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.
Vancouver is a city full of music, festivals, and events. The hip-hop scene is huge (well, bigger than it is in Sydney anyway), and there are people making new sounds everywhere you look. It's a beautiful thing. But as much as I grew to love it, 90s trash still fuels my soul.
Do not refer to a regular plant that lives in a pot as a ‘pot plant’ in places where weed is legal. It causes all kinds of confusion.
3. Being vegan isn't a cause for concern
Who knew? Canada is so ridiculously un-judgey about the eating habits of others that I constantly want to throw streamers in the air in celebration. 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. Even when you're in a not-so-vegan-friendly town, no one bats an eyelid when you ask a server whether vegan options are available. 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. I don't know anyone else who this has happened to, but if you're commonly allergic to felines and the symptoms don't show in Canada, learn from my mistake.
6. Hot yoga isn’t awful
Vancouver is yoga central. Even if you're not in to yoga, it's hard not to participate at least once because literally everyone's doing it.
Hot yoga is particularly popular, which is a series of yoga poses done in a 40-degree room with 60 or 90-minutes, and 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, and I actually like it. As a former hater of all things 'yoga', no one is more surprised than me.
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. Canada makes Australia look like the land of rules, and 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.
I can't even elaborate on this one, so moving right along...
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.
In Banff, I sort all the recycling out in to the same categories, then physically carry it all over the giant bins in the local carpark so bears, elk, wolves, lynx, bobcats, cougars, and coyotes don't run rampant through the town, tearing their way through everyone's food scraps.
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 it is! However unexpected... So tell me, what have you learnt while travelling?
Have you moved to another country? Tell me all about it!