As I write this, Thanksgiving is coming to a close and it is safe to say I have a lot to be thankful for. I get to call Vancouver home, I’m off to Las Vegas in 9 days and my Dad is coming to visit for Christmas. And I can’t forget James, my best friend, boyfriend and flat mate. I cannot begin to explain how the last 3 months have been. It has been a roller coast of emotions but I’m pleased to say I do not regret moving from the UK to Canada, in fact it is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Although it does still feel very temporary right now I did go to an immigration talk at the SWAP office last Thursday. I haven’t decided to gain permanent residency (PR) just yet but the talk was free and I thought it would be useful in case I decide to go down that route. I knew the PR process was long winded and hard to come by but I did not realise how much this could set you back. The guy added up all the various fees and it came to about $2000 (about £1230) from start to finish which doesn’t include professional consultation fees. I also presume this doesn’t guarantee PR at the end either, so you could be broke and heading back to England. I must admit the presentation didn’t make me jump at the chance of becoming a Canadian resident. At this moment in time I shall enjoy my working holiday visa and see how I feel in a year or so.
I thought I would stay on the Canadian theme and document what I have learnt about Canada so far on my working holiday visa, so here goes…
- Kabobs – don’t you mean kebabs? Of course my first point was food related but I found it ever so embarrassing at the meat counter when asking for ka-bobs for the guy to say the chicken kebabs. Why spell it different?
- Donair – No joke, doner is called donair here. I’m a lover of doner sober and drunk and I feel it is way more socially accepted to eat doner here with its posh pseudonym.
- Friendly Canadians – in fact all residents of BC have been extremely friendly since I arrived here, from strangers in the street to Laura & Maggie at SWAP. However I cannot say the same for the customers at work but maybe I’ll leave that for another occasion.
- Driving Etiquette – I have driven a handful of times in Vancouver and I’m still getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road. My friend Joe said you will drift into the middle of the road and he was right. I have also learnt you can turn right on a red light even though pedestrians are crossing. This is too much to take in as a new right hand driver.
- Fire engines – or generally all emergency service vehicles enjoy using really really really really loud sirens. It is definitely not needed but I guess it gets your attention.
- Liquor Stores – I had no idea you couldn’t buy booze in supermarkets here or should I say grocery stores. They have liquor stores, mainly owned by the government and I feel shady going in and buying alcohol, it’s as if you are underage or doing something illegal.
- Tax – Why they don’t just include tax on the price tag/menu I never know. Instead they like to trick you into thinking something is cheaper than it is, then bam tax is added at the till.
- Poutine – basically Canada’s version of cheesy gravy chips which I would normally turn my nose up at however it seriously delicious. They use cheese curd which I’m pretty sure is little chunks of mozzarella with gravy and fries. If you’re lucky you’ll get one with bacon, mac & cheese or pulled pork.
- Tim Hortons – best donuts ever. It is like the Canadian version of Costa Coffee. Good news English folk, they are branching out in the UK.
- 7-Eleven – it is like a fuel station shop but without the fuel. You will find them on most corners with fountain drinks in the biggest size you can imagine and tasty pizza slices. You can also buy phone chargers and gift cards.
- Money – the notes are plastic. I actually really like them and I’m pleased the English notes will be plastic soon. Also the smallest coin they have is a 5 cent which is actually bigger than the 10 cent coin. So if your bill is $2.83 for example it will be rounded up to $2.85. Mind blowing! And before I forget the $100 note smells like maple syrup, I’m serious.
- Smoking – you barely see anyone smoke, in fact I probably see more joints than cigarettes. Talking of weed Vancouver has a lot of cannabis medical dispensaries.
- Eh! – most Canadians use this at the end of a statement/realisation.
The most Canadian things I am yet to see are: a bear, beavers and an ice hockey game. Watch this space.