Monday, May 25, 2009

The Kiwi trust factor

This article clearly portrays New Zealander's level of trust. I wouldn't think Wellington people would be the most trusting, so this is quite an interesting article.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Windy Wellington

Last weekend I went the capital city of New Zealand. Wellington is known for its extreme winds and higher paying job market. Many political elites and businessmen bustle through the downtown area. The downtown area reminded me of a larger city in America. Everyone had places to go and people to see. During working hours people would practically run you over if you stopped on the sidewalk and give you the “how dare you disrupt the flow of traffic” look. Yup, sounds like America. The feel of the city was refreshing in a way, since I love the city life.

I was in Wellington to visit Parliament. While most students my age thinks this sounds really boring, I was quite excited. I was acting like a little kid that was getting to go see the newest exhibition at the Henry Doorly Zoo. I ran up the drive of Parliament, ooo-ing and awing. I think my friends were even laughing at my bizarre excitement. But I can’t help my interest in government and politics. Plus the government buildings were really pretty. I’m a sucker for old architecture.

I sat in on the government official’s voting session, which would be similar to America’s Senate voting on a bill. It was quite a lot like Nebraska’s Senate actually; except NZ representatives shout out their votes instead of entering them electronically. The leader asks the representatives who is in favour, and all who are say I (in their awesome accents). If reps disagree they shout no. It was pretty entertaining. I also took a tour and learned a lot about NZ government.

After going to Parliament, I found a Borders bookstore and just about had a heart attack.
I have been looking for the Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama since the day I arrived in NZ, but all of the local bookstores don’t have it. When I ask the local stores if they sell it, they laugh at me and I’m sure they say “stupid American” after I walk out of the store. But I did find the book in Borders and this enhanced my already gleaming political spirit.

Oh, and I found an Italian restaurant in Wellington. This was huge because NZ doesn’t know anything about a good Italian pasta dish — they don’t even have alfredo sauce (NZ pizza sucks too.) My Kiwi friend, Hayley, took one bite of the pasta dish she ordered and said, “I now understand why you are always talking about how much you miss Italian food. This is amazing.”

On Sunday evening I ate dinner with a Kiwi family. They are originally from Troy, NY but moved to NZ last year for the husband’s work. They have two sons about the same age as my brother Tanner and sister Taya. The boys were quite entertaining. The family lives up in the hills overlooking the city. Their house was gorgeous and had huge bay windows surrounding the house. Rachel, the mom, made two of my favorite appetizers, bruschetta and artichoke dip and we had shrimp and chicken kebabs for dinner. It was fabulous and so nice to take a break from my typical peanut butter and jelly sandwich traveling meal. Rachel seems to love NZ but is a bit homesick. We chatted with her about what we miss about the states that we never realized we would miss. Like grape jelly, pizza and alfredo sauce. Rachel had Dr. Pepper and A&W rootbeer soda, which doesn’t exist in NZ. We all started to laugh because she was really excited to have American soda for us. Rachel was a blast and I am so glad I met her.

Everything else is still going well in NZ. Final exams start in June. Most of my final exams weigh 50 percent or more of my final grade and last three hours... so I am a wee nervous.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day dreaming

Written 6 May 2009

What I listened to while writing this blog:
Eli- by Caribou, Cheap and Cheerful- The Kills, Jacksonville- Sufan Stevens, Let your Love Go- Bread, Teachers- Daft Punk, Without Gravity- PlayRadioPlay!, The Calendar Girl- Stars, Shady Lane- Pavement, Digital Love- Daft Punk, Kamera- Wilco, Here in my Room- Incubus
Oh and I just broke my ipod screen fml

Most interesting part of my day:
drank 2 black coffees and liked them. Big deal. Ate a Kiwi and salmon salad. Yum. Listened to the Backstreet Boys, danced in my underwear and my neighbor saw me through the window. Yeah. Embarrassing, I know. “Everybodyyyyy.. yeahhh…. Rock your body... yeahhhhh….. Backstreets back alright!!!”

I’m sitting on the 8th floor of the James Hights library, my usual studying spot. I’m preparing to dominate my law essay about Lord Devlin. It has been raining for a day straight. I’ve always hated rain back in Nebraska. But here, I’ve grown accustomed to it and don’t mind it. I actually like it. When it rains it doesn’t pour with huge 90 mph gusts of wind like in NE. It just rains. I walk around without an umbrella and just pull my hood up and remain dry and don’t get frizzy hair, because there is no humidity. On the higher levels of the library there is a great view of Christchurch; that’s why I study up here. Sometimes I think I have no intentions of studying, I just come up here to day dream.

