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  • Writer's picturerachel jackson

Kia Ora, welcome to the blog of differences.

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

From the first day we moved here, the most consistent question has been, "What is different?"

So, starting back in February, I began writing them down. The list is getting pretty long, so I thought it's time to share.

A co-worker gave me this list, and luckily, I knew quite a few. But, if you would have asked me 8 months ago, I would have scored really poorly. Where do you rank?

I'll post the answers at the bottom of the page.

The differences I noticed first were mainly vocabulary differences. While this may seem like a minor thing, it's not. Yes, they speak English and we speak English, but with the accents and word differences, it can get confusing at times. First thing you need to know is everyone is a mate and they are always giving you cheers.

Cheers, mate = good job

Cheers, mate = goodbye

Cheers, mate = hello

Cheers, mate = clink glasses

Cheers, mate = thanks

I like it. It's kind of endearing and the combos get creative.

Now that Tara has moved here, I find myself interpreting for her all the time. (for those of you who don't know, Tara is my best friend from the states and moved here in August - more on that in a later blog.)

Back to interpreting. For example, one of my co-workers was telling us a story last week and said the phrase, "this guy was so pissed." I immediately knew that she meant drunk and Tara was hearing angry. So, I quickly interjected so the story wasn't completely wonky.

Pissed does not mean angry or mad. It means drunk. The problem with this one is that it's not an easy one to tell within the context of a sentence. "Jesus, I was pissed" / "I got so pissed last night" etc. etc.

Aircon = air conditioner - that one is pretty easy. Side note: we don't have one. It's not super common for everyone to have AC here. And usually, if they do, it's a mini split and not a large unit like what many in the states are used to.

Heat Pump = heater - we don't have one of those either. Luckily, our house is well insulated (pronounced in-shoe-lated here) and we can get by without one. However, they sell lots of space heaters for people who don't have heat pumps.

Lollies = candy - usually gummies, suckers, taffy and hard candy. One of the lolly flavors here is egg and cream. Sounds super gross, but it's not terrible.

This is a picture of what a mixed lollie bag would look like at a convenience store or gas station.

Dairy = convenience store

Candy floss = cotton candy

Ice Block = popsicle

Plaster = bandaid

Mr. Whippy = infamous ice cream truck, but doesn't have Bart Simpson ice cream with gumball eyes.

Yeah = yeah

Yeah, nah = no

Yeah, nah, yeah = sort of

You may here all three of these phrases together when asking a question. I am still confused about the answer.

Good on ya = good for you

Keen = Interested, Would like to, Down, etc. I now have keen firmly planted into my vocabulary. It's used so often here that I always catch myself saying it. "Want to go to dinner?" / "Sure, I'm keen." - like what in the hell am I saying. It's crazy how quickly your brain becomes immersed into your surroundings.

Sweet As = this one is hard. It's super common and means, awesome, I think. But they will add AS on to the end of lots of things. Keen As, Fun As, Flash As, etc. You'll just have to come here and experience this one for yourself. It's another very Kiwi thing and I love hearing it.

For my Crossfit people,

PB's = PR's

Press ups = Push ups

Team = everyone is team. You're not a group, gaggle, "hey guys", you're a team. Let's get into it, team. Alright, team. Good work, team.

Bugger = shit, dang, darn it.

Mince = ground. So, ground beef is beef mince here.

College = high school

Mackers = McDonald's, no Mickey D's here.

Flash = fancy

How you going? = hey, how are you?, hi

Dear = expensive

Ta = Bye (I think)

OooRoo = Bye (I think) I am probably misspelling this term. It's pronounced (Ew-Roo) - this is Australian, but my kiwi co-worker says it everyday.

And speaking of pronunciations, that's another can of worms - all these phonetics are completely made up. So, apologies in advance if you can't figure them out.

