The last few weeks, between all the travel and general chaos of everyday life, I almost missed celebrating an expat milestone… I’ve been in New Zealand for six months!
It flew by in the snap of my fingers. I can’t believe that since November I’ve found a job, brought our dog over from America, learned to drive on the left, started planning a wedding, and as a cherry on top, we’ll be moving again in two weeks! Pete and I decided that if we were already sleeping under two duvets and a wool blanket and it isn’t even Winter yet, then it was time to find a house with better insulation. Look out for more details in the coming weeks.
Settling into life in Christchurch has had its ups and downs.
Christchurch is starting to feel more like home. When I’m out and about, I only need GPS about 50% of the time to get around, which is major progress. It took some time to get to know the local roads and shops but now I can tell you which grocery store has the best bulk section and where to get a haircut that doesn’t leave you looking like little orphan Annie (shout out Hidden on Kilmore).
I am absolutely in love with kiwi slang and have been saying words and phrases like keen, sweet as, and she’ll be right every chance I get. I’m still struggling with Maori name pronunciation but at least it’s entertaining for Pete to hear me try.
By far, the best part of being here has been how often we get to see Pete’s family. For the past four years, Pete got to know my family really well but before moving to New Zealand, I had only met his mom, brother, and sister once when they visited the States. We’ve been able to get up to Wellington heeps, and it was really special to spend Christmas with my Kiwi family. Having their love and support so close by has done wonders for making New Zealand feel like home.
It’s been a little harder than expected to find a solid friend base. We had an amazing group of friends in Portland, the kind you could text last minute saying you were coming over with wine and they’d be like “sweet, we’ve got the chips and salsa.” Everyone will tell you that Christchurch is the most British of all the Kiwi cities and what they mean by that is that people here are more reserved. Thankfully, Pete already knew a few people in town and I’ve made some friends at work. These friendships have been a lifeline, preventing me from going full-on hermit.
When it comes to meeting new people, as a foreigner, and especially as an American, I can get away with being a bit more forward. Regardless, it’s still considered weird here to just start chatting with a person you don’t know and as someone who loves meeting new people, that’s been a tough adjustment. I’ve made a resolution to keep trying to put myself out there because I refuse to accept this status quo; half the fun of traveling is the people you meet along the way! I had a disastrous attempt at joining a local rec basketball league but I’m checking out a new book club next week so fingers crossed.
Being in my late 20s, I’ve also discovered that if I’m out on a Friday night around midnight, I will feel old AF. The late-nite bar scene is dominated by 18-year-olds getting blackout drunk. To them, I say “you do you” but I’m planning to keep looking for a bar without sticky floors. #beentheredonethat We had some luck at Little High where the giant margaritas at Alvarados Mexican Cantina were glorious and the crowd skewed towards mid 20s – 30s.
I really think it takes a full year to judge a place fairly, so the jury’s still out on Christchurch. On the whole, I’d say it’s been a positive experience sprinkled with a few grains of salt along the way (margarita pun intended). Life is finally starting to feel more settled and I can’t wait to get out and do some more adventuring. Next stop…Bluff!!
Got any tips or recommendations for cool spots on the South Island? Let me know in the comments below, I’m always on the quest for new and exciting spots to explore!