normal.

18 Jun

  Sun          Mon       Tues     Wed      Thurs      Fri         Sat          Sun
RainRainMostly CloudyChance of RainChance of SnowChance of SnowPartly CloudyChance of Rain
 
 
This is the weather for my last week in Christchurch. I am thinking of heading south, paying homage to the Scottish stronghold of Dunedin. The problem is, the further south you go, the colder it gets.
 
I am eternally skeptical of every Kiwi that claims a ‘cold’ winter. In my mind I instantly pull up a side-by-side comparison of a wet, 40-and-50-degree discomfort to a rip-your-face-off wind and 5-foot snow bluffs in Walmart parking lots. Then I picture my resident Alaskan, John, laughing and stroking his fisherman beard at the whiny-ness of my lower-forty-eight woes.
 
Nevertheless, this claim of ‘winter’ got me thinking. There are millions of people that celebrate Christmas on the back patio in t-shirts and sunglasses. The same people take January trips to the beach and pack park picnics for lazy Saturdays. Fellow Northerners, I know, this sounds weird. But, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, this is your normal.
 
Normal, eh? This is the idea that sells the study abroad pitch. The experience of a ‘new normal.’ The patient observation, then participation in a culture you do not and will not ever own. To inhabit the foreign, trying to put on the eyes of the native. Moving into the neighborhood and saying ‘hello’ or ‘hola’ or ‘guten tag’ or ‘Kia Ora.’ We crave to shed our tourist mentality and be a cog in a machine that isn’t ours.
 
Whether it’s a rainy winter, an unexpected ‘u’ in colo_r, or that sacred time of day known to some as ‘afternoon tea’, I have had the privilege of taking the kiwi normal for a whirl. The good news is, I survived…
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