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
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.