Cell Phones, Tea, and Grape Nuts

There’s that St. Patrick’s Day was probably taken very seriously last week, and the NCAA March Madness basketball games were probably on television in all the bars (and condos, for that matter).

It’s not just the sports, though. It’s not just drinking as a sport (which is how I’d characterize my past St. Patty’s Days). Actually, drinking as a sport is something Canadians do well, come to think about it.

I”m finally starting to notice some subtle differences between Chicago and Vancouver.

I mean, there’s the obvious ones.

There’s that the Blackhawks are a good hockey team.  Before you locals get upset, I’m only half kidding.  And the Americans won’t get that joke anyway.

There’s that St. Patrick’s Day was probably taken very seriously last week, and the NCAA March Madness basketball games were probably on television in all the bars (and condos, for that matter).

It’s not just the sports, though.  It’s not just drinking as a sport (which is how I’d characterize my past St. Patty’s Days).  Actually, drinking as a sport is something Canadians do well, come to think about it.

There are nuances that remind me every day that I’m living not only in a place that’s quite far from the Midwest and Chicago and the suburbs I grew up in, but I’m actually living in a foreign country.

The most obvious clue is that all (like every single one) of the women are gorgeous.  I thought that was kind of a Milan or Prague or FantasyLand thing, but it’s true here.

Then there’s the fact that everything is written in English and in French.  Which strikes me as quite an effort; a country supporting two languages has a lot more work to do, methinks.

Oh, and they drink tea here, from what I’ve found.  Lots and lots of tea.  Lots of coffee too…okay this might be universal at this point, so take it for what it’s worth.  There are less Starbucks than I’d expected, which I can’t say about American cities.

They have amazing coffee here, by the way.  You should come visit.

What’s surprised me the most is how little the stuff that jumps out at me is.

I grabbed some groceries this weekend.  I picked up Grape Nuts, because I have an unhealthy obsession with them (ironic, right?).  They tasted like cardboard.  They actually tweaked Grape Nuts to make them more palatable to Canadians.  What is the world coming to?

The same is true of the international chain restaurants, which I know we’ve all heard.  Slightly different McDonald’s and Subway menus (and way different prices…ugh).  My friends and family will be surprised I’ve even tried fast food here, since I’m not a big fan, but it becomes kind of a novelty outside the States, so I’ve both once.

Drivers here stop for pedestrians.  By that I mean that if you so much as nod towards the road every car on it will stop to wait and see if you’d like to cross.

Oh, did I tell you that I grocery shop at a place call Buy-Low?  I thought it’d be like a Dollar Store that sold food.  Instead it’s kind of a Dollar Store that sells awesome, organic food.  Everything here is organic; I’m still waiting to see a loaf of bread that’s not organic in Vancouver.

Now I’m off to try and figure out a cell phone.

Yeah, I’ve gone without one since January.

Read that again.

Two months without a cell phone.

It’s possible, folks.

I didn’t think so either.

What’s weird about where you live?

Image by Darwin Bell.

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