No, not the bird.
The people who live in New Zealand call themselves Kiwis. I’m not sure exactly why, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that “New Zealanders” takes a really long time to say.
Of all the people I have met in the world, there are no people like Kiwis.
On Monday, I had my first day off, and I had to take the bus into the city to meet up with my tour group. Now, at home, I don’t often take public transportation. There is no need to. My family has 6 cars for 5 people, so we drive everywhere we need to go. On rare occasions, we will take the Metro into D.C., and most recently I tried out Amtrak, but that’s about it. Taking the bus was a new experience for me.
I got on my first bus at 7:50 AM and asked the driver, “Can I get to the Canterbury Museum on this bus?” He told me no.
I got on my next bus at 7:55 AM and asked the driver, “Can I get to the Canterbury Museum on this bus?” He said, “…what?”. So the bus driver and I chatted at the front of the bus, and tried to figure out together where I was trying to go. Luckily, I had taken a screenshot of the stop I was trying to get to (no cell service to figure it out), and he figured it out. Usually, on the bus, you have to press a “STOP” button when you want to get off. He just took me to the stop, told me that’s where I needed to be, and dropped me off. I have an inkling feeling he changed his route a bit for me.
On my bus ride home, I was equally as incompetent. I definitely got on the wrong bus home. We arrived at the last stop of the route, and I was the only one left on the bus. The one thing I was certain of is that I was not where I was supposed to be. I asked that bus driver for help as well, and he most certainly went out of his way to help me. He called in to ask if he could specifically drop me off where I needed to be, and then he did.
I know it doesn’t sound like much – two bus drivers helping a transportationally challenged young adult – but that kindness and helpfulness is something I have experienced in virtually every person I’ve interacted with here in NZ.
Further evidence: When I arrived at the airport completely disoriented, someone lent me their phone to call Stan to come pick me up. When I was in Auckland airport, someone helped direct a very confused me to the terminal I needed to be at. A couple of men on their way home from work helped me catch the bus. A man in a bar lent me his phone to call Stan to be picked up (again). Charlotte helps me figure things out on the farm everyday, along with Stan and Erika (and Marine and Dan, of course).
The experiences I’ve had with helpful Kiwis are usually little things. There are some which should test their patience, but nobody has been rude. Nobody has blown me off. It’s friendly. It’s different.
A week and a half in, I’m starting to realize that a month is actually a very short time. I’m already realizing how much I’m going to miss this place, and more specifically, these people.
I know it might sound too dreamy – too perfect. There are bad times, too. There are mornings where I mess up, and everything feels like it’s falling apart. There are times when I’m tacking up a horse and he decides to bite me (I’m looking at you, Tonne). There are days where Erika scolds us for forgetting a chore or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.
But it’s worth it. The hours of traveling, the working 6 days a week, the cold mornings, and the late days. The grumpy horses and the wild kids. It’s all a part of New Zealand for me.
This post has turned from being about the people to being about how much I’m loving this internship, but that’s okay, because it’s all a part of the whole experience. It’s something I’ll always remember, but will probably never be able to replicate.
(But secretly, I’m already thinking of when I can come back.)