Friday, February 09, 2007

Back to Work

The summer holidays are over, and school has started up again. I'm back at work. It's weird to have this all happening in February instead of September. I may never get used to it.

Being away from work for 2 months over the summer meant that I forgot my passwords (There are 3 different ones for various library systems). I couldn't remember my morning routine at work as I open the library, turn on the lights, turn on the computers, etc. Every morning I seem to forget something different. I even forgot to feed the fish.

One bit of excitement for the library staff was a box of chocolate given to us by an English teacher. This assortment was the expensive kind and even came with a diagram showing which shape represented which flavour. I love those. We 4 librarians decided to each eat one chocolate every day. Since it was the inaugural day of the box, though, I proposed that we each eat two this time. Lucy seconded the seconds. We ate two. At the end of lunchtime, Barbara sealed the box with a label and wrote her signature across it, to try to make sure I didn't eat any more. (I arrive at the library every morning at 7:30 and am all by myself for the first 90 minutes so I could - in theory - eat extras during that time and nobody would be the wiser.) Still, I couldn't believe they didn't trust me! I told Lara and Lucy what she'd done and said, "Can you believe it?" They responded, "Yes." When I got home that night, I told Curt what Barbara had done. "Can you believe it?" "Yes."

Later that week, I encountered a good example of the British influence on New Zealand society. We were discussing the news that Prince Harry was going to serve in Iraq. They were all worried about him and concerned for his safety. I said, "He's just the second son. They'll still have William." Well, that elicited a horrified response from everyone which included loud gasps and statements such as, "You're so American!" They said it good-naturedly, and clearly kidding me, but there's an element of truth there. Of course, they went on to explain that it's commonly believed that Prince Harry's real father is James Hewitt, with whom Diana was having an affair. Apparently Hewitt is a redhead and so is Harry and most people believe that Charles isn't Harry's real father. This was all news to me.

Another example that happened this week was when Lara was trying to describe a certain student: "She has dark hair cut in a bob." Nobody knew who she was talking about yet. "And she looks very British." Suddenly EVERYONE knew who she meant. What does one look like if one "looks British"? Apparently, it means one has pale skin. Looking British is not a description that we would use in America, but everyone here certainly knew what it meant!

I also learned 2 more pronunciations this week:
• Mocha is pronounced mock-a, not moke-a. I told Curt to make a note of that for the next time he orders a coffee.
• Furore is the NZ spelling for furor, and is pronounced fyer-or-ee. I'd seen the spelling but didn't realise it was pronounced differently until I head someone on the radio say it. I learn something new every day.

It's nice to be back in New Zealand where my brain is constantly stimulated by Kiwi pronunciations, words, and culture. When describing this aspect of living abroad to an old friend in Bellingham, she pointed out that most people would find so much newness exhausting. But no, I still find it exhilarating.

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