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Some background


I used to live in New Zealand. Well, I was born there actually, and I lived there until the end of my 7th grade year of school (Form 1) before moving to The U.S., or as I told everyone, "America".

Didn't quite get the whole North/South - DIFFERENT CONTINENTS concept back then.
My mother is from New Zealand and my Dad, a U.S. citizen, met and married her there, staying for 15 years and raising 3 children in the process. When they decided to pack up and head to the States the move was greatly anticipated by both my younger brother and I. While my older sister was moaning and groaning at the thought of leaving her high school friends, I was all "See ya, suckers!" and didn't look back. You know, because the U.S. has DISNEYLAND! 
I was excited about the snow. I'd seen it before on a Mountain, but never on the ground, or falling from the sky, or 5' TALL ON EACH SIDE OF THE ROAD! There were soooo many other new things to see/taste/learn about too...
  • Olives. At once revolting and stinky to me. 
  • The Olive Garden. Avoided for the first year here because I didn't want anything to do with olives.
  • Mexican food. I guess there were no Mexican immigrants or influences in NZ before I left (I don't know about now but it makes sense why not geographically). Salsa and chips, tortillas, refried beans, or any Mexican dish were all new, and not easy to get used to. 
  • Jif peanut butter. Sweet manna from Heaven where had it been all my life? 
  • Dairy Queen. Sweet manna from Heaven where had it been too? 
  • Homeless people sleeping on the streets. We visited DC that winter and wow, was that eye-opening, they were everywhere
  • A REAL crime! When we finally arrived in Oregon we drove through Beaverton and saw a shoplifter running out of a store with a carry basket of food and a store clerk chasing after him down the street. It felt like we'd stepped right into an episode of Cops and I wondered what my parents had gotten us into. 
  • Warehouse shopping (first Sam's Club then Costco out West). Holy CHEAP Batman! Us kids all went around oohing and aaahing over giant bags of popped corn for $2.00 and FREE SAMPLES on the corners!
  • Jerky. "What the heck?!" was my first thought. And when someone said teriyaki all I could think of was teradactyl and had to be convinced into trying it. I know, what a weirdo. 
  • Cable television. NZ TV had 3 channels when we left, and all of them turned off at midnight or 1 am. The thought of a whole channel being devoted to cartoons or The Cosby show and never ending was mind-boggling. And trance-inducing. 
I do feel blessed to have lived in two different cultures (and parts of the world!) and feel strongly patriotic to BOTH countries, as I'm a citizen of each. And how many people can claim that?!

I was rudely awakened upon arrival however. Hello Chicago in a January snowstorm! (Has anyone seen "New In Town" with Renee Zellweger where she leaves Miami, lands in Minnesota, and walks out of the airport terminal only to run back inside freezing? Yeah, pretty much the exact same scene.) I had NO idea that was coming. Or that I was apparently prone to cold sores due to the extreme temperature change. Lovely.

Those are just a few of the things that stuck out in my 12 1/2 year old mind. Over the years I grew accustomed to it all and increasingly missed all of the unique things about and from New Zealand. Good thing I still have plenty of family there who bring us goodies when they come visit and also give us a good reason to go back and see them (which sadly I've only been able to do once). 

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