Canada – some tips on how to fit in

Moving to a different country obviously means having to adjust to the different culture. Even similar countries like Canada and Australia vary quite considerably. Things we say or do, or our tastes, in general, are strange to them (as many Canadians have pointed out), and vice versa.

Some tips:

  • A flat white coffee comes in one size. Order a latte instead. Canadian coffee sucks.
  • Hot chips are “fries” (duh).
  • Bread and milk taste weird.
  • Main meals are called “Entrees” and entrees are called “Appetizers” on menus.
  • Tax (GST and Provincial Sales Tax) are added on top of the listed price. So if a price tag says it is $10, that means $10 + tax.
  • Although they officially use the metric system, most Canadians use pounds for a measurement of weight. You may want to learn the conversion rate so you don’t scare yourself looking at the scales.
  • Be prepared to explain how Netball, AFL and Union or League work. They have no idea.
  • If you say “ice hockey” they will most likely correct you to just “hockey,” as if there is only one variation of the sport.
  • They celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. Depending on who you’re with, they go hard out with the dress up and the decor.














  • Their GPA scale is 0-4. If you say “4s open doors” they will think you’re more studious than you are.

    I argue this is okay because I am half Canadian

    I argue this is okay because I am half Canadian

  • Canadian students (at least at the University of Calgary) are VERY studious. Find the fun ones.
  • If you drive, you can turn right on a red light after stopping in most provinces.
  • If you don’t hold the door open for a person within 5 metres of you, then you are an asshole. To be safe hold it for anyone within 7 metres.
  • Guys may get patted down walking into clubs.
  • Recycle everything or you will feel like a bad person.
  • They call a maple leaf the “Canadian leaf” or the “Canadian flag leaf”, because they are so proud. I get this whenever I show a Canadian my tattoo.
  • As Canada is bilingual, most things, including road signs and packaging, are written in both English and French. If you go to Quebec (the French-speaking province), the people tend to live up to French stereotypes, not Canadian.


They live up to their stereotypes –

Broken down in the Tim's car park

Broken down in the Tim’s car park

  • They are polite and helpful, and they do say “eh” and “aboot” (but they don’t always think they do).
  • Poutine (hot chips, gravy and cheese) is delicious if done correctly. Generally, you should avoid poutine in fast food restaurants.
  • Maple syrup is a staple.
  • Tim Horton’s (coffee shops) are everywhere and sacred. On a road trip, our van broke down in a Tim’s car park. Four nice Canadian men wearing flannelette shirts came over and helped fix our van. Our Canadian friend brought them Tim’s gift cards as a thank you. As the photo suggests, this was, and still is, my most Canadian experience.
  • Ice hockey is big with most Canadians. It is also awesome. Go to a game or two.





Things most Canadians won’t understand:

  • Words like “bottle-o,” “fortnight,” or just general slang.
  • “Thongs” are flip-flops here (duh), but enjoy watching people’s faces when you tell them you’re wearing thongs. Especially old people.
  • Why you like Vegemite (if you do) – which by the way, you can find at London Drugs (in Calgary anyway).
  • That magpies are crazy, blood-thirsty, dangerous animals. Apparently they don’t swoop here but I haven’t been around in the Spring to verify this. If you flinch walking past a magpie there is a good chance they will laugh at you.
  • Some occasions when you’re being sarcastic or insulting, especially if you use the word “mate” in there. They get the obvious stuff, just not the subtler ones.

Hope this helps.

As always, email me at is you have specific questions.


Cultural Gulfs

Ok. So I admit that I was one of those people, despite warning, assumed their would only be really minor differences between Australian and English culture. In a lot of respects, I was probably right however there are a large number of subtle differences. For one, my accent is amusing to these people. That kinda sucks, but I guess it doesn’t surprise me.

The value of currency over here is still difficult to grasp. When you do some simple conversions in your head, you find some consumer goods like tooth brushes are way too expensive for what you’d expect to pay in Australia, whilst non-important things, such as alcohol (debatable) are actually slightly cheaper than what you’d expect to pay in Australia. Did I mention they also sell alcohol at supermarkets? Speaking of which, walking into a British supermarket is also disorienting. They seem to sell everything, their aisle formats are so different, and its basically a mission to find any brands that you’ll recognise (with the exception of major brands like Coke). That being said, I feel uncomfortable about not knowing where the UK sources its milk. I shall have to look into that.

I’ve also noticed people in the UK have this tendency to run a lot. What shocks me, is that pedestrians here aren’t very safe, I’ve noticed very few looking both ways crossing the road, they just run, in front of cars. Furthermore, their is a massive lack of safety mechanisms, such as zebra crossings, and those button things that we’d have in Brisbane, and even when you do see them, the Brit’s still leg it across the road.

Despite being here only 2 days, I’ve had plenty of awkward moments, but I guess it’s all part of the fun. One that comes to mind is offering to place one of those dividers between your goods and another persons on a supermarket conveyourbelt. In Australia, some people won’t even bother due to the small amount of goods they have, or they simply don’t feel the need. Here, it’s an absolute social expectation, so when I offered to do this for a gent behind me, he seemed rather shocked and irritated that I had to make an offer. Oh well.

Finally, I’d like to say the fish and chips here are amazing. And one of the people who served me looked like Noel Gallagher.

Stay classy Australia,