It’s the 50th county I’ve spent time in and I was pondering on my way over how I was feeling about that.
It’s been a few years since I travelled abroad thanks to covid so I was definitely feeling out of practice. So I could have chosen to feel anxious.
But 50 countries is quite a lot, so I could have chosen to be the cynical, world-weary traveller that’s seen it all.
But pretty much immediately I noticed the differences:
- The fluency with which everyone uses the indigenous language. Remarkable.
- The frequent, full focus on nature as something to value, honour and preserve. Excellent.
- Kindness seems to be firmly part of the National identity. Every individual we’ve met has treated us like family.
- When your morning tv presenters talk comfortably about their same sex partner and every advert uses Māori and English interchangeably the sense of inclusion is hard to ignore.
- And the notices in the loo. Yep. No directives about where to put used loo paper, or angry looking ticks and crosses on pictorials. Instead, ‘In New Zealand it is customary to put toilet paper in the toilet instead of the bin‘ Engaging, educational and respectful.
So before I even left the airport, my mind was made up. The attitude I’m choosing is curiosity and as a result I’m delighting in the subtle differences I’m spotting and I’m learning rather than just looking.
You don’t have to go overseas to make a decision about the mindset you’ll adopt every time you face something new (even if you think you’ve seen it all before).
Decide how you want to respond.
Whakatau koe, It’s Māori for you decide.
Anxious, cynical or curious. Up to you.