Acting like a local

I thought it was time for a quick lesson in how to become an authentic Canadian. So here follows a brief guide on successful assimilation into the land of Canada.

  1. Speaking fluent Canadian

You make think that going on exchange to an English-speaking country is an easy option but I kid you not, you need a translator

Terms for everyday objects are very different. Here’s a short list of the main words with translations that you will need to learn:

English                           Canadian English

Pavement                       Sidewalk

Street                                Block

university                       school

Rucksack                         Backpack

Rubbish                           Garbage

Dinner                              Mac ‘n’ cheese!

Good                                 Awesome/sweet

Hello                                 Hey (said in a deep slow drawl)

Trousers                         Pants

Party                                ‘Kegger’

student land                  ‘the ghetto’

Jumper                            Sweater (they do not have a clue what a jumper is, and use sweater interchangably for a jumper, long-sleeved top or t.shirt)

chips                               fries

crisps                             chips

holiday                          vacation

tea(what I call dinner, maybe this is a northern thing?!) confuses them like mad, my housemate thought I was going to get a cup and saucer out and have afternoon-tea.

Any more I think of I’ll make sure to add in future posts! Don’t worry!

Also, the vowels in words are very different, for example, ‘vague’ rhymes with ‘Prague’. In lectures when they kept mentioning something was “vaaaarrr -g”, I thought ‘argh it’s more theory I don’t know’ till I realised what they were actually saying.

The frequent use of ‘awesome’ for stating something is good

This sounds a lot simpler than it actually is. Many simple, you can’t go 2 mins without hearing the exclamation. And if you happen to crack a joke be prepared for the phrase “oh, that’s so funny’.

2. Dressing the part

During the winter in order to become one of the gang, and crown your status as cultured and fully integrated foreigner, you need, I repeat need, a Canada Goose coat. A Canadian-made coat, with a coyote fur trim hood, and white duck down filling, oh so warm and equally the height of fashion. You have one of these and your in.

Also you’ll require at least one item of Canada clothing i.e. a fleece, or gloves with the words Canada emblazoned across them with a maple leaf for added patritotism. Add to this an item of Queen’s apparel and you’re in the super league.

But to fully fool those Canadians into thinking your one of them, as soon as the sun comes out in February, just wear a t.shirt and shorts outdoors, ha minus 10 temperatures, so what, it’s warm, and the sun is out, can’t you feel the heat! Some mad people seriously do just wear t.shirts, I have no idea what they are made of.

3. It’s all in what you do

  • Go to ‘keggers’ – house parties in which barrels of beer/lager are readily available, on the door pay a fixed fee to enter and drink as much as you want – just remember to bring your own glass, else you’re not going to get a drop.
  • sit on the front porch of your house – may sound very romantic and twee but make sure you’re sitting actually on top of the front porch i.e. reached from the 1st floor windows and that you’re sitting on your couch from the living room.
  • throw a house party, but hold it on the roof
  • BBQ – each house has a BBQ on the porch. When’s best to grill I hear you cry, well the later the better and during the winter. sub -10 degrees, no problem, get the burgers on the BBQ, pronto.
  • Go to Tim Horton’s at least once a day, you’ve got to get your caffeine fix.
  • Join 16 clubs at school (uni) and still have time for studies?!?! baffled by this one!
  • exercise frequently – your goal is to have the body of an adonis – the students here look like they have stepped out of an American teen sitcom.
  • following this, jog jog jog, and jog everywhere- again don’t worry about your face being froze off in the winter just get out there – you foreign wimp!
  • buy a skateboard, roller blades or a bike – the modes of transport and make sure you ride/skate in the middle of the block, weaving your way up and down, waving and shouting at the guys sitting out on their front porches
  • Hang a Canadian or Queen’s flag outside the front of your house
  • say ‘vaaarrr-g’ as in “Prague”, you know you want to!

In a strange way as well, being on exchange you can create a completely new you. For example, I have blonde hair and pale skin and people have confused me for a Swede (no not the veg), Polish or Danish and with my accent people think I’m from Australia, New Zealand or Ireland. So, with different friends I have different alter-egos! The chance to briefly create a foreign version of yourself even if it’s just for 5 mins is very funny.

So, those are some of my top tips so far in my Canadian adventure and I’m sure I’ll be adding more in the future.

On a different note, I caught sight of someone else’s blog mentioning homesickness and I have to completely agree it’s hit me hard the past few days. I think it’s partly the fact that the work-load is mounting up and I’m thinking arrgh! However, I’m not missing the place just the people and the chance to actually “see” them, there is only so far that skype can help alleviate this. I’ve found that throwing myself into work and renewing my efforts to be more involved in campus takes your mind off it and you can ride out the wave, as such.

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