0 In Expat Life

Canada vs UK: Round 2

Hello world! Happy Wednesday!

Recently I read a post on Holly’s blog about self-esteem as an expat and we discussed the way people react when they are in a new country. Her super cool graph mentioned four types of personality changes that helps people cope with homesickness –  the ‘Fugitive’, the ‘Chauvinist’, the ‘Critic’ or the ‘Native’. While I have seen these types of personality transformation, I think I fall more into a fifth category of ‘Comparer’. Which completely explains these posts I’m doing comparing the UK and Canada.

We also discussed the fact that when we are discussing the differences between countries it doesn’t mean we don’t like the country we’re in and think our native country is superior. I personally love both the UK and my home country, but obviously I don’t think either one is perfect. There are things I like and things I dislike in both countries – well, in all countries for that matter. Basically, I hope no one is insulted in the making of these posts 😉

canada vs uk round 2

Now back to the fun that is comparing two different countries! Round 1 was all about food and this times …well it doesn’t really have a theme, but they are about 4 things that are omnipresent in the United Kingdom.

1. Roundabouts.

I have ambiguous feelings towards them, and in truth, this should rather be called “Camila vs the roundabouts”. After understanding them, I got to love how they help the circulation, etc. However, I had never EVER seen a roundabout in person before moving to the UK. And they were everywhere! Even in the small 3-street town that I moved in, they were at every corner. I already had to try to figure out the whole looking right first before crossing thing, but then the roundabouts added a layer of difficulty! I never understood what it meant when people put their signal on, because depending on where they were in the roundabout, I never knew where it meant they would exit. I was clueless!

One roundabout in St Andrews was impossible to figure out because it was at the bottom of a hill so I couldn’t see cars arriving, and there were no pedestrian crossings there. So cars would never stop for me and I never knew when to cross. By the end, I would look both ways twice and then run across, hoping for the best! Definitely not the best strategy! In the end, though, I did figure them out like a boss!


2. The weather (in general).

There are pros and cons here for both countries. I grew up in Canada so I’m used to freezing winters and meters of snow. It lasts for six months and I definitely hate that. Also, it gets so cold that social activities are sometimes kept to a minimum. Want to go out on New Year’s Eve? Well it’s at your own risks! The winters in the UK were much better, and while I hate hail, not having to shovel and trek through feet and feet of snow, daily, was a marvellous change! I even had ice cream and walks on the beach in February! Not something that would happen in Canada for sure! However, a white Christmas is a must for me!

Summer wise, it’s another story! I have a hard time with this one because both kind of annoy me. We had an amazing summer in the UK in 2013, but, up in Scotland, we had only a handful of days that were above 20, where we wore shorts and went tanning on the beach (oh yes we did!). Sandals were usually out of the question. In Canada, it’s the opposite, it’s above 25 most days and for days on end it might be above 35. I love the summer in Montreal, it’s fun and warm and such a great thing to behold! However, when it’s too hot, it’s hard to handle! Is there a happy middle that exists somewhere??

2.1. How easily they are defeated by rain.

This is an afterthought, but when I moved to the UK, I was told that basically you should try to never get deterred by the weather. If you have plans, go ahead, even if it rains, etc. Because it’s supposed to always rain. Pretty sure that’s a little bit of a myth actually…

While I expect weather to hinder activities in Canada, I was shocked when two major events in St Andrews were cancelled because of the rain. 1. The attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest Scottish country dance. 2. The St Andrews Highland Games. Both times, I wanted to attend and be a part of it/witness it, and both times, it was cancelled due to rain. The rain! I was heartbroken!

2.2 How easily they are defeated by snow.

You know how I said I loved the winter in the UK? Well, there is one minor detail I can’t handle: their inability to deal with snow (to be fair that’s not just the UK). Obviously, the UK isn’t as well equipped for snow falls/storms as Canada, but it’s ridiculous that even though it snows every year, things still shut down when 2cm of snow falls. Give me a shovel, I’ll go do it myself!

st andrews snow

3. Free museums.

Most (all?) museums are free in the UK. Knowledge, art, history, available and accessible to all. Is there anything to add to that? Get to it, Canada!

4. Trains. 

Obviously, the UK is very very small next to Canada, but still, travelling by train is so much easier in the UK. It really is hassle-free! There are trains going everywhere, almost every day, and for a pretty decent price (if you have a railcard, that is!).

In Canada, obviously the distances are exponentially larger and so is the price usually. That’s the fault of the geography more than anything, however, what I resent the most is the fact that it’s simply linear. Most of the population lives near the Canada/US border and so the trains usually are around there. Rare are the trains that go to the countryside. I mean they stopped the trains going to Gaspesie, for example. Not enough population, I guess. I wished Canada developed train transportation more!

Interesting fact of the day: it takes about a week and costs about 1000$ to train from the East coast to the West coast of Canada.

Are there things from the UK (or Canada) that surprised you?xx

Treasure Tromp

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