My theory of relativity

After a long hot summer, and no Autumn Auckland has plunged into an Antarctic deluge.

winter

Snow in the trees in Baughurst, that’s really cold.

Friends are racing around seeking out heat pumps and Merino sweaters, and I’ve resorted to putting slippers on. ‘Straight to winter’ they moan. ‘What happened to Autumn? It’s a bit tough wearing shorts one day and freezing the next.

It’s 15 degrees Celsius in Auckland at 3:30pm.

On my Twitter stream and Facebook Timeline from friends based in the UK there’s chirpy chatter about ‘burnt cheeks’ and ‘perfect May bank holiday weather’.

It’s 12 degrees Celsius in London right now.

Admittedly, it is the early morning there but still my Englishman was talking about taking his shirt off to cool down after working in the garden the other day, yet my smartphone app says it was only 15 degrees.

It’s all so relative.

Relative to what you’re used to and what you anticipate and what is ‘normal’.

My Englishman is preparing to move Down Under and the other day he said something along the lines of ‘NZ is so far away from everything.’ But if you live Down Under and you’re from Down Under you don’t feel as if you’re living upside down. You don’t feel you’re missing out, or you’re a long way away from the centre of the world.  After all, where is the centre of the world?

It was once Mother England and Europe of course and Antipodeans felt blighted by the tyranny of distance. 6 Months in a Leaky Boat they sang along with Split Enz. But it no longer takes 6 months to tune in to England, or the US or anywhere else for that matter. Yes it’s a long flight, but you can still still be in southern skies in 24 hours (days not months) and 21st century communication tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Skype mean that we are in touch with the rest of the world 24/7.

I knew about the bomb scare at Gatwick Airport before the story was published in the HuffPostUK. I heard about the Boston bombings – thanks to a friend in Qatar who posted it on Facebook – moments after they happened, and many hours before my friends and family in England heard.

We don’t feel divorced from the rest of the world, here in Auckland. In fact in many ways it feels as if we are more outward looking than we ever were living in Tadley in the UK. I wonder if that’s just because we are from here but I won’t know whether it’s the expat experience until my Englishman arrives.

Or is it all a function of how long you’ve been somewhere and whether you’ve integrated well?

A recent study into NZ immigrants from the Department of Statistics (reported in the NZ Herald) says that over 86% who have been in NZ longer than 12 years feel ‘strongly’ or ‘very strongly’ that they belong to the country; an identification that will promote their own sense of belonging here and contribution to society.

I wonder too if they get used to the weather and despite coming from places that really do have freezing temperatures during winter – literally – they rush around to find the slippers and merino the moment the mercury dips below 20 degrees, just as we natives do? I suspect they do. After all, it’s all relative.

Where is the centre of the world to you?