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Friday, February 12, 2010
Crushing on Canada by Expat
My heart skips a beat. A chill runs down my spine. I am reminded of my high school days when the boy that I was crushing on would be waiting at my locker to speak to me. That is the feeling that I get every time that I see that familiar maple leaf flag.
Seven years of living in the United States has made me a giddy school girl when it comes to seeing the symbols of my Home and Native Land. It is just so rare to see a Canadian flag or hear O Canada on this side of the border that, when I do, I have a very visceral reaction. There is no doubt about it, Canada makes my innards smile.
It is, therefore, with great anticipation that I await the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Games. Although NBC's television coverage will be centered upon American athletes, Canada will be the star of the show. Without a doubt, my American television will never have seen this much Canadian content. Well... at least not since WGN's Corner Gas marathon!
Edit: NBC's coverage is serving as Canada 101. American friends and family, you are being schooled! :)
Expats can catch tomorrow's Grey Cup action live on ESPN 360 at 6:30 EST. CFL.ca will also be broadcasting the game, but there is a bit of a catch. It will be broadcast live outside of North America and then archived for later viewing for those in North America, excluding Canada.
Edit: Don't forget that the pregame excitement can be heard online! For Riders fans, listen live at CJME. For Alouttes fans, you are on your own! :P
As we approach Canada Day, thought I'd open up the conversation to odd, strange, quirky things that you might remember about your youth in Canada. Got the idea after picking up a case of Pop Shoppe pop the other day - at Costco of all places...
This is something that takes me way back. My parents used to take us to Ernies Vaccuum's (not a word of a lie!) and they sold vaccuums (duh), guitars, pet food and pop shoppe pop in the back. You'd bring back your empties - kinda like the beer store - but they'd have these plastic cases to load up with your favourite flavours. They'd have all the different flavours in stacks, and you could pick out what you'd like - mix and match - so everyone would get what they wanted. (i preferred the lime rickey...)
I don't know if this is something that was well known across Canada, or somewhat localized. We had some friends over the other day, and the one didn't know what Pop Shoppe was... She was from Ottawa, slightly younger than we are - so maybe that's a difference too. I don't remember the pop shoppe through my teen years, although I was probably less concerned with that kind of pop than another ;-) Anyone else out there remember The Pop Shoppe?!?
Since I know all you expats out there are thinking about Canada Day - and finding this little blog - do a little sharing, and add a quick comment about something uniquely Canadian that you remember from your youth.
Have a great Canada Day - try not to drink too many pops :-P
"It's like wiping your ass with silk, I love it!" is the famous quote from The Matrix movie, about how French is the best language and that he loves to swear in French.
Now like any good canadian - I swear like a sailor. BUT - it's not exactly business language or generally accepted... So I found a way around it. I learned how to swear in multiple languages!
I went to school in French immersion, and grew up about an hour from the Quebec border - so of course I can swear in French, but that's not my true love. I love swearing in Portuguese!
How it all started, foda-se!
It all started one looooooooooooooong weekend in China. It may seem like an odd place to discover swearing in Portuguese, but we were deploying a new software release in our Suzhou factory, when on a Friday afternoon - 5 days before the go live - we found a problem. The basic problem was that the local test team didn't test this 'critical' aspect, but the bigger problem was that we now had a very short time to fix the problem and it was somebody else's old code. So where does the Portuguese come in? Well, the developers and most of the deployment team with me, were Portuguese. We got on the phone with one of the developers in Portugal who had inherited the code, and we were making slow progress in English - so as normal, I told the Portuguese deployment guy I had with me, Tiago, to talk to him in Portuguese to get the process moving. The guy in Portugal went off. I had been around the Portuguese guys for some time, and it's relatively close to french - so I was able to decipher quite a bit, but there were some things that I didn't know - that he would roll through over and over again. Once the local team gave up for the day and left, so I asked Tiago what he was saying... and that's how it all started. I said it was a long weekend, Tiago and I spent about 40 hours over that weekend in the factory trying to fix this stupid problem. By the time the weekend was over - I had mastered half of the Portuguese swearing I know now ;-)
BTW - the project was cancelled... we figured out the problem, but the locals came in on the Monday, and cancelled the upgrade on us... we went drinking :-P
Not all languages have interesting words
Chinese swearing - doesn't exist. At least I could never get it out of them. They blushed everytime I asked. The worst I got basically translated to 'pig'. ooooooooooooo. Maybe someone out there knows?
