Settling in Abroad

Now I know this may seem a strange topic for this week, but I have decided to take a look at the practicalities and normalities of living life abroad. 18 months ago, (today, ironically!), my plane landed in Canada and I have been living here since. Before moving here, I planned very little, prepared very little and just simply packed my clothes and moved here. Now, for anyone reading this who knows me, that’s kind of rare. Admittedly, whilst I have a tendency to be rather scatty and leave things to the last minute, I am also usually a pretty good ‘planner’.   I like to have at least a vague idea of where I am going and a time frame, what I’ll need and what I’m doing. Before I head somewhere, for however long or short a time, I like to take some time to read about local customs, traditions, clothing, food, etc. However, moving to Canada I didn’t really figure I’d need to know these, just assuming that as it was an English-speaking country most things would just be the same as home but a little colder and with a twang to the accent. Naive, huh?! But, in my defence, this is true in part — but I have also learnt a lot about Canadian ‘customs’.  Small things were realised

Apparently snow-walking was harder to learn!

pretty early on-such as generally not putting kisses at the end of a message-to anyone. (I find in England if you don’t receive said kisses, from girlfriends etc, it must mean they are slightly annoyed with you!) but replacing them with a smiley face for example.

But it’s more just an ever-growing list of things that I learn on a weekly basis, and gradually become so perfectly normal to me that when I go back to England, I wonder why no one is wishing me a good day, offering me free ‘pop’ refills or adding an extra ‘eh’ to the end of almost every sentence.

While my accent can help me in many ways when I accidently do the ‘wrong’ thing, all I have to do is make my accent a little stronger and claim absolute innocence to the rule and state that I’ve recently moved, it works amazingly!  But I think it can also hinder you somewhat, while it definitely causes a lot of intrigue, it also leaves you open to many a question and conversation you get stuck in. ‘Have you heard of ‘X’? No? Well, call yourself English do you’-you get the idea! Although, I have to admit that I did find it adorable how excited all the Canadians got about the recent royal wedding and quite how many times I got asked my opinion I totally forget!

 Tipping is another thing-never forget to tip — anyone. You tip your waiter, your taxi driver, your hairdresser, your Starbucks barista, your beautician — you name them you tip them! And if you don’t……

More recently I’ve certainly learned the more particular customs. In order to find a new house to move into, you have to pay the last month’s rent. In England, I’ve only ever had to pay a deposit…but maybe that’s just a student thing? I guess it’s made me realise that I still have a lot of learning and growing up to do, whichever country I am in.

Claudia Guest
A traveler all her life, Claudia was born in Germany and raised in England. She regularly visited various countries around Europe and the Americas, but it was when she was 18 that she really discovered her own overwhelming lust for travel. As soon as she finished school, she and two girlfriends backpacked through Italy, Southern France and Spain. Five months later she was back on a plane for a two-week sailing holiday in the Caribbean and a week after returning from that she was on another plane bound for Australia, where she traveled for three months, before going to teach English in Ecuador for four months. From there, she studied at university in England, traveled to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, and then headed to Canada on a work visa, where she is today. This summer, Claudia is working on a tourist cruise boat in Ottawa…yet constantly feels Asia calling her back. Try to keep track of where she goes- or just look up in the sky, where she’s most likely bound for somewhere new!

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