Celebrating Canada Day as a Germadian

Canada Day in Germany

Today is Canada Day! Happy 146th birthday Canada! It also marks the anniversary of when I moved to Germany three years ago.

I will always be Canadian, but yet I’ve changed in the past three years.  I’m far from being German, nor is that my goal. But I have picked up some German characteristics, while losing some of my Canadian ones.

For example, my first impression upon arriving back on Canadian soil is not one of bliss, but of….annoyance.  It starts from the moment I walk off the airplane and onto the elevator, which is completely blocked.  People STANDING on both the left and the right side of the escalator I immediately feel a ping of homesickness for Germany where you stand on the right side and WALK on the left side.  It’s all about efficiency people!

At the grocery store in Canada a confused look crosses my face as the cashier asks How’s your day going so far? Why is she asking?  She doesn’t really care.  Oh right, this is what we do in Canada. I mumble something awkward at first, thumbing through my memory for an appropriate response, but after a week or so I fall back into it.  My brain has remembered and after a brief adjustment period, I decide that it’s kind of nice to connect with complete strangers, albeit it pointless on many levels. But upon returning to Germany, I am homesick for the chatty cashiers in Canada and think Would it hurt you to smile, or to pretend to care about my day?

In Germany, I would not dare open a conversation with What do you do for a living? and am taken aback when someone asks me this in Canada.  How rude! I think. There’s more to me than what I do for a living.  Why not try asking what I do for fun or how I spend my weekends? Then I remember that I also used to ask this when I lived in Canada. Despite not doing this in German, I’m still working on my social awkwardness when meeting Germans.  It’s definitely getting better, but it’s still there.

My Canadian friends think I’m lucky that I travel so much, but I see it as a choice, a lifestyle design.  Admittedly as a travel blogger, I do travel more than the average person, but J.P. (my German husband) and I have designed a lifestyle that allows for plenty of travel and fun. This means that while we have a much smaller house than our friends in Canada do, we travel more. For me, it’s a matter of choice, rather than of luck. And it’s a lifestyle that many of our German friends choose as well.

Despite my affinity for Germany,  my Canadian-ness also presents itself on a regular basis. I will never understand the German aversion to tap water and to ordering bottled water in a restaurant when the water quality is perfectly good.

I hate conflict and want everyone to get along.  At times the German fondness for intense debates is too much for my Canadian blood.

I don’t think I will ever understand the need to confront a complete stranger on the street about something they’re doing wrong, whether it be crossing the street on a red light or using the “wrong” baby buggy.  Really who cares?

I still really miss tiger ice cream, Tim Horton’s and poutine.  I think about them way more than is probably healthy. I can’t understand why the concept of an ice-cream float has never caught on in Germany –  and why you get a really strange look if you try to order one even after explaining what it is. The restaurant has all the ingredients – Coke and ice-cream! On the other hand, there are no Hugos in Canada – which is my favorite drink in Germany. For more differences about food and drink in Canada and Germany click  here.

My German is still a work-in-progress, although I speak Denglish (mixture of English and German) fluently. My thinking is no longer solely Canadian, but nor is it German.

Rather than trying to define myself as being Canadian or German, I’ve decided to take what works for me from each culture and combined it into something that I’m calling Germadian – a blend of German and Canadian culture. The great thing about being a Germadian is that it results in whatever you perceive to be as the best of both cultures. My Germadian could look very different from yours. It’s taking what works for you and adapting it and omitting what doesn’t work for you. Heck we even implemented Germadian into our wedding in Canada.

So there you have it, I’m celebrating Canada Day by being Germadian and dreaming of Tim Horton’s, tiger ice-cream and poutine. Being Canada Day and all, I’m feeling nostalgic and am more on the Canadian spectrum of Germadian today. I have a feeling that an ice-cream float will have to suffice and I have no doubt the cashier a the grocery store will have zero interest in hearing about my plans for Canada Day, or about how she is missing out by not trying a Coke float, but I’m cool with that – I’m Germadian.

Comments

  1. says

    Lol Happy Canada Day! You’re so funny, perfectly describing how I feel about Germans and Canadians but in first-person. I think you make a pretty stellar citizen no matter where you are!

  2. says

    Oh poutine – I miss it so often too. Summer makes me miss Canada’s patio culture – having beers outside in the late afternoon, and just chilling out and people watching. That definitely doesn’t happen here in Japan.

    • says

      I’m lucky in that there’s a huge beer garden culture in Munich, similar to the patio culture in Canada, but unfortunately no poutine. I guess Japan doesn’t really have the space, but it is a shame.

    • says

      @Katherine – Very true and I also thought Germans were rude when I first moved here. I’ve come to understand their behaviour more, but there are still times I don’t totally get it.

  3. says

    As we travel and come and go from Germany, I definitely see how much of the German culture I have adsorbed. Or maybe those were traits I always had that just are encouraged here so they come out. That blend of whatever from both cultures you want is one of my favorite aspects of being and expat.

  4. says

    What a fun post, Laurel. I can relate to many of these from when I was at uni in the USA. Very annoying how people there blocked escalators and asked personal questions of strangers. And I remember really missing good debates/arguments – a party wasn’t quite the same without one. I suppose we’re like the Germans in that way. Also, can’t believe I’ve been to Canada 4-5 times, but have never tried poutine. Only recently heard about it, so must search it out the next time.

    • says

      Thanks Sophie. I thought I liked to debate when I was in Canada, but it wasn’t until I moved to Germany that I realized how “Canadian” my debating was – nothing compared to the Germans. Definitely must try poutine. It’s a Quebec thing, but you can still find it across the country.

  5. says

    I love this Laurel! I’m just hitting my 2 year anniversary of being in Germany, and I understand what you mean. There are some things I really, really miss about the US, especially certain foods, but then there are certain things about Germany that I really like. Though I have seen enough evidence of German efficiency being a myth, there is a good amount of order and expectations here that you don’t necessarily get in other places. It gets reinforced as we travel too. We just spent a month in Italy, which was great, but the bus system seemed haphazard, random and totally unreliable with no schedules posted anywhere. Here you know when the bus or tram is coming and you plan around it. And if it’s a minute or 2 late, people start huffing and puffing. Can I be a Germerican? :-)

    • says

      @Ali – Thanks so much. I miss certain foods the most as well. German efficiency is an interesting thing. Sometimes it’s there, other times not so much. I do like it when it comes to travel and you can definitely be a Germerican :)

  6. says

    From my first visit to Germany to this very day, I’ve felt either that I now have a adopted country or a country that has adopted me. Either way, being somewhat of a Germadian. Well said, Laurel.

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