Monday, December 15, 2008

One Semester Down

... a bunch more to go.

So I've been in Canada since September. Wow. I haven't been drummed out for not using "U"s where I should and not understanding the metric system. (When I hear on the radio that it is going to be -2 and we'll be getting 4cm of snow, it takes a calculator and 15 minutes to figure out if I should stock up on food and potable water)

I thought I would perhaps sum this up in an entry of lists

Stuff I like about Canada:
  1. Knitting. Seriously. Consider my post about the logic of knitting woolly things, but then also, there are tons of great knitters in Canada. London has a bit of a dearth, but I can change that, and I am thinking that I might take part of my spring break and do a knitting pilgrimage around Ontario.
  2. Universal health coverage. Note that I might feel differently about it if my broken metatarsals don't heal properly and I have to wait 3-6 months to even see an orthopaedic surgeon, but for now, for me, its working.
  3. A political system where the above and funding for the arts are just a given in the debates around public policy. It isn't a question of if these things are important or evidence of liberal insanity. They are assumed to be important. If someone questions this in public debate, there is hell to pay.
  4. A political system with multiple mulligans built in. There is the exercise that was this fall's election, wherein the parliament wasn't working so parliament was dissolved and an election was held. Or the current weirdness wherein the Liberals and the National Democratic Party got together with the help of the Bloc Quebecois to attempt to become the ruling coalition in the parliament. I can't really explain it, but here's the best one I've found so far. In the U.S. if we elect asshats by accident, we're stuck with them for 2-6 years barring seriously illegal conduct.
  5. Public transportation that works. And London Transit isn't even that great, according to my friends.
  6. Beer. Canadians are a people who take their beer seriously, and I can appreciate that.

Stuff I find really funny about Canada, that Canadians think I'm weird for laughing at:
  1. How much they love Canada. I'm not just talking about the flags and maple leafs everywhere, although I do find that funny. I'm also talking about the great love that Canadians have for all things Canadian. Indeed, if a Canadian likes something Canadian all she has to say to justify it is "but its Canadian," and I, frequently the lone American in the room, am left saying "but why does that make it good?" I love a band called the Winter Gloves that hail from Quebec, and I can explain that I like them because they've goot a good sound and occasionally cute lyrics. But in Canada, I don't need to use pesky logic. I'm allowed to love them just because they are Canadian.
  2. Milk. I know I should let go of this, but how is it not funny when you can buy milk in bags, and sometimes that milk is called "homo milk." I know I'm immature, but it is really funny.
  3. The names of the towns in the West. I only hear about these on the CBC, but there are some good ones. There are Moose Jaw, Mozart, and Old Wives Narrows in Saskatchewan, and Alberta has Medicine Hat.
Things that still confuse me a little:
  1. There is a code at Tim Horton's that I don't understand. I've heard of this thing called a double double, but since they don't sell cheesebugers, I'm flummoxed. After five minutes of searching Wikapeida, I find that it is a coffee with 2 sugars and 2 creams, but yikes. Do I look like a looser for just asking for such a coffee by its long name?
  2. The London municipal trash schedule. They come every 8 days, unless there is an intervening civic holiday or an arbitary gap. I just don't get it. They sent me a helpful wall calandar, but it still confuses the heck out of me.
  3. Canadian politeness. I have found people in Ontario to be kind, polite and decent. As long as I know the rules. If you don't know the rules and screw up, you are a bad person. Now I have always had a theory that people in colder climates are meaner because of the cold... when its cold you can't waste time with niceities. Its the same reason we talk faster. But Canadians do it weird, because on the surface, they are super polite.
  4. French in the grocery store. I GET IT. Canada is a bilingual country. There is a significant French speaking minority, even in Ontario. I'm just asking the stock people at my local A&P and Loblaws to please put things on shelves English side facing front or at least half and half. It took me way longer than is reasonable to figure out what the heck Gruau is. (Incidentally, it is oatmeal.)
So those are my lists on Canada so far.

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