Thursday, 18 March 2010

Beautiful New Zealand


'The World English Dictionary'.

I failed to think about the fact I was going to be living as the 'foreigner' for six months before I left for New Zealand. It's not that I look out of place, or act out of place, or have different cultural/religious views but the main thing that has shocked me is the different language we speak. 

Obviously the British and New Zealanders main language is English but I was not aware that alot of the time it feels like we are speaking different languages (not even because of the bad English on my part!). This is furthered by the fact that I am around many Americans and other Europeans alot of the time, and for example if I am in a conversation with someone from Chicago and someone from Auckland, we could literally all by talking about something completely different. An example of this was just today we were trying to pin our hair up with 'kirby grips' (in my terms), but 'bobby pins' to the American and 'hair clips' to the Kiwi. Long story short but this resulted in two of us buying the same hair pins to come home to two of us already owning them! We can literally barely go a sentence without someone having to question at least once what another is talking about!

Despite the fact this becomes a tad annoying (especially when in New Zealand they use the American way of spelling and believe it is true English) it proves the question why do we have these differences and why are we so reluctant to change our ways? Yes, it is to do with tradition, the age of countries, the power the country has, the people in charge of that, not forgetting us accepting this is how things are even if change is beneficial.

 Yes, it would be an immense amount of effort to change the way people live you could call it, to change all highways so everyone drives on the same side of the road, to completely start again with currency so every country is 'equal', not to mention the arguments that would occur going through each dictionary and choosing each word that is going to be exhibited in 'The World Dictionary'!

I don't know what difference this would make to the world or the people, if it would benefit or simply confuse every one of us. It is like changing the way we live to benefit people for generations to come. When this is said it is impossible not to think about the environment and how we are trying to 'save our planet'! Our little changes of recycling, using less packaging etc is hopefully going to save our world one day, but really what we need is a complete redesign, similar to creating one dictionary for each language, and a redesign of our brains. If this 'World English Dictionary' for example sounds out of this world, how does the thought of taking cars away from every country for everyone... surely that would help global warming a tad..

Just an idea.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

What makes a new home to you?

What makes a home?

Kelsey (Colorado, US) - 'Now that I can go for a run outside on my own, Wellington is my home.'

Kimberly (Scotland) - 'I've got a nice blanket on my bed and scrubbed out the fridge. Sorted.'

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

People watching

People watching - something most of us find ourselves doing, sometimes subconsciously and sometimes embarrassingly. People are intriguing. Human behaviour and reaction is a natural part of us and each individual is unique in such ways.


Now that I have a chance to people watch for a valid reason, unlike usually sitting on the pavement glaring at peoples’ ripped Converse and wondering how these women are coping in the 6inch heels they’re sporting, which is my usual position. Ok, so I am intrigued how people move, why they move and how they use the space they are in. This is important as it creates an atmosphere, whether good or bad, it creates mood which affects the people in this space, ultimately reflecting on the people and their lives.


My new home. It is a kind of space I have never experienced before. A building of 9 floors, full of young design students adjusting to new life away from their home comforts. Everyday I am hit by the same situation when I enter the building – to wait for the lift or use the stairs? How long will it take? 90% of the time my impatience takes over and I walk, but no-one else ever seems to. Why would people rather wait three times the amount of time to stand with a stranger and induce an awkward silence in the lift on the way up the two flights of stairs?


I may have looked like a creep but I took this opportunity to get my camera out and investigate. I have created myself a new project to look at human behaviour and how individuals feel and react in situations of forced intimacy, concentrating on stairwells mainly, but also elevators. I sat at the bottom of the lift in the entrance hall and did a site analysis, filming moments of quietness and students waiting in anticipation, calculating how long it took their patience to run out before they decided to take the stairs. Let’s just say I am extremely inpatient!

The conclusions that I came to were as follows:

1.     1. These young people seem to be (on the whole) comfortable in their own skin. By this I mean that they are willing to stand in silence with a stranger for a longish period of time, in a confined space, without appearing nervous or uncomfortable.

2.    2.  People are lazy.

3.     3. They are not too bothered about the health benefits walking can have.

4.     4. But, more importantly, elevators force people to interact. It encourages people to make eye contact, talk to one an other, and if the conversation is ‘successful’  it has to be concluded, which usually in our culture is done with arrangement of a date or meeting. Therefore this leads on to contacts being made and networks being built.

5.     5. This also suggests that when people are determined (that is to take the lift and not walk in this case), and they are in a situation with a stranger of sorts, we can form relationships with people we would not usually do. Of course this is generalisation but on the whole it did result in chatting.

I am still investigating this with different variables, including senses, in a different building, in a different country (if someone wants to try it in Dundee feel free!), and on the stairwell (which so far has had similar results), so more thoughts to come..

This is some of my research so far: