Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wintry Goings-On

Little more than a month ago, we were living in what seemed like limbo. No jobs, no permanent address, no mental energy to really take time to enjoy sightseeing (the worry that comes along with a job search is uniquely plaguing). Then, just like those warm and sunny winter days here, some goodness come out of nowhere all at once and without warning.

Within the course of about a week and a half, both Peter and I landed jobs and we found a decent apartment. Just like that. And we've been at a sprint ever since.

Peter's job is with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in a security architecture capacity. And I found a relief (substitute) teaching pool that arranges work for relief teachers at all of the various schools in the Wellington area. There are so many of them that these pools are a pretty common and handy way for us relievers to get and maintain contacts.

Since I still had to wait for a bit of paperwork to get processed before I could start working, I took on the temporary job of getting our apartment into shape. You don't quite realise how much crap you have--and need, really--until you either move it, store it, sell it, or replace it all. In our case, until you have to sell it all then replace it. Oy.

Since we don't have a car, I've been making plenty of trips in to town on the bus and getting as much as I can carry back without knocking elderly women out of their seats. It probably would have been a lot easier had we a car, but then again it would have been a lot easier to spend more than was necessary had we a car to carry a bunch of crap in. At least this way we're more aware of the necessities and not tempted to get too many fun things. Although it has been pretty fun to outfit our kitchen with decent cookware and our living room with matching furniture. We even have room for a dining room table (as if the quasi-British accent didn't make us Yanks feel civilised enough).

So here we live, in our own flat not far from our last place in the Hataitai suburb, with work to occupy our days and errands to occupy our evenings and weekends. We're into a new routine, and, although it's keeping us busy, life is good.

Peter's work is interesting, as is mine, and we're starting to get a sense for what it's like to really live in New Zealand. You learn quite a bit about a culture from dealing with people on a professional level. We've learned that the morning tea ritual, a break at mid morning where people relax with a snack, is pretty common at work as well as for tourists. We've also learned that it's not uncommon for work places to go out on a Friday after work to have a staff drink at the pub. Social time seems to be pretty important here.

I'm also getting to learn a lot about the culture from the kids I meet in the schools. Children are culture sponges, and everything they do has been taught to them by through their parents, the movies they watch, and the values placed on them by society. They're turning out to be a curious mixture of Kiwi and American culture, and it's pretty apparent that all of the American media, music, and marketing that makes its way here has had a big impact. I've been told to keep an eye out for American spellings in English classroom here, as most kids type their projects in Microsoft Word, which has a default spell checker set to American spellings. Odd, eh? I guess that's one more incentive for me to quickly learn to spell, punctuate, and conjugate within the language system here. We've even met some Kiwis who actually know more about American history from watching shows like Deadwood than some Americans do after having gone through US schools. You have to hand it to the Kiwis; they're a pretty culturally savvy lot.

We'll be posting again soon about some of the fun things we've done and seen when the sun comes out here. The sun isn't a common visitor for us at the moment, but when she comes out the whole of Wellington scrambles outside. Unfortunately, the work-a-day world is just as boring here as it is in the states, so not much to record there as far as photos are concerned. Stay tuned, we'll be posting again soon!