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Moving for Love: Views on My Partner's Country

7th June 2017 Posted by: Kate Istead

THERE'S more to studying abroad than classes, books and exams. For some students, life abroad might lead to love and when it’s serious, it might lead to living and working abroad full-time. This can be fraught with hilarious language mistakes and unexpected cultural discoveries. Patrick is a British citizen who has lived most of his life on the South coast of England; I’m a Canadian who has now lived in Canada, Switzerland and the UK. We have just moved back to the UK after 8 months living in Canada.

Patrick in a very cold Canada.

Here’s our perspective on the experience of living in each other’s countries:

Language

He said: Everybody loves the English accent, when they don’t think you’re Australian. Canadians call some things by silly names but even though we’re back in the UK I still get caught calling trousers ‘pants’ every now and again. Canadians think Brits over-complicate everything (particularly at work) but I think ‘multi storey car-park’ is more relevant than ‘parkade’.

She said: I always thought we spoke the same language, but the amount of times I’ve used a word out of context, or not knowing that it has derogatory connotation on this side of the ocean, is spectacularly funny to British people. I learned very quickly as a Girlguiding leader not to confuse pants with trousers and don’t even get me started on all your Leicesters and Worcestershires!

Cuisine

He said:   It’s really easy to eat unhealthily in Canada, but the food in general is good – not like the plastic food of the US. Don’t be fooled by the silly names – poutine and beavertails are amazing!

Poutine - unhealthy, but delicious!

She said:  Mostly I like British food – what’s not to love about Yorkshire puddings?! I am always perplexed though by the abundance of curry restaurants that contain food that is unlike anything I ever actually tasted during my time in India. Discovering the combination of curry sauce with chips has changed my life.

Entertainment

He said:   Canada has beer festivals, but they don’t offer cheap pints like in the UK. After already paying your entrance fee, you have to buy drink tickets. Then you’re given a ridiculously tiny cup to take around to the various booths.

She said:  There are a lot more commercials on TV in Canada, so I like watching British channels better. It took me a while to get used to not having a laugh track on sitcoms but now I find the idea of having one strange.

Social

He said:   Brits love going out for a beer and my Canadian colleagues loved this about our culture; they spent most of the time encouraging it. Generally I think that people are less rushed in Canada, both in work and outside. This was particularly obvious when I returned to the UK, which led me to think ‘why is everyone acting stupidly busy all of the time?’

She said:  I always knew about the British fascination with ales, but had no idea how much the pub is part of everyday culture here. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing children in the pub – in Canada, they’re not allowed to be in establishments primarily designed for drinking.

A British pub lunch of chips and curry sauce! 

Accommodation

He said:   Accommodation in Canada is much nicer. In the winter, houses and buildings are much better heated with much better insulation.

She said:  I couldn’t believe that in the UK many students actually live in large family homes –sometimes more than seven people in one house. That was, of course, until I moved into one!

Weather

He said:   There is so much snow and it’s really cold – more than I have ever seen and more than I expected. I found it amazing and amusing that snow gets shipped out of Ottawa by trucks.People dress for it properly andit actually makes it quite bearable, whereas in the UK we just deal with the cold wearing whatever clothing we have.So whilst it was really cold, I’ve suffered much colder experiences in the UK.

Summer in Wales. 

She said:  While I like that the weather is milder in England – I miss actual hot summers! It always makes me laugh seeing families huddled between their colourful windbreaks at the beach on grey and windy days or setting off on walks (“hikes”) in the rain. What I’ve realized is that if you’re waiting for good weather to do something outdoors in England, you’ll never leave the house.

Other Customs

He said:   People are much more disciplined walking in Canada. Everyone walks to the right of one another, avoiding the awkward street dance we get in the UK when you nearly bump in to one another. People also only cross the road on the green man. On one occasion, myself and two other Brits were walking with one of our Canadian colleagues. We crossed the road, not only on the red man but also diagonally (there was no traffic to be seen); we upset him as he couldn’t bring himself to cross the road – so we left him behind.    

Transport in Canada is slightly more exciting

She said: In Canada, the average person is a lot more casually dressed. For example, I’ve never seen someone who wasn’t a stage performer and on stage, wear fake eyelashes, but that’s part of every day life here in England. The only exception would be in some restaurants, where Canadian servers are dressed sexier than UK bar maidens in their jeans and baggy tees.

For more inspirational stories from Canada, head to the Canada and USA section.

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