Fillet = they pronounce it exactly how it's spelled, not "fill - a"

Adidas = Ah-dee-das

Aluminium = Al - loo- men - e -yum

Asphalt = Ash - fault

ASICS = Ass -ick- s

Nissan = Niss - Awn

Also, everything is shortened or nicknamed and has an E on the end of it.

Kindergarten = Kindie

Subcontractors = Subbies

Electricians = Sparkies

Sean = Seanie

But other than the small language differences, New Zealand holds many other distinct changes. First, the rain. It rains here a lot. But, I love it. Everything is always so green and lush. Worth it. It'll be sunny and beautiful in the middle of the day and start raining - no clouds or overcast conditions, just sunny rain.

The rainbows here are monsters.

They. Are. Huge.

I always try to take pictures of them, but the camera never really does them justice. I see so many double rainbows too. One major similarity is the weather changes. Just like Oklahoma, you can get all four seasons in one day.

The bike wheelies. Y'all... riding your bike is a thing here, especially if you're 15 - 18. But you're not a badass unless you can wheelie your bike for at least half a block with all of Auckland traffic marveling at your trickery.

Also: bike = bicycle

Motorbike = motorcycle / moped / dirt bike

Instant coffee. It's everywhere. But don't let that fool you. Kiwis love their coffee, but they will go to a cafe for a "proper" cup of coffee. No black "trucker coffee" here. It's either a long or short black and I still have no idea what that means. All I know is that it's not Folgers and I miss my coffee pot.

A similarity - dogs still shit in peoples yards and just like the states, no one picks it up.

Tipping. You don't tip here. It's such a strange habit to break. I am so used to tipping my waiters, hair stylist, dog groomer, lawn service, bell hop, shuttle bus drive, uber driver, etc. etc. But from what I can tell, the companies actually pay their staff here and don't depend on the patron to subsidize their wages. Interesting concept.

No one listens to country music, tragic, I know. I've only found 1 die hard Kiwi country fan and his dream is to move to Texas and buy a Dodge Ram....

Anyway, I miss Garth and Reba.

Trump - and no, I am not getting political and ask for no political comments in return. But everyone always asks if we fled the United States because of Trump. I always have to explain that we moved here for an experience, not due to politics. I still love the United States, no matter who sits in the oval office.

Note: when you move to another country and keep your US citizenship, you get to pay double the taxes, surprise! It's seriously the worst.

Prostitution = from what I've been told, totally legal.

Driving = we drive on the left hand side of the road on the right hand side of the car. Yes, this is a huge difference, but it's much easier than you'd think. However, I still struggle with looking the right way before crossing the street or walking against the flow of traffic in the mall.

Traffic = BLOWS. I've never lived in a place that you literally plan your days around traffic. I hate it.

Dryers. My mom thinks I am nuts for not owning one. But, it's not something you find in every house like you do at home. People are perfectly happy line drying their clothes outside or hanging them on drying racks inside. I've become used to it and have no problem living without a dryer.

Conveniences aren't a priority. For example, all the shops, with the exception of KMART and groceries generally close around 5pm or 6pm, with the exception of Thursday (which is like 8/9pm). So, if you need to buy something, better plan on leaving work early or find time on the weekend. Why don't you just buy it online, you say? Well, I've officially broken up with Amazon. Again, not a thing here. You can order, but there is no prime and the shipping is expensive. You also have to pay taxes on any product shipped into NZ from another country. Another note: I just realized I used the word "shops" - see, I would have never said that back home. It would have been stores.

No Chick-fil-a, tex mex, queso or real ranch here. They have KFC, Burger King, Carls Jr., Pizza Hut, Subway and Domino's, but none of those joints are good back home and they are even worse here.

However, they serve mean burgers, dairy products and seafood. Almost all sandwiches and burgers come with aioli, beetroot, tomato relish or tomato sauce, and no tomato sauce is not ketchup. Also, pickles are gherkins and not even remotely the same. Just skip them, if you visit.

Okay, now for sports. I am going to get so much shit for this, I'm sure. So, for all my Kiwi friends reading this, I apologize in advance.

