Lisa: What in the World?!

Lisa: What in the World?!

From Master’s in Teaching candidate Lisa Cabias.

Subtle differences in the everyday things of life are a reality at the moment here in Napier, New Zealand. I consider myself quite fortunate to have already been student of kiwi culture during a six day excursion down under on a previous journey. This puts me in a position of being vaguely familiar with the various perceived oddities in household fixtures, spoken phrases and culture. As the mist between what I think things might be and what they actually are begins to lift, I’d like to share a portion of my journey of discovery with you.

outletExhibit A: Electrical Outlet. The keen observer will note the points into which prongs must be inserted are not angled in any sort of position that might facilitate use with ANYTHING. The kiwis seem to have found a way around this issue. The prongs on their electronics have evolved a lovely matching angle, complimentary to the outlet pictured. I was fortunate to have been warned about this in advance and have brought along a lifesaving power converter and adapter for prong-related deficiency. According to its manufacturer, the converter will not only allow me to charge my laptop but will also prevent it from exploding as power here is supplied at a different wattage.

FeijoaExhibit B: Feijoa. In our kitchen there is a large bowl of this fruit. On the staff room counter there is a bag of them with a note that reads: “Please take some.” This currently abundant, strange fruit first appeared in my life in vodka form. I am not making this up. Feijoa vodka made by New Zealand’s 42Below is quite the flavor sensation as I discovered in my previous travels. The alcoholic version does not hold a candle to the actual fruit, however. It is a sweet, tangy, soft and sort of grainy fruit, eaten by scooping out the center from the green rind with a spoon. Yum!

Exhibit C: Shoes? Bare feet appear to be a cultural norm in these parts. In my first half hour in the Auckland airport I noted several shoeless folks padding about. It did not take me long to notice nearly every child in my classroom was taking full advantage of the region’s acceptance of pedal liberty. Most children do bring shoes to school but shoes are not worn in the classroom and stored in the hall. Many children choose to spend the entire day with the wind whistling between their toes. Even on the playground or rugby field. The temptation to go native is fierce, unfortunately, teachers are expected to wear shoes all day.

DictionaryExhibit D: Snavel. This is the word of the day. New Zealand has a vast and colorful dictionary of words and phrases. According to my handy-dandy Kiwi-Yankee Dictionary, snavel is a verb meaning to grab (Example: He snaveled every one of those biscuits off the tray before anyone else had a look in) or to wolf down what you’ve grabbed. Use it in a sentence today and see what reactions you can get.

Published April 28, 2010