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Welcome to Canada

I haven't had much time to blog lately because I was busy moving all my stuff to Canada. I'm finally here and starting to get settled a bit, so I thought I'd write about the culture shock, or lack thereof. Here are some differences and similarities between Canada and 'merka.

Differences

  1. In Canada people aren't very outwardly patriotic. You don't see Canadian flags plastered all over everything in sight. In the US there's a flag everywhere you look.

    Winner: Canada. I don't really need visual reminders of what country I'm in.

  2. US: Dollar bills. Canada: Dollar coins.

    Winner: US. You can't make origami out of coins.

  3. Sizes of fountain drinks at fast food places are vastly different. I got a "medium" at Tim Horton's and it was smaller than a typical "small" in the US. My wife says she ordered a large drink at McDonalds in the US and had to send it back because it was too big.

    Winner: Canada. Maybe this is one reason Canada has such a low level of obesity. Does anyone really need a liter of Pepsi with lunch?

  4. In Canada there's French all over everything. In the US there's Spanish all over everything. I find they appear in almost equal amounts between the countries.

    Winner: Draw. In BC you don't need to speak French, so I don't plan to learn it. Same with Spanish in the US.

  5. Canada is metric. Temperatures are in Celcius and speed limits are in km/h. The US is Imperial.

    Winner: Draw. Unit of measure for non-science purposes is a pretty arbitrary choice, so who cares?

  6. I have a queen now.

    Winner: Canada, because it's a still a novel concept to me. But most people in Canada don't really care about the queen, from what I can tell.

  7. In Canada they put vinegar on french fries.

    Winner: US. Seriously, come on now.

  8. Everything is way more expensive in Canada and there's lots of sales tax. Example: gasoline is $1.10/liter (over $4/gallon). In Oregon it was always $2-something per gallon. On the other hand, everything is clean and there's cheap universal health care and the social programs seem to keep crime down.

    Winner: Canada. What good is cheap gas if you're dead?

  9. They spell things strangely up here. Favourite, colour, centre.

    Winner: US, for our far more efficient use of vowels.

  10. My bank card for my Canadian bank can't be used as a credit card. Haven't seen that in the US for a decade or two.

    Winner: Draw. Almost everywhere in Canada takes debit cards anyways. Plus they have little portable debit machines so you can pay at your table in restaurants.

  11. No one owns guns. I have yet to fear for my life since I've gotten here.

    Winner: Canada. I imagine crime still sucks in the big cities, but here on the island it's nice.

  12. Most people in Canada seem to keep up to date on US and world news. People in the US don't even remember that Canada exists most of the time.

    Winner: Canada. Thanks for being educated.

  13. The last letter of the alphabet is now "ZED" instead of "ZEE".

    Winner: US. The alphabet song doesn't even rhyme if you say "zed" at the end.

  14. Gay marriage is legal here. Relatedly, there isn't a church on every street corner and I have yet to meet many overly religious people. Censorship on TV and radio is way less. I actually saw a TV show with "atheists vs. religious people" testing their IQs via trivia questions. You would never see that in America.

    Winner: Canada. The US can DIAF in this regard.

Similarities

  1. Drivers suck in Canada as much as or more than they suck in the US. Speeding and passing on the right without turn signals seems to be a national pastime.

  2. TV is mostly the same (i.e. not worth watching). There are mostly the same channels as the US other than Canada-only ones like CBC.

  3. Walmart and Starbucks are still everywhere. But so are Tim Horton's and Canadian Tire.

Honestly things aren't that different up here. Sometimes I forget I'm even in a new country, other than the streets being clean and everyone being polite all the time. It's been a good move.

April 12, 2010 @ 3:29 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants
Tags: Canada

14 Comments

Tim
Quoth Tim on April 12, 2010 @ 5:12 AM PDT

Glad it's going well. Timmy Ho's is a blessed place. Keep up the blogging! I enjoy it.

RiouJ
Quoth RiouJ on April 12, 2010 @ 5:22 AM PDT

Hi, I'm a curious french guy who's looking your blog (from the larrycow planet). It's really intresting to see your look about canadian people because it's a little mix of french and northen american people. I hope you'll enjoy your new life. French culture isn't that bad ;)

« In Canada they put vinegar on french fries » : hmm, sometime, strange things happens. I'll be warned for my trip over there, thanks !

PS : sorry for my bad english, I'm not used to speak it in my daily life.

Jason D. Moss
Quoth Jason D. Moss on April 12, 2010 @ 7:49 AM PDT

Welcome to Canada, eh!

I mostly agree with your comparisons; except the vinegar on fries part. Mmmmm... good!

BC is a beautiful place to live, so long as you get into mountains every now and again.

Alex
Quoth Alex on April 12, 2010 @ 8:08 AM PDT

All the language stuff you've mentioned is right how British English is different to US English.

No offense, but it'd be better for everyone if there was only one English. The British one.

Brian
Quoth Brian on April 12, 2010 @ 8:40 AM PDT

I sampled Timmy's muffin-based breakfast sandwich yesterday. It met with my approval.