Rugby is huge here and I mean huge. NZ is home to the greatest rugby team of all time, the All Blacks. That is something I know.

What a bunch of badasses. I don't care who you are, that's intimidating and awesome all at the same time. The guy in the very front is also a very big deal and what they would call a "legend" here.

Now, there are some other rugby teams in NZ as well - The Warriors, The Blues, etc. But, they don't play each other. Turns out, they are not only in different leagues, but it's an entirely different sport all together. Originally, I thought it was like baseball - farm team, AAA and then the majors. Turns out, it's not. It's on my list to see a game, but I'm sure I'll be that girl asking a million questions during the action... and no one likes that girl. Needless to say, I miss college football and I've only "missed" two weeks of it.

Cricket. So, I actually got to play cricket today, sort of. We played a little at the gym and I learned that you can basically strike out on one pitch. Pretty gnarly. You also swing a club, wait is it a bat? Well, whatever it is, you swing it kind of like a golf club. Gave me the itch for baseball, but I definitely think I could get behind cricket. I also volunteered to play co-ed netball today. Apparently, it's like basketball, but with no backboard or dribbling. Should be interesting.

Morning tea / Afternoon tea - it's a real thing. Breaks at about 10am and 3pm to eat carb laden treats and drink tea with milk and sugar.

Culture shock has been real, but I've kind of loved it. When I think of culture shock, I think of the immersion into what is different. And while that can be scary, it was expected before we moved. I knew things were going to be different. If they were the same, what's point in moving? Every article I read really tried to prepare me for this scary "thing" that never happened.

However, none of the articles mentioned anything about homesickness. I think they are two very different things. And yes, we love our life here, the adventure and people, but when you move to another country, I do think you should prepare yourself for homesickness and not the shock of a new place.

Honestly, homesickness was rough the first few months, and I'm a pretty independent person by nature. It's gets better everyday, but there are days it sneaks up on me. The days when everything seems fine, but suddenly a Facebook memory appears and you see yourself playing flip and slip with your best friends, or the most perfect mermaid skeleton art arrives in the mail from you sister in-law, or you get an unexpected text of a chubby-cheeked girl taking her first steps or you play an old voicemail to hear your moms voice. When I am having those days, I just remind myself that I am so fortunate to have something to be homesick for, a lot of New Zealand immigrants don't have that luxury.

If you are a visual person, this is a great example of how moving to a new country with all it's differences can feel like.

And when we eventually move home, I am sure I'll be homesick for this place too.

How lucky.

ANSWERS, How Kiwi Are You?

1. Jandle = flip flops

2. Feijoa = weird tasting green fruit.

3. Chilly Bin = Cooler / Ice Chest

4. L&P = NZ signature "fizzy" drink. It's like a lemonade crossed with something else. I've never tried it, but it's all the rage. They even make ice blocks and chocolate with that flavor.

5. Bach = lake house, but near the ocean, mountains, etc.

6. Pav = pavlova, a yummy meringue dessert.

7. Sav = Sauvignon Blanc

8. Jaffa = chocolate / orange candies

9. Duvet = I assume this is the same as our duvets.

10. Pineapple lump = chocolate covered pineapple candy.

11. Red Bands = gumboots / muck boots / rain boots

12. Scarfie = university student, especially one from the university of Otago (south island lingo)

13. Wop-Wops = boon docks, BFE, boonies, sticks

14. Glad Wrap = same as us.

15. Stubbies = really short shorts.

16. Gumboots = muck boots / rain boots

17. Lamington = another really yummy dessert

18. O.E = overseas experience - it's the gap year thing in the US.

19. Togs = bathing suit

20. Ute = truck, but like a Tacoma sized truck, not a full size, they don't really have those here. Trucks are like the huge semi's we'd have.

21. Twink = white out, like the old school white bottle and brush to remove text.

22. Pack a sad = temper tantrum / hissy fit

If you want more, here is another blog that talks all about NZ slang:

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