Discussion: Closer to Home?

135 Responses

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  • Sarah Horth,

    TBH, he really hasn't had too bad a time. He is quietly-spoken and self-deprecating, though, so tends to be a 'good fit' in NZ social situations.

    Mine is the same. Although I know he cringes when he ends up in group conversations that go on about 'bloody Americans'. It's quite funny when people realise he's one of them...'not like you, mate'.

    Mind you he thinks much of what happens over here is madness, that's why he calls NZ home.

    Seattle • Since Aug 2009 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Kimberley Verburg,

    @dc_red I came to NZ when I was 6 and trust me, I'm under no illusions about the "friendly" welcome immigrants can enjoy.

    Even so, NZ generally feels friendlier than a lot of places. Quite a few fresh off the boat Kiwis say hello to their new London neighbours, only to be looked at like they're insane, much to their bewilderment. Heck, just talking to shop staff is different.

    Can't speak for the current experience of non-white immigrants though, that's a different category and I'm not up to date.

    Leiden • Since Jun 2007 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Dinah Dunavan,

    'white' migrant with an 'American' accent

    According to the very young woman who sold my husband a pair of jeans earlier this year his accent was "sooo excellent". She was desperately trying to sound as if she was a valley girl. Fortunately for me, my man is not from the west coast and has never said "like, you know".

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    When we moved back to NZ my 11 yr old daughter announced that she wanted to lose her american accent before school started (in about 2 weeks) - she was a bit scared about the new place and didn't want to stand out - of course it drew people to her rather than set her apart and she was off to friends houses after school before the first week was out

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Fortunately for me, my man is not from the west coast and has never said "like, you know".

    Mine is from Houston, and says 'like, you know' almost constantly (as do I). I'm not sure how this happened.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Is anti-Americanism in NZ mostly of the Abbie Hoffman "America is John Wayne" variety, or the Colonel Blimp "Britain should never have lost the Americas" variety? I'd personally lean towards the latter, even if the Richard Prebbles of this world think it's the former.

    There's a third group that thinks America is run by the Elders of Zion, but thankfully they're little more than a lunatic fringe.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Good question, DeepRed.

    I got the sense, in Dunedin, that the Brits (at least the white ones) continue to be welcomed with open arms, while the Americans (and by extension anyone perceived as American) are to be snarled at.

    This was during the early-to-middle part of the Iraq War, which probably exacerbated anti-Americanism in New Zealand, but strangely led to no apparent ill-will towards Brits or Ozis, despite their thorough-going involvement in the Coalition of the Damned.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    It's a (misplaced, in my opinion) belief that New Zealand is a paragon of peace and environmentalism, a nuclear-free paradise, that gives license to criticise others. It bespeaks a significant lack of self-awareness, and a failure to critically reflect on New Zealand's place in the world. That is too much to expect from the woman or man on the street, but it is unfortunate when people who should know better endorse the sentiment.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    deep: Well because of my lingering accent I get a bit of this - I'd suggest it's probably the first - then again that may just be the circles I wander in

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Sarah Horth,

    Deep Red,

    I asked R what his experience is, and he doesn't think it is personal or that big picture. He thinks it is more about people's direct experience with the States. Your first entry is the LA airport hell experience - or if you haven't been, you just know it from its TV shows mostly dumbing down the world.

    And then there is the puzzled confusion over US extremes (in politics, in religion, about the constitution etc) that I know I get. Mind you most of the people I know here aren't like that, but it's interesting entertainment to watch.

    Seattle • Since Aug 2009 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I must admit I had a lot of "oh that's how it works" sort after I first moved to the US - a lot if it was trying to figure how much of my expectations of how things would work were based on TV/movies - for example accents were something I was wasn't prepared for - african americans really do talk differently - my first week at work I had to deal with a customer from Dallas - she had a broad Texan accent - said "y'all" - I'd assumed that people didn't really talk that way, it was some sort of code they used on TV to indicate a corrupt southern sheriff .... but they do ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    I myself tend to see America in perspective of the red-blue state divide.

    Most of us would be right at home in, say, San Fran or Portland or Seattle or Austin. And my brother's pro-Obama fiancée hails from Chicago.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I don't know about Austin - my only experience was a one day business trip that we finished by midday - we were stuck in suits in a rental with a failing AC - the only places we could find that were vaguely cold were the state capitol building and the LBJ library .... and eventually a bar ... on the way back to the airport we almost missed our flight because traffic was stopped because the road was full of hookers - it just didn't seem to be the cool place I know it probably is.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Is anywhere in Texas cool?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I do remember a student party at my flat in Wellington back in 2003 where the crowd was most Kiwi, with a bunch of Germans and 3-4 Americans - those of the latter who were up to discuss politics ended up surrounded by drunks furiously attacking Bush etc. It all ended on good terms but it must have been pretty weird to be on the receiving end of all that.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I think we can safely rule out Crawford.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    she had a broad Texan accent - said "y'all" - I'd assumed that people didn't really talk that way, it was some sort of code they used on TV to indicate a corrupt southern sheriff .... but they do ....

