Saturday, March 23, 2013

Can you spot the difference?

Next week brings the last week of my Practicum here in New Zealand. (Practicum is basically when you student teach for a couple of weeks FYI.) I have been working at Ranui Primary School with fourth and fifth grade students. I love my students.

One of their favorite questions to ask me is, "Is New Zealand different than America?"

To which I always reply, "Oh heavens, yes."

Their follow up question is always, "Why do you say heavens so much and why do you call us ma'am when we're younger than you and why can't you pronounce Tohu's name right?" *My students ask a lot of questions. Gotta love 'em.

So to answer their question here are some differences in my life personally between New Zealand and America.

#1. In America, I have a car. A lovely little Malibu that I named Barbie (get it? Malibu Barbie? hahaha) and Barbie gets me everywhere I need to go.

In New Zealand, I have no car.

At first, Brooke and I walked everywhere. The walk to the church where we met for school was an hour both ways. And we did it rain or shine.

This is us extremely wet from a long walk in pouring rain
 Then we upgraded to bikes. Now those of you who know me well may remember that I actually didn't even learn to ride a bike until I was fifteen years old (That's normal, right?). By the time I got to New Zealand and was given a bike, I had actually only ridden a bike like three times in my entire life. Now I ride to school everyday through the busy streets of Auckland on a bike that is much too small for me. I haven't died... yet. I am getting a lot better though, I know how to use my breaks now and I can ride off curbs sometimes!

And then there are those trips that are simply too far to walk or ride our bikes, in which case I take the bus. Every time that I do I think of the words of my dear friend Brianne, "Ewww. I hate public transportation" I used to think just like her. But now?  Now I love buses. They take me from my house to the mall for only $1.90! And when I ride the bus instead of riding my bike, I am infinitely less sweaty and gross upon arrival. And the best part? Waiting at the bus stops.

This is me on a cold day waiting for the bus. I didn't bring a jacket, but I did have a towel in my backpack so I used that. Then I decided to wear my backpack kangaroo style for extra protection from the wind. Plus, I was better able to guard it from crazies that might try to steal my stuff this way. I sat like this and sang songs to myself for an hour while we waited for the bus to show. Best part was, I wasn't even the craziest person there! I would have taken pictures with my new bus stop friends, but I worried they might eat me or something.

Oh! Here's another fun bus stop story. We had another long bus stop wait ahead of us one day when we noticed some birds fighting over a piece of bread someone had dropped. These adorable little birds were pecking away at their lucky find, when a huge flock of bully pigeons came and edged them away!

Brooke and I watched enraged by the injustice of it all! We screamed at the pigeons and lectured them for being so inconsiderate just because they were bigger. They didn't listen. Brooke stamped her foot really hard on the cement, and the cowardly pigeons all darted to safety. The little birds ran back to the bread and began pecking furiously, but their victory didn't last long.

One particularly large pigeon came and stole the bread back for him and his friends.

Brooke and I mourned as we watched the little birdies give up and leave to continue their search for food elsewhere. Life can be so unfair.

Thankfully, karma had a present for that dumb pigeon bully...

It got hit by a bus Regina George style. Only worse, because it was most definitely dead. 
And then Brooke and I realized we were sitting at a bus stop watching pigeon fights and we felt a little bit dead inside too as we realized, this is our life now.

 Moving on.

#2. Here, the men love to wear brightly colored short shorts. I can't get over how funny it is to see a grown man in hot pink shorts.

Yes, this is from a store for MEN. Taste the rainbow.
#3. All significant others are called "partners". So your husband or boyfriend or fiance is your "partner". It is really odd to get used to. I still get really defensive when someone asks me if I have a "partner" back home. Though really I can't blame them because...

#4. In America, I use a lot of heating products on my hair and it looks like this:

In New Zealand I have sworn off heating products and so my hair looks like this:

It's kinda like watching Princess Diaries in reverse, right? That's why I'm only slightly offended by all the "partner" questions because really if I was in their position I would make the same assumption.

#5. Milkshakes in America are thick ice creamy drinks that are delicious. Milkshakes in New Zealand are simply milk mixed with some flavoring. Not even close to the same thing.

You sit on a throne of lies!
And then we come to the differences between American and New Zealand schools.

#6. Attention getters: To get my children's attention in my classroom in Utah I said, "Tootsie roll, lollipop. We've been working..." to which my students would reply, "Now let's stop!". Here in New Zealand the teacher's say, "OY! DID I ASK YOU TO TALK?!? Naw, didn't think so bra."

#7. This is the carpet in my classroom

In case it is hard for you to tell, it is very uneven and I am constantly tripping over the lumps. That didn't happen at my last school.

#8. In America I teach kids Math, English, Science and Social Studies. In New Zealand I mostly teach swimming. And a little bit of T Ball. And basketball, and cricket, and rugby. We take a lot of time out for sports.

#9. In America, I was expected to wear a dress or nice dress pants every day and always look professional.

This is my teacher outfit, button up shirt, cardigan, pearls... very classy
In New Zealand, teachers often look like they're headed to the beach as soon as class gets out. There's a lot of sunglasses on head/ tank tops/ sun dresses/ lava lava/ jandal action going on all the time. This was what I looked like at the end of the school day on Thursday and I fit in just fine.

#10. In New Zealand we have morning tea everyday. At 10:30 the kids all eat a snack and then head out to recess while we teachers head to the staff room to drink Milo and talk crap about them behind their backs. It is the best half hour of the day, and I really think the American system needs to adapt this practice. Heaven, I am going to miss my morning tea when I go back...

Only 19 more days! Yikes!


  1. I am beyond words that you have a picture of a decapitated bird on this post. I am so impressed and sooooooooooo disgusted.

    Also cannot believe you are a regular bike rider. A certain hot place has for sure frozen over.

  2. Princess Diaries in reverse... loved it. Trevor laughed throughout this entire post.

  3. The fact that you have pictures to illustrate your bus stop bird adventure is stupendous. Oh how I will miss this adventure but can't wait to see you again! Love this post!!