On my walk to work, I go past an advert for upper-years halls of residence, which uses the word “adulting”. This makes me smile, since I often think of my time here in Canada as a break from adulting. Am I studenting? Or Canadianing? Or academicking – which presumably involves learning to avoid such inelegant uses of vocabulary?!
I’m not doing very well at Canadianing today. The weather certainly doesn’t help: we had sunshine for a couple of hours yesterday, which was fabulous after over a fortnight of fog and drizzle, but today has been dark so far, and it has sapped my energy and mental clarity. Little things have mounted up to make me feel a bit overwhelmed by being away from familiar places and processes:
Watching the morning news at the gym (I think it was a Michigan-based programme on a U.S. channel, but I’m not sure), and not having background knowledge about any of the places or people being discussed.
At the supermarket, why is there popcorn in four different places, but nothing in the bag size/flavour combination that I want? (I’m craving the yellow bags of Proper Corn, so wanted a Canadian equivalent). And why on earth are the rice cakes not in the same aisle as the crackers? This bothers me every time I go food shopping, so I need to get it off my chest!
Parking outside the hairdressers ‘on a meter’. But the meter doesn’t seem to be working, and I don’t KNOW that it’s definitely NOT working, so I put money into it then worry that I’ll still get a parking ticket.
Not being given a gown to wear whilst my hair is being washed and cut, but a complicated arrangement of small towels. Then paying, and not really knowing how much to tip.
By the time I got back to my car (luckily, there was no parking ticket), it was homesickness-overload. I’d been thinking of going out for a coffee, but knew that if I was asked “2% or skim?”, I’d dissolve in a heap. So for now, I’m cozied up at home next to the SAD lamp, eating the last piece of my mum’s Christmas cake and planning an essay.
Now here’s the tricky bit. My friends here in Canada are fabulous, and I’m sure some of them will read this and think “but they sell Proper Corn in Walmart/meters are totally obvious/always tip 18%.” And they’ll tell me, and that’ll make it easier in the future, but it doesn’t make me feel any better right now. In fact, the unintended implications of “this is really easy” will probably just make me feel even less competent at Canadian-ing.
And I’m not saying that I don’t want to be here, or that I want things to be different here, so I don’t want to risk them thinking that either. It’s just that sometimes I miss being at home.
To be continued, when I promise to focus on the positives (and there are many of them!) of Canadianing.