In Australasia the word “root” as a verb has a very different meaning to how we understand it in the rest of the English-speaking world - and not one to be used in polite company.
Jamie Baywood learned this the hard way when she arrived in New Zealand from California.
At 26 she had headed Down Under on a whim after reading that the country’s population had 100,000 fewer men than women. “I had some bad dating experiences in California,” she explains.
She found herself in a number of bizarre situations, including the language misunderstandings, which she has collected into a book, Getting Rooted in New Zealand. She remembers vividly mentioning to a male flatmate that she was struggling to get settled in her new home. When she announced: “I’m looking forward to getting rooted here,” it elicited a splutter of disbelief and the response: “Are you trying to hit on me?”
She worked in a series of low-paid odd jobs with eccentric and sometimes dodgy colleagues and bosses and lived in run-down housing, but there was a happy ending, though, when she met the man who was to become her husband. “I went to see in the New Year in 2010 at the firework display in Auckland Harbour and heard this amazing accent in the dark,” she recalls.
The accent was Scottish and belonged to a friend of a friend and they hit it off instantly and the upshot was they got married in Scotland in 2012 and are now in Sheffield studying art.
He is called Grant in the book which is not his real name, but then it turns out that Jamie Baywood is made up too - “it’s the combination of my first dog and the street I grew up in.”
“All of the stories in the book are true stories, but the names of some individuals and organisations have been altered for privacy,” she continues.
“For the most part, my book is aimed at making readers laugh out loud. I do not consider myself as a representative of America, nor do I consider my book a representation of New Zealand. It’s an instant, honest reaction.
“I had good, bad and weird experiences there. There have been a lot of situations in my life where I had two choices: laugh or cry. I have decided to laugh. My life has been so strange it sounds like fiction, but it is really too weird to be made up.”
The self-published book is available on Amazon in paperback and eBook.
A trained artist who has just completed an MA in Design while living in Broomhill, Sheffield, Jamie has designed the cover herself.
She is giving a talk on Monday evening at Sheffield Central Library.
“There will be door prizes, author signings, a Q & A and a chance for people to talk me about my book,” she promises.