It’s not all puppies and sunshine

I’m sick as a result of walking dogs in the storm for two days, so you can imagine my level of grumpiness. I hate this weather like I hardly hate anything else, so I thought I’d break it to you: there are also a bunch of things I don’t like about New Zealand.

  • The weather
    Well, this relates to Wellington in particular. Wellington is a lovely city, but like most of the lovely cities I’ve visited/lived in (I’m talking to you, Edinburgh), the reason so it is so lovely is that it has to make up for the shitty weather. I can’t even begin to describe how strong the wind is here. Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, you wouldn’t understand how it feels to try and maintain an erect posture while walking against the wind. Northerly, Southerly, the fuck you know where it comes from, this fucking wind makes it hard to breathe (literally). You can’t either open your car door, or prevent it from swinging wide open right against the car parked next to yours. Sometimes blasts are so strong that the whole house shakes.
    Now, add rain to the wind and you have a fucking storm. This makes it impossible to start walking from point A and reach point B not looking like a psycho-schizo who just stuck their fingers in an electrical socket. I mean all this is great if you are in the windmill business, BUT I JUST NEED TO BE IN A WARM SUNNY PLACE FOR A WHILE OK.

                                                               Before and after

 

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Summer

  • Living in an igloo
    I know what you’re about to say: But surely you can just stay nice and cosy inside. NO YOU CAN’T. Because for some reason unknown to me and to probably every other human beings in their right mind, house heating is not a thing in New Zealand. DON’T EVEN ASK. This is probably the thing I hate the most. New Zealand is not the tropics. It’s a fucking cold country. Why on earth would you think that you don’t need fucking radiators? People get by with electrical heaters which are 1. expensive 2. not efficient and 3. fucking lame. I’ve been wearing my ski attire inside for the past couple of months and I still feel the chill inside my bones. I have been constantly cold for the past 12 months (as summer didn’t really happen) and will be for the next six months (as we are going home for Christmas) and I’m not happy about it.

skiMe most days

  • Basically, New Zealand is like Europe 30 years ago
    I know this is probably just me being a spoiled First World country brat, but most of the commodities I’m used to are yet to reach this side of the world. Health and safety regulations, mobile phone plans, free WiFi, people calling you rather than replying to emails…
    Not to mention that it’s SO hard to find nice, good quality gear and clothes over here. I’m big on hiking/sport equipment, and all you can get in New Zealand is lousy, cheap, non-ethical crap from the Warehouse.
    And if you’re hoping to find relief in online shopping…
  • Good luck finding a company that ships all the way over here
    Nobody gives a shit about New Zealand. Amazon NZ doesn’t exist, and its replacement is TradeMe, the lame Kiwi version where everything you want to buy is fucking expensive. Because guess what:
  • Everything is fucking expensive
    When you can’t grow/produce/build stuff on land, you have to import it, and that makes it really expensive. The worst part for me is that greens, fruits and veggies are so freaking pricy. Along with the lack of heating, this is definitely on the Top Three of things that annoy me. A vegan, plant-based diet has always been the cheapest option anywhere else I’ve lived, while here is pretty much as costly as eating meat and cheese, and as we currently live on a part-time income it breaks my heart every time I pay $5.99 for a bell pepper. But I’m trying to find a balance between living on bread and canned fruit and actually eating what makes me feel good.
    (This was also my biggest struggle when we were living in a van. I’ll talk about this in a separate post.)

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    You can always go to the farmers market, but organic produce will still cost you an arm and a leg

  • We are far away from everything
    This is something I knew but didn’t fully realise until I moved here. New Zealand is fucking far away from fucking everything. Even Australia is 5 hours away on a plane. I miss my friends and family like crazy and it kills me that I can’t just jump on a plane and go home and visit them for a weekend.
  • You can’t get coffee after 4pm
    Coffee is big in New Zealand. However, the heat dies down in the early afternoon and cafes close at 4pm, and after then if you want to meet up with a friend you’ll have to find an alternative drink to chat over.
  • Everything is slow
    Although I do appreciate the Kiwi chillaxed lifestyle, it really bothers me in situations where you need to get things done. It takes forever to get email replies (I’m getting rejected for jobs that I applied for five months ago), organising get-togethers always involves people confirming and never showing up, and just in general everything takes longer than people from the Northern Hemisphere are used to. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that people are never in a rush (that’s what I found sad about London), but sometimes you just want to pay for your groceries without the cashier asking you about your life story and showing you pictures of their granddaughter.
  • Earthquakes
    The first thing I see when I walk into my house and the last thing I see when I leave it is my earthquake kit patiently waiting in the hallway. Now you can imagine how relaxing that is. Everybody knows that an earthquake is going to happen at some point in the near future, and to me this feels like living with the infamous sword of Damocles hanging above my head. It’s just a matter of hoping you’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time.