@RiouJ Your English is way better than my French, so don't sweat it.

@Alex: Right, but Canadian is more like halfway between British and American spelling. Overall I'd say it's closer to American (not surprising, since we share a border). Wikipedia says some other words and pronunciations are uniquely Canadian.

And then there are all of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dialects_of_the_English_language

Daniel Jomphe
Quoth Daniel Jomphe on April 12, 2010 @ 10:17 AM PDT

I was surprised about the vinegar-on-french-fries thingy.

In 29 years of living in Quebec (Canada), I've remarked less than 5 people having this habit.

Brian
Quoth Brian on April 12, 2010 @ 10:46 AM PDT

@Daniel, it's everywhere in BC though. They bring out a bottle of vinegar in restaurants when you order fries and then people pour it all over. It's horrifying.

Nicole
Quoth Nicole on April 12, 2010 @ 12:55 PM PDT

Technically it was my dad who ordered the drink. A small would've even been too big for me.

At least vinegar is better than mayonnaise.

Wesley
Quoth Wesley on April 12, 2010 @ 3:43 PM PDT

Vinegar on french fries is disgusting. I am not sure how you can survive up there.

Bleys
Quoth Bleys on April 12, 2010 @ 11:54 PM PDT

Rebuttals:

US: Dollar bills. Canada: Dollar coins. Winner: US. You can't make origami out of coins.

You also can't wipe your arse with dollar coins, which is about all that "singles" are good for.

In Canada there's French all over everything. In the US there's Spanish all over everything. I find they appear in almost equal amounts between the countries. Winner: Draw. In BC you don't need to speak French, so I don't plan to learn it. Same with Spanish in the US.

But at least here, French is an official language.

Canada is metric. Temperatures are in Celcius and speed limits are in km/h. The US is Imperial. Winner: Draw. Unit of measure for non-science purposes is a pretty arbitrary choice, so who cares?

Metric is a clear winner. Everything's split up into natural units. 100 centimeters in a meter, 1000 meters in a kilometer, 1000 milligrams in a gram. Base 10 is natural to work with. None of this archaic imperial 12 inches in a foot, and Christ knows how many feet in a mile because the only way is rote memorization instead of using a logical system.

I have a queen now. Winner: Canada, because it's a still a novel concept to me. But most people in Canada don't really care about the queen, from what I can tell.

Some of us care.

In Canada they put vinegar on french fries. Winner: US. Seriously, come on now.

I don't. Canadian != lunatic. Yes, there are some who live here, especially out west, but that's like saying all Americans are black because there are a few black people in the US.

They spell things strangely up here. Favourite, colour, centre. Winner: US, for our far more efficient use of vowels.

Officially, yes. I use the British and American spellings interchangeably. I consider "colour" to be correct, but still spell it "color" most of the time.

The last letter of the alphabet is now "ZED" instead of "ZEE". Winner: US. The alphabet song doesn't even rhyme if you say "zed" at the end.

I think "zee" sounds childish, while "zed" sounds correct. It's all what you're used to.

Gay marriage is legal here. Relatedly, there isn't a church on every street corner and I have yet to meet many overly religious people. Censorship on TV and radio is way less. I actually saw a TV show with "atheists vs. religious people" testing their IQs via trivia questions. You would never see that in America. Winner: Canada. The US can DIAF in this regard.

Meh, we still have people who will try to convert you, just not as many of them. The next time somebody asks me if I've found Jesus, I'm going to say "You fucking lost him?"

PB
Quoth PB on April 16, 2010 @ 5:32 AM PDT

US: Dollar bills. Canada: Dollar coins.

Winner: US. You can't make origami out of coins.

I differ: As a nickname, "loonie" > "buck". And then, by extension, you get the "toonie".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loonie

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_2_dollar_coin

Further, you have to give props to Canada for actually getting the dollar coin to work / be accepted. Whether or not you favor the physical construction, at least the program to introduce it was actually effective.

(Hmm, on the other hand, maybe the U.S. dollar wins both on shear number of nicknames and on associated nuances of meaning.)

R Glen Cooper
Quoth R Glen Cooper on April 16, 2010 @ 10:41 AM PDT

The top five Canadian banks have always been profitable, everybody has cheap health insurance (basically free), and higher education is among the world's best. But the U.S. remains pre-eminent in high tech and is still the best place to start a business.

$1 coins are really nice - you can stuff them in your car's coin dispenser, for example.

CKC
Quoth CKC on April 17, 2010 @ 6:11 AM PDT

Agree with most of what you said, but I can't say that I'm too enamored with Timmy Ho's, from one time I went there for coffee and a sandwich. Then again, maybe I just had an isolated bad experience, so I should probably give it another shot.

Gerry
Quoth Gerry on June 07, 2010 @ 6:53 PM PDT

Cool comparison. I´ve neither been in USA nor in Canada. But after reading your list - Canada would be my winner. So, for what all the guns and who needs 1 l Pepsi? But a queen would be nice... =)