Tuesday, February 2, 2010

8 Things I've Learned After 8 Years Living in America

The Olympics have always stirred my Canadian pride.  Normally I have little interest in sports but seeing a Canadian wearing a medal of any color just makes me even prouder.  So today, I was talking with my students and I began to think of how different it is here in America, how different I see things now and what I've learned during my time here.  Without further ado, here are the 8 things I've learned after 8 years living in America!

1. People don't appreciate what they're born with.  I grew up in southern Alberta, and spent summers running through the coulies oblivious to the rattle of snakes in the tall grass.  Winters were filled with snowball fights, sledding and skating.  Each summer we ventured out to Waterton National Park and wandered through Red Rock Canyon.  I loved it but never really appreciated it.  But when I moved to Texas my favorite thing in my apartment was a large framed print of the prairies.  I finally realized that I never enjoyed Alberta for what it was; a diverse and beautifully sculpted landmass (the largest rat free landmass in the world).  What really proved this point to me is the massive number of people I met who had grown up in Houston, yet had never taken the 45 minute drive and seen the Gulf of Mexico. 

2. As large as it is America is still small town USA. Okay, so not all of America!  But definitely the south. Houston is a huge city, yet the people you meet are friendly and accepting.  And no matter how much of a rush you're in, everybody else is moving at their own speed.

3. Canadian bands are better down here!  In 1998 I paid $50 to see The Tragically Hip in concert at the Edmonton Coliseum.  I sat in section 325, row 27 seat 15.  Gord was the size of my pinkie finger.  Great concert, but nothing compared to seeing them in a bar with 100 other people, so close he was practically sweating on me as he moved spastically. That I paid $20 was just an added benefit.

4. Americans think all Canadians speak the same. I've tired of hearing a-boot and eh?.   I'll admit to the occasional eh?, but a-boot has never, I repeat, never crossed my lips.  I went back to Nanaimo for my wedding and I could barely believe the number of times eh? echoed through the Black Bear Pub.  But that doesn't prove anything.  Head to Alberta and eh? takes a dramatic dive in frequency, head east again and it probably picks back up.  As for a-boot, well I'm going to blame the Newfies since nobody can understand them anyways.

5. While Canadians learn about the U.S. they learn nothing about us. "I was in the state of Ontario", "Whose your president?" "Canadians pay 80% in taxes".  Need I say anything more?  If you're American and you've said or wondered these things my only words to you are "Google it!"

6. Cable down here isn't better, it's just more. I say this with all honesty, as my husband has worked for Time Warner, Comcast, DishNetwork and Direct TV.  More channels just means more time flipping to get to the same 4 channels.

7. American chocolate sucks! How have I lived 8 years without Smarties (the real ones), Crispy Crunch, Coffee Crisp and Caramilk?! Well, if you're lucky you find the rare places that carry them.  The British Isles store in Rice Village sells Smarties for $4 a box ($3 price hike), and the one lone gas station at the corner of Beltway 8 and Hardy Toll Road that carries Coffee Crisps (regular price!).

8. American's just don't get our jokes. I've lost count of the number of Molson commercials I've down loaded to my computer, laughing hysterically while Brandon stares over my shoulder in complete confusion.  It's not his fault though.  He never learned about Canada growing up, he doesn't get why it's funny when we flip over people asking us about our pet beavers.

I've made it my mission to share Canada with my students.  I constantly compare life in the US to Canada, and talk about my experiences.  I share Canadian history and culture with them.  And above all I always tell them about the Canadians burning down the White House :)

On my iPod:

Tik Toc by Keisha



  1. I can't believe that there are no rats in Canada! What about the politicians? Are they the snakes in the tall grass!!

  2. It's just Alberta that's rat free! They have rat patrols and the things aren't even allowed in for scientific or educational purposes. Ontario is full of them!

  3. You grew up in Southern Alberta? Me too! Calgary. But now I live just south of Texas, below the border.

    I know about the 'eh' thing. My friend from the East says 'eh' all the time and it drives me nuts... I never say it. And I don't understand anyone from Newfoundland.

    And I know about the rats...

    While Canadians learn about the U.S. they learn nothing about us. ha ha ha... yes!

    Great blog!


  4. I love your blog -- and what a great article. I love that you remind them about Canadians burning down the Whitehouse :)

    I'll have to remember to send you some Smarties. I can't believe they are such a delicacy!

  5. Thanks Ann! I spent most of my childhood in Lethbridge then moved up to Edmonton for high school and university. I’m actually glad my parents are leaving Texas and going back there! Now I’ll have a reason to visit!

  6. When I was growing up I lived in a town not to far away from the Washington--Vancouver border. I loved Canada and I never heard anything about "eh". Someday I'd like to visit Alberta.

  7. I meant the Washington--BC border. Geez, I hate it when I say stupid things like that.

  8. I drove across the border and into Seattle once and it was beautiful - wet and rainy but still beautiful!