Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kiwi 101

Hey gang!

After a relaxing weekend, I am looking forward to being active again during my fall break, which starts next weekend, and lasts for two weeks. I am sure I will have plenty to talk about and tons of pictures after that, but for now, I thought I would take this time to do something I haven’t really done yet with this blog. New Zealand is very much like the United States in many aspects, but in others it is very different. First, I’ll share with you all some of the common phrases used in NZ:

“Sweet as”

The Kiwis add the word “as” to the end of pretty much anything they say, and when I first got here, I found myself saying “Sweet as…what? Cool as…what?” The answer is nothing. Just “as” whatever you want it to be. The most common version of this phrase is “sweet as,” which is basically Kiwi for “cool,” and you will hear it hundreds of times on any given day, because everything here is, well, sweet as. :-)

“Bro” and “Mate”

Everyone here is your brother, even the women. The Kiwis are both an extremely friendly and extremely laid-back people, so everyone here is just “Bro.” Also, if you’re not someone’s “bro,” you’re their “mate.” Which makes me wonder…is the process of “friending” someone on Facebook called “mating” in NZ? Hmm

“No worries”

I haven’t seen a New Zealander worry about anything the entire time I have been here. They are the most laid-back and relaxed people I have ever met, and frankly, it is a refreshing change of pace from the fast-paced, high-stress world of the US. Lose your keys? No worries. Get in a fender-bender? No worries. Honestly, they just do not get upset about anything. Probably because they realize that life is for living, and nothing is worth getting that upset over. I think we could all do to take a page from New Zealand’s book. Along this same line is the phrase “she’ll be alright.” As in "hey bro! Your boat is sinking!" "Oh, she'll be alright."


The New Zealand alphabet ends not with the letter ‘Z,’ but the letter ‘Zed.’ To me, this is hilarious, especially when you apply it back to some common American things. For example, some popular American musicians would be Jay-Zed and Zed Zed Top. If you wanted to relax, you might sit in a La-Zed-Boy recliner.

Some other US/NZ words:

Chips – Fries

Fizzy drink – Soda pop

Flat – Apartment

Knackered – Exhausted

Lift – Elevator

Mobile – Cell phone

Petrol station – Gas station

Pissed – Intoxicated

Queue – Line

Sandals – Thongs or Jandals (Japanese sandals)

Swimsuit – Togs

Vege - Vegetable

Whinge – Complain

The one word I have found that will elicit a lot of laughter and/or strange looks if used is the word “root.” Back in the States, if you cheer on a team, you root for them. Over here, if you root for a team, you must REALLY love them, because in New Zealand, to “root” means to have sex.

You can imagine the looks I got the first time I asked a restaurant if they had any root beer. Oops.

I have mentioned how laid back the people here are, and with that, comes a LOT of understatement. Kiwis don’t get really excited about anything except rugby games (during which they go NUTS). Most of New Zealand’s humour is based on understating things, and often the deadpan manner in which a joke or story is told is funnier than the actual tale itself. Kiwis love to “take the piss” out of you (make fun of you), and if they do, it’s a sign that they like you. If you react badly to being made fun of, they will jump at the opportunity to continue to take the piss out of you until you finally lighten up a bit. :-)

Also, Kiwis tend to have pretty foul mouths. Swearing just isn't considered that big of a deal over here. Their TV is completely uncensored, and I have seen advertisements downtown with words on them in big bold letters that would make a sailor blush. One advertisement I saw that was promoting a service in which one did not have to wait in line simply proclaimed "F*** Queues!"

I have consistently been surprised at how well I am treated as a foreigner here. Kiwis LOVE Americans, and they want to know all about the US, which is very different than the reactions I have gotten in some of the other countries I have been to (I’m looking at you, France). They can tell by my accent that I am from the States, but it is not usually the accent they were expecting, as they seem to think everyone from the US either sounds like they are from the South or from the East Coast (thanks a lot, Texas and New York).

Food here is similar to the US, but I have found a few distinct differences. One of the most noticeable ones is that Kiwis don’t use any preservatives or artificial ingredients in their food, at least from what I have seen. This means that even the unhealthy food is better for you than American food, but at the same time, with no preservatives, food goes bad really quickly if not stored properly. This health-conscious attitude may be the reason I haven’t seen a single overweight Kiwi the whole time I have been here. Seriously, this whole country is skinny. Another difference is that there is no ketchup, and Kiwis instead cover their fries in tomato paste. Weird.

One of the best parts of this whole trip for me has been embracing the Kiwi mantra of “give it a go.” Basically, the people here will do pretty anything, and you are always encouraged to try something, even if you are scared or think you won’t like it. This semester for me has been about expanding my horizons, and anyone who has followed my blog can certainly see that I have been doing just that. Another great thing is that the people here are incredibly friendly, and any stranger on the street will say hello or ask you how your day is going, just because they are genuinely interested in the welfare of their fellow human beings. It is very refreshing, especially having seen how people are treated in some of the larger cities in the US. I wish that the people back home were this polite all the time.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little glance into the Kiwi lifestyle. Next weekend I am off to the South Island for a week, and I will update soon after that! See you all then!

Much love,


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