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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A brief lesson on New Zealand culture

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home." -James Michener

New Zealand culture isn't too different than that of the U.S., but I notice new things every day that are unlike what I am accustomed to. For example, I asked my Kiwi flatmates if they had any Neosporin and they had no clue what I was asking for. I've tried to put together a short list of other differences I have picked up on in the past month that many Americans don't know about. So, enjoy you're brief cultural lesson:
  • New Zealanders drive on the left side of road in the right side of the car. And in manual shift cars, the driver shifts with their left hand. (This one was pretty obvious but I'm even left handed and I find it so strange!)
  • They have “give way” signs instead of yield signs
  • It is not necessary to refrigerate your eggs. The rumor is that American eggs have hormones in them that require us to keep them cold so they won't spoil.
  • Dinner is commonly referred to as “tea” even though no drinking of tea is involved.
  • When you buy a common loaf of bread, you have two options: toast or sandwich. Toast bread is just slightly thicker... this baffled me because when you're at the store looking at the loaves of bread, both look completely the same. I had to ask myself, "Do I eat more toast or sandwiches?"
  • Peppers (as in red pepper, green pepper, etc.) are called capsicums.
  • You don't need to tip anyone... for anything!
  • Restaurants don't have ketchup, but instead have "Tomato Sauce." It's thinner and has a little different flavor than our typical Heinz 57.
  • Eggs are not just for breakfast, kiwi's put fried eggs on basically everything: steak, chicken, etc.
  •  A kiwi is not a fruit. It's an endangered bird or the slang term for a New Zealander. Taking a bite out of a kiwi will most likely be frowned upon. A "kiwifruit" is a fruit. 
  • Bathrooms and restrooms do not exist... only "toilets." It's not impolite, it's just how it is.
  • They have no coin less than 10 cents. Everything gets rounded, except when you pay with a debit or credit card.
  • Most stores will not let you return anything. If they do have a return policy, it will be very strict such as items can only be returned within 48 hours of purchase.

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