First Impressions: Blogger Carmen Huter on what surprised her about New Zealand
Carmen Huter moved to New Zealand from her native Austria to study business English, only to see the school go bust.
Surprisingly, she stayed and has since become a successful travel blogger and Instagram star, showcasing New Zealand to the world.
Now based in Auckland, the 23-year-old has also lived in Wellington and Christchurch and travels up and down the country whenever she can.
Here are five things that have surprised her most about her new homeland:
Maybe it's because we're so far away from everyone else that we have to be tolerant of, or even nice, to those around us. Or perhaps we're just enlightened. Huter still hasn't worked out just why it's the case, but she's convinced New Zealanders are world champs at being open-minded and inclusive.
Our hotchpotch food
That inclusiveness stretched to our cuisine it seems. Huter said she was surprised to find that Kiwi cuisine isn't "very particular" but rather "a little bit of everything" with influences from all over the place. Which sits fine with her. While she said you wouldn't bat an eyelid if you saw sushi in a Chinese restaurant in Austria, she's been very impressed with the authenticity of many of our eateries, whether they're focused on Europe, Asia, the Pacific Islands or elsewhere.
The startling scenery
Like most visitors to New Zealand, Huter was expecting stunning scenery. She'd seen Lord of the Rings. But what really amazed her was how different it is in different regions. She got to see the snow-capped mountains and fiordlands the silver screen had promised, but she'd never expected white sand beaches. We're certainly happy to accept her theory that the varied landscape is a reflection of our complex characters.
How well-travelled we are
Given the relatively few number of Europeans who have braved the long-haul flight to New Zealand, Huter said she was surprised how many Kiwis had travelled to her part of the world, and overseas in general. Big OEs aren't at all common among Europeans, she noted, as people tend to take short, regular breaks to other countries (usually nearby ones). While she misses being able to pop off to Italy or Spain, say, for less than your average monthly mobile bill, she believes nothing beats an extended trip that gives you the time and freedom to get to know a place properly.
The New Zealand Dream
While Huter said it's hard to get anywhere in Europe without a stellar education, she said Kiwis have a much more relaxed attitude to the notion of "required experience". She has found that people are much more willing to give others a go and that it's possible for anyone to achieve their career goals if they're willing to put in the hard graft. Even in the often competitive realm of social media, Huter said Kiwis are good sorts, always willing to help out and share ideas. All in all, New Zealand has provided her with the perfect platform for being able to live out her philosophy of "seek, do, love".
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