So I’m back in the States and have been for the last 6 weeks (back at my mom’s for a month now; it was a surprise for her birthday hence no post here about it when I last posted about my future plans), but I’m finding there are things that I miss terribly about my time overseas and there are just some Kiwisms that I cannot shake, so I thought I’d make a list a la David Letterman’s Top Ten Lists.
Edit: Looking in my Drafts, I was working on a post when I was in Australia about my first few days in Melbourne, but obviously I never posted it since my last post is from late April. I’ll see if I can drum up some memories to continue that post soon.
10. Kumara fries with aioli dipping sauce from Burger Fuel. Hell, Burger Fuel altogether. While I have found sweet potato fries on the menu more frequently since being back, I miss calling them kumara fries (kumara is Maori for “sweet potato”) and aioli doesn’t seem to be too common here. The texture of the sweet potato fries in the States seems different here as well though the order I had last night was pretty similar to the ones overseas. Anyway, I miss Burger Fuel altogether because no other restaurant chain has quite so many different options for the veggie burger. Burger Fuel had multiple kinds of the actual veggie patty. I miss that option.
9. Maori culture, specifically in Rotorua. While I certainly don’t miss the sulfur smell of Rotorua, I miss being immersed in the Maori culture there, particularly at Te Puia. I also really enjoyed the movie Boy, which was about a young Maori boy named Boy and his coming-of-age in the ’80s. I saw this in the theatre when I was living in Wellington and it didn’t take place in Rotorua, but I’ll still list here. Learning about the indigenous people of New Zealand is definitely something that I won’t forget. It also makes me think about the Native Americans living in the US today.
8. Huka Falls in Taupo. Incredible views from this vantage point. I just loved it.
7. Capsicum So I ate at Subway a lot when I was in New Zealand, especially at the beginning when I was staying at hostels. Mostly because it was a chain I knew from the States, but also because their food is healthy. I would get a foot long (yes, in New Zealand where they largely go by the metric system, Subway subs still were 6 inch or foot longs) Veggie Delite or sometimes Veggie Patty (oh how I loved how mainstream Veggie Patty subs were in NZ Subway shops since the only place I’ve seen Veggie Patty subs in US Subway shops is New York City) with lettuce, tomato, capsicum, onions, and carrots. Now Americans reading this might be wondering “What’s capsicum?” Well, that’s what Kiwis (and Australians) call “green peppers.” So since I ate at Subway a lot in NZ, when I got back to the States and started going to Subway shops here, I actually asked for a Veggie Delite with lettuce, tomato, capsicum, and onions once! I couldn’t believe it. I kept on saying to myself “Now, remember, call them peppers” but I actually blurted out “capsicum.” I wonder how long it’ll take before I get used to saying “peppers” since I’m not having Subway here with the frequency I did overseas.
And related to this, I could mention the Hong Kong style of vegetable medley I got to make my oh-so-good stir fry. Wok Creations. I’m mentioning it here because one of the vegetables in the medley was red capsicum.
6. ACMI (Australian Centre of the Moving Image in Melbourne, Australia). By far, my favourite tourist-y thing in Australia was visiting ACMI. Even though they totally annoyed me with having wrong subtitles for the end of Breathless (the whole point of the end is that the cop mistranslates something for the American tourist/girlfriend of the guy that gets shot; having the wrong subtitles — meaning the guy that gets shot says “You’re a bitch” according to the subtitles when he means “Life’s a bitch” and the cop says he said “You’re a bitch” — pisses me off), they had a lot of interesting stuff like a short film that Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic produced in school. You could definitely see how it influenced his more popular works. The best part about it was that it was free and I randomly found it by being in the area, not particularly seeking it out in any way. Don’t you just love it when that happens?
5. My summer Christmas. Well, I already blogged about it extensively (one of the few things I actually had time to do during my time — I guess I was too busy living the dream otherwise), but I want to reiterate it here. Experiencing Christmas during the summer was a completely new experience for me, the New Yorker where it is usually white because of the snow. We actually got to spend part of Christmas outside and we didn’t need to bundle on the layers and that is very cool. My manager, her partner, and their families made me feel very welcome, which was very awesome given I had only known my manager for a few weeks by the time she invited me along.
4. Dad’s visit. Another thing that I miss about the Southern Hemisphere is all the things I got to do when Dad visited in late January/early February. Even though Dad was sick for most of the visit, it was still awesome because holy cow, until he came, I didn’t realise quite how much I was missing my family. And all the sights we saw in Napier and the South Island were awesome. Art Deco is full on double rainbow. Very inspired. And Milford Sound, wow what a gorgeous sight. I also loved our visit to Te Papa, which I had been to before (since hello, I was living in Wellington), but we got to see so much more this time. Just aces.
3. Colleagues. While I was unsuccessful at finding paid work while I was overseas, I did do substantial amounts of volunteering, most notably at the National Office of Save the Children New Zealand. Since my time is done over there, I’m comfortable with saying where I worked. Anyway, my colleagues there were awesome. My manager Jo is great. Very nurturing, but at the same time, gave me a lot of space to do things on my own and my duties expanded enormously over the 7 months I worked there. I loved collaborating with Kendall on the Staff Intranet and website. Working with him made me realise that I just might want to follow down a career path in marketing (entertainment, preferably, but only because I’ve loved television since I was a little girl, I’m a TVphile if you will). I knew I had an interest in web design and social media, but it really flourished here even if it was a somewhat small portion of what I got to do during my tenure at Save. (Let me close with: Hi Gina, Barbara, Angela, Mercy, Irena, Rosario, Sophi, Carolyn, Liz, and Kusal if any of you are reading this! Of course I also say hi to Kendall and Jo :))
online Kiwi and Aussie friends. Before this trip, I had a lot of online friends from New Zealand and Australia. Now thanks to this trip, I’ve met the majority of them in real life and I can call them just friends. No need for the qualifier. And through them, I’ve met more people. So I really truly thank each and every one of (you if you’re one of them or if you are not, them) for letting me meet you (them) no longer through a computer screen. This made my experience all the more richer and allowed me to delve further into Kiwi and Aussie culture. Thank you again!
1. Independence. I know one day I’ll be living out on my own again and I will recapture most of this feeling again soon, but this is truly the thing I miss the most. Living on campus during college has a different feel than when you are living in a flat (I will keep calling apartments flats, yes) in “the real world.” You have to do everything for yourself, basically. Finding food and a place to live are the most important. There is nothing like your first time and this is why I will be able to capture most, but not all, of the feeling I had when I leave the nest once more.
So there you have it. The top 10 things I miss about being overseas. But here’s a bonus, two honourable mentions: