While living as a kiwi in the United States, I’ve learned a lot about myself that I didn’t expect. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned:
I can stand up for myself
Living in American has made me way more assertive. Kiwis are pretty laid back, and we don’t usually make a fuss if something doesn’t go our way since we don’t like to draw attention to ourselves.
Americans don’t take any crap. They demand good service, and if something isn’t done right they will literally stand there and yell until its fixed. For my first year here, I would watch in wide-eyed fascination as Americans lost their shit in public.
While I’m still not the kind of person who makes a scene, now if I’m not happy about something I actually open my mouth. Go me!
I don’t need material things to be happy
One thing I’ve learned living in upper-middle class America, is that money really doesn’t buy happiness. I’ve discovered that I would rather spend my money on experiences and travel, then on having a humongous house with a huge mortgage, just so I can keep up with the Jones’.
While I’ve enjoyed driving nice cars, and living in beautiful houses, I also know that I’m not willing to spend my life locked in an office, working crazy hours for that kind of lifestyle.
New Zealand is a pretty cool place
Ahhh New Zealand. I was desperate to get out a couple of years ago,and while it’s still too small for me to consider living there, sometimes you need to move away from home in order to truly appreciate it. I love that a baby seal breaking into a house and sleeping on the couch is front page news, and I’m proud that New Zealand is still the least corrupt country in the world.
I consider myself extremely lucky to grow up in a place where we could ride our bikes to school, and play on the streets, only returning when our mums yelled out the door that it was time to go to bed.
After living in the states, where parents have to be so careful with their kids, and are constantly worrying that they’ll be abducted, I really appreciate having the chance to be a kid in a place as safe as New Zealand.
Patriotism isn’t a bad thing
I’m going to take a moment to state the obvious: Americans are very patriotic. After living here for almost two years I can now recite the Pledge of Allegiance (thanks to my host kids who at five and seven years old know it by heart), and I know most of the words to the Star spangled banner.
Americans truly believe that they live in the greatest country in the world, and while I disagree (cause duh, New Zealand is totally the best), I do admire the fact that Americans really do celebrate their country in a big way.
I’ve experienced the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Memorial day twice, and while Americans do tend to go over the top (for the 4th of July some lady came around and put American flags on everyone’s front lawn), this kind of patriotism does bring everyone together.
I used to see it as arrogance, and I’d roll my eyes whenever some American would start going on about how “great” this country is, but now I’m actually quite fond of it. What’s wrong with teaching kids to be loyal to their country?
I do find it worrying that I now struggle to remember some of the New Zealand anthem though. And thanks to my favorite talk show (yes there is an old man that lives inside of me) playing the Star Spangled Banner every day at 12pm, I must admit that it’s much more inspiring than ours: “And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the freeeeee.. and the home of the braaaaavvveee…”
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