Thursday, May 17, 2007


My visa has expired and I've left New Zealand. I knew I was back in America when I saw a policeman with a gun riding a segway around the airport. Questions about guns and segways were some of my favourite while I was overseas. I was stunned/horrified by how many people asked me if I own a gun. And also stunned/horrified/couldn't stop laughing when someone asked if we all ride segways. But now I understand a little better how someone could get that impression.

I am struck by how big everything in America is. The roads, the cars, the portions, the stores, the people. It's not necessarily a bad thing. It was kind of exciting to shop at a supermarket that seems to stock every product in five varieties (reduced fat, fat free, organic, extra ____, and "original"), three sizes (regular, "snack"/"travel"/"fun size", and "family"), and endless forms (fresh, frozen, dried, shredded, sliced, and separated into smaller portions). I don't know whether Americans are more practical or just lazy, but I can't imagine my Kiwi friends--many of whom still whip their own cream--buying pre-cubed cheese, let alone peanut butter and jelly that comes in little plastic wrapped squares. Yet somehow I still couldn't seem to find everything I wanted. Did American supermarkets never carry loose mushrooms?

The big people aren't necessarily a bad thing either. Kiwi men in particular are scrawny. They're probably a lot healthier than the average American man, but except for the rugby players they tend to have a significant lack of muscle mass. As for the non-muscular large ones, it's not like there aren't fat people in New Zealand, it's more that there's an instantly noticeable difference in average size of people in the US versus NZ. Maybe Americans should go back grating their own cheese and New Zealand should adopt more media with unrealistic body images.

The big roads, cars, etc. will require commentary at some point, but right now I'm just readjusting to the driving rules. I've only driven on the wrong side of the road once so far (and it was in a parking lot, so no harm done), but I have hit the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal at pretty much every turn.

I guess I've only been back for two days now, and it's not like this is serious culture shock, but I'm sure I'll use the rose-tinted excuse that "This would never happen in New Zealand" for a long time to come. Just like I blamed everything bad that happened to me in the past 15 months on not being in America.


Jaya said...

Yikes--you've started writing "favourite". Welcome home. :)

AP said...

you need to play some Ling, get back into the good english.