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Putting Dorothy and Oz in context

December 8, 2009

For a short time at least, there really is no place like home. The familiar sounds and smells associated with past youth, the mannerisms of people you claim to be a part of , and the language you know inside and out.

My friends back in New Zealand have often lamented about their lives which revolve around work, money, houses and family — begrudging the freedom I have. But the truth is, sometimes I begrudge them. Their stability, their security and their ability to settle when I find it so difficult to do.

Travel doesn’t appeal to everyone, the very idea of travel can give people cold sweats and nightmares, yet it can also take on an addictive nature sending people off onto wild adventures, creating restlessness among those who attempt to settle down.

No matter how much or little travel I do, there really is no better place than home whether it’s old or new.

For the next two months I’ll be in New Zealand, a place I’ve never stopped calling home even though I’m seldom there. It’s a place I know I can let my hair down so to speak, and forget about the cultural differences, language problems and miscommunications I experience while travelling. It’s also place where I won’t be having to hand out hundreds of dollars in entry visas, filling out application forms,worry about overstaying, worry about hygiene, get annoyed with rip off taxi drivers, or fret over my personal security. The list is long.

Most of these things usually occur in cultures completely opposite to mine: religion, politics, language and traditions. But, sometimes unfamiliarities happen in countries where I’m part of western thinking and speak the same language.

Talking past each other

During my stay in the US I’ve encountered words that have set me into fits of laughter or confusion because my thinking differs.

White or dark meat?  – this one took me a while to figure out that people were not trying to be P.C. but were talking about the type of meat on poultry.

Cream – I still don’t get this one. Milk is milk, cream is cream but when did cream become milk?

Biscuit vs scone – a scone looks like a biscuit and a biscuit looks like a scone in the US.

Furlough – I do roll my eyes whenever I hear this word, hoping that one day soon, the US government will modernise its English.

Delinquent tax or fine – same as above

Lucked out – the opposite to New Zealand’s meaning. I keep forgetting this one.

Food and drink

It has to be said American’s love meat. I’ve seen sandwiches with more meat than bread, steaks that fill the plate and supermarket packs that cater for dinosaur appetites. Compared with New Zealand, food is cheap and portions aren’t.

Sloppy and soppy – I have learnt to say no dressing, no sauce, no pickles, no extras so I can eat something that isn’t dripping with sauce.

Supersize – another one I’m still working on, small means large and large means super large.

Fruit cake – I’m confused at how this wonderful tasting cake has ended up being a sticky toffee nightmare in the US.


Apart from several trips up North and out of the US, most of my time was spent in Florida. It is a unique state where the average age is above the national speed limit, where zimmer frames and wheelchairs are fashion accessories, and I’m forever young looking.

I have learnt to control my attitidue when a pushy, grumpy, aged person cuts in cue, takes fifteen minutes to order a coffee, or decides to get stroppy with security guard at the airport.

Flat flat flat – I love mountains and hills, enough said.

Hot and bothered – I knew this state was hot but didn’t expect it to continue right through the year. It is difficult to surpress the polar bear in me.

There is no place like home

It may be an old worn phrase bordering on being a cliché, but there is no place like home. At least for a short time until my paperwork is complete and I can pack up the remnants of my former life and move back to the US on a permanent basis. Then I’ll be ready to tackle the language and food barriers, heat and elderly, in order to call it my new home and enjoy it with a special person in my life — Joe.

photographer unknown (via Metzio)

Where I am now

By the time you read this I’ll be in New Zealand. I’ll be in an out of internet access during the next two months, but hope to be posting on Tuesdays and Fridays, bringing you some good insights from New Zealand.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. December 8, 2009 4:35 pm

    I hope you enjoy your two months back at home!

  2. December 8, 2009 9:54 pm

    I enjoyed your observations, Cate, and look forward to your posts from “home”. Best wishes!

  3. December 9, 2009 1:48 pm

    Great article summing up most of my thoughts about travelling, as you usually do 🙂 Have a great stay in NZ and the best of luck to your new home 😉

  4. December 10, 2009 12:25 am

    Have a wonderful time at home. We’ll look forward to Tuesdays and Fridays then. 🙂

  5. December 10, 2009 1:39 pm

    I love your comment about food size! 😉 being a Brazilian who lived in the US for years, it´s was also something very different from my country. I got used to it… and when I moved to Spain I thought I was in miniature land! ahahaha my fridge was smaller, portions were smaller, everything!
    I recently came back to my country and know very well the feeling of being back home after so many years. THere´s the honeymoon phase, the reverse culture shock phase, the irritation phase, the boredom phase and then back to honeymoon phase… a fun rollercoaster ride! 🙂

  6. December 10, 2009 9:52 pm

    Hi everyone thanks for your nice comments and loads of smiley faces!!


  7. December 13, 2009 4:01 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean by cream becoming milk. Are you talking about coffee? When Americans refer to cream in their coffee, they actually do, literally, mean cream. If they’re trying to be “good”, they’ll have Half n Half, which is half cream and half milk. (So basically it’s extra fatty milk). You can generally ask for milk though, which is a relief as I don’t like the oil slick that forms on the top of my coffee when I have cream.

  8. December 13, 2009 4:01 pm

    Oh I also meant to say – have a great time in New Zealand. I’m looking forward to these posts. I really want to go to New Zealand – once I have my driving licence!

  9. December 14, 2009 9:46 pm

    Caitlin, thanks for the explaination on the cream/milk confusion. I have found that the “cream” thing depends on who I speak to. Some mean milk and some mean cream like the half half one. Then again it could be just in Florida. I found translation was easier in Chicago and NY.


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