Walking home with the grocery shopping, Ottawa, February 2015
Walking home with the grocery shopping, Ottawa, February 2015

My tan is already fading. I think so, anyway—it’s not like I have many occasions to strip and take selfies in front of the mirror these days. It’s cold, bitterly cold, so cold that I already forgot what it feels like to sweat.

And I certainly don’t want to be naked, unless I’m in a hot shower.

It’s been a week since we got back. I had coffee (many cups actually). I chop vegetables every night, and yes, I pee alone—most of the time anyway.

So what else did I miss that I can enjoy freely in Canada? I need more incentives to stay here!

The convenience of a fridge

The other day, I called my mum on Skype from my phone, on my way to the supermarket.

“Isn’t it too cold to walk outside?” she asked.

“Meh. I’m almost running. I mean, I would if I wasn’t having a smoke and talking to you. Besides, I really need… don’t laugh, please—a frozen pizza. They are on sale and I like to have a couple in the fridge, just in case I don’t have the time to cook.”

“Well, I guess they won’t spoil on your way back home!” she laughed.

Indeed, they wouldn’t—the perks of living in a giant fridge.

A fridge is an awesome appliance. I miss it during the trip: food spoils easily when it’s hot and humid. A few hotel rooms had minibars and we would stick a banana and a yogurt in the cooler, but most of the time we had to do without a fridge. It sucked, because I love yogurts and cold drinks. I had to buy my dairy fix at the end of the day and eat it right away, and we couldn’t shop at the supermarket even if we were staying a few days in the same city.

In Canada, we have a big “frigo américain” as the French say—a big top-mount fridge with a freezer on top and the refrigerator at the bottom. I don’t use the freezer much (we have Feng’s ice cream in it, as well as the two frozen pizzas I bought) but the refrigerator is full of yogurts, veggies, eggs, tofu, ham, etc.

The second appliance I missed? A microwave. I don’t eat frozen dinners but it’s still very handy to warm out leftovers or make oatmeal or even a quick single-serve soup!

A fast Internet connection

With the exception of Buenos Aires where the Wi-Fi was consistently crappy and/or a paying option, we managed to connect in each city we stayed in. Yet, our connection was generally unreliable and slower than at home.

Keeping the blog updated was an interesting exercise, as I had very little time (a short window at the end of the night) and a bad connection. I prepared all the articles offline, choosing the pictures, resizing them, and uploading them in batches as soon as the Wi-Fi was working fine. I wrote many of the articles during bus trips, for as long as my laptop battery would allow (50 minutes top).

At home, I take my Internet connection for granted and I complained if it lags just a little bit. If else fails, I can always check my emails on my phone or any place that offers free Wi-Fi, such as the library or Starbucks.

The downside of being connected all the time is that there is always something to do online. I wish I had had the time to reply to all the comments and questions, but other than that, I don’t feel I missed out much. This makes me wonder… do I spend too much time online at home?

Making phone calls

I’m not a phone person. In fact, I almost only use my Android for emails and apps but for the occasional where-are-you-can-you-buy-bread call to Feng. Last year, I installed Skype on my phone and I realized I could call my mom in France from anywhere, which is pretty cool. I also have a couple of friends I enjoy having long conversations with, so whenever I walk to the store, I use this time to make my phone calls. It’s a practical way to stay in touch.

However, I don’t travel with my phone. We have enough electronic devices (camera, Kindle, a laptop) and I wouldn’t know how to use it efficiently anyway (what’s “roaming”? Why is my bill two billion dollars?).

I did miss the convenience of making a quick call when I met Chiruza Canadiense, as we had to set up our meeting by email and I could very well have missed her. Having a phone would have been handy as well when Feng and I split to explore different parts of the city.

On the downside, the phone ring startled me the other day, and I’m back dealing with relentless telemarketers who think I need to clean the gutters, upgrade my Internet connection, buy insurance or apply for a new credit card.


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 1 times, 1 visit(s) today


  1. Jeruen February 12, 2015 at 9:01 am

    I shouldn’t gloat: I love where I am right now and therefore if someone said I can stay indefinitely in Berlin I would. As much as I love traveling and being out of my element for a few weeks, somehow Berlin feels like home to me, at least for the past couple of years. I love touching down at the airport and coming back to my own flat, my own bed, my own kitchen.

    That being said, I know the feeling of mehness (is that even a word) back when I was in Buffalo. For 7 years, I just dealt with it Zen-like, with every return from a trip, like a mantra, telling myself that I’m gonna get out of here soon.

    1. Zhu February 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      I envy your zen-like attitude… I could use some of it. Feeling home is a wonderful thing. I think I lost that feeling.

  2. Holly February 12, 2015 at 11:39 am

    In the summer, on the other hand, the milk goes bad just driving back to the house! I miss summer so much 🙁

    1. Zhu February 12, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      Me too 🙁

  3. Chiruza Canadiense February 12, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Don’t miss summer…today it was 34 degrees here at noon, I was standing in front of the Obelisco trying to cross the street, the sun hitting me…I felt as if I were melting !

    Oh yeah, I remember that day…thank God I run into Feng on Corrientes Avenue, or I would have missed you !

    Anyway, have you checked your twitter lately ? If not, please do…got some serious shit from the BIQ yesterday… 😀

    1. Zhu February 12, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      It was -20 today, probably even colder with the wind. I’m trying to be sympathetic… sorry, I can’t 😆

      Will check Twitter, I rarely use it unless I’m on my phone (which is never these days, poor phone freezes outside!)

  4. Kiwi February 14, 2015 at 3:56 am

    I miss the conveniences of home when I travel, but I am like you.. I don’t want to go home (and I do..). We just spent a quick 4 days away which was a flight to another city on the sea which we spent the whole time dodging torrential rain, driving over mountain ranges in thick snow (and spinning out a couple of times), showing our marriage certificate to get a room in a hotel together, driving again through crazy snow while being overtaken by crazy fast cars, trucks and buses which almost wiped us out, getting stopped on the road for a few hours while an accident was cleared (bus crash) and being 2 hours from home and stopping at a hotel because we just couldn’t go any further in the snow.

    But we got home and felt as if we hadn’t even been away! Even though our trip was really dangerous, we crave adventure and have the at home blues now. I wish I could spend my whole life travelling!

    1. Zhu February 14, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      I think the key is to mix it up. You need the contrast of a “boring” life at home to fully appreciate the adventure (WTF with your crazy trip!!?). That’s what I tell myself anyway.


Leave A Comment

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