There I am, standing in my plaid (pronounced plad) shirt, dusty jeans and Blundstone boots, a regular outfit of mine, my friend turns to me, ‘Do you know you dress Canadian now?’
Until that point, I had not really thought about how I dressed and how different it is from when I lived back in the City. Now a shirt, jeans and boots are my staple outfit, whether it is grocery shopping, a night out or coffee date.
While my dress sense may have changed, there are still a lot of aspects to my life, where I remain ‘English’
English v Canadian English
You say tomato, I say Tomato. Unfortunately this is a true story. We have one particular gentleman who comes into our restaurant and always asks for the soup, I had to repeat Tomato several times before the grandson interjected and said tomato. Second occasion I served the guy, I checked the soup, and it was tomato. Exact same story.
I have travelled to quite a few countries where I could not speak their language, and survived, Iceland, Norway, Egypt to name a few, however I have had more Lost in Translation moments in Canada than anywhere else.
I have written emails at work where I was told that my email was far too ‘British’ and that I need to adjust my writing style as the client will not understand. There’s Google Translate so I dont’t see the issue!
There are some terms however I have become accustomed to, just so every time I speak I am not met with blank stares. For example, I now say (while cringing inside):
- Sweater instead of Jumper
- Wallet instead of Purse
- Cell instead of Phone
- Backpack instead of Rucksack
- Trash instead of Rubbish
- Parking Lot instead of Car Park
- Trunk instead of Boot
My favorite thing that people say to me is ‘well you don’t sound English?’ Yes, sorry I don’t sound like I have stepped out of a scene from Downton Abbey, ‘I from Essex mate’, for you that don’t know, an Essex accent as a unique twang to it.
Telling the time here is also very different. When I say I will meet you at half 7, they think I am saying half 6, as in half way to 7. There have been several times where I have been late to something.
Double Fisting. When I was first told I was double fisting, I spat out my drink. What it actually means is you are holding a drink in each hand. Who knew eh?
Talking of which we say eh practically after every sentence, along with ‘for sure’.
“Can I get another coke?” “For sure you can”
Luckily I am taking my English test soon so I am one step closer to becoming Canadian. Ironic thing is the test is in Cambridge English.
I used to think I had quite a high threshold to being cold. Turns out I am a bit of a wuss.
In the height of Winter, I would have several inches of snow on my car every morning. It takes a long time getting all that snow off your car, then you have to sit and wait another 10 minutes for the inside of my windscreen to defrost. Everytime I opened my car door, the snow would fall into my seat, so I would have a frozen bum driving to work. By the end of winter I mastered how not to do this.
My laundry room used to be outside. Only in Canada where I would have to wrap up like I am like I am hiking to the North Pole, just to walk 2 seconds to the laundry room.
I did not enjoy when my hair would freeze, (yes this actually happens) mainly because I thought I suddenly had turned grey and panicked.
I look at stop signs, and often see these as an optional instruction rather than the law. Half way across a junction, I often remember that I should have stopped 100 yards before, so I think stopping in the middle of the junction is a good idea. I assure you it isn’t.
What we call a T Junction is called a 3 way stop here. 3 cars will stop and all look at each other, because they are too polite to just go and I am screaming in the car behind, JUST MOVE!!!
Don’t get me started on 4 way stops, lets just say this would have been a lot easier if you put a roundabout there instead.
Tim Horton’s Lingo
Asking for a Double Double (Coffee with 2 cream and 2 sugar, a staple drink here in Canada) in the Tim Horton’s drive thru. My friend wanted a coffee with 2 cream and 3 sugars, so I asked for a double double with an extra sugar. Simple right? Oooooohhhh no. ‘Well that’s not a double double mam; it’s a coffee with 2 cream and 3 sugars!’
Another time I asked for 12 mixed doughnuts, the guy did not understand, I kept explaining to which he responded, oh you mean a dozen? No mate, I mean 12 doughnuts.
I am now not allowed to speak to the server at the drive thru when I am in the car with other people.
Sassy v Sarcastic
Being British, you are born with a very dry sense of humor no one else in the words seems to get. Unfortunately this got me in a lot of trouble when I first moved here, and well, still does. Back home I am sarcastic, here, the sarcastic term is rarely used and you are called sassy, which I find far more glamorous.
I will say things so convincingly that I then have to reassure the person that I did not mean it, and that I am actually a nice person. Convincing someone I am nice is actually quite hard to do when I take the piss out of them (make fun) all the time.
If I ask a colleague for a favour, they will do it, if I promise to be nice for a day. To which other colleagues respond ‘Never gonna happen’
They don’t realize the meaner I am the more comfortable I am with you, if I am being nice, that’s when you should be worried.