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Konnichiwa! Halo! Bonjour! Salaam! Hi!
By now I’m sure you’ve all gotten into the full swing of university life, having supposedly adjusted to unrealistic 8:30am lectures and navigated the minefield of myAllocator. Maybe you’ve gone a step further in settling yourself here and made contact with the locals.
If you have, a few cultural differences probably stood out immediately to you.
One common question: why do Kiwis go barefoot? And no, the answer isn’t that they are a special breed of particularly tall hobbit. People here just don’t see a need to follow the global status quo if it’s not comfortable.
Another baffler: “sweet as”. It doesn’t make any grammatical sense in English, Māori, or NZ Sign Language (the three national languages), yet it’s one of the most commonly used phrases. Many have fallen into this cultural trap. The more narcissistic of us think, “I know my ass is pretty sweet but did they really just say that out loud?” Humble people just smile and wait expectantly for the rest of the sentence — sweet as what? If you ever encounter this, ignore the “as” — it’s like the “h” in “chrome”, there but not really there.
Personal space (or the lack of) is also something people find different about NZ, with locals being more on the “touchy-feely” side. Handshakes are a rare occurrence; they do occur, but only after successful interviews. Hugs and back-slaps are the greeting of choice. So if you’re not into PDA be sure to perfect your high-fives. Although some people will ignore your raised hand and go in for a hug anyway.
To sum it up, Kiwi culture is casual. So get out there, have fun, make mistakes, and collect funny stories to tell your friends and family back home! Most importantly, just be you!