chris vs. the arctic

chris: 72 // the arctic: 47

Contrasting Canada

[This is a bit of an interlude in my blog on my trip. I just had to write this now or everything would slip from my mind.]

My return to Canada, after a two-year absence, has been much smoother than I anticipated. I'm experiencing absolutely no "reverse culture shock" -- as far as I know. Nothing has really changed, and I expected that. However, there are a few subtleties to Canada that only a clean palette could detect:

1) The hot water is HOT. I nearly scalded my hands by running only the hot water tap to wash up. This is true of almost all taps I have used here. I suppose Japan just doesn't heat their water as much. Saves energy.

2) Bread grows mould. Japanese bread doesn't. Don't ask.

3) Canadians really do have an accent. And it's really thick. I have to focus, but I can clearly identify it. My family has a particularly strong variant.

4) The northern lights are really amazing. I have seen them a couple of times since returning to Yellowknife. I forgot how incredible they are!

5) We waste water. (This is more of a contrast to Australia than East Asia.) Just today, I walked into the kitchen to find the tap running with no one around. A few seconds later, my mom returns. I asked who was using the water and left it on, and she said she was letting it heat up. Australians would be horrified.

6) Canadians are more cosmo than I give us credit for. I was shocked at the average level of style in Edmonton and Yellowknife. Granted, it may be the money in these two cities, but it's not the dirty white sneakers and Warner Bros. novelty t-shirts I was expecting.

7) Generally, we're not that polite. I got my fair share of snippiness in Alberta. Again, this may be just Alberta, but I think it's everywhere.

8) Tipping sucks!! Asia and Oceania have it right -- no tipping, please.

9) The Canadian grocery store is a dream come true. I nearly fainted when I realised I could go to my local Extra Foods and buy hummus, old cheddar, plums, sundried tomatoes, steaks, frozen lasagnas, and a variety of leafy greens for cheap! (Now I'm hungry...)

10) Canadian beer can't be beat. High alcohol percentage and high taste. It was recently pointed out to me that there is something gravely wrong about Japanese beer. One pint can get you tipsy. A pint of Canadian beer (with comparable alcohol content) has little to no effect on your sobriety. The only explanation is that the chemicals used to preserve and 'brew' Japanese beer enhance the intoxicating effect. Scary thought.

11) 24-hour bank machines are simply amazing.

12) Debit cards are extremely annoying. (Oh sure, I'd love to wait in line a little longer while you input your pin to pay for that pack of gum...)

13) Completely uninhibited communication is pure joy. Of course, I had communication troubles in Asia, but even Australia and New Zealand held a few surprises. There were several instances where I had absolutely no idea what was being said to me "in English." Inserting subtle humour and sarcasm in a quick conversation with a cashier is priceless.

14) The words uttered from the mouths of Canadians are more often than not dripping with thick sarcasm. I occasionally got myself into hot water with both the Japanese and non-Canadian expats in Japan. Kari has had similar experiences in New Zealand. Oh, as well as Lauren in Australia. I think we all have to collectively tone it down. Yeah, right. (See!)

15) Canada is obsessed with pizza. And I love it!

These were the most apparent differences for me. Perhaps you have some of your own you'd like to share? Just leave a comment below. Thanks!

It'll be nice to return to Asia in a few years and see everything with a fresh perspective. I can't wait!
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On September 17, 2006, Blogger Shuichi said:

Woo, I'd like to see northern lights.    



On September 19, 2006, Blogger bullfighter6.2 said:

Was at Wendy`s this summer. There were eight people working behind the counter - all milling about. I stood there for five minutes while they organized themselves after their `break`.

When I ordered, the woman was staring at some far off car out in the parking lot. She literally slammed my burger into my bag, scrunched up the top and thrust it at me like a bag of poopoo she didn`t want anything to do with.

I couldn`t even begin to explain to the people I was with how blasphemous this was. How `bout a little bow? A nice chorus of `mata onegaishimasu!` as I leave the building? I mean, a fast food customer really does deserve the best.    



On September 19, 2006, Blogger Linea said:

no reverse culture shock, EH???    



On September 20, 2006, Blogger Sista K said:

sounds like you're in the deep depths of reverse culture shocku!!! gambatte!!    



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