The Little Challenges of Living in a Different Country

I hav e a book entitled, Living Abroad in New Zealand.  It is full of helpful information and advice.  However, no where does it discuss how really exhausting it is to be a duck out of water most of the time.  I feel like I am consistently putting my foot wrong.  Nothing life and death.  More as we say in my leadership tribe, “recover and begin again, again.”

Why is that when someone tells you “don’t use that word, it means something different here” that you are inevitably hearing yourself saying it within 48 hours?  Case in point, on Friday I had coffee with the American and Kiwi women I walk with in Kohimarama.  They start telling me things I should avoid saying:  “Never say fanny pack.  Fanny means something very different here.”  I look perplexed and with a slight blush one of them adds in a whisper, “Its the front not the back here.”  I laugh and make a mental note.  Fast forward 48 hours and I am waiting for the bus downtown, tired with two bags of groceries.  A man asks me if this bus goes to Mission Bay.  And I say yes and then point to the parked bus that extends into the area for the bus to pull over and pick us up, “But I’m not sure how the bus will stop with that bus’ fanny hanging over.”  He looked a little taken aback.  And I groaned inwardly.

Yes it is funny, now.

Or going to the village fruit and veg market and trying to figure out what a lebanese cucumber vs a telescope cucumber, neither of which look like a cucumber from my Carmichael garden.

I am excited that I started my Maori classes as it will make my mispronunciation of place names here less frequent.  I am sure people who move to California look at the all of the Spanish place names and wonder how to pronounce them.  Or Washington State and wonder how to pronounce the Native American place names, and so on.  It is just another reminder that while things look similar and you are generally a competent person, you are still new here and have a lot to learn.

At the same time, that is why it is good to move once in awhile and shake things up.  I am hopefully reorganizing some brain cells and gaining some mental vitality.  I am certainly getting stronger legs from walking the Auckland hills.  And someday I will scroll back and read this post and marvel that I ever felt so out of place.  I hope so.

One thought on “The Little Challenges of Living in a Different Country

  1. I am sure you will look back and be surprised. Where I live, the Spanish names are not pronounced in Spanish, and the German street names also have their own historical Eureka pronounciation–no help in knowing the origin, you gotta learn the local way to say them. Is fanny male or female??? Deborah has stories of putting her foot in her mouth in Ireland. Don’t know how they say that there or in NZ, but it is strange to think of getting it wrong when it is all English. Have you learned any new ways to say things are great, things are confusing, or other handy phrases? Surely your synapses are firing rapidly! Mine get a work-out in zumba–too many right/left changes to be easy!

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