quakeOur livingroom after the Kaikoura earthquake

  • It’s fucking hard to get a job
    Number three of the Top Three things I hate is how hard it has been for me to find a job. I pretty much gave up on the idea of getting into Publishing (partly because of the fact that no one ever replied to my emails). I’ve worked in a couple of cafes and I’m now walking dogs which I love but I can’t help but feeling torn between being grateful that I get paid for petting puppies and the frustration of being 31 years old and not having a job that gives me benefits/holidays/sick leave etc.

 

As you can probably tell, im not having the best of days. Also, I think I’ve broken the record for the amount of times I said fuck in one single post. I apologise, but I thought it’d be just fair to make it clear that New Zealand is not this magical happy place that I’m constantly praising in my IG feed. There are things that bother me on different levels – and I’m not gonna lie, some of them I really struggle with. Overall it’s been ok down under so far, but it’s definitely not all puppies and sunshine – quite literally, in my case.

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Kiwiversary

I can’t believe we’ve been down under for an entire year already. But yep, this time last year we were dragging ourselves off a plane coming from the other side of the world, not sure what day it was or who we were. We landed in Auckland, survived security, rented a car, drove to our friends’ place and passed out in the front seats while waiting for them to come home.
It was the beginning of a new adventure.

FullSizeRender (36)The day we left

FullSizeRender (38)Some days (??) later

So 365 days later, here’s a list of things I like about New Zealand.

(I started writing this on New Year’s Eve, seven months ago. We went to the waterfront to celebrate, along with pretty much the entire city. I’m not big on NYE (I would much rather spend it with tea and Scrabble, and a handful of friends than outside in the cold), and as probably most of you I’m used to NYE celebrations starting at the stroke of midnight. This time round, that’s when they ended. I was at home at 00.27, in bed at 00.43. This made me want to write a list of things I like about this country.)

  • People are nice
    When I first heard that Kiwis are nice, I thought I’d already seen it all in the UK. British people are pretty nice (at least compared to where I come from). Turns out, you know nothing Brits! On this side of the world you get upgraded to a whole new level of niceness. People will go out of their way and help you even if they don’t know you. They’d do something kind to you just for the sake of it.
    When we overheated Shelby and we had to cool it down on the side of the road, countless passerbys stopped to check if we were ok. A lady I just met gave me a pot of beans after I mentioned I wanted to started my own vegetable garden. One morning we were parked outside a French bakery and this dude gave us croissants for free. Things like these have never happened to me anywhere else.
  • Landscapes
    If you like sightseeing, New Zealand is your guy. It’s incredible how varied, Instagram-worthy, crazy beautiful sceneries this country has to offer. We see breathtaking landscapes every day – and we haven’t even been to the South Island yet! I love that in Wellington you don’t have to drive for hours to go for a hike or see the ocean: we have it all right here where we live.

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(Check out my Instagram for more!)

  • Coffee culture
    Kiwis take their coffee very seriously (for some reason). But I’ll give it to them, New Zealand coffee is hands down the best coffee I’ve ever had.

 

  • Feeling safe
    One of the reasons we picked New Zealand over Australia was the lack of deadly animals (although let me tell ya, they have pretty chunky spiders down here too).
    After living in London, where I used to walk home with my house keys between my fingers, I’m glad I now live in a place where I can forget my front door wide open for the whole day and nothing happens.
    This is a country where chillaxing is a national sport and Jaffa cakes make it to the news. Kiwis don’t really have to worry about anything. New Zealand is so far away from the rest of the world that it’s often not even included in maps or weather reports. The national football team rules unbeaten simply because they still have to find another football team that can be bothered to travel all the way here to play, so I feel like I’m not going to lose my sleep over the fear that some terrorist will ever come all the way over here to blow things up.

FullSizeRender (33)Guess who ended up being hoovered

  • Housing
    Although us buying a house is still out of the picture, in Wellington we can afford to rent a house (not a flat) with a garden with a part-time income. In your face, London housing market.

FullSizeRender (41)Not our house

  • Enough room to spread your arms
    Crowded places are a thing of the past. Whether I’m hiking in the middle of nowhere or I’m taking a stroll in Wellington CBD, the amount of people I meet is pretty much the same. (Ok not really. But I never have to elbow my way through a crowd of tourists to get from point A to point B.) I yet have to experience the level of packed-ness that had become a daily occurrence in London. At events advertised as “the biggest, largest, unmissable, must-go” you can expect 200 people max. I freaking love this (although I will admit sometimes I wish I could be right in the middle of Oxford Circus for like 30 seconds just to remember what it feels like).
  • Flip flops
    Although I’m more of a shoe person (my feet are always cold), I love the fact that it is acceptable to take off your shoes in public and even walk around barefoot. Suns out, feets out!

