Being the token Brit, I might get some slack for this post (is that even something people say here? I have no idea). I moved to Edmonton, Canada in June 2014 and am here for the foreseeable future, giving me a pretty different perspective to my fellow Wandering Canucks. Despite racking up a fair few countries, I had visited North America only once – a trip to DisneyWorld aged 7. I had never been to Canada and had to get a map out to find Edmonton. Oh, the things you do for love…
After my experience living in Japan with a complete lack of shared culture or language, I was pretty chilled out about my emigration to Canada. ‘They speak the same language!’ I cried. ‘They eat the same food! We have the same Queen! (well kind of). How different can it be?’ No. No, no, no. How wrong I was. It’s been pretty interesting to see the differences between our two beautiful yet distinct countries – and this is something I’m continuing to discover every day.
HUGE DISCLAIMER: I am well-aware that I’m making massive generalisations here so please take everything with a pinch of salt!
I thought we spoke the same language?
Okay, so we say the same words – that much is true. And okay, I concede that I understand 99% of what is going on – something I have American TV and movies to thank for. I might not say everything, but I can understand it. What has surprised me however, is how little I am understood. I am from the South-East of England and have a pretty clear English accent (or so I thought). I hold my hands up and admit that I speak quickly and have a tendency to mumble but I thought I’d managed to get rid of that habit in Japan. In Canada however, I can’t tell you how much I dread people asking how to spell my name or what my email address is. A lot of people struggle to differentiate between my e’s and a’s – I’m nearly always Evia at Starbucks. And don’t get me started on idioms. Words/phrases I have had to stop using include: rigmarole, ‘going round the houses’, ‘having kittens’ and ‘taking the mickey’. I can’t get over the words ‘excellent’ or ‘cheeky’ too. I say them ALL THE TIME but realised that no else did. Ever.
Disclaimer: PLENTY of people do understand me and have no difficulty whatsoever, I’m just surprised with how many people do struggle.
Money – terminology
What is a loonie and a toonie? Where do these sayings come from? I’m sorry but I’m still clueless here. I constantly look like a tourist, trying to figure out how much money I’m holding. I appreciate that we say ‘quid’ for £1 in the UK but…still not clear on the Canadian terms. Ariel and Kait had to talk me through how much a dime and a nickel was and I once got told off by an old man serving me in a shop with a brisk ‘we say tooneys in this country not (cue disdainful look) 2 dollar coins…’ Sorry!
Clothing – casual rules
People tend to dress very casually here. Men wear jeans everywhere. All the time. In every situation. I’ve see people in bars wearing yoga pants. I appreciate that Brits are hardly the style icons of the world but it certainly surprised me in the different clothes people wear here.
Food (or more specifically – Poutine)
Guys, I want to love it. I do. But it’s just chips, cheese and gravy – standard drunk food in the UK too. I’ve heard it’s pretty magical in the East of Canada though so perhaps I should reserve judgment until then!
Domestic Travel Options are Limited 🙁
Two words – SO EXPENSIVE! Train travel in the UK can tot up pretty fast (try £4000 a year for a season ticket to London from my home town of Billericay – that’s a 30 minute train journey. Ugh). But we have the luxury of cheap flights across the country and across Europe. If you’re a savvy traveller, you can get return flights to mainland Europe for around £50/$92 CAD. I never thought I’d say it but… Ryanair/Easyjet…I miss you!
A lot of my friends and family are fascinated by the weather here. I get asked a lot about the cold but the Canadians are so geared up for it that…it’s just not that bad! Edmonton has an awesome pedway system, linking buildings with hallways of warmth. I can leave my office, go to the gym and visit the mall, all without going outside. Heating in my apartment building is also included in the rent price so I don’t think we’ve ever have the central heating off. It’s actually warmer than my home in England! You guys definitely have it sussed.
And the best part?
Friendly, kind people
I’d heard the jokes about Canadians apologising for everything but I didn’t appreciate how kind and friendly so many Canadians have been. I was face timing my parents on the bus recently, and was showing them my journey to the library (they love stuff like that…the everyday!) When the bus driver cheerily waved me off the bus and wished me a good day, they couldn’t believe it. It took me a while to take people on face-value and appreciate the sincerity behind their words. Canadians are so NICE! If someone asks how you are whilst serving you in England, I would honestly think they were taking the piss (just been told Canadians don’t say this…’making fun of me’? ‘bugging me’? ‘joking’? Doesn’t quite translate…SEE MY ISSUES!)
What things have surprised you about other English speaking countries you’ve visited? I’m going to ask Jenna to do a similar post after living in the UK – I don’t doubt we do plenty of surprising things!