Tuesday, August 16, 2011

13. Somewhere you’d like to visit.

As I said in a recent post, I am absolutely dying to visit the USA. I've always had a thing about New York City because it just looks so unlike anywhere I've ever been. But really I want to go absolutely anywhere; the big touristy cities and attractions, middle-of-nowhere hick towns, highways and dirt roads and mountains and everywhere! For the above picture, I did what I often do on lazy Sunday afternoons- dropped myself into random blue streets in random outlined states on Google Maps. So far I've never managed to Streetview anywhere in the USA that doesn't look like somewhere I would like to see.

The lovely Caitlin commented on that recent post that I'm probably not missing much having not yet been to the USA, and that New Zealand looks so pretty. And she's right, I know that, New Zealand is a beautiful place. But I know there are quite a few Americans who read this blog (largely because I mostly read American blogs myself) so I just thought I'd attempt to explain why the hell I'm so eager to visit somewhere which is just home to so many of you.

Growing up in New Zealand is all I've ever known. I only left the country for the first time last year, and that was for a week-long trip to our neighbour Australia (three hour flight). According to Wikipedia, 90% of the world's population live in the Northern Hemisphere, so even allowing for the possibility of Wikimisinformation, there's not a huge amount of people living down on this half of the planet, and there's a significant amount of ocean between each land mass. New Zealand is seriously isolated, and traveling further away from the country takes a lot more planning and funding than driving across a border.

As you're hopefully aware, especially following my previous post, Southern Hemisphere seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere. It's winter here now, and when Christmas rolls around it'll be heating up into summer (according to the calendar, anyway). Christmas means barbeques and beaches and sunburn time in New Zealand, and yet our Christmas stores are full of snowflakes and snowmen and icicle lights. We play all the universal carols about hot dinners and cold snow, often while sweat is rolling down both our foreheads and beer bottles.

I grew up watching Postman Pat and Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney the Dinosaur and Disney films, and later Coronation Street, Friends, and a hundred other examples of imported entertainment. Even if all the kids in my class were speaking with a mumbly Kiwi accent like myself, the majority of characters on screen were British, American, occasionally Australian. We have locally produced TV shows and films too of course, but to me they were definitely the exception growing up. From what I've observed, most New Zealand kids (girls, anyway) go through a phase during adolescence of trying to imitate American accents. We start idolising the high school teenagers we see in our entertainment, and of course we start wanting to speak like them too. American accents are definitely the 'norm' on screen, and we've come to cringe on the rare occasion a New Zealand actor opens their mouth. In everyday life, you don't notice the accents of those around you, but for some reason when you filter a local with pixels, their voice becomes so embarrassing.

Of course the benefit of having so much overseas influence is that New Zealanders are pretty knowledgeable about the world. Maybe our idea of 'overseas' has a brilliant Hollywood glean, but primary school children can point out different continents on a globe, and we all have a pretty decent knowledge about who-comes-from-where. With a population of around four million people and a recorded human history going back only a few hundred years, our education system would get very boring very quickly if we kept to learning about the happenings within our little islands. (I could launch into the impact of our export economy, but I don't want to bore you further, nor show my relative ignorance about business).

I'm generalising a lot here, of course I am. But the older I get the more people I know who are venturing off overseas, and nothing gets peers envious like a Facebook announcement about a trip to the USA, nothing. * What I can't really explain is why America appeals to me so much more than Europe or Asia or anywhere else- I'd love to go all over the world too of course, but other countries just don't make my eyes glaze over for daydreaming in quite the same way.

In summary, I'd compare my feelings about the USA to loving a famous actor who has played the same character for a long time. You've seen them on screen so often you feel like you know them, and coming face to face with them becomes the ultimate dream. You know they might look a little less stunning in person without the airbrushing and stage make up, and maybe they'd even be a total jerk and disappoint you completely. But that doesn't make you want to meet them any less.

* On that note, my friend Renee is currently on an amazing adventure overseas, and I'm insanely jealous. If you're curious to read her (amusing, I promise) thoughts on a city (possibly) near you, go ahead and follow her blog now. I'm not totally sure about her itinerary, but she's currently in the USA, and eventually she'll end up in Scotland.

If you're interested, there's also a great blog on our local news website from a Kiwi living in Boston, that you can read here.


Lauren said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

She's coming to Scotland? Yay!
I'm going to New York in April. I've had Americans say to me how lucky I am to live in Europe because I'm so close to Paris, Barcelona, Rome etc. I've been really lucky and been to a lot of places.

Another Diamond Day said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I 'd love to do a road trip to the US once! Have been to NYC once and loved that city! x

nova said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I'm also very interested in NYC, because I've seen it on SO MANY TV shows and movies. I just want to experience it, and see if it's what I think it's like or not.