In which Molly the (future) librarian librarian celebrates her one month anniversary, deals with Anti-Americanism and experiences her first St. Patrick’s day abroad.

Now, I realize I suck and haven’t updated, but I just haven’t known what to write. And then, it hit me! The Inspiration Hit Man has visited me, at last. More elaboration to come.

Yesterday was my 1 month anniversary. I can’t believe it. But, it’s going well. Classes are in full swing. I go to yoga, Pilates and other active gym classes. I found a rock gym (and a bouldering cave in the basement of the gym!) and have people I press into belaying service. I am getting the course work, find it (mostly) stimulating and interesting, and have sorted out the first projects I have due. I am cooking up a storm. I bought a pumpkin—since it’s fall here, not spring—and apart from it being the wrong color (it’s this grey/green outside, the right orange inside) it was delicious. I did have a hell of a time roasting it, and may have broken the blender when I tried to puree it, but let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing better than fresh made pumpkin sage ravioli, harvest loaf, pumpkin carrot bread and what was supposed to be pumpkin chili but became pumpkin pasta sauce. I’ve been eating the sauce for a week now, for at least one meal a day, and that includes sharing with flatmates. It’s been a pumpkin culinary adventure.

Maybe I this blog should be about what I make for food during my master’s degree abroad. Nah. Haha It’s just about my random adventures…just lately those adventures have focused around food. I wish I could give you a glimpse into the amazing local wines, but, sadly, I can’t afford them. You would think, being that the grapes are grown here, the wine is bottled here, and it doesn’t really have to be sent very far, that the local wine would be amazing and cheap. Well, I hear it is amazing, but it is FAR from cheap. I’m talking upwards of 20 a bottle. Now, that might be reasonable for a good wine. Possibly even a bargain, but for a poor Master’s student, it’s not feasible. I have found a few good (and a few absolutely horrible) reds for 8 dollars, but….you can’t get much of anything very good for under 10. Which is too bad, since in America you can get some pretty decent wine for under 10.

Ah well, put it in the same category as dairy and meat. It really is incredible that those two items in particular are so expensive. It’s actually because NZ makes more of a profit exporting their meat, cheese, milk and eggs than it does selling to the people in the country. So, the prices are hiked for us to make up for it, which is seriously messed up. I feel it should be the other way around, if it must be done. Look out for your own people. C’mon.  It also doesn’t help that Wellington is one of the most expensive cities to live in. It even beats out London! I find that fascinating. It’s must be because it’s so out of the way.  Also, eggs aren’t refrigerated here…not in the store at least. I find this incredibly weird. I put them in the fridge as soon as I get home. But, apparently you can just keep them in a cool dark place, like potatoes.  Personally, that freaks me out. But, maybe their chickens just don’t have as much crap in their systems? I don’t know. Old habits die hard. Eggs go in the fridge.

Anyway, I wanted to take this opportunity to say Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I have celebrated early, and let me tell you, from the future, it’s a gorgeous day. It was sunny and wonderfully warm. I even got in my bathing suit and sunned outside (with 50 sunblock, since I am basically under the hole in the ozone.) I went to a potluck today and had green eggs and ham, green mashed potatoes, green salad, pasta with pesto, green cake, green jello (which is called jelly here and our ‘jelly’ is called jam). Now, before you get excited, the potluck was at a university flat. In this flat were about 10 Americans on a study abroad trip. Those that didn’t live at the flat, but went to the party were other American’s that the American’s at the flat had met. I showed up with 3 Kiwi’s and have never felt more out of place. The American’s did not really associate with us (since I hung with the Kiwis) and kept to themselves. I do realize that we were the minority, I say we because I was aligning with the Kiwi’s, but c’mon guys. This is why no one likes Americans. I don’t understand why, when studying abroad, you would want to stick with people from your own country. It’s all about challenging your comfort zones and experiencing the real culture, seeing the hidden places that you don’t get to see as a tourist.

