Life is amazing, living abroad is even more amazing. Being a Canadian, I have had the chance to live abroad on 2 working holiday visas, as well as one student visa in New Zealand. In New Zealand, I found that the culture, and the way if living was almost exactly the same as it was in Canada, so I never experienced any culture shock or prejudice of any kind. Everyone spoke English, even if with a funny and quirky accent ! Living in France however, I have been stereotyped as a Canadian more than I could ever imagine. I never thought that I would ever be stereotyped, I didn't even realize that Canada had a stereotype! The culture in Europe (more specifically France) is very different than Canada's, they are more closed off, smile less, they don't even look at strangers on the street and everyone smokes (I will never understand). When I first arrived I was shocked when I was walking down a beautiful street and when a person walked past me, I smiled and they looked right at me, dead pan, and continued to walk past. It was crazy. I am from a very small town where everyone knows each other, so we would always smile to anyone and everyone.
So, as I am working in this French cafe, there are a few things that have stood out to me about the differences between France and Canada. Here are two cases : First: they don't put anything in the recycling, everything goes into the garbage. I was really curious why this was the case so I asked (first mistake). Second: a lady came in and asked for change for her $50 bill, I said "no problem, right away mam!" (second mistake) To each of these problems I said, "well in Canada this is how we do it" (third mistake), for example in Canada we try to recycle everything, and of course I would give change to a nice lady. Their response was always "well we are not in Canada, we are in France, and not everyone here cares about the environment and not everyone is nice like in Canada." I feel like France has this idea that Canada is a perfect, pristine place with no crime and no poverty and everyone smiles and is super nice. I think for the most part Canadians are very nice, and we do say sorry quite a lot. But to just assume on the whole that our entire nation is "nice" is crazy. I've met quite a few f*uck boys in Canada, let me tell you. Then I take a step back and think about all the other stereotypes I myself have thought.... including the French. And I can agree that I have participated in stereotyping... The French, all they do is ride around on bikes eating croissants, baguettes while smoking a cigarette and drinking red wine from their own country. I mean, that's a stereotype, but some of it is actually true!
Okay, I'm getting off the tracks here. Essentially, I had never ever in my life experienced this before, where I was a stereotype. I know this might sound silly, but I really did not expect to feel this way about it. It really felt for once, that I came from this far away land, that my colleagues just didn't understand, and that they had preconceived ideas about. I never really felt foreign before this moment.
Moral of my story: I need to accept that I am from a different country, things are different here and that I actually am foreign, no matter how much I really want to be française... And I have to accept that as I am travelling, I am carrying around Canada's reputation and stereotypes as well:
1. Merciless Winters
2. Obsessive need for maple syrup on everything
3. Hockey, and yes just "Hockey" not "Ice Hockey"
4. Timmy's Runs, all the time, for any occasion
5. "Sorry eh", as I walk into a tree
Katy Bird, true, proud, Canadian
Sent to you from my current Travel Location: LYON, FRANCE