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.