First off, Canadians call the United States of America the states. Nobody really says the U.S. or America; South of the border is simply referred to as the states. When I moved from the states to Canada, I wasn't expecting it to really feel like a foreign country. But at the end of the day, it is. During my time living in Canada, I've realized there are a lot of differences, but here are the top 6 surprising differences between living in Canada and the United States.
I am an American and have been living in Canada for just over 7 months. There are so many similarities between the US and Canada, but living here has really highlighted how different our two countries are. So if you ever plan on moving to Canada, here's some tips on what will be different.
6 Difference Between Living in Canada and the United States
- Paying Your Tab: When you're done eating in a bar or restaurant in the states, you give your card to a waiter and they take it away to run it. That is not what happens in Canada. For some reason, Canadian credit and debit card security are much better. Not only do you not swipe your card (you TAP!), when it's time to pay the bill your waiter brings the card machine to you. Then they wait for you to run the card yourself and add the tip directly to the machine before it processes. It even makes it amazingly easy to split the bill and pass the card machine around the table to each person paying. Never again do you wait for your waiter to return with your card. Lifechanging.
- Saying Sorry: This is not groundbreaking, though still, it did surprise me how necessary it is. As a feminist who trained myself to not say sorry when I didn't mean it, it has been a hard transition. Similar to this hilarious video on the use of putain in French, sorry is a word that can be used in a myriad of ways. Didn't hear someone? Sorry. Late? Sorry. Early? Sorry. Passing someone on the street? Sorry. Forgot your reusable bag at the grocery store? Sorry. Getting someone's attention? Sorry. Not done with your dinner when the waiter comes by? You guessed it, sorry. If you're not saying sorry at every possible situation, you're considered rude.
- Data Limits for Wifi: Not all wifi is unlimited. It took me some time to wrap my head around this idea when my roommate told me we'd gone over our wifi limit for the month. Like, what? In the states, wifi is unlimited and there are no gig limits whatsoever. In Canada, you have to pay extra for your unlimited wireless internet plan or get a 20 gigabyte per month plan with fewer limits between 3-5am. Which is not even the lowest plan. Oh, and your cellphone? There is no such thing as unlimited data on a cellular plan. So my advice is to keep your US phone plan.
- Amazon: While Amazon exists in Canada, it is not the behemoth that it is in the states. And from what I've looked at, items on Amazon aren't any cheaper than things in stores. (Hello $20CAD pressed Maybelline powder, I'm talking to you.) It's crazy! And Prime Now? Ha! Getting things delivered via mail is a real reminder that you live in a foreign country, and the idea that something would be delivered within 2 hours is a distant dream. But anyway, if you're going to buy an item online, you can almost always find it for cheaper on a .ca website than on Amazon Canada. Perhaps it's a good thing that a smaller online business can offer better pricing and shipping offers than the global giant Amazon, but it sure is hard to lose the convenience and accessibility to products that Amazon offers in the states.
- Chicken Prices: I'm not an expert on farming subsidies, but there must be tax relief of some kind on chicken in the states. Because chicken is one of the more expensive meats in Canada. It is sometimes more expensive than pork and beef. It was shocking to me when I first moved here how much more expensive meat and groceries, in general, are here. But chicken prices are drastically different here than the US. Even in restaurants, items like sweet and sour chicken and meatballs are more often pork, because it is the less expensive meat here. Oh and chicken sausage? Basically non-existent. You can't find a chicken apple sausage to save your life.
- Shoes Off Inside: I know I'm not the only American who grew up in a house where shoes are allowed on inside. Where there are many homes that it's requested you remove your shoes upon entry in the states, in Canada shoes off inside is a way of life. I was looking around in a house full of strangers recently and realized we all had our shoes on, I turned to someone and said, "You're all American, aren't you!?" I was right. Even at house parties in Canada, everyone takes their shoes off. There is an office in my building where shoes are left outside the door. Way. Of. Life.
There are so many other differences, but these really summed up the things that surprised me the most during the first 7 months of living here. Don't get me started on the Queen of Canada. I know there are going to be others that come along, too. For now, I'm soaking up all of the ways that Canadians do things differently, learning from their way of life and taking my shoes off when indoors.