I decided to start this new section on my blog called the Expat Life. I have been an expat for almost 8 months now and feel that I have enough experiences under my belt to make it worth to share. I was hesitant to start this at first because I wanted to make my blog to focus primarily on my travels but I realised that my life as a Canadian Expat is actually quite important when it comes to my longings to travel and my attitudes towards travelling. Heck, I am doing so much travelling because I have made the decision to live abroad and with the opportunities to travel more! Also, when I am not travelling it would be nice that I can still provide content that will hopefully be helpful or of enjoyment to others!
To start off *drum roll* here are the 10 things I learned as a Canadian Expat (Do note that these are my own personal experiences!)
1. Being mistaken as an American.
Yes, I come from a land far away where the cold, an attractive Prime Minister, and being extremely polite is what my country is known for. However, that’s about it…my “Canadian” accent which is pretty much an American accent results in many asking if I am American. As a supply teacher, it is always funny to immediately get kids asking “Are you American?”
2. Pronouncing words differently
As a teacher it is quite funny how many times I automatically say things in what is considered my terrible British accent or else I wouldn’t be understood. One incident that sticks out to me was when my class at that time was practising spelling out words on a white board and I had to verbally pronounce the word before they write it down. Needless to say, my pronounciation of “called” which sounds like “cold” caused a lot of confusion. Then this lead to the next one…
3. Usage of different word terms
“When is garbage/trash day?” was unrecognisable when I asked my new housemates and I later learned that the garbage/trash can is just called the bin. Now this is probably one of my least favourite experiences because there are so many other usages of bins and the word bin just seems to be too much of a general term for other items to me! I also can’t forget that time I tried ordering a Chicken McNuggets Combo from McDonalds…apparently Combo’s aren’t a thing here so, Chicken McNuggets Meal it is!
4. What is multiculturalism?
I grew up with the idea of Canada being a melting pot and I still believe it is. I knew that London is one of the busiest cities in the world known for it’s business district, centrality for travelling, and famous landmarks. Thus expats and immigrants would pick London as its ideal place to settle. However, I soon realised the concept of multiculturalism is a bit disappointing to me than to what I see in Canada, well atleast Vancouver, Canada (home). Yes, you do see people of different colour, ethnicity, religion, etc…but I felt that London had pockets of people of different demographic (areas where a certain demographic was known to live- recognised by education, housing affordability, opportunities, etc) and there wasn’t as great of an integration as I had hoped for.
5. Learning the boroughs, regions, councils
Yeah, this is something I still don’t get. Apparently I live in Wimbledon, under the Merton Council, in SouthWest London. Why are there so many terms put into place to identify where I live? Please enlighten me haha…
6. The use of plastic and throw away the concept “eco-friendly”
Coming from Vancouver, the lifestyle of living green has always been one taught at an early age. In the past few years, we even switched to separating our recyclables to paper/magazines/newspapers, plastics, jars, and compostable food waste. I have always been someone who loves separating my materials, but this doesn’t happen in London…especially in a city where literally everything in the supermarkets are wrapped in plastic first. The amount of waste is mindboggling. I feel like I have definitely become more unaware of my actions when it comes to protecting our Earth, but hopefully changes will be made soon…
7. Cold is unlike any other cold
I come from Raincouver yet the crazy weather of London I have seen so far is extreme compared to Vancouver. During the days it can be quite warm but then dropping to low levels in the evening. Weather network claims it is 10 degrees but really with the wind chills it feels like minus 1.
8. Transportation everywhere
This is one of those cities where driving is not necessary especially if visiting or even living here for that matter. All the famous landmarks can be of walking distance in Central London or easily accessible with the underground, national rail, or by bus. I absolutely love how wherever I want to go, there is a mode of transporation, there is a way. The benefits of a extensive transporation line (thought not always reliable) is a blessing.
9. Liveliness and the Tourist Experience
Here I thought Vancouver was a tourist city, wait until you make it to London. I sometimes wonder as I am walking in London whether most of the people are in fact tourists not locals. I mean I don’t even consider myself a Londoner, but when can I really give myself that title anyways? School groups, foreign languages spoken everywhere, people holding maps is not an unfamiliar sight. The streets are always busy it almost seems like the whole Central London is there “downtown”, always bustling with people and events happening. It is also a city of expats…I was surprised to know of so many Australian Expats that choose to live in London temporarily too!
10. Nature Loving
This title might be a bit deceiving but one of the things I missed the most as I am living in London is the close proximity to oceans, mountains at home. The closest hikes are several hours away if not, it would be considered a gentle stroll, hill walking through rolling hills in Surrey. You can find a lot of neighbourhood parks, Royal Parks in London. Don’t get me wrong, they provide the nature that Londoners don’t get much of but sometimes I just want to say, “Do you know what you are missing out on?!” These parks are also quite manicured where you can tell they are taken care of and sometimes I just miss the natural environment where mother nature has made its own changes, not some city worker. These parks become crowded when a glimpse of sun comes out, with families having picnics, teenagers hanging in groups, and the runners and dogwalkers making an appearance. However, I personally love seeing the amount of people who just spend hours hanging out at hte park sitting on the grass and just enjoying nature. As much as Vancouver has so many green spaces, this isn’t something you see.