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10 Things Canadians Should Know About America

The first time I heard "Uh huh" as the reply to my gratitude-filled "Thank you," I repeated my "Thank you" again, thinking the barista did not hear me. Even a second time, the reply was "Uh-huh." So, I just assumed that the barista was rude. How wrong I was.
Hand waving american flag.
Hand waving american flag.

Canada is my home and I never thought I would ever have to move away. However, we moved to the United States a year and half ago so my husband could pursue a career advancement. There were a few things that struck me as odd when I first moved to the States and still continue to do so. The most confusing for me, by far, has been the units of measurement. I still cannot wrap my head around Fahrenheit and miles. Why cannot the Americans just use Celsius and kilometres like the rest of the world? I am also still struggling with the spelling. (Note that I still spell kilometres and not kilometers.)

If you are moving to the States or perhaps, just visiting then the following list may be prove beneficial:

1. Santa is never hot in Canada but he may be in America.

I took this picture at a mall near San Francisco. Poor Santa was sweating profusely!

2. American Smarties are not the same as Canadian Smarties.

The picture on the top shows the Smarties from Canada and the one on the bottom shows the Smarties from America. Cleary, not the same thing! Unfortunately, you will not find the candy coated milk chocolate Smarties here in the States.

My daughter had gotten a rice krispies treat at school from her teacher for finishing a project. My daughter, however, returned the treat back to the teacher as she could not eat marshmallows. At pick-up time, the teacher asked me if she could offer my daughter some Smarties instead. When I agreed, the teacher went inside her classroom and brought back a whole stash of Rockets for my daughter. If I had known that we would have gotten a heap of candy tablets, I would have surely declined. That is when I realized that American Smarties are not the same as Canadian Smarties.

3. American coffee does not taste as good as the Canadian coffee.

I am not much of a coffee drinker but I hear no one makes coffee quite like Tim Horton's. When our Canadian visitors crave for coffee, we take them to the local cafes. However, they always sulk and say, "No one does it like Tim Horton's." My mom was going through a coffee withdrawal when she came to visit us for a month. She was happy to finally go back home to Canada because she was able to get her "Medium double, double" again. Personally, I do not care much for the coffee. Poutine is what I miss!

4. The letter Z is "Zee" not "Zed" in America.

I had a hard time registering my son for school after we first moved here. When the school admin asked my son's spelling, I began with "Zed" but she could not comprehend me. I kept repeating "Zed" what seemed like a dozen times but she kept interrupting me. So, I decided to clarify, "Zed" as in "Zebra", and then she seemed annoyed and said, "Oh! You mean, Zee?"

5. The reply to a "Thank you!" in America is not "You are welcome!" But, it is "Uh huh."

The first time I heard "Uh huh" as the reply to my gratitude filled "Thank you", I repeated my "Thank you" again thinking the barista did not hear me. Even a second time, the reply was "Uh-huh." So, I just assumed that the barista was rude. I just dismissed her reply thinking I would not hear "You are welcome" from her. Much later, I realized that she was not the anomaly; the acceptable reply to "Thank you" is "Uh huh" here.

6. America has poisonous snakes.

There are 4 different types of deadly poisonous snakes in America: Copperhead, Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth and Coral Snake.Their venom can kill a person. On the other hand, Canada does not have any deadly poisonous snakes. The number one reason my son did not want to move to the States was the abundance of poisonous snakes here.

7. A Washroom is a Restroom in America.

I was at the shopping mall and I could not locate the washroom. So, I had no choice but to ask the store clerk where it was. And when I did, I got a blank stare as if something was stuck in the middle of my teeth. I swiped my tongue over my teeth and then repeated the question. But all I got was yet another blank stare. I desperately translated washroom into every word I could think of: "toilet", "bathroom", and "water-closet". And then the clerk finally said, "Oh, you mean the restroom?"

8. No one seems to play street hockey in America.

Imagine our disappointment when none of our neighbors in our American suburb play street hockey. Children in our Canadian suburbia spent all the good weather days playing street hockey. It was a tie that bound the neighbours together. So far, we have not come across any children playing street hockey here in the States. We miss playing street hockey.

9. There are more gun stores in America than grocery stores.

Do not be scared if there is a big gun store a few blocks from where you live. I came across a big Walmart type store, Guns, Fishing and other Stuff, not far home when I first moved here and could not get rid of the lump in my throat for a few days. Fortunately or unfortunately, the only weapons I possess are my children when they start throwing spit balls at each other.

10. Many Americans do not know where or what Ottawa is.

I find it infuriating when I tell someone that I am from Ottawa, Canada and they simply do not know where it is. Imagine my contempt when I have to say, "It's about 4 hours from Toronto. It is the capital of Canada!" One should at least know the capital of their neighbouring country. A 2011 poll found that just 48 percent of Americans knew the name of the Canadian capital. Sad, eh?

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