Legal Aliens: From Ireland, France, England, Australia, Italy, Belgium, Czech Rep., United States, and Finland with love
For those that we do not speak to all that often, you may not know what actually happens in our day to day life, or what our day to day life is actually like. We live in New Zealand now, did you know that? Christchurch to be specific. Its an interesting place that Christchurch, it had some pretty heavy duty earthquakes a few years back and the city is still very much in recovery mode.
One of the many after-effects of living in such a city at such a time is exorbitant cost of living. We have figured it out now, and it is starting to improve, but to get by on a single income with three kids has been a challenge to say the least. To offset this hardship, we have taken to renting out rooms in our home, and none of the twenty or so people we have had live with us have been Kiwi, we were about to have our first today, but he changed his mind. So, here is an ode to living with citizens of the world whose lives have crossed paths with ours for whatever reason, and in general, we are so much richer for this having happened.
When we first started letting people live with us, we did so on the sly, as we were ourselves renting, and were not sure our rental company would approve. In the end they did and all was well and good, but for the first little bit, it was a bit stressful. Our adventures though, begin with Janek our friend from Ireland, he here for economic gain for just three short weeks while away from his temporary home in Queenstown, while he tried to sort out being able to live legally in Australia with his then girlfriend. He is now in Wales, so that is how that story ended. As per a previous post, Brynn fell in love with Janek, and was quite distraught when he left us just three short weeks later. At the same time as Janek, we also rented out a room to a couple from France who were not far removed from living in Quebec, and had plans to someday return, though I dare say this may not be the plan now? From Sylvain and Erika we inherited our Honda Odyssey, which they will be happy to know is still going strong and has had many south island adventures with us. Sylvain taught me a great deal about photography, and these three lovely people all together shared with me my first "night on the town", that was a lot of driving around looking for a place to happen, and while it didn't happen the way we thought it might it was good times nonetheless. You guys will be happy to know that CHCH does actually have a bit of a pulse now, and down-town is showing signs of life!
We have since seen Janek and Sylvain on various return visits through CHCH, and I am still in touch with all of them, and one year and a bit down the road, we are four people in four different countries.
The next batch of roomies are just a small footnote in our journey. Danny and Ryan from England moved in after having toured the north island, and with impending plans to travel Canada in 2014, and Emma from Tasmania took over Janek's room. Emma was doing Earthquake repair work, and was the one room-mate we had that didn't really workout as we had hoped. Dani and Ryan were meant to stay for much longer than they did, but were unhappy with their job situation and moved to a place closer to their new jobs, which is too bad because for the brief time we shared together we really enjoyed their company.
As luck would have it though, one of our longest term room-mates and among the best friends we have made in Christchurch soon replaced both rooms. Into the couples room moved Thomas and Laetitia from Belgium, and Jonas from Italy into the single. Thomas is here working on his Doctorate in biochemistry and so he and Laetitia will be here in NZ for about three years. They have since found a place of their own, but we were their first point of contact in New Zealand, and Stephanie and Laetitia have become very good friends. We see them often and they have engrossed us (though Stephanie more than myself) with their board game addiction. It is safe to say that these two are likely to be fixtures in our lives for years to come, especially if we remain in New Zealand for any significant amount of time.
Jonas was one of our favourite house mates. He cooked amazing Italian dishes, and was a good hiking/biking partner for me, though we didn't get out as much as I would have liked. During the days when I was at work, he and Stephanie would wile away the afternoon playing Settler's of Catan, and he got on amazingly with the girls, who referred to him affectionately as Mr. Jonas.
We had a nice little extended family set up with Jonas and the Belgians. Jonas would cook one night on the weekend, Thomas/Laetitia another, and Stephanie on another, in this way we had family suppers every Friday Saturday and Sunday, these were often quite epic if we also happened to be hosting any couch-surfers. We frequently had dinners where we were representatives from four or five different countries/continents, eating on yet a different continent. Moments like this were valuable for many reasons. The cultural exchange highlights the amazing smallness of our world, and was good exposure for the girls. Also, any amount of homesickness, or loneliness we may have been feeling was offset by the international community of wanderers we had established in our homestead.
It was a sad day when all of these people departed our household, but international good times soon resumed with our second set of English housemates Diana and Shamoon, and into Jonas's room Jan and Zuzana from the Czech republic. This was by far the busiest our house ever got, and despite having only one bathroom for house with six adults and two children, things worked amazingly well. Jan and Zuzana happily crammed into a room meant for one person on a bed meant for one, they were nearing the end of their New Zealand tour, and were just trying to make some extra spending cash to finance the rest of their trip. We shared a Christmas and New Years in the park together and learned much of Czech culture, and customs. Diana and Shamoon were here for work, though for Shamoon it never quite worked out the way he had hoped and he ended up doing unskilled labour. A work shortage forced both them away earlier than they had both anticipated and our girls were both gutted, as they were hugely popular with both Aurora and Brynn, with Brynn quite famously hoping she had enough money in her "wow-let" to afford a plane ticket to "Lip-poo" where Diana lived. I think Diana and Shamoon enjoyed their time with the girls as much, if not more than their time with us.
France returns to the household with Sophie and Aumeric, they too like many before them were doing the one year working holiday thing. I cannot say I got to know these to very well, there was a bit of a language barrier and they kept to themselves, but they were nice and friendly, and Sophie was quite a talented artist and left the girls each with some lovely drawings. On the heels of these two quite literally was Taylor an American from Georgia, she and Stephanie got on really well and shared a common love for My Kitchen Rules, and wine I am quite sure.
As I write this, we are just getting acquainted with Piaa and Julien, to absolutely crazy hikers from Finland and France respectively. they have just hiked 1300km through the Canadian Rockies, and are cutting short their stay in New Zealand to return, from the pinnacle of new Zealand Summer, to Alaska in the pinnacle of North American Winter! If that is not crazy enough, while here they plan to do the Souther leg of the
Te Araroa, the world's longest walking trail which stretches 3000km from North to South. Needless to say, they like to hike.
We are nearly to the end of our journey of flatmates here in CHCH, but I would have to say our time here has been defined by a chaotic household that has somehow worked. Not just with the flatmates, but also our active hosting of over 120 Couch-surfers in a year and a half from all corners of the world. We have made some amazing connections, and have learned much of the world outside of our beautiful island. You might say we are crazy to have so much community in our house, and it is a at times frustrating, but mostly it is amazing and helps to keep our world small, and any possible bouts of homesickness to a minimum.
Happily married to my beautiful wife Stephanie, and proud father of three beautiful girls, Aurora, Brynn and Clara. Master student, working in South America as a Social and English teacher: writing when I find time.