What's it like to live and train with people from around the world in a foreign country? Awesome is what it is. And hilarious.
I laughed for about five minutes when this post popped up on our group Facebook page the week before my Adventure Guide Internship started in Queenstown New Zealand.
Fast Forward to New Zealand...
Everyone arrives stumbling into the sunlight outside the Queenstown airport, exhausted from 20+ hours of travel, stunned by the Remarkables mountain range, a bit nervous, and overwhelmingly stoked to get started.
We know we’ll be training with people from all over the place – a couple of Americans, a few from Europe, and some token Kiwis. We have stereotypes in mind whether we’re aware of them or not. Will the Americans be loud? Does the German drink loads of beer? Are Kiwis as crazy as people say?
We spend the first couple of hours getting a feel for each other, confirming what we thought would be true about each other and reevaluating what we didn’t expect. The German likes to drink beer, but the American does more…the guy from Great Britain doesn’t drink tea… we are all terrible at hacky-sack.
We quickly learn to understand the differences in language. Several of our teammates are translating their thoughts to English on the spot, so sometimes they don’t make any sense at all. We love this – it makes for heaps of jokes right off the bat and fast friendships. Those who speak English as their first language learn to stick to a topic and make logical transitions in conversation, a difficult feat for a few. We start saying ‘thank you’ in German, saluting Crown and Country each time we reach the summit of a peak, and try desperately to pronounce sounds completely foreign to our native tongues.
We are asked by more than one person ‘how on earth we all fit together’ as we climb and hike our way around the South Island. We laugh and joke we’d make for a great sit-com, and the punchline for ‘a German, a Frenchman, and an Englishman walk into a bar…’ is always lingering above our heads.
We learn about each other’s homes, about big cities and villages with one intersection, filled with people from all over and the same families for hundreds of years. Taking turns cooking for the group each night, we make our favorite dishes, from country specific classics to long-held family recipes. When a shooting in the United States rocks a few of us, we all come together in support and with empathy, just as we do after unexpected political shifts in Europe affect another. We become a family here in New Zealand, thousands of miles from home. We’re never far from a hug or a bad joke and it quickly feels like we’ve always known one another.
- Kaylee Pickett, Adventure Guide Graduate 2017