We arrived in New Zealand a week ago today. It’s been a busy week — we picked up the car, opened bank accounts, got a NZ tax ID, found an apartment, moved in, got our belongings, met one of my new coworkers for coffee, unpacked and purchased most of the miscellaneous household goods you need to set up life in a new place.
I start work on Monday and today is Saturday so it is nice to have the weekend to relax. And along the way I couldn’t help but notice and, to be honest, revel in the number of people in Auckland who weren’t wearing shoes! When I was in New Zealand last June to visit, we drove by a school and I was dumbstruck to note that the kids in the playground at recess didn’t have shoes on. And then later in the day we saw it again at a different school. When I asked Robert about it, he said that it is pretty common and that the kids don’t usually wear shoes in elementary school. I was fascinated. Surely he was kidding? I couldn’t imagine the parental uproar that would come if schools in he U.S. suggested kids stop wearing shoes. Don’t their feet get hurt? Isn’t it unsafe? Is it sanitary?
And now, after a week of living in New Zealand I am even more fascinated by it because it isn’t just the kids. The guy behind me in the line at the bank, no shoes. A man standing in the aisle in the grocery store, no shoes. Random people walking down the city streets and kids walking to and from school, no shoes. Kids in the mall, no shoes. Kids in the grocery store, no shoes. I’m not sure why I find it so odd. Maybe because I both love the idea (I never have liked shoes after all) and at the same time it makes me uncomfortable. And maybe because it’s a reminder that for all Auckland feels so much like Seattle in so many ways, I really did move halfway across the world and things are different around these parts :-).