The Sandwich ConnectionAuckland, Spring 2012

There are some things that are unique to a country. For example, if you didn’t grow up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it’s tricky to explain why the nutty butter and gooey jelly are perfect for each other, creating the best sandwich that a ten year old kid could have for lunch. Plenty of other countries have PB&J sandwich variations (here in New Zealand, nutella and peanut butter are popular, as well as honey and peanut butter. and marmite, but that is so salty and meat-substitute-like it usually is by itself on bread), but the PB&J is a unique United States quirk, more so than the typical “apple pie and freedom” lines that populate country songs.

There are plenty of things that are unique to New Zealand (I mean, apart from the accent). There’s hokey pokey, which is crunchy honeycomb, that seems to be in everything from ice-cream to chocolate bars to funky milk flavors. Everyone knows a couple songs in Maori from grade school, and can sing them at will whenever the occasion arrises. Although Auckland is surrounded by lovely beaches, the weather is constantly rainy, so much so that everyone always is packing an umbrella, a rain jacket, or both at any given moment. The one time it snowed last year everything stopped—traffic, people walking on the streets, even the random street musicians who always seem to be singing “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion—but sadly there wasn’t even enough to stick on the ground. There’s a deep love for community here, and a very global focus (people know more about the US Congress than I would ever want to know), and an appreciation for the outdoors. Everyone, from a tiny old grandma to an even tinier baby likes to take time for nature, whether that means tramping on the weekends, walking to work instead of taking the bus, or eating outside on the porch when the weather permits. Even the washing is hung outside (at least in my house), and somehow it always smells like sunshine even when I put it away in my drawer and don’t wear it for a few days. Auckland is a cool mix of old-school ideals mixed with modern ingenuity, and I enjoy the combinations: there’s an appreciation for the old, but a respect for the new. Whereas back in the states I feel like life is constantly moving forward and upward and never really reflecting on the past, life in Auckland has given me a chance to discover the history that’s being created today as well as yesterday and hundreds of years ago.

There are also things that will always be the same, no matter where you are. A couple of friends and I went to see a midnight showing of The Hunger Games, and waiting for the movie we hung out in a coffee shop for hours upon end, playing poker, spoons and hearts waiting for the movie to start. Good company, good food, and a good atmosphere are the same pretty much anywhere. (the annoyance that the coffee shop people felt for having four loud United States college students playing card games for a couple hours? also pretty universal) Pizza is still a solid food choice in any country. And the people. The people are the most important part. I hang out a lot with other US students in my IES program, but I’ve also found wonderful Kiwi friends from church and other campus activities of which I am a member. Whether Kiwi, American, British or German, there’s a kindness that transcends cultural difference, and I’m so glad to have found that out. Life is a little less lonely and a whole lot more fun with all kinds of friends around.

love, e

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