A Kiwi in the United States- Lessons I learned in America

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.

A kiwi in the United States
“Lucky” the baby seal. That’s a seal. On a couch.

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…”



Enjoy this post? Check out one of these:

My thoughts on the Homeless in America

Americans: Are the Stereotypes true?

The Curse of the American Soccer Mom



10 comments on “A Kiwi in the United States- Lessons I learned in America

  1. onedayillflyaway July 9, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

    This is great! I am glad you gave America a chance, so many people ride it off as being a horrible place (myself included!) but it is a good place to call home as well. I totally understand what you mean about needing to get out to appreciate it. I think everyone should have to leave home once, I am so excited to go home one day and I hated it there! Great post :)

    • onetravelsfar July 10, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

      Thanks so much :) I know the grass is definitely always greener on the other side, at least until you've lived on the other side for awhile. I love the states though, and I can see why so many people want to live here!

  2. Maddie July 12, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

    Heya, hope you don't mind me stalking your blog – i came across yours from Adventurous Kate's blog :) I can totally relate to your adventures in the States. I'm here now for 3 months before heading to europe and back to the states again, before back to NZ and real life. I was a nanny in Alaska when I was 18, live in and for the most part i hated it.
    I loved the job, but hated having no life outside of it. Live in does not work for me, and i would never do it again. Ever. It is something i experienced once, and it is made cheaper by the fact that you don't have to pay bills etc, but you are paid shit and work long hours. I like my work to be my work and my home to be my home. I want to be able to relax when i come home and not see my work at the weekends, lol.

    What was your experience like with Au Pair in America? I'm a trained ECE teacher, so i often toyed with the idea of going back and doing the programme, but the live in aspect made me stop – and now i'm too old (just!) to participate, lol. But i made some great friends from that time who i'm staying with at the moment, and we had an awesome 4th of July, so it's not all bad :)

    • onetravelsfar July 13, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

      Hey Maddie thanks for stopping by :)

      What part of the states are you living in at the moment? How long were you nannying for in Alaska?

      I know exactly what you\’re talking about, I\’m so burnt out, I just want my own space. It\’s really hard when you live with your bosses, and can\’t escape your job-the kids are ALWAYS there. And yes the pay is pretty crap. I overheard my host dad telling his friend what I earn, and they were both going on about how it\’s next to nothing.

      I\’ve had a pretty good experience, but I\’m definitely ready to have some time away from kids. I\’ll miss them lots, but this job is seriously the best contraception in the world. 12 days and I\’m done!

      Au Pair in America are ok, I\’ve found them to be pretty unprofessional, but haven\’t had a lot to do with most of the counselors etc. They\’re a business I guess, and the host parents are the ones that pay them, so I\’ve leanred that Au Pairs really don\’t have much of a leg to stand on over here.

      4th of July is always amazing, I\’ve had two here and they were both great :) I think I\’d do nannying again in a few years if I\’m really broke in London or something since you actually get paid a decent wage over there, but I\’d definitely rather be live out! Waking up to the kids screaming at each other first thing in the morning puts me in a bad mood for the rest of the day!

  3. makingitanywhere July 14, 2012 @ 6:35 am

    Firstly, that seal story is the coolest thing ever – that should be front page news in any country!

    But also, I can totally relate to what you've learned from being in the US. I'm a Brit who's been living there for 4 months, and I get the impression Brits and New Zealanders are pretty similar in terms of being laid-back and not overly patriotic.

    It still amazes me how demanding Americans can be, but I like how they make a fuss if something isn't right – they complain and it gets sorted, whereas in the UK everyone just silently resents it! You have to be a bit more bolshy to get by over here, which is good practice for me.

    I am secretly a bit disappointed that no-one's asked me if I know the Queen yet, though :)

    • onetravelsfar July 14, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

      Yeah I think kiwi's are more similar to the British than than Americans. I've found we have more of a British sense of humor too- it's not as slapstick as the American humor.

      I've found it to be good practice too, but it'll be bad when we go home and start getting all angry and fired up over nothing lol.

      Haha no ones asked you that yet? People always ask me if I'm British. I can understand when they assume I'm Australian but I definitely don't have an English accent!

  4. purplekat99 August 14, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

    Haha, I loved the assertive comment! I am an American, but I did the WHV thing in New Zealand a few years back and everyone at my job made so much fun of me because I was so loud and assertive. And trust me, compared to most Americans, I am so NOT! But compared to NZ'ers, I guess I am! So not a bad thing:-)

    • onetravelsfar August 17, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

      Ahaha that's so funny! It's definitely not a bad thing to be assertive, but you must have felt like you were completely over the top living in NZ! I'm glad I got to spend so much time with Americans, cause I know how to stick up for myself now!

  5. NZ Muse February 11, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

    Haha it’s true, our American friends would always have to be the one to raise issues on our behalf at restaurants!

    There’s definitely a certain flavour of American aggressiveness that grates, though – and we had a few of that ilk on our English course in Germany, and everyone hated them for it.

    There are a lot of things I like about America, but I definitely don’t see us living there short of someone offering one of us a VERY well paid job to move there.

Leave a Reply to onetravelsfar Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked in red.

CommentLuv badge