Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Zealand: Now you know! Part III

At long last, readers, we've reached the exciting conclusion (at least for the time being) of our informational series "Getting to Know New Zealand."

Q: Are the seasons opposite from those in North America?

A: Yes, NZ summer is roughly November-January, winter is roughly June-August, and so on. The school year for students at Chris's university runs from February-November.

Q: Weird! So does that mean you'll have two winters back-to-back?
A: Basically, yes. It sounds nicer to think I'll have a sliver of spring and a little dose of fall in between the two winters.

Q: What does "Kia Ora" mean?
A: From our friends at Wikipedia: Kia ora is a Māori language greeting which has entered New Zealand English. It means literally "be well/healthy" and may also be regarded in a more formal sense as a traditional greeting of "Good health." It is used for both "Hello" and "goodbye" and as a general exhortation or acknowledgement when listening and responding to a public speaker.

Q: What is the time difference over there?

A: Normally NZ is 18 hours ahead of EST (Georgia time). They observe daylight savings time on a slightly different schedule, though, so that fluctuates by an hour for a few weeks each year.

It is easiest for me to calculate by thinking that they are six hours behind, but one day ahead. For example, if it is Wednesday, 6 pm in Atlanta, it would be noon on Thursday in NZ. For pacific time, it is 3 hours behind, one day ahead (i.e. 3 pm Wednesday in Vancouver is noon Thursday in Dunedin).

Q: How will I be able to contact you?
A: I'm keeping the same email address, and I've recently gotten into Google instant messaging. Chris and I have talked almost every day at no cost through IM or by using Skype. I'll also get a cell phone, though I have no idea what it will cost to dial it from North America. Chris got a very reasonably priced international calling card in NZ, so that will help us make conventional phone calls to you guys. And you can always find me here, my darling readers.

Q: Is it true that the toilet flushes in the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere?
A: I'm told this is true, and that it has something to do with the magnetic pull of the poles . . . or something. Unfortunately, when I was down there, none of the toilets I used seemed to swirl. They had more of just a giant "whoosh" of water that seemed to shoot straight down the bowl -- kind of like an airplane toilet -- so I can't say I observed this myself. (After a while, I started feeling kind of deranged, eagerly staring down the bowl of each new toilet, and I abandoned the experiment after a couple of days.)

A friend of mine was very disappointed with this story when I explained it to her. She cleverly pointed out that I should have filled up a sink and watched it drain to see if the water swirled in the opposite direction. You will be glad to know, dear readers, that I have added this to my list of things to do upon arrival.

Q: Who are those child molester-looking guys in the photo?
A: New Zealand's sensational musical/comedy duo "Flight of the Conchords." (individually, they are Bret Mackenzie and Jemaine Clement.) I adore them and have developed a rather unhealthy crush, though Chris does not seem threatened.

They won a Grammy this year, and they've now got a show on HBO, descriptively named "Flight of the Conchords." You can also rent it on DVD if you don't have HBO. Watch it. It's funny.


Anonymous said...

Is it true you carry a photo of Jemaine's lips in your wallet?

- elizabeth

Anonymous said...

YAY NEW ZEALAND!!! Yay Shana for the blog!