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  • Zero Waste
    And finally to the point that I hold the dearest: my Zero Waste dream finally became reality.
    Every time I talk to my parents back home in Italy, I realise I’m very fortunate to live in a city that offers so many resources to live waste-free: op shops, bulk food stores, tool libraries, swap markets… Not every country/city has those, and it does make a big difference in terms of people can do as individuals to reduce the amount of waste they produce.

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And that’s it! Happy first anniversary, New Zealand, and to many more years to come!

To all the people out there

When Giac and I decided to move to New Zealand, the most frequent comment we got was: Oh, you guys are so brave. I wish I could do it.
I would awkwardly smile and respond with something on the lines of, Oh yeah, you know, we just needed a change, and New Zealand looked so awesome, so.

The truth is that people telling me that they wish they could do what I was doing annoys me a little bit. I know some other people might actually be proud of receiving the same kind of comment, but for me it’s like they are putting me in a privileged position and it makes me feel uncomfortable.
I mean, it’s not that Giac and I got invested with some sort of angelic omnipotence that allowed us to fly overseas. Before making The Big Decision, we considered every aspect, weighed every option, spent months and month researching and making sure we had everything covered. When we got married we asked for money rather than presents, so yes we did receive some financial support, but we also worked hard and saved up to make our dream come true.
I’ve always been the odd one among my friends and family members, I’ve always liked travelling and moved abroad for the first time ten years ago (Jesus), so I guess nobody was actually that surprised when I announced I was moving to the other side of the planet.
But what I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to be a superhuman to pack up your stuff and go. You just have to want it.

So to all the people out there: you can do it too. Giac and I are not some special almighty gods, nor we are in a particular privileged situation. We are just normal people like everyone else. The only difference is that we dream big. We don’t accept things as they are: when we don’t like them, we change them. But we don’t use any of our superpowers that people might think we have: we just work hard to live the life we want.

And you can too.

Ten things I’ve learned in my first eleven days in Auckland

Hey y’all! Giac and I have made it to New Zealand! We come from exactly 34 days of travelling in the States and yes, I did plan to blog all about it, HOWEVER it turned out that I’m not that good at transcribing from my journal things that have happened about two months ago, therefore for now we’ll just have to do with a list of things that I’ve learned by living in Auckland for the past 11 days.
(One thing that I’ve learned in the States is that yes, it’s cool and all to meticulously keep a journal, but if you want to be a blogger it comes quite handy to also have a flipping computer with you.)

  1. Auckland is hilly.
    Yep. Lots of ups and downs. Get your legs ready.
    (I know, I could have looked this up beforehand but hey, I like surprises.)
  2. There is no logic in the way people drive.
    Or in the way roads are designed. It might be because everything here works the wrong way round, but intersections are puzzling, turn signals are optionals, and the safety distance is reduced to 2mm from the car in front of you.
  3. Books are expensive.
    I only set foot in a book store on day 10 because I had been warned that book prices were prohibitive, and I was dreading the moment I had to confirm that myself. The first book I picked up (a paperback, no finishings) was $40. I foresee a lot of Kindle reading.
  4. Coffee is amazing.

    Expensive, but amazing. And this means anywhere: you could probably walk into a kebab shop and have the best coffee experience of your life.

  5. Soy milk is available everywhere.
    Even at Denny’s. Enough said.
    (Although they will charge you 50 cents for it.)

  6. You can be a vegan and go to a dairy.
    Because a dairy is a local corner shop. You’re welcome.

  7. You can drive 40mins to an hour from Auckland and find yourself in some National Geographic-like locations.
    While Auckland itself -let’s be real- is nothing remarkable, its surrounding are breathtaking. Everything is so green and lush! And these places are so easy to reach it’s very plausible that we will be going hiking/swimming/skiing/surfing/canoeing every single weekend if/when we move here at the end of our wanderings.

  8. Everyone has lived in a van at some point in their life.
    Every time we mention to someone that we’ve just bought a van and are about to set off for some travelling around New Zealand, every single person will recall their own experience doing exactly the same -possibly with the same kind of converted car and the same equipment bought in the same shop.
  9. There is no such thing as unlimited Wi-fi.
    I’ll give you a moment to take that in.
  10. You know when they told you that people walk around barefoot?
    It’s true.