I also lived and worked in Germany for a few years, and since most of them spoke english I pulled out the Portuguese swearing when I was really in a foul mood. But I did get to learn some of the local vocabulary. One of the first things I learned, was how to respond to the regular morning question - how are you doing today? To which I needed to respond 'crappy'... On top of the regular bad words, I was told how to insult Germans from the varying parts of Germany. One of these loosely translated to have something to do with marmalade... not sure how that would be insulting, but my teacher was very impressed with my ability to pronounce the confounded words properly.
Where and When is important...
As I travelled from place to place so often, I would use the different languages to blow off steam in the opposite places. While my favorite was always Portuguese, and could get away with it in most places - I had to switch to German when in Portugal, unless I was in the company of friends and then they appreciated my knowledge of their language and proper pronunciation ;-)
So I'll put the question out there - have you learned any new languages? More importantly - can you curse in those languages? How many? Which ones?!?
Hi all, as Expat mentioned in her intro for me - I'm a recovering expat, lived in Richmond, VA - U.S for almost 5 years and then Dresden, Germany for 2 years. During those years, I had also spent a significant amount of time in China, Portugal, Austria and Malaysia (and a few other places too...). In all that time, in all those places and all the people I met - once I told them that I was Canadian - there were two very common reactions from almost everyone of them...
1. They seemed happier/more relaxed with me - because I was not American. (most assume that since you're speaking english, without a british accent, that you're american...)
- and -
2. The first thing to come out of their mouth is 'Isn't it COLD there?'.
Number 2 is the reason why I write my other blog. There's really very little convincing you can do when talking to people about it - so now that I'm no longer an expat, but living back home again, I'm trying to tell them AND show them - that Canada is not the North Pole (exclusively). It's not always winter. There isn't a wall of snow at the U.S/Canada border. I did not have to trade in my dogsled for a car...My furs for shorts...My snowshoes for sneakers. I don't live in the wilderness. There aren't polar bears wandering around my house and no my house is not an igloo!
I really found it quite amusing that people had such stereotypical views of Canada (and no - this definitely not just about the U.S!)
Since this is my first post here, I'll keep it short, but I'm curious to hear about everyone else's experiences - and if you have had similar conversations with the locals where you are. So just drop a quick comment about where you are, or where you've been and what kind of reaction you get when you tell people you're from Canada.
The Canadian Expatriates blogging team would like to extend a warm welcome to our newest contributor, mare ad mare.
After eight years of globetrotting, first residing in the United States and then in Germany, the mare ad mare clan has returned to Canada prepared for their next adventure - rediscovering the Motherland. Below is an excerpt from the family's blog.
I was feeling guilty for taking my family away from their family and from Canada. It's not like it's a third world country that we're trying to escape! I had been lucky enough as a kid to take long vacations with my parents to the east coast and the west coast - getting to see so many different parts of Canada. This activity was going to be my launching point for re-introducing Canada to my girls. Now that we're back at home, I want to show my girls what it's like to be a Canadian. So I'll be taking trips, doing special things with them every week and writing about it here. I hope that this catches on, and others Canadian parents contribute their own stories about what it's like for their Canadian girls. That way, my girls can see too! This is a pretty big country...
To learn more about the family's project and why the phrase mare ad mare is likely familiar to many, yet difficult to place, please visit this introductory post.
Welcome aboard, mare ad mare! I look forward to reading more about your unique perspective on all things Canadian and following your adorable daughters' adventures as they rediscover their heritage.
In the immortal words of Miss Muriel Stacey in the musical, Anne of Green Gables, "Open the windows! Sweep out the cobwebs! Open your mind to what is going on all around."
Yes, it is time for some spring cleaning. The dashboard of this old blog has become laden with dust and bits and pieces that once worked, are now in desperate need of a tune up.
Fortunately, Canuck Abroad has come aboard to lend a helping hand. The Canadian Expatriates blogging team would like to extend a warm welcome to our newest contributor, Canuck Abroad.
Please take a moment to visit CanuckAbroad.com. The site is bursting with important information and resources for Canadians living abroad and Canadians planning to travel. The site includes plenty of information on how to travel on a budget, things to know when staying in hostels, searching for over sea jobs, tips on immigration, and much more! It is definitely a site that every Canadian expatriate will want to bookmark.