I thought it might be beneficial to explain a little about lifestyle specifics in New Zealand including things like transportation, food, and scenery.
Unlike Europe, there aren’t any convenient trams and not many trains, so getting around can be a little tough sometimes. You would think that flying between the north and south island of New Zealand or to Australia would be cheap due to the close proximity, but it’s actually really expensive to do that (approx. $600 or higher), depending on where you fly out of. It’s for that sole reason why I didn’t leave the north island. There is, however, an amazing bus system called Intercity (or nakedbus). It’s pretty cheap. You can book a ride to somewhere on the same island that’s 4 hours away and back for about $50. It’s also super easy. It’s a big coach bus so I usually read or sleep most of the ride and they stop for lunch at cute cafes along the way. Renting a car is always an option too, but take caution because they drive on the opposite side than we do in the US! I’ve driven a little bit during work, but it would be risky traveling a far distance. Personally, the town I am in is fairly small so the city bus system is not very good therefore I just walk everywhere, but larger cities have a better bus system.
There is always an abundance of cafes and restaurants in city centers. From my experience, there are a lot of Turkish, Indian, and sushi restaurants. They also have the typical Subway, McDonald’s, etc. I don’t think I’ve been to a bad café. Theirs are a little bit different though because they always have an arrangement of goodies, including meat pies, sandwiches, wraps, donuts, and an assortment of desserts. You’re probably wondering what meat pies are. They are like mini pies but instead of being stuffed with sweet things like cherries or apples, they are stuffed with things like chicken, steak and cheese, mashed potatoes. They are actually delicious. Their coffee is also called different things. The common kinds are flat white, short black, and long black. Flat white is more like an American coffee/cappuccino. The long black is like an American coffee without cream or sugar, and the short black is basically an espresso shot. Also, New Zealand also has amazing fish and chips (fries).
Before I came here, I heard nothing but amazing things about New Zealand’s land. After living here for a couple months, I completely agree with what I was told. Even though it does have beautiful scenery, it isn’t entirely what I expected. I pictured many busy touristy cities with little towns in between and lots of mountains and streams everywhere. There are a ton of those things, but everything is dispersed and there is a ton of farmland and tons of sheep! There are acres and acres of empty land but at the same time it’s hilly and sometimes there are many forests. There aren’t many towns in between so if you want to go to another popular city, you have to drive a while to get to where you wish to go. There are two large mountains that you can see during road trips and the view is beautiful. Every view that you see when you drive is beautiful! No matter if it’s forests, hills, sheep, mountains, streams; there’s something about the landscape that makes you appreciate nature in New Zealand, and in general, that much more.
On an unrelated note…
Something that came to my attention lately was the concept of America/Sconnie pride. I’m not sure why I feel this strong sense of American pride, but maybe it’s because I’ve been away from the states for 9 weeks or maybe it’s because I was a little homesick last week, I’m not sure. I’ll give an example. Every now and then, someone will ask where I’m from, where I go to school, and what it’s like. When I get asked these questions, I can’t help but smile because UW-Madison is the best school ever and there’s so much to brag about. Last week, I was talking about football with a couple of co-workers and I was explaining the tailgating scene and the energy at games and it made me realize how proud I am to be from a state where people say “…er no?”, have city names like Oshkosh, Oconomowac, Waukesha, Milwaukee, etc., who love their cheese, Spotted Cow, and beautiful lakes. Being abroad gives you a chance to embrace the lifestyle of other countries while making you appreciate what awaits back in your home country. Don’t get me wrong, I love New Zealand and embracing a different lifestyle, but being so far away made me appreciate certain things in ‘murica that much more.