The red maple leaf is Canada's symbol.

What I’ve Learned About Canada

Canadians, Americans – they’re just the same. Far from it: Canadians don’t like Americans, and the latter don’t even know that Canada is their neighboring country. 20 (fun) facts about Canada.

Germans are always grumpy, Americans only eat fast food, Swedes are super happy. Each country has its own characteristics, which the world assigns to them – and which are more or less true. I will say it right away: I generalize, pigeon-hole, exaggerate – create clichés at their finest. Not because I want to put somebody’s nose out of joint, but because I find some idiosyncrasies just too funny. Of course, not every German is grumpy. But we all know the dismissive faces that we encounter in the subway in the morning. And honestly: if you leave out the meaning of the words and only listen to the sound of our German language – it sounds as if we’re spitting at each other. This only said or written before I get bad news that I can’t write this… ?

So here are 20 (fun) facts about Canada:

1. If you don’t have a flannel shirt, you’re not a Canadian.
No joke: the number of flannel shirts on airplanes to Canada is striking. Whether man or woman, adult or child… It seems that everyone has at least one of the cozy shirts in the closet. After all, it’s a great option to stay warm on cold Canadian winter days.

2. Unpacked is a matter of course.

Various types of flour, nut and dried fruit are available in large bulk shops like this one.
Various types of flour, nut and dried fruit are available in large bulk shops like this one.

Germany can learn something here. In every supermarket that I saw from the inside (and there were a few) there was at least one shelf where food was offered unpacked. There is even a chain that sells flour, all kinds of nuts, beans, dried fruit, confectionery, peanut butter and soaps. Customers can bring their own containers with them and fill them as needed without any problems. I wish we had this in Germany.

3. After eating you will be kicked out.
So, not literally. But in the restaurant, the guest is expected to pay and leave as soon as they finish eating. Sometimes the bill comes with the dessert. There is no cozy get-together with a wine or beer after dinner, as I know it from Germany.

4. Weed is legal.
And the tolerance to smoke it anytime, anywhere is high. What many don’t seem to understand yet: Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you should smoke while you drive. Dah! Overall, the inhibition threshold also seems to be lower when it comes to driving after two, three or even four beers. Maybe I just have a very reasonable group of friends in Germany that justifies my perception. Another German who has lived in Canada for many years confirms my assessment. It‘s of course not representative.

5. Alcohol is not allowed in the driver’s compartment.
The driver might otherwise come up with the idea of opening the closed bottle (or can – very popular here) and drinking from it while driving. The co-driver is also not allowed to hold alcohol in his hand during the trip in case he comes up with the idea of letting the driver try it. That’s just my interpretation of this rule. In return, I met Canadians who were seriously indignant that people in Germany drink alcohol on the street. That’s a great example of difference in perception.

6. There is no alcohol in the supermarket.
Not even low-percentage beer. All alcoholic beverages are only available in liquor stores – at hefty prices. A can of beer costs about the same as a six-pack in Germany. Honestly: Alcohol can’t be that important to spend so much money on it (and then drive drunk. Sorry, but I feel I don’t understand something here?)

7. Pie for dessert.
There is no cozy sitting together with coffee and cake in the afternoon. Canadians eat the typical pie as a dessert – after a roast with fries and such. Well…

8. Canadians are nature lovers.

Out into nature - for many Canadians the favorite pastime.
Out into nature – for many Canadians the favorite pastime.

They also have an incredible amount of it. There are just under 40 million inhabitants for almost ten million square kilometers of country. There‘s a lot of space to go camping, fishing, hunting and hiking in the beautiful nature (it is simply wonderful. Really now. In many cases completely untouched. And so many animals.).

9. National sport: ice hockey
Football is important to Canadian children. Many play in a club. But nothing comes close to ice hockey or basketball, especially in the professional field. Even in summer, I saw children training in the middle of the streets with hockey sticks, roller blades and helmets. The drivers take great care here. After all, nobody knows whether a future international is rolling across the street.

10. Canada uses metric and imperial systems.
In Europe (with the exception of England, hehe …) we can’t do anything with miles to indicate distances and Fahrenheit to indicate temperatures. People from the USA shrug their shoulders when it says meters and Celsius. Canadians are aware of both. They use both systems – which can sometimes lead to great confusion. In the trades, American screw heads meet European (yes, they differ), and while measurements are often made in the imperial system, the distance on road signs is always given in kilometers. Pretty confusing. Background: The metric system was officially introduced in the 1970s. In many areas, however, the old units of measurement have been retained for security reasons. The information along Canadian railway tracks is still in the imperial system. Wouldn’t have been so good if someone had mixed up something in the transition period…

11. There are no more mailboxes at houses.

Community mailboxes are replacing mailboxes.
Community mailboxes are replacing mailboxes.

There are central mailboxes in many neighborhoods. Mail and some parcels are sent to the so-called community mailbox.

12. Canada is only 100 years old.

Only since 1965 has the red maple leaf on a whit background been the Canadian flag-
Only since 1965 has the red maple leaf on a whit background been the Canadian flag-

Canada was officially founded on July 1, 1867. The country only got its own flag, the one with the red maple leaf, in 1965. Before that, the British flag was the official symbol.

13. Queen Elizabeth II is the monarch.
It is represented by a governor general.

14. You don’t stand out with an accent.
Many Canadians don’t speak a pure North American accent. The reason: Canada is an immigration country. Some people have strong, other light accents that can no longer be assigned to a mother tongue. Tourists with accents are therefore not noticed here. And: All Canadians know where their roots are – and this is usually not the case in Canada, except fort hey are what Canadians call First Nations people.

15. It is extremely expensive.
Depending on the region, cosmetics are twice or three times more expensive than in Germany. Food prices are also high – especially cheese (which is only really good in a few cases). Electronics items such as cameras are many times cheaper.

16. There is health insurance.
The Canadians are particularly proud that they don’t have to pay when they go to the doctor. Especially because their US neighbors don’t have that luxury.

17. Cashiers are not allowed to sit while working.
I only noticed this after a Canadian told me how excited she was when she visited Germany that cashiers have comfortable chairs there while they work.

18. Canadians don’t like Americans.
This goes so far that some ignore imported foods from the USA or no longer want to travel to / through the USA. When traveling, many Canadians stick a Canadian flag on their luggage so that they are never mistaken for their noisy US neighbors.

19. Canadians apologize – always.
Also, and quite sincerely, if you accidentally ram the cart in into the person’s knees who’s waiting in front of you in the super market. He will apologize – for your misfortune.

20. Canadians are endearing people.
Open, friendly, interested in what’s going on in the rest of the world, warm hearted, generous – I can’t say otherwise.

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