To my left sits the Cashmere port hills, and to the right the snowy Southern Alps. The rain has just stopped and the clouds are gorgeous. They are blues, pinks and yellows and sitting very close to the cashmere port hills. I love the port hills. That’s probably where I’d want to love if I ever moved here. The skyline is breathtaking. The clouds move so fast in NZ. I’ve never seen clouds move so fast. Some move faster than others so it looks like they are playing tag with one another. I love to watch them.

The lights at the library turn off if they don’t sense a person around. It’s amazing the way NZ preserves energy. The library is so old school, but its technology to preserve energy is still at the top of its game. I keep thinking someone is turning the lights off on me or that the library is going to close, but then I remember that the lights turn off to save energy.

My law teacher was talking about how NZ isn’t as eco-friendly as everyone makes it out to be. They still use cars, planes and heating. I wanted to laugh when he said that. NZ is the most eco-friendly place I have ever been. EVER. Possibly in the world, if you are only considering government established nations. It is unthinkable to ask people to stop using planes and cars for travel. NZ does the best it can without being unrealistic. So many people ride the bus and bikes or walk. Way more people than I’ve seen in the states. If my law teacher would come to Nebraska and see that there barely is an established recycling program on campus he would have a heart attack. Let me rephrase that, all of NZ would. I never really thought to recycle too much while in the states because Nebraska doesn’t make it convenient to recycle. I mean come on, if you have to go way out of your way, how are you suppose to make recycling a habit? Or if there isn’t a recycling program, how does one recycle?

But in NZ I’m scared not to recycle. If someone saw me throw away a recyclable, I would get scolding stares. I feel pressure from the NZ society to recycle. I feel guilty, like I have sinned, if I don’t recycle. Even at my flat when I don’t feel like recycling because I’d have to wash out a jar, I feel the presence of the recycling gods watching over me and threatening to send me to hell if I don’t recycle. And I don’t even believe in hell. If only NE cared so much about the future of our environment.

Last week I saw a different side of my NZ friends. He was talking about intellectual stuff. I was so surprised because he’s usually being a jerk and trying to be “funny.” We talked about the existence of god and the future of the earth. He said something so profound, I didn’t even realized he had deep thoughts. He said, “if there is a god, the only reason he put us here was to protect and take good care of the planet. And look what we’ve done to it. We’ve destroyed the natural cycle of life through medicines and have advanced technology to the point of ruining the environment. I would rather that human kind be wiped out, than have the Earth die. The earth is what was meant to live and if that means I should die to preserve it, so be it.”

This conversation I had with my friend helped me find a new found respect for him. It reminded me that everyone has an intellectual side; some just chose not to share it.

Kiwis are so serious about preserving the environment. It seems like a lot of Kiwis don’t acknowledge the existence of God. They are more loyal to the environment than the belief in a higher power. Many Kiwis are not religious or if they are, they do not share their religious beliefs.
This convo with my friend was the first time I’ve heard the name of God be mentioned in a friend conversation. No one has ever asked me about my religious beliefs. And when he asked me what I believe in I almost felt uncomfortable. I was the only person in the room that believes in a higher power. But I wasn’t aware of that until I was asked.
Religion is not a common thing to be talked about among Kiwis. People are quieter about their beliefs, not because they are ashamed, but because they feel their relationship with god (or the lack of) is a private matter. There are many Christians in NZ but they have a more subtle way of sharing their beliefs.

For example, I wanted to write a story for the newspaper I work for about a Christian group that cooks dinner for international students once a month. The founder of the group declined to do an interview with me and requested that I not write about the group. He feared writing about it would jeopardize the intent of the group. He felt publicizing the group would pressure Christian beliefs on its members. He said to me, “we’re afraid with wide publicity, other Christian Kiwis who would want to manipulate the intent of the group and make it about something were not entirely wanting to make it about.”

American Christians are very open about spreading the word of God, and try to shove the word of God down other people’s throats. If I would have asked a Christian group at home if I could write a story about their group they would be more than willing.

Here, the Christians I’ve come across don’t force the belief of God on you. They are kind to you and act in a way God would. They show you compassion and then after they’ve got to know you, they will share their beliefs with you.
I really like this approach to religion because this is how I act in America. I don’t like forcing anything on anyone, and I very much so believe my relationship with God is between him and I. I’ll talk to friends about it, but I don’t preach to a choir that doesn’t want to hear my singing.