Anyways, to mark this great day, I thought I'd share with you some little observations about Canada and Canadians that have made me smile, giggle, stare blankly in confusion or cry in despair at the state of humanity. Or something like that. Now, you have to understand that all of my preconceptions about Canadians came from watching Degrassi: The Next Generation and the episodes of How I Met Your Mother in which everything about Robin's Canadian-ness is mocked and berated, so my expectations were somewhat ill-informed and not particularly substantial, but here's what I've noticed so far:
- Politeness/friendliness/cheeriness. Before leaving, I read something about Canadians valuing time-keeping, and this worried me slightly, since my time-keeping isn't perfect to say the least. A friend of mine reassured me with the words "It's OK, if you turn up late they'll just apologise to you for it." I laughed, but I genuinely wouldn't be surprised if that happened. Everyone here is just so nice and polite. You're always greeted with a "Hi, how are you?" Cash machines wish you an "excellent day". Even the graffiti is chirpy. It's just a big bubble of positivity, which is great, but I can't help craving some British pessimism and self-mocking banter. I want ridiculous drunken antics to be displayed on a wall of shame, not kept quiet "in case he/she didn't want people to know". Canadians are too polite to interject an awkward moment with a tension-breaking "well... this is awkward" in case they offend the creator of said awkward moment. Politeness is all fine and well, but it doesn't always make for great conversation.
- Accents. Once a few drinks have been consumed and the politeness barrier has dropped somewhat, conversation will inevitably turn to accents, as a Canadian comments on the absurdity of the way in which one of us Brits said something, or vice versa, or occasionally there is some Brit on Brit confusion (word of advice: never get into an argument with a Northern bloke over the pronunciation of "the incredible hulk"). Now, this is to be expected when Canadians, Brits, Australians and people from all sorts of places find themselves in each other's company. The one thing that never fails to astound me about these conversations, however, is that Canadians don't think that they have an accent. They swoon over our voices, sighing and saying "I wish I had an accent." You do! It may be Canadian, and it may be exactly the same as the accent of everyone around you, but it's still an accent. If you didn't have an accent, you'd speak in monotone. Seriously. Maybe it's just because Britain is so heavily populated with regional accents, so we're more aware of differences in accents, but the idea of not thinking of yourself as having an accent baffles me. If you don't have an accent, then what are those noises coming out of your mouth?
- Eh? I'd heard jokes about this, and laughed them off as exaggerations, but they really do say it a lot. Not even just at the end of questions. They'll put it at the end of anything. Seriously, it's ridiculous, eh.
- Buses. Ok, so while this may not seem like the most riveting of topics, I got so excited when I discovered that buses have a cute little yellow string that hangs across the windows, and when you want the bus to stop, you just tug on the string. It's really cool. Honest. I also get excited on buses because they always go down Sunnyside Avenue, which is just the cheeriest and most North American road name you could possibly think of. :)
- Fashion. This one gets to me. I miss British style. Who decided that baggy shorts, baggier t-shirts and backwards baseball caps should become wardrobe staples for all young Canadian males? It's just not a good look. And while I can handle seeing the odd underwear band on display, when the waistband of your trousers is sitting below your arse, that's not a fashion statement: you either lost three stone overnight and don't own a belt, or your parents clearly failed to teach you how to dress yourself properly. Seriously, sort it out. And girls are not exempt from fashion failures. While I'm beginning to adapt to the mundane yet practical tendency towards jeans and a plain top, I will never, I repeat, never, accept anyone's decision to wear leggings as trousers in public. That's just not how they work. I don't care how tiny you are or how good your legs looks; if your top doesn't cover your arse, you either need to change into jeans or put on a skirt, because it's just not right.
- Nature. It's everywhere, and I love it. The trees are pretty, and I can't go a day without seeing a black squirrel/chipmunk/groundhog. Still no moose, though (or should that be "meese"?). Or polar bears. I'm disappointed. I haven't even seen a beaver, for goodness' sake!
- Speaking of which, Beaver Tails. I've mentioned them already. Twice. But they're worth a third mention, because they are possibly the best things I have ever tasted. I'd eat them everyday if I could.
- Music. We're doing some music by Canadian composers in choir, and it's beautiful. And I'm just about getting used to "quarter notes" and "half notes". Pretty soon I will only remember quavers as floaty light crisps. Aw man, now I want Quavers. It's amazing just how much you can miss food that you never even used to eat at home, purely because you can't get it anymore.
So, I'm off to drift back into my cream cheese (my capacity to eat the stuff is quite astounding) and Ed Sheeran-induced daze. Good morning/sleep tight (delete as appropriate) my sweets. Have an excellent day/night. :)