    Oh Paul. You could have just come to my house in Mairangi Bay in the early 80s to hear an honest-to-goodness person saying y'all and other southernisms. If you'd timed it for visits from relatives, there would have been an entire gaggle of people saying y'all!

    the red-blue state divide

    I think it's more urban/rural. Go to any biggish city in the US and you'll find likeminded people, even in the south. Go to any exurb or small town and you'll be surprised at how many rednecks you'll find. Even on the left or right coasts. Plus, given that most of my blood relatives over there live in an isolated town the size of my right buttcheek, which contains one petrol station, one Piggly Wiggly supermarket, and one diner (you have to drive for 30 minutes to get to a Dairy Queen or a Walmart. I am not kidding), I really do try to aim for the 'people are people everywhere if you just give them a go' thing. (Not that it always works, because sometimes what they think drives me *insane*. But... yeah.)

    Is anywhere in Texas cool?

    I know you were joking, but: yes. Emphatically. Even parts of Houston and Dallas. (Actually, I like the cool parts of Houston better than the cool parts of Austin, because people in Houston have to work much harder for the coolness. There are big gay communities in Houston and Dallas, too, which is always a good sign. And lots of ethnic areas in Houston - there's an entire Little Vietnam, with street signs in both English and Vietnamese, for example. And the southern folk art and rockabilly cultures are totally rad.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Sarah Horth,

    I think it's more urban/rural. Go to any biggish city in the US and you'll find likeminded people, even in the south. Go to any exurb or small town and you'll be surprised at how many rednecks you'll find.

    There's definitely that here. The Eastside (the Microsoft side) is seen as conservative. I have diehard Seattlite friends who refuse to go over the bridge to the 'burbs. It is often talked about with a sneer, that I thought was overdoing it, until I got cornered into that kind of ultra conservative discussion over there not that long ago.

    Seattle • Since Aug 2009 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Your first entry is the LA airport hell experience

    Thank Christ for Air NZ's direct Vancouver-Auckand route, I say (there's a reason they marketed it on the basis of avoiding US Customs and Immigration).

    Even if one enters through San Fran or Honolulu there's the animosity from Customs, plus the finger-printing and photographing, and the green form questioning about moral turpitude.

    How I would love for more countries to adopt the Brazilian approach and impose some reciprocity on American travellers.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    ...the thing about the NZ papers is that they cover everything...

    I missed that so much when I was out of the country! It makes it sound 1) as though we care about what happens in our communities, and 2) as if our problems are pretty small. And I like that!

    I think it also helps us keep things in perspective when Greg O'Connor or Garth McVicar open their mouths.

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Dinah Dunavan,

    Thank Christ for Air NZ's direct Vancouver-Auckand

    It is wonderful. We flew into Vancouver last month. Stepped off the plane, straight though customs and immigration and then sat in the sun for half an hour waiting for our ride. The crunch came, of course, at the border. All three of us, including the two US citizens had to go into the customs office and wait for me to be processed. There was a sign that stated that once we were in the room we were not allowed to leave and that there was no 'bathroom'. At least the immigration chappy was friendly and the delay was bearable. Anything is better than LAX.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Actually the West Coast US Immigration experience isn't really that bad - yes they treat you like cattle - largely because they never have enough people on duty - and yes they're a bit surly (but then we probably are too after 12 hours of airNZ) - a smile goes a long way in both directions - it's usually over in 10-15 minutes.

    To be fair I pass through 2-3 times a year so somewhere in their computer it probably says "he always leaves before his visa is up", and because I used to have a green card there's probably a copy of my (hopefully empty) police record - then again I don't look like the usual biz traveler - the ponytail and beard probably raise their BS detectors a little.

    The fingerprinting and photo I don't mind - but in my case they already have both of those on file already from 25 years ago - I'm not giving them anything they don't already have (and if you have an electronic passport you just handed them a copy anyway ....) - there's been some form of that green 'moral turpitude'/'have you ever tried to overthrow a government' (well I voted ...)/'are you a communist' (do Socialists count? what about little 's' socialists) etc etc form around forever - these days it's a joke almost a historical artifact from another age ....

    JFK on the other hand .... not my favorite place for US immigration ....

    One thing EVERYONE who visits the US should do - that copy of the green form they staple in your passport - the airline's supposed to take it when you check in to leave - sometimes they forget - if they do the INS thinks you're still in the country - don't go to the gates until you're sure the airline took it from you

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It all ended on good terms but it must have been pretty weird to be on the receiving end of all that.

    And pretty fucking obnoxious too. Weird as this may sound, on a previous trip to Australia I found myself defending Helen Clark because, you know, she might have been a bitch but she was my bitch and the lawful and legitimate Prime Minister of my country. Foreigners can just shut the fuck up if they've got a problem with that. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And this seems the best place for a home thought from abroad, but why the hell did I have to go to Melbourne to see an excellent Len Lye show at the ACMI? (The Dali show was a load of pants...)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Actually the West Coast US Immigration experience isn't really that bad - yes they treat you like cattle - largely because they never have enough people on duty - and yes they're a bit surly (but then we probably are too after 12 hours of airNZ) - a smile goes a long way in both directions - it's usually over in 10-15 minutes.

    My last experience was bewildering aggressive. In retrospect, I suppose the officer was suspicious of my freshly-minted passport and was attempting to provoke me into incriminating myself, but even when he consented to let me in he was needlessly unpleasant about it.

    Part of the problem is the US's draconian requirements for journalists seeking to enter the country -- you need a commissioning letter and you're not eligible for the visa waiver programme. I had a B1 visa, but he still couldn't grasp that I was going to a conference.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

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