March 22, 2011

Kiwi-styles

I remember when I moved across the country from Toronto to Los Angeles, I didn't think there would be much difference in day-to-day living. And then I encountered valet car service everywhere (even at a $5 per dish, hole in wall restaurant), gas pumps with some sort of accordion attached at the nozzle, a severe lack of inexpensive coffee shops (non-Starbucks/Coffee Bean/Pete's), traffic (aka parking lots on the 405, 10, 101, 5 etc.) debit/credit cards, and super fast postal service - while maybe a bit unreliable, USPS is much faster than Canada Post, and they deliver on Saturdays!

When we prepared for our move overseas, I started to stress wonder if I could handle things kiwi-style. So what's different here? Well, not much really, but then I run into something and I'm painfully aware that it's "new to me". Most of these things are not bad things, just a different way, like driving. Others are quite helpful and eco-friendly - they have motion detectors everywhere to reduce wasted electricity. Then there are some that leave me a little left out of the fun, like bare feet or instant coffee.

Things like...

... driving on the left, but sitting on the right side of the car (including the blinkers on the right)

... a real live person answering a 1-800, ahem 0800 number

... phone numbers that go nowhere if you don't know how to dial them (sometimes you need the 04 country code, 64 city code, other times you don't, and what's an area code? Plus oodles of extra numbers, for example, my mobile has 11 numbers.)

... yes, I said mobile! (BTW some land lines do not call mobiles, grrr)

... walking on the left (on escalators, sidewalks, stairs, you walk on the left, and pass on the right)

... rainy days where you don't bother to use an umbrella because the wind will just blow it away or damage it anyways

... bare feet (on busses, on sidewalks, downtown, on the beach, in restaurants, here, there and everywhere. Not just kids, but adults too. Hot or cold, it doesn't matter.)

... heat. As in the heat in your house. Some have electric heat, gas heat, or no heat. For example, our temporary apartment does not have heat. I read about radiators with bricks in them, and how you want a house with lots of sun to heat the bricks, so all night they warm the house. I thought it was a joke. And now I wish this apartment had sun and bricks. No luck. But our house has electric heating. And it's fully insulated with double pane windows. Rare! And we move in this week!!

... cable cars (not the rice-a-roni trolley kind in San Francisco, more of a ski lift gondola style) for super easy, and super cool access to your house on a hill

... a grande americano made with 3 shots of espresso, I think America uses 2? (Strong, delicious coffee or if you prefer, instant. I don't understand this, and it's difficult to find an American style drip coffee maker.)

... it's known as America, not North America as I refer to it. (America includes Canada and the US)


There are lots more, but I'll try to keep up with kiwi-styles as I learn them. Wish me luck, I'm off to work tomorrow for a 2-day assignment. Do you get first day of school nerves like I do when it's your first day at a new job, even if temporary?

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So glad you wandered by!