One Year in Canada

It is hard to believe that a whole year has passed since I became a permanent resident of this beautiful country. As quickly as the time has passed, a lot has happened since touchdown at Toronto, and I have learned a lot – some of it the hard way.

Coming from Taiwan, it was nice but also a bit scary to be immersed in English. As convenient as being in an English-speaking country is, I quickly came to realise that I had to be careful what I said in public. In Taiwan, few people understand English, so when you are chatting with friends at a restaurant for example, eavesdroppers are not a problem. There is also usually very little chance of getting what you thought you ordered, but that is part of the experience.

In Taiwan, gratuity is not usually expected, unless you choose to patronise an American restaurant like TGI Friday’s. If you give your waiter a tip, they often don’t understand what you want them to do with it. In Canada however, a tip is expected, and not just by servers, but by limo drivers, hotel staff, even some cashiers have a little “Tip” jar.

Taiwan’s population is approximately 23 million, whereas Canada has around 34 million. To get an idea of how crowded Taiwan is compared to Canada, imagine the entire population of Canada living in one tenth of Newfoundland. Needless to say, the open space in Canada was an eye-opener.

Growing up in South Africa with the infamous crime, locking doors and shutting gates behind me became second nature. It was shocking to see that most houses here don’t even have perimeter walls, net alone security gates or alarm systems.

The food has been great – moose stew, rabbit stew, poutine & Jiggs Dinner to name a few. Interestingly enough, most Canadians I meet have no problem eating rabbit and moose but are horrified when I tell them how delicious ostrich is.

One of the hardest things adjusting to here in the True North is the snow. At first, I thought it was beautiful. How could these Canadians come to hate it so? It’s like living in a Christmas card. Needless to say, the novelty wore off very quickly. Snow becomes less beautiful when nine feet of it accumulates over five weeks. Plus, driving through snow squalls isn’t as thrilling as it sounds.

Despite the weather, the little corner of Canada I find myself in is home to some of the warmest people I have had the privilege of meeting. I am proud to be a resident and look forward to becoming a citizen some day.

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