Most people learn things when they move to a different country, so here’s a list of (admittedly, unexpected) things I’ve learnt since moving to Canada:
1. Music. Even when exposed to many different types of international music, 90s trash still fuels my soul.
2. Terminology. Do not refer to a regular plant that lives in a pot as a ‘pot plant’ in places where weed is legal.
3. Being vegan doesn’t make you a douche. Who knew? I can walk around Vancouver and ask for vegan options, and no one sighs, rolls their eyes, or becomes unrelentingly concerned about my protein intake like they 100-percent would in Australia. It’s a brave new world out there, folks, and I’m living it.
4. Nowhere feels as cold as regional NSW. Nowhere. And I’ve now experienced life below -25.
5. I’m still allergic to cats. What a surprise. I thought (somehow) I wasn’t as allergic anymore because I didn’t get flu-like symptoms when exposed to cats in Canada like I did in Australia, so I thought, ‘Oh yeah I can totally live in a house with cats now’. Because I’m an idiot and I like cats.
But no. I still absolutely cannot live in a house with cats.
Goodbye flu symptoms, hello super-dark circles under my eyes. I looked like I’d aged 10-years. It was a sad time.
6. Hot yoga isn’t awful. Hot yoga is a series of yoga poses done in a 40-degree room with 60 or 90-minutes, which sounds like any Australian’s idea of hell. We spend half the year trying to escape those temperatures, and, well, if you did ‘hot’ yoga outdoors in Australia, it would just be regular yoga. In Canada, I go to class to be warm.
7. Safety. In Canada-land, sometimes it’s ok to drive around with a cracked windshield, duct-taped bumper bars, and a DIY number-plate scotch-taped to the inside of the back window. Because safety is for squares.
8. Only losers don’t garden. Want to impress your friends, your neighbours, and yourself? Make the most of the three-months per year when there’s no permafrost and plant some vegetables!
Gardening becomes the biggest deal ever in many parts of Canada in springtime, because why wouldn’t it? You can create life, chill out around something that literally facilitates air for you to breath, and you can basically eat for free – it’s a no-brainer.
9. Public-holidaying for Queen Victoria’s birthday is a thing, but not for Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday. Because nothing screams ‘Commonwealth’ more than celebrating a dead queen over an alive queen.
10. Recycling. Gone are the days when I would put all my recycling in the one box and shove it outside in metropolitan Sydney on a Tuesday.
These days, I wait until the council emails me with this week’s designated garbage, green waste, and recycling days (no, there isn’t a consistent designated day for anything), before sorting the cardboards and papers, hard plastics, soft plastics, aluminums, bottles, and compost each in to large, separate containers and placing them all neatly outside, hoping I didn’t get it wrong so the recycling gods don’t reject my offerings and fine me.
11. Cold brew. Who’d have thought that the number-one coffee order in coldest place ever (besides regional NSW) would be cold brew? Australia has been hotter than the blazing fires of Dante’s tenth circle lately and, to my knowledge, cold brew is still not a thing.
An enthusiastic guy in a coffee van once sold me ‘nitro cold brew’, which is basically 24-hour cold-drip coffee charged with nitrogen that’s served in a large, head-sized vessel with crushed ice. I got halfway through it and suddenly felt the blood pounding through my ears and my hands start to shake. I had to lie down on a park bench and felt so caffeinated I didn’t know what was going on. I did not try cold brew again.
So there is is! However unexpected… So tell me, what have you learnt while travelling?