, it's also toasty warm.
  • Among other things I've discovered that Americans have a reputation of getting overly enthusiastic about things - Me, get excited about ridiculously small trivial things?  Never.
Things to be thankful for (more on all of these topics later):
- A new flat in a great location with fun new flatmates
- A job offer that should be coming this week
- 30th birthday plans that could include a "Cowboys and Indians" theme party

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