Anything related to my new life under the snow. From bitching about the weather to hockey games and the Stanley Cup, from culture shock to shocking culture, from old Europe to the New Continent, whatever is on my newcomer’s mind!
Browsing: Canadian Life
The term “faux pas” comes originally from French (it literally means “misstep”)—I guess the French are so prone to cultural awkwardness they needed a word for it.
I like to think my parents raised me well and that I’m usually a polite and considerate person. But I was also very French when I settled in Canada, and my Frenchness led to me to commit many involuntarily social “oops”.
When it rains in Ottawa, it pours. And it has been pouring for almost a week non-stop now—blah weather, trust me. Umbrellas aren’t being terribly helpful because it’s flooded everywhere, and the wind is often too strong to hold the umbrella in the first place.
I headed to Château Laurier, nearby Parliament Hill, one of Ottawa’s most famous hotels and landmarks. The last time I was inside for a peek had been around Christmas time a few years ago, and this time it looked very different: brides and grooms had replaced Santa Claus!
The great part about immigrating to a new country is that you don’t lose anything—you gain new experiences and broaden your horizon. Sure, I occasionally miss French food (although I can quickly get sick of it) but I also discovered a lot of new products that don’t exist in France, or foods I just wasn’t familiar with.
It took me a while to start behaving as a consumer in Canada. At first, I marveled at how accommodating businesses were: customers could exchange merchandise, ask for refunds, demand to speak to a manger, complain about a service etc. I wouldn’t have dare to do so in France, first because there was little chance the business would actually care, second because it’s cultural—French consumers suck it up.
The opening weekend of the 2012 Tulips Festival was very warm, and most of the flowers had just bloomed. Dow’s Lake was packed and people were fighting to have their picture taken by the flower beds. Eh, this is Canada, we don’t get to see flowers other than at the grocery store for six months at the time!
The Front National went from being a marginal party in the 70s to being the third largest political force today. Frankly, if such a party existed in Canada, I’d be really annoyed. Fortunately, here, the influence of such fringe parties is very limited, so limited that I never hear anything about the Heritage Front or the Nationalist Party of Canada.
Some days are hot, some days are cold, but we are slowly getting there—spring is on the way. The grass is green, little critters can be spotted all around the city and flowers are blooming. It will take a while to be in full spring mode, but at least winter should be behind us by now. Hopefully, I didn’t just jinx it.
What better way to readapt to Canada than to go to a hockey game?
The Ottawa Senators made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and on Monday night, it was game 3 against the NY Rangers. We headed to Scotiabank under a dramatic stormy sky—it was over 27°C that night (and it’s now 4°C… go figure).
On Monday afternoon, the phone rang. I picked up and heard two seconds of static, often a telltale sign of telemarketing. I’m not sure why I didn’t hang up the phone. I usually do—we get a lot of telemarketing calls, and I have no patience for sales pitch at 2 p.m.
The transition from employee to freelancer reminded me that, when it comes to getting your first job in Canada, the challenge never ends. I’m now on “contract-hunting mode” and despite my relevant Canadian experience, it feels like starting from scratch again.
When I first came to Canada, I did notice stacks of flyers filling the mailbox and catalogues left periodically at the front door, but I didn’t think much of it. Spontaneously, I’d put all that in the recycle bin. I mean, I hadn’t skimmed through a brochure since I was a six years old impatiently waiting to look at the Galerie Lafayette toys catalogue around Christmas time!
My plan A was Goodlife Fitness, a gym with several locations in Ottawa. The membership fee being one of my main criteria, I went online to see how much it was. Surprise surprise, the fees were nowhere to be found. Instead, those interested in joining Goodlife where asked to provide their info to be contacted about plan rates.
Ottawa has the best ice sculpture and the Rideau Canal to skate, but Winterlude in Gatineau, Quebec, is also a great playground for some winter fun. Although it no longer has the huge snow sculptures competition, a few impressive bas-reliefs are carved at the bottom of the main attraction: the giant snow/ice slides.