Tuesday, October 03, 2006
One Month Later
I love sending e-mails home to all of you. There are
so many things I think about each day that I want to
share, so many experiences that are fun to try to
explain in words. At the same time I am trying not to
make my e-mails only talk about the things I do each
day, as I think that would be really boring.
Having said that, I'd like to mark my four-week
anniversary in New Zealand by sharing a long boring
e-mail that details a little bit more about my new
As I said, it's my one-month anniversary in New
Zealand today. I think. But I am not sure with all
of that day-skipping and all.
My house situation is pretty good. The little villa I
live in is choicely situated directly in the city.
It's a gorgeous little house and I like it very much.
My head flat mate, Julia, is intolerable. She's
Sweedish, and doesn't pronounce the letter J, which I
think I have mentioned before. What I haven't
mentioned is how funny that is when she talks.
Especially when you don't like her. When she's not
around, my flat mates and I talk to each other without
pronouncing the letter J too. Some of our favorite
words are You-lia (Julia), yuh-cousi (jacuzzi), yim
(gym), and yoy (Joy). Also, I'll probably be stricken
down dead for telling you that she has an enormous
mouth and the most unfortunate set of teeth. We joke
that she could wrangle a fish in from the ocean with
The thing about Julia is that she is not a nice human
being to others. I think, deep down, she has some
good qualities that she has yet to show us, but for
now, none of us really can stand her, which is a
position she has earned. She talks and talks with no
point, she tells half-truths all of the time, she
makes excuses against everyone else to explain when
things are going wrong for her, and she talks about
all of us to the others when we're not around. For
example, the other day I headed out to meet Ian for
tennis, and the moment I walked out the door, she
started talking to Sheena about Joy and I (as Sheena
later explained). She didn't say anything too
terrible about me, but that she thought I was pretty
But, that's 'yust You-lia', and I guess it makes it
more interesting for the rest of us.
At first I was sleeping on an air mattress that she
provided, which after a week, went flat. You can
imagine my surprise when I woke up on the floor one
night, but I quickly checked my self for snails (all
clear) and went to sleep on the couch. Then, instead
of blowing it back up the next day, I just decided to
use an extra mattress of Ian's that was about to go in
storage. It's a single mattress that is barely big
enough for me. Luckily, I packed my own bedding, and
I was able to make the little thing feel more cozy.
As a joke to you, I am sending a picture of the it.
It's about 6 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 4 inches
As a stipulation of not getting the room I was
originally offered, Julia told me that she would go
ahead and order a sofa bed that she had always planned
on ordering for my room (which, when un-occupied is
actually a spare room, as this is a flat usually let
out to 4 people, not 5) early so that I could use it.
That process, in itself, was a fiasco of half-truths
and laziness, and took two weeks longer than it should
have. Starting tomorrow, if all goes as planned (but
don't count on it) I should have an off-ground bed. I
will now be able to stretch my legs out of the
My flat mate Sheena is a beautiful Maori chick who
works as a manager at a clothing store. She is 22,
and never went to college. She makes much more than a
teacher, and is allotted $6,000 a year in free clothes
from her store. She also dates a rugby player and is
in the process of landing a modeling gig with
Vodofone. Her face will apparently soon be all over
t.v. She makes me look very plain. Plainer than my
I am not going to justify to anyone anymore that I do
NOT like Ian in any other way than he is my flat mate.
If you could see this guy, you'd understand why.
Heart of gold, no doubt, but not my type. So stop
asking. We just hang out because we don't like Julia
and nobody else is ever home.
My new job at SPQR is nice. I've done 2 1/2 shifts so
far and really like it. Hospitality here is
different, as Kiwis don't tip. It's not common to do
so. Instead, food costs more, and the server gets
paid more in wages. Instead of making $3 + tips, as a
server would in the States, we make $15 w/ fewer tips.
This is nice because you are paid whether your
restaurant or section is busy or not, plus $20-40 in
tips each night, depending on how busy it is. Also, I
get one free meal and one free drink per shift (well,
the drink comes after the shift...), plus staff pizza
after the meal, none of which is something I never got
in the States.
My money situation has been a bit tricky as well. As
a first time international mover, I made the mistake
of bringing the bulk of my money in a giant (well,
regular-sized) cashier's check, which I unfortunately
waited a week to cash. I didn't realize that it would
take 21 days (not including Saturdays or Sundays) to
process. Therefore, my new NZ bank account is fully
equipped with a large amount of money that I can't
touch. That means, for the first four and the next
one weeks of my new adventure, I have lived off of
US$1,050. This translates to about NZ$1,500. With
that I have done EVERYTHING, including paying three
weeks worth of rent, a $200 deposit on my room,
clothes, transportation, Burger King ice-cream cones,
and groceries, which of course, cost me the most. And
I've bought two lotto tickets which have not yet paid
anything. This week, I had to clear out my American
bank account to pay the rent for the last two weeks.
But, a helpful tip for travelers (if I only would have
known) - leave your money at home and use your credit
card! When I use it, the purchases are AUTOMATICALLY
converted to US dollars, which is cool because I feel
like I am always getting a sale (a NZ$39 shirt
actually only cost me US$26.77 on my Visa!).
My teaching qualifications came back super, and I am
officially able to teach in New Zealand. In fact, on
a 12-step salary scale, I made it to step 7. Just
like that. (Actually, that doesn't mean anything, but
it sounds cool, right?)
School holidays end this week, kids are back on the
11th. Maybe I'll get some relief teaching, as earlier
this week I e-mailed some principals I have spoken
with before about getting in. Also, I have an
interview today with the original Oasis Education
recruiter that I have been back and forth with since
April, so I am excited for that. But, I'm not too
worried as now SPQR will soon start to pay the rent.
I got my first package this week. It was totally
exciting. It was full of candy and goodies, and the
pact I had made with myself to eat less sugar went out
the window. American candy is SO much better than the
candy here. Every calorie is worth it, tenfold.
Also, speaking of home, I learned that I can pay, a
week at a time if I want, to watch live ESPN on my
computer. So last week I watched the Iowa v. Ohio
game live, which was really cool. Even better,
though, was watching the commercials for Ford and
Chevy, and hearing American actors speak.
Mary comes in 2 weeks, and then the adventure begins.
We have plans to take a week vacation upon her
arrival. It will consist of a week by the sea, on
the beach, and at vineyards in a town called Napier,
along with a lot of good old Kiwi hospitality from the
lady who is taking us. We're both super pumped for
So that's what's up. All in all, life is good.