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, visiting family members or 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

Then you wince when half a litre 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 kilometres 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 can’t help marvelling at how huge and endless rivers and lakes seem to be

You know that it can’t be the ocean but it sure looks like it.

Of course, you know Canadian bands and singers!

Like… Céline Dion. And this band that always plays on the 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!

Get the latest story, cultural shock and travel pictures right in your inbox

I don't spam, promise.

I literally don't have the time to write ten stories a day.

Visited 12 times, 1 visit(s) today


  1. Holly Nelson May 9, 2013 at 8:13 am

    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!

    1. Zhu May 9, 2013 at 10:09 am

      So true! It takes me a while to adapt to European distances when I go back too. everything seems so close!

  2. Alice in Quebequie May 9, 2013 at 8:20 am

    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)

    1. Zhu May 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

      You should write one on Québec… I’d be curious to see the differences!

  3. Jen May 9, 2013 at 8:27 am

    The apologising-when-it-wasn’t-your-fault is a British thing too.

    1. Zhu May 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Canadians probably got it from the British actually… that’s true!

  4. Dennation May 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    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!

    1. Zhu May 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      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?

  5. Cecille May 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    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!

    1. Zhu May 9, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      The apologizing is actually a good thing, I think!

  6. Estefania May 10, 2013 at 7:01 am

    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 ;).

    1. Zhu May 10, 2013 at 10:24 am

      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.

  7. Colleen Brynn May 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Haha! As a Canadian, I have to say… this is great! Made my morning.

    1. Zhu May 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Glad it made you laugh!

  8. Inese May 11, 2013 at 12:39 am

    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

    1. Zhu May 11, 2013 at 10:07 am

      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 😆

  9. Lou's Lake Views May 14, 2013 at 11:33 am

    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!

    1. Zhu May 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      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 🙂

  10. Your Friendly Neighborhood Bookworm August 17, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Lol, I’m Canadian and this just cracked me up. 🙂

    1. Zhu August 17, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      Happy I made you laugh 🙂

  11. Sudarsan Ramesh August 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    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!

    1. Zhu August 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      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 😉


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *