Posted by: scribe9 | November 25, 2009

Newcomers and dress codes

Last night Rick’s boss hosted a dinner, at a nice Thai restaurant, for several members of his department and their significant others. The boss and his partner (a woman—every significant other here is a partner, gay or straight, married or not) came here from Germany about five years ago. An English couple has been here almost four years. The other guests were an Icelandic couple, who arrived here a month ago, about the same time we did.

The German and English men both wore shorts, and the women wore casual jeans. Both Rick and the Icelandic man wore dress shirts and slacks, I wore a not-too-casual knit top and cords, and the Icelandic woman wore a somewhat dressier black top and pants, with a necklace and bracelets. Clearly those of us who are new here had not yet gotten the message of just how informal the dress code is.

The other day Rick handed me an email from one of his colleagues about WINGS, the Women’s International Newcomers Group Social. I haven’t rushed to join it, because it seems as if most of the people I meet here are expats. Part of that is being connected to the medical profession; the country has to import doctors because so many home-grown ones go off to the greener pastures of Australia or elsewhere in the Commonwealth. And part of it is simply that this is still very much an immigrant society.

So far, the only New Zealanders I’ve met outside of church have been through business. The Englishman warned me not to expect my neighbors to come visiting. Christmas is coming: we ‘ll be brash Americans, introducing ourselves and our cookies to them.

NB–The English couple lived in Mildew Towers when they first arrived, and they didn’t stay as long as they could have, either–which is to say, they moved out almost as fast as we did.  The Englishwoman wondered whether the egg cups she had purchased were still there. Nope, no sign–but plenty of large plastic serving dishes.



  1. Mildew Towers…is that like a South Pacific Fawlty Towers??

    • Never having seen Fawlty Towers, I don’t know–but what’s towering about it is the mildew smell, because it’s just a cottage, only one storey.

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