It has now been four months since I left England to study in Ontario. After asking if I have ever met the Queen, I will often be asked ‘so what is the biggest difference between Canada and the UK?’ It is a relatively simple question, yet I am still struggling to pinpoint the biggest difference as I mostly encounter lots of small -albeit merciless- disparities between our countries. Here I present a short list of just some of these differences.
#1 Crossing the Road
Feminists beware: if the thought of a white man telling you when you can and cannot cross the road sends a thousand patriarchal daggers down to the tips of your fingers, Canada might not be the place for you. It turns out our familiar friend the Green Man who has helped you cross the road since you were young enough to think jumping in front of a car might be a good idea; did not make it across the pond! Instead, Canadians rely on a slightly paler incarnation of our friendly road guide.
#2 The Yorkshire Accent becomes the Queen’s English
If you’re tired of being told whatever accent you managed to pick up in your years of living on English soil is unrefined and lacks all promise of sophistication, Canada may be the place for you. It turns out that I only had to travel 3500 miles for my Yorkshire accent to be heard as the Queen’s English and I never stop getting kicks from people telling me, for the first time in my entire life, that I sound elegant. However, from first hand experience I should warn the Brummies that even Canadians can sniff you out as sounding not entirely like the royal family- indeed, you might have to travel a little further before you can hope to fool anyone!
#3 It’s Bloody Expensive
In Canada, shopping for food genuinely feels like you’re purchasing your weekly groceries from an Odeon cinema. As well as that, just as you think six dollars for a bag of crisps was expensive, you are reminded as the bill is handed to you that tax is also added at the checkout. I have learnt to brace myself for the impending total of my groceries at Walmart as though I am about to find out that I have some obscure and incurable disease and one that usually means I wont be able to afford my Diet Coke fix for the next couple of days.
#4 Becoming an Inadvertent Explorer
Ontario may be the only place in the entire world where you can walk from Dublin to Wellington in under five minutes. As far as road signs are concerned it’s almost impossible not to find yourself in places named after all corners of the globe. One memorable journey in particular took me from Pickering to Scarborough and finally to Perth where they were advertising their annual garlic festival. As a result of my ceaseless amusement, I can only be thankful that Canada does not appear to care a great deal when it comes to originality.
#5 You Live in a Petting Zoo
It wasn’t until I arrived in Ontario that I came to realise that black squirrels roamed the Earth- having only previously encountered the red and grey variety. Although my mother is insistent that the fluffy creatures look entirely evil, I think they are impossibly cute. Yet, if black squirrels don’t quite do it for you, there is no doubt that living in Canada will sooner or later enable you to become face to face with a plethora of exotic animals. Just the other week I was cooing over a family of raccoons that were scavenging my friend’s bins as he attempted to shoo them away. Just don’t tell your Canadian friends that you want to go hunting for beaver, however much you want to.
As my body continues to be bound by the ailments of the ill, my mind is left to drift amongst the more despairing of possible thoughts.
For example, have you ever thought that you were going to die?
In fact, I was so sure that I wasn’t going to survive my Iceland trek last summer I even wrote a woeful will and hid it somewhere in my bedroom before my departure. Presumably, for my heartbroken family to stumble upon after the news of my decease and somehow be less sad, or at least more content at the realisation that their Anna was a complete idiot anyway for leaving them such a thing!
The worst part is that I can’t actually remember where I put it.
So I figure that either I will find it in around ten years and the whole scenario will feel like one of those films where the protagonist realises -due to attending their own funeral etc- that they are no longer alive and have become a ghost. This of course will be followed by me alarmingly asking the next person in sight if they can see me and if I’m alive– which will inevitably lead to them concluding that I have completely lost it.
Or someone else will find it, see that I am perfectly alive, and will think that I have completely lost it.
Perhaps, therefore, I should start writing the will of my sanity.
And there’s me looking more alive than expected in Iceland!
At precisely (or as precisly as English transportation can be, which I suppose isn’t at all!) 8.00 a.m. tomorrow a team of 34 people and I will be leaving our little town of Pickering to the destination of Manchester airport!
For the begining of our adventure in Iceland.
I am both terrified and excited.
I will miss a lot of things; mainly my cat and possibly my bed as well as my friends.
So it will be a short while before you’ll be hearing from the world of Pinkjumpers, but I can’t wait to share all my experiences with you when I return!
In the meantime you can take amusment from this wonderful impression of a unicorn whilst I’m wearing a very small amount of my gear. Lol.
GOOD BYE ENGLAND!!
I’m not sure whether to sob or laugh or smile!