I never thought I would ever move to a different country, but then I went through clearing to get into university. That also meant I changed my course, and I decided to pick a course that included studying abroad for a year. Fast forward from August 2015 to April 2018, and my study abroad year is almost over.
Just because we speak the same language, does not mean there are not any differences, because let me tell you, there are!
Food and Drinks, because you simply can not except to get the same. If you want decent chocolate, then get your parents or friends to ship you over some Cadburys, or if you want a proper tea (or green tea) again bring some with you, or get someone to send you some. Yes, you can get both in Canada, however they do NOT do either very well. Cadbury Dairy Milk, or even Creme Eggs at Easter are just weird, and I would tell you to probably avoid at most costs. On the other hand, if you are missing cheesy chips, then opt for Canada’s signature – Poutine. It’s basically cheesy chips and gravy. You will either love it, or hate it – a bit like marmite. Oh and while we are on the subject of actual meals, they don’t do Roast Dinners either. I mean they try bless them, but I like a good Yorkshire Pud, and thick gravy. Oh, and if we are talking about food, subways are literally everywhere, with Starbucks, and of course the Canadian National Treasure of TIM HORTONS. Go try out their bagels, as they are decent.
Traditional British Sayings is something that you will find weird, when Canadians find you weird for saying them words of phrases. For example, ‘put some welly into it’ – yeah they didn’t quite understand. Or in an orange their are pits in them, NO not in Canada they are seeds. They also don’t quite get the words ‘tea’ as in for dinner (and I’m from the South of England, and I still use the word / know what it means), or ‘craic’. They also don’t really seem to have much banter either. However, they are really friendly humans, they just don’t tend to always know what you are on about, but they also have some weird sayings of their own as well.
Tax HONESTLY HATE THAT TAX IS NOT ADDED ON TILL YOU GO UP TO THE TILL TO PAY. I have now been in Canada for nearly 8 months, and it still bothers me when an extra amount is added on at the till. One moment you think you are getting a bargain, then next moment is like ‘Oh shit, that was more expensive than I originally thought’. The same goes in the U.S as well.
Distance, because after all Canada is the worlds second biggest country. Canada is very vast, and even if you think somewhere is close, it is probably a good 1 to 2 hour drive. Toronto is ‘close’ to Peterborough, as in its an hour and a half drive, or just over two hours by their shitty transport link. Oh and yes, their train systems are poor and over expensive, so it’s either driving or hopping on a greyhound which tends to be your cheaper option. Also, the flight time between Toronto and Vancouver is 5 AND A HALF HOURS, and because their are only 3 airlines, flights are not exactly the cheapest in the world. While we are on that note, most people I know who live in Ontario have never even been to B.C or Alberta, simply because it is too far and too expensive.
Weather is something that I was already expecting to be different. When arriving in late august, through to near enough the end of October, the weather was incredible. Hot sunny days, where you could swim in the river, walk around in shorts on your way to lectures, enjoy ice cream outside (but of course no alcohol, because that is illegal to drink outside without a permit). The winter, is however a lot worse than the UK. It is currently the 17th April, and this past weekend their has been an ice storm, and a good foot of snow. It even snowed today. However, we have had some ‘spring’ like days, and I did miss the awful cold spell over Christmas, but I did experience -30 in Ottawa, and let me tell you that is something I NEVER want to experience ever again.
The Outdoors is something that is more appreciated in Canada – whether that is people skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating on frozen rivers in the winter, or swimming, canyoning, or going on hikes in the summer. Yes, we have a great outdoors in the UK, but people don’t tend to use it as much, which is a shame.
So what is similar then?
Apart from both speaking English, there are quite a lot of similarities which really do make you feel at home. To be honest, the food isn’t exactly different, and you will probably eat similar food if you are buying the food yourself and not living off of a University Dining plan. Alcohol, is more expensive, but you can get the same brands. The culture is similar, however Trent University does not exactly have the university / student culture as what it is back home, they just seem very anti partying, and even the pub shuts at 9pm, and does not open on the weekends.
Canada is similar to the U.S and to the UK, it just depends on where you go, what you want to do, and how much you get out of it.