It’s going to be a long winter. I mentioned before how most houses here are built to a horrible standard, without insulation and all, right? Well, it’s not just the houses.
I’m sitting here in my office, in an office building in Napier center, it’s 2:00 pm, and I still have my coat and scarf on. The little oil column radiator has been churning away since 8:30 this morning, and if I’m lucky, in an hour or so it’ll be warm enough to strip down to just my 2 undershirts and wool sweater. And then half an hour later it will be time to go home.
… have you set up a bank account in your new country?
Most Americans living overseas should know that the US requires all citizens to file a yearly income tax return, regardless of the country they’re living in. Well, that deadline (April 15, the same as for… patriates, is that a word?) is long past, and I’m glad to tell you I successfully accomplished filing that return in time.
But there’s another deadline the US Treasury has that is fast approaching. All US citizens with a foreign bank account that exceeded $10,000 at anytime during the year must tell the US gov by filing an FBAR. This must be filed by June 30 of the following year. And every year thereafter that the account meets the requirements.
Just one of those random expat things that most people don’t know. But now you do.
Coming here, I’ve always known there would be a time and place when someone I knew from back home would get very sick, or hurt themselves or worse, and I’d have to deal with it from very far away. I was warned to consider this pretty seriously by other expats, and did, and decided to just handle it when it needed to be handled.
Living in another country is very much a little mermaid tale: Lots of good things, if you can handle the knives in your feet.
Tonight, I got the bad news that an old friend of mine has died unexpectedly, and let me tell you something: I have completely underestimated how nasty and helpless it feels to be on the other side of the world when something like this happens, surrounded by people who didn’t know my friend, who can’t even place Indiana on a map.
Please, go hug someone you know today. Get together for the coffee you keep promising each other.
I’ll consider myself warned. It hadn’t come up before this. I’m sorry for your loss.
I mentioned the lack of insulation and central heating, right? Did I mention the fact that the all of the windows are singled-paned (called single glazed here)? Combined with the lack of central heating to dry the air out , this causes quite a condensation problem. There’s all sorts of physics involved, but the end result is me, toweling off the windows every morning to try to avoid a condensation problem from becoming a mold (called mould here) problem. I think it’s a futile battle.
You may think, “Surely New Zealand winter can’t be worse than New England winter.” But only 1 day into the official winter season here, I can tell you that it is worse. Worse to live through, because though it doesn’t get as cold here outside as it does in Boston, it gets way colder inside. In the States in winter, most people set their thermostats to what? 60° F at the lowest? Maybe 55°? But during the day, most are probably upwards of 68°. Here most houses have virtually no insulation, and no central heating. So when it’s 40° outside, it’s 40° inside. Which is really frickin’ cold.
Today is a holiday. It’s called Queens Birthday. Apparently, the Queen of New Zealand is the same as the Queen of England. We get a day off work today for her birthday, though the actual current Queen’s birthday is really in April.
According to New Zealand’s Ministry for Culture and Heritage, New Zealand has two national anthems of equal standing, one of them being “God Save the Queen”. I’m a big fan of national anthems. I’m not an especially patriotic person, but I love the Star Spangled Banner. I love the tune, I love the words, I love the story behind it, and I love the passion it invokes. God Save the Queen is a pretty lame anthem. It is far surpassed by New Zealand’s other anthem, God Defend New Zealand. It gets bonus points for being sung in both Maori and English.