Europe 2013 – “Why do you live in New Zealand?”

by Diane on 17/11/2013

If you’re waiting for part 3 of the Bathroom Saga, I’ll have to disappoint you – there are still some fixes to be made, and I’ve decided that the next bathroom post will be the absolute final one, with some amazing photos of how stunning it all looks now. You’ll just have to wait a little bit longer.

How about some travel stories for in-between bathroom posts?

At some stage earlier this year Kai and I noticed that the 20th anniversary of our relationship would be on the exact same day as SPIEL 2013 in Essen was about to happen. The SPIEL is a games fair/exhibition in my home town Essen, and it’s also the place where Kai and I first met (more about this later). Sure we had to be there to celebrate 20 years of us being in love!

As usual we combined the trip with a lot of work activities, so after a relaxing day and night with Kai’s parents, we started off with Kai holding a workshop in Frankfurt while I made my way to our friends Nina & Joachim, to spend a couple of days with them/my godchild/my godchild’s sister.

We had a great time, with lots of shopping, in- and outdoor activities, story reading etc.

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There was only one thing that really got me thinking. It was this simple question from Nina: “Why do you live in New Zealand?”.

Before this question was asked, we had had a conversation about all the things we can’t get in New Zealand. During my first couple of days I went shopping-mad, and over the course of the holiday we sent ourselves two parcels, weighing a total of 17 kgs.

Some of the things we bought:

  • lollies (you just can’t get gelatine free wine gum in supermarkets in NZ, and there is no such thing as the wonderful and highly addictive Sallos)
  • pretty household items that are usually quite expensive in NZ (hand towels, cleaning cloths, garden labels)
  • presents for my favourite little boy and other friends
  • some nighties for me (pretty AND only 7 Euros each!!!!).

Walking through a super market you could hear me go “Ohhhh, the choice…. the choice…” and “OMG, everything is so cheap!!!!”. I also told Nina that at home I almost exclusively buy clothes online (who wants cheap china crap from Glassons, and who can afford to only buy DeNada?) or get ‘new’ things in second hand shops or at clothes swaps.

When I added that we even imported our mattress from Australia (yep, it’s a Sleepyhead, which is an NZ company, but they don’t produce really, really firm mattresses for NZ, because there is “no market” for it), she turned around and said: “Why do you live in New Zealand?”.

And for a few seconds I didn’t have an answer for it.

But: I can get everything I need in New Zealand, reasonably priced. The things I can’t get, are just luxury items. I can order them online, or travel to purchase. Yes, that’s adding to the costs, but it also makes me think twice if I really need it. Consumerism isn’t everything in life!

In my personal world I AM reasonably safe. I hang out with sane, peace-loving people, I don’t walk around town all by myself in the middle of the night, and I’m not responsible for growing a mini-person into a sensible adult. Win.

And: there are all the awesome things people living outside of New Zealand are missing out on: smiley/friendly/helpful staff at supermarkets and gas stations (I haven’t seen a single one in 3.5 weeks of traveling through Europe), an open multi-cultural community of amazing people, and little touches that make the world just a tiny little bit more awesome everyday (such as NZ Twitter Secret Santa).

New Zealand isn’t perfect, but which country is? There are still plenty of issues we need to work on, and I’m proud to be part of the crowd who’s making the world a better place. Step by step, just a tiny little bit each day.

There’s no other place I’d rather be than at home in New Zealand.

All gallery photos by Joachim Ziebs.
Jen D November 19, 2013 at 12:04 am

Your comment about not being safe going out pulled me up short, because I legitimately thought it was like this *everywhere*. I actually remember I had a convo about this with Kai fairly recently, and I told him I thought the reason he didn’t understand why I don’t go out at night by myself is that’s he’s a guy…It didn’t even occur to me that this might be a culture thing, rather than a gender thing.

I grew up in South Auckland – with all that entails: gang houses and drug dealers, domestic violence and obnoxious neighbours…luckily not directly in my life, only peripherally, but it was there. i was taught from a very young age not just the usual “stranger danger” stuff but also that I should *never* go anywhere at night by myself because it was dangerous for me, as a girl. And this was even more strongly enforced when I became a teenager. It’s so ingrained that it’s incredibly hard to unpack and analyse in the context of rape culture.

When I moved from South Auckland to Wellington, and then to Australia, nothing changed and I still am very uncomfortable if I have to walk to my car at night. Australia is no different to NZ in this regard, I don’t think. So I’ve never really thought about it being a cultural thing.

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