10 Signs You Are Still New to Canada

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Look and Feel Canadian! (Funny lipstick spotted in France in 2010)

Look and Feel Canadian! (Funny lipstick spotted in France in 2010)

Moving to a new country is exciting, scary and challenging. You will likely ride an emotional rollercoaster as you adapt to your new environment—and yes, you will deal with many small cultural differences that may not seem obvious at first.

But little by little, you will adapt. And one day, you will look back and realize how “Canadian” you have become compared to your friends or family members visiting, or compared to most newcomers.

Meanwhile, here are ten signs that you are still new to Canada!

It’s 10°C and you are still wearing a scarf and a winter jacket—you even have a pair of gloves stuffed in your pocket. Strangely enough, most people around you are wearing shorts, skirts and t-shirts—these weird folks are “true” Canadians celebrating the beginning of spring. Don’t worry, give it a few years and you will find yourself rummaging through your “summer clothes” box at the bottom of the closet as soon as the thermometer hits 0°C.

Barely awake, you ask for an extra-large coffee at Tim Hortons and wince when half a liter of hot sugary water is brought to the counter. Remember: in Canada, everything is bigger than in most countries (unless you are travelling to the United States!). A “small” or “medium” size is usually big enough!

You attempt to walk from one end of a street to the other end. The bad news is, streets here can be several kilometers long. Yonge Street, in Toronto, is one of the longest streets in the world at 1,896 km. Ahem… enjoy your walk!

You find endless conversations about the weather awkward and boring—can’t they talk about anything else? No you did not witness the North American Ice Storm of 1998. Yes, it is quite chilly today with a windchill of -40°C. No, you didn’t check the Weather Network and you don’t give a damn about the 14-day trend. Gosh, what’s with these Canadians?

You think Canadian Tire only sells… well, tires. And you quite don’t get what the big deal is with the stack of Canadian Tire money on your co-worker’s desk.

You can’t help wondering whether Don Cherry is colour-blind or if his stylist truly hates him. And why he is always pissed off, screaming at the players? Isn’t hockey supposed to be just a game, for Christ’s sake?

You know that it can’t be the sea but you can’t help marveling at how huge and endless rivers and lakes seem to be.

Of course you know Canadian bands and singers! Like… Céline Dion. And this band that always plays on radio—ah, Nickelback! And there is this kid as well, the one who looked like an idiot wearing overalls when meeting Stephen Harper. The who? The Tragically Hip? Billy Talent? Crash Test Dummies? The Watchmen? Nope, never heard of them.

You don’t speak a word of French. Like, not a single word. Hint: start reading the back of any product package and you will pick it up in no time! Mais oui! Free French lessons with each box of cereal—a Canada-only special offer! (Warning: not applicable for products sold in Chinatown, the translation will likely be hilariously atrocious).

You wonder why people apologize when you accidentally bump into them, offend them, ask them to repeat something, etc. Welcome to Canadian, where apologizing for no reason is a national pastime. Sorry, eh!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Amazing!! Especially the bit about the streets! Also, there’s that thing where you look at a Mao and think ‘Oh that’s not far away’, then you get directions and realise it is a six hour drive away. It is so easy to forget how huge this country is compared with, in my case, England, and in your case, France!

  2. AH AH AH, very good 🙂
    I realized that if one was to write 10 Signs You Are Still New to Québec it would be sightly different 🙂
    (and I definitively agree, you are not a real canadian until you have a pile of Canadian Tire’s money)

  3. This post has made me realise just how un-Canadian I have become that it’s scary!

    It’s 15°C and I’m still wear­ing a scarf and a win­ter jacket.

    I only drink Italian moka-style coffee.

    2 years ago I tried to walk down the length of Bank Street and I nearly died. It seems like it grew or something since I was a child.

    Talking about weather is small talk for me.

    I never understood Canadian Tire money. I’m proud it’s Canadian, though!

    Don Cherry, who’s that exactly? Isn’t that a bar?

    As for the rest, I’m still Canadian! And I love me a visit to Timmies for Timbits and iced caps!

    • Bank Street is super long…! I tried to alk it too when I first came and I wasn’t read for that!

      Don Cherry… the coach?

  4. I had a good laugh reading this. So true… the weather stories, the singers (I caught myself pretending I knew these bands, though I haven’t heard them) and the apologizing!

  5. Well, I’m still new to Canada ! I couldn’t care less about hockey and I don’t really enjoy the supersize coffee! But I do go out in skirts when it’s 10 or lower, but after all, that’s from being from Patagonia ;).

    • Coming from Patagonia (I still find that fact super cool :lol:), you definitely have an edge over other new Canadians 😉 I didn’t like the coffee here until I had Mark… now I don’t mind.

  6. You made my day and made me a tiny bit smarter – never new a street can be that long!!! Oh, well that just means, I still attempt to walk, and walk, and walk up and down the streets, when smarter people just take buses. But, hey, I like walking!!!
    And Don Cherry will never cease to amaze me with his fashion choices… :D:D

    • Same here, I love walking so I don’t mind these endless streets… but I draw the line at Yonge Street though 😆

      Ah, Don Cherry… nope, it’s not the TV, it’s his clothes 😆

  7. Great list Zhu. Hubbie and I were only watching the hockey game last night exclaiming “what the hell is he wearing’ and ‘will he please stop shouting!?”. I regularly marvel at the lake and always get the wrong size it Tims. Yes I’m still a newbie!

    • Being a newbie is fun though, so much to discover and to appreciate…! Make sure you take notes and write about your experiences, they will be precious when you look back 🙂

  8. Sudarsan Ramesh on

    Zhu, I’ve been reading your blog very regularly for quite some time now (It’s been a year). You’re a great writer and I love your posts. They are soo informative and funny. Oh yeah.. we’re all waiting to see pictures of the Dragon’s first birthday! 😛

    Like you, even I want to immigrate to Canada from India although I’m only 16. You’ve inspired me. Thanks! ^_^

    Never give up writing. I plan to start a blog if I’m successful too!

    • Thank you Sudarsan! I appreciate you take the time to read and leave me a message. I hope your dream will come true… immigrating to Canada is an adventure but if you prepare well, you will be successful. I don’t want to sound like your mum, but do well at school, it will open all the doors for you 😉

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