Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to New Zealand, etc.
My name is Abby and I was born in Nottinghamshire, England. (Yes, I spent a lot of time in Sherwood Forest as a child.) My family dragged me kicking and screaming to live in New Zealand when I was ten. I’m now twenty-two and I’ve just about forgiven them.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I’ve always written about my experiences, but I didn’t enter the world of blogging until March 2013. It was time to start sharing my writing with the world, I guess. I’d come to realise how lucky I am to live in New Zealand.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favourite blog entries are the most personal ones, especially the one that took me a lot of courage to publish, the one about my struggles with anxiety and depression as a teenager and university student: The Existential Crisis of the Immigrant Child – it’s a pretentious title, I know, but fitting. I also love the blog post I wrote about my family’s campervan holiday in the South Island of New Zealand – it was the best holiday ever! And, of course, Christmas in New Zealand.
Tell us about the ways your new life in New Zealand differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
New Zealand is different from England in two major ways: firstly, the predominant colour in New Zealand is green, not grey, and, secondly, strangers in New Zealand are generally nice to you. This is what freaked me out the most when I arrived in New Zealand – people I didn’t know smiling and starting conversations with me! I got used to it very quickly, so much so that I actually experienced a culture shock when I went back to England for a visit!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in New Zealand? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was sort of prepared for what awaited me in New Zealand, as my dad had gone six months ahead of my mum, my little sister and I, so he’d told us what it was like. In the end, New Zealand was a lot more similar to England than I had expected it to be. I can’t say what decisions or preparations I’d change, because I was ten years old: the decisions were not mine to make and the preparations all fell onto my mum’s shoulders – I admire her for coping with that. If I could have done something differently, I would have made sure I hadn’t left my Pokémon cards lying around when the removal men were packing all our stuff up to ship to New Zealand – I had to endure five months without them and then, when they finally arrived in New Zealand, no one in my new school had Pokémon cards to battle with me!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
How many times have I told this story? It my first week at my new school, and my new group of friends wanted to play hide-and-seek around the grounds, but, as I wasn’t yet familiar with the grounds, one girl offered to hide with me. “Come on,” she said, “let’s get on the dick.” I was stunned. “The what?” I asked. “The dick,” she said. When I did nothing but look confused, she pointed, “The big, brown dick! Over there. All that wood!” Of course, she was pointing at the deck. Then there’s my mum’s mistake – one made by so many New Zealand immigrants it’s hilarious – of, when asked by a friend to “bring a plate” to a party, showing up with an empty plate. In New Zealand, ‘bring a plate’ means ‘bring a plate of food for everyone to share, or, if you’re lazy, a big bag of corn chips’.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in New Zealand?
How is the expat community in New Zealand? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
New Zealand is a whole country of expats. My family did not have a hard time finding fellow Brits and other like-minded people in the slightest. In fact, a great deal of my friends here are expat Brits – we’re attracted to each other.
How would you summarize your expat life in New Zealand in a single, catchy sentence?
Relaxed, yet so full adventure, life in New Zealand is perfectly balanced.