My feet have officially had it with walking everywhere! I have blisters and hot spots all over. So now I have to get really creative about getting around in shoes that won't kill the rest of me (namely my back - oops, too late!!) and that my tootsies can actually also tolerate. I think I'm reduced to "jandals", which would be flip flops. Crap. I am such an out-of-shape soft-footed wuss. But other than that I am a "box of fluffies"! Bronwyn is picking up catching me with Kiwi-isms right where Bruce left off with American-isms! What exactly are fluffies?!
I am getting a bit more into the swing of things at work. Some things are very much the same as in the States, and then of course other things are totally different. Health care being the biggest, and most overwhelmingly positive, difference. Perhaps most Kiwis might not agree that their health care is that great (and I found that in Finland as well - where the health care is probably the best in the world), but coming from the States, they really don't know what bad health care is. I practically started crying when I asked Bronwyn about the funding for services and she looked at me completely cockeyed. She said, genuinely confused, "Oh, no. There are no fees...?... That is not even a consideration...." And to fill most prescriptions is NZ$3. NZ$3!!! Yeah.
Also, we have two psychiatrists on our team. They are so laid back and "normal" that I accidentally confused them with social workers. There isn't a slightest sense of elitism or pecking order regarding titles... The doctors (who I have never heard be referred to as "Dr. so-and-so" yet) have time for anyone (especially clients) and have the most natural, warm disposition. In fact, Bronwyn had Mike (the doctor) run after a client after they left their keys behind! I was having fun trying to imagine doing that in the States! I'm sure those individuals exist there, but I sure didn't run into any in all my years dealing with medical doctors. (Sorry if I offend anyone, just my experience, that's all....) Also, no-one has their diplomas, licenses or other miscellaneous certificates on the walls here, just jokes and funny posters.
Everyone is also consistently calling their spouses or significant others "partners". Everyone. Civil unions (= gay marriages) are every bit as legal as heterosexual ones. And since everyone uses the word "partner", it actually does what it was intended to do - include everyone and allow for and respect diversity. I used to always have a feeling that "partner" was code for "they're gay", because no-one else used the term (at least 98% of the time they did not) - and using it became just another way of "outing" someone.... So in the end I never knew what was the best.... Here I've actually corrected myself a few times when catching "husband" slipping out of my mouth. Not that anyone has told me it is bad form or considered improper to use it - it's just not what I hear people saying.
It is kind of interesting arriving in this land of my dreams (and that of many others) and getting right to the heart of troubles though. I knew it would be, seeing as I am a social worker after all. I found that when I arrived in the States 16 years ago, it took me roughly seven years to come to understand the country more or less "inside out" (as much as one can anyway) and to know that along side the "American Dream" there was a whole different side to the story. I think that adjustment here will be far shorter. On one hand I wish I could have been afforded more of a honeymoon, but I suppose on one hand I'll have a far more realistic view much faster. Oh well. The overwhelmingly gorgeous outdoors will keep me feeling like a "box of birds"! (Can a box of birds really be that comfy and happy though?!?!)