I remember preparing for the general culture of New Zealand in my GO (Global Opportunities) preparation course at SU. I expected NZ to be fairly like the U.S., though a bit more liberal.
My cultural focus was based on my personal experience of being a Native American woman, therefore I wanted to learn more about the Indigenous groups of New Zealand. I wanted to experience a variation of a colonial system where Indigenous people were at the cultural forefront.
Here's five assumptions and curiosities I held about New Zealand and how they changed or did not:
The British influence in the NZ accent
I really enjoyed hearing the NZ accent. I remember telling people that they sounded sophisticated while talking, but sometimes the accent is super thick that and fast that I couldn't catch the whole sentence. I miss hearing it daily.
Standoff Attitudes Towards Foreigners
I thought as outsiders, we'd be treated a bit abrasive because of the U.S.'s president and events making world news. In hindsight, I probably should not have expected the worse in people. New Zealanders were super friendly, helpful, and polite to lend a hand.
Carefree and relaxed with life
This seemed true for the most part, but once you engage in more political topics, as usual, things get tense or a little uncomfortable. I enjoyed the attitude because it gave me space and time to talk past my introversion. Yet, nothing is ever truly carefree or relaxed because life has many surprises and I would keep that in mind when going elsewhere.
In my prep class, it didn't seem like there was a signature food for New Zealand, so I expected fairly bland food. This was only true on-campus in the catered halls. BRING YOUR ADOBO. However, if you decided to eat out, then the food was superb! I highly recommend being adventurous with your food selection because it hit different on the taste buds.
People don’t leave the island often
I was SO WRONG with this one. I just assumed that New Zealand was all the beauty and safety of the country meant that people didn't travel that often. However, people fly to Australia, the U.S., and the different Pacific Islands all the time! It's common that most people have their passports at earlier ages too so they can travel elsewhere.
I know some of these were naive, but hey - I had no idea until now.
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