When we experience something new, I think we tend to try draw lines in our minds to similar memories and events. For me though, I am trying to get as far away from familiar as possible. I don’t want the same, the comfortable, the “known” – the world is well-discovered, but I want to turn over my own stones, have a go drawing new lines to the unknown.
Here on the other side of the world, there are a lot of familiar sights and sounds, as is to be expected in an English-speaking, first-world country. However, there are many more striking differences compared to places I’ve been or have lived before. Frankly, most of them are a pleasant relief from many things I’d consider grievances.
Americans should take better note of their worldly neighbors, and this quaint island nation wouldn’t be a bad place to start. The minimum wage here is $14/hr, and while that is to slightly reflect the marginally higher costs of living, on a whole it provides substantial support for a booming middle class, and allows for a great deal more mobility, literally and figuratively.
Something else I have been able to take full advantage of is the ACC, or more plainly, the socialized healthcare. Accidents, like physical injury, are covered under governmental care and even someone who is not a citizen (like me) is taken care of under the system. It is fantastic. The care is comprehensive and all-inclusive.
Furthermore, most of the cars here are turbo diesel, and economy sized. SUVs are not common and most cars on the road are at least ten years old. One’s status here is of little concern, it is all about just living a good life. Sure, this is the South Island – things are a little different compared to Wellington or Aukland, but on a whole, life here is on a very even keel.
However, some things don’t change, and while I stood at the waterfront typing this, I was approached by two random Frenchmen who wanted to know where they could score some weed…classic. That was made up for though, as for the past half-hour I’ve been standing in this place, a guy has been perched on the seawall just down the way from me, pleasantly playing his ukulele, as the waves softly break upon the shore.
Queenstown isn’t a really good example of Kiwi culture per se, but it is without a doubt a cultural hub and epicenter for a very interesting mixing and mingling of folks from all around the globe – a strong portion of whom are here for the sun, the mountains, and the other like-minded people that flock to just this kind of place. At the end of the day, I still feel like I’m adjusting, but that is just how moving goes: it takes time to find a steady rhythm.