My Canada journey has been an interesting one; learning new cultures, meeting new people and learning different perspectives about life generally. While I’m taking it all in and making the most of it, I have to admit that there are certain things I’m still getting used to and you would most likely have to get used to them as a newcomer in Canada as well.
Total of your shopping bill at checkout point: Regardless of whether you’re eating at a restaurant, shopping in a store or even buying online, as long as it is in Canada you will be paying tax on these items. The tax percentage varies from province to province. In Ontario where I live, the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is 13%. This means that you’ll be paying an additional percentage on top of the actual price of whatever you’re buying. I’m still not used to this.
Washroom not Restroom or Bathroom: It’s not toilet, bathroom, restroom or ladies, it is called Washroom here in Canada.
Toilet Bowls Half Full with Water: Yes, so when you look into the toilet bowl, its already half full with water this means if you sit on the bowl and you sink in a little, you will feel the water on your skin. Let’s not even talk about when you decide to do number 2. No, I’m still not used to this.
Meeting over Coffee: Coffee meetings are very normal in Canada. Whether it’s a potential employer, a mentor, a new friend, you will most likely be asked to meet up for coffee. No it isn’t a date, it’s just a coffee meeting to have a real conversation face to face.
Tipping at Restaurants: The first time I was given a POS to pay for my meal at a restaurant, the machine actually asked me to type in the amount I was going to tip the server who waited on me. He was actually very polite and swift so I was happy to give him a tip. In Canada it is very normal to give tips and no, the waiter will not kiss your feet in gratitude; it’s just a tip.
Not Saying Sorry: Growing up in Nigeria, it was very normal to say “sorry”. If someone goes “I have a headache” “I missed my flight” “I’m so tired” or any inconvenience at all, the natural response was “sorry.” Here in Canada however for every time I say sorry, the response it “don’t be, it’s not your fault.” I’m learning to say sorry less.
People Talking Loudly: It is very normal for your boss to be addressing you and it sounds like he or she is addressing the entire team. It is even worse when you ask for directions, the person across the street will probably be able to hear every word of what you’re being told. People are very audible when they speak here. I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve involuntarily listened to just by being on the same bus or train.
Holding Doors for Others