Canada is one of those countries where words just cannot do it justice. It's a place you really need to experience first hand. In order to fully understand the country, you need to act like a Canadian, and partake in some thoroughly odd, yet deeply en-grained Canadian rituals.
1. Figure out how to work bagged milk
Yes, our milk comes in bags. You get three items, milk in a bag, a jug, and scissors. I'll let you figure out how to work it.
2. Go to Roots
What is Roots you ask? It's a clothing store that oh-so-politely slaps you in the face with Canadianness the second you step foot inside. Canoes hanging from the ceiling, stuffed beavers beside the cash register, and a whole array of warm wooley socks and toques for sale. If for some reason crossing the border and smelling the clean, fresh air didn't make you realize you were in Canada, stepping foot inside a Roots store will.
3. Eat a (drunk) poutine
Just about every Canadian university town has something called a Smoke's. A Smoke's is the Canadian poutine food chain of choice; they take poutines to the gourmet level. (They are best eaten while drunk so you don't feel guilty about how unhealthy they are.)
On any given night at 2 AM join the crowds of students stumble through the snow from the bar, to the poutine shop. You'll find the Smoke's staff are almost always very cheery hipsters, and they will patiently wait as you slowly decide between the Perogy Poutine and the Bacon Cheeseburger Poutine. (Pssst - choose Perogy - the best one!)
4. Play pond hockey
Yes, you've heard whispering's before, "Are the Canadians really as crazy aboot hockey as everyone says?" ... You don't even know. "But how do I find a game of pond hockey? Is there some sort of pond hockey directory?"
Finding a game of pond hockey is really quite easy. Head to a pond in the winter months, anytime of day or night, and you'll find children to grown adults gleefully chasing a puck down the frozen lake/pond while sporting their NHL team jersey of choice.
5. Eat maple syrup off snow
Yeah, when you stop and think about it... it's odd. But, every Canadian child took a trip to the sugar bush, and you must too. You'll learn all about maple syrup making from your guide dressed in plaid, and at the end of every tour, you'll get to pour some maple onto your chosen fresh patch of snow, and eat it up. Kind of like a snow cone... Just Canadianized, and delicious.
6. Adopt saying 'sorry' when you're not in the wrong
Because you're in Canada now, and it's the Canadian way. The best way to practice this is to find a densely populated area, and get bumped into by others. Now, you might have heard, Canada isn't very densely populated (4 people per square kilometer in fact), so testing out this Canadian way is best done in a major city. I'd suggest Toronto or Vancouver.
7. Try to rip/burn our money
The good news is the value of the Canadian dollar has fallen through the floor recently, so you don't need to be worried about loosing a great deal of money when testing this out. Yep, the bills do not rip, or burn. Try it, they're plastic.
8. Wait for a bus, experience the inside of your nose freeze
Our public transportation leaves something to be desired at times... Especially when you're waiting for the bus to plow through the snow to your stop, and while waiting, the inside of your nose has frozen and expanded ... Funny feeling and rather uncomfortable I'll admit, but definitely something to experience at least once.
9. Go to a bar, ask for a "Canadian"
I'll just leave yeh hanging on this one, and test it out for yourself to understand. Once you do, be sure to come back to the blog, and let me know what you thought of it. ;)
10. Visit Tim's
If "Who's Tim?" is your first question ... well, my dear, you are about to stumble upon the most deeply rooted Canadian stereotypical cultural experience your wildest dreams could imagine. Tim Horton's is, in it's most basic form, a coffee shop chain founded by a hockey player (because what other profession would the founder have had?)
But what is Tim Horton's really? ... It's the most common food sign you'll see on the exit to every highway, it Tim Bits (donut holes) some kind soul brought to every early morning work meeting across the country, it's why Canadians chip the ice off just the drivers side window (to go through the Drive Thru), it's where I bump into everyone I work with before I actually get to work in the morning, and it's the place that gets Canadians through the last bitter month of winter with everyone's favourite coffee gambling game, Roll Up The Rim.
Let me conclude this by saying I did some "research" on Pinterest before writing this post. Looking for a pick me up? Search 'meanwhile in Canada.' What can I say, my country is adorable and hilarious. I just spent the past half hour laughing at how Canadian Canada is. And then after, that give my Pinterest account a follow. (It's the polite, Canadian thing to do.)
Have you been to Canada?! What cultural differences or unusual activities people enjoy did you notice?