But these kids were drinking whiskey and cheap wine out of the bottle at 12 in the afternoon (it wasn’t 12. It was actually about 11:55, but who’s looking at time. It’s St. Patty’s after all, right?) And they were probably not over 20. Now, the drinking age in NZ is 18, so it’s fine, but there is certain irresponsibility about it, I feel. And, I’ve never felt so old at 24. I walked around to these kids and did the mom thing: “Did you eat?”

“How much of that whiskey have you imbibed?”

“You don’t know what imbibed means? Ok…how much of that bottle did you drink? All of it? *takes bottle* I’m going to take this for a while. Here’s some bread.”

And they looked at me like they couldn’t believe I didn’t have a group. I was the odd one! I had to have multiple conversations with disbelieving kids who just couldn’t fathom coming to a country alone and actually getting a full degree (or really doing actual work). I’m pretty sure, “WHY?!?” was the most common question. Quickly followed by, “You’re taking HOW MANY classes? 500 level too? No way, man. I’m in 3 100 levels. It’s great. I have so much time to go out.”

Yes, yes you do. I will refrain from commenting on how you’re choosing to spend your time here in this wonderful country by not getting out of Wellington, or meeting any locals. Drink up!

I’ve been listening to local conversation about how there are ‘heaps’ of Americans and how they all ‘travel in packs’. It’s absolutely true. They are always in groups of three, at least! It’s mind boggling. Branch out, Americans! Meet the locals! Get away from the other Americans and include other people in your conversations! Don’t seclude yourselves and be so….damn secluded!

And that leads me to my next, and very brief point: While the majority of people (kiwi’s and otherwise) that I’ve met during my brief time here have been absolutely wonderful, there are a few very anti-Americanists out there and they have made it known to me in no uncertain terms. I’ve had conversations with people, for about an hour, and then it comes to, “now, where are you from?”

So I tell them: east coast, America, Connecticut. It’s between New York City and Boston. And I get an, “Oh.” And they completely stop talking to me, and continue to not talk to me. Or, they go off about how much they dislike my country, and how stupid all its inhabitants are, and how our policies are awful and how there’s nothing redeeming about my country.  Now, if you would like to have a discussion about these points with me, I’m all for it. But, that’s usually not the case. It’s them telling me how awful I am and it’s because of where I’m from, which is absolutely ridiculous. I do not appreciate the bigotry, nor do I appreciate being lumped into an opinion that I can tell has been formed because that person is watching too much American “reality” tv.

I was told by a few people back home to “just tell everyone you’re Canadian.” And I absolutely refuse to do that. I am not going to lie about where I’m from and who I am. I love being American. I realize that not all our politics and world dealings are ideal, but, if you would like to have a talk about why that is, that’s one thing. Don’t just attack me and dislike me because of where I’m from. It really makes me think about how I’ve been treating other people based on assumed prejudices. I hope I’ve never treated anyone like I’ve been treated on occasion here. And if I have treated people like this, then I know for damn sure I won’t ever again.

Anyway! Enough of THAT lecture. I wanted to compare St. P’s from America to here! There are no parades. Not everyone is Irish today (in fact….most people aren’t Irish at all…all descended from English stock. Don’t confuse them…) There are no decorations around. There are no shamrocks, or four-leaf clovers, or leprechauns.  Today is just used as an excuse to get incredibly pissed, to use the Kiwi phrase.  And, sure, that may be true in America, but…at least there’s a sense of spirit to it. We connect, go all out, love everyone with a pint in their hand. I miss that. Maybe I also miss not being able to share such a ridiculous day with my closest friends (even though I love all the people I am close with in NZ).

But, as the saying goes, beer tastes the same wherever you go, so I raise my glass to all of you that I’ve left at home. I hope you have a wonderful day today. Live it up. Drink. Be merry and raise a toast to me. I miss you all.

This is Molly the (future) librarian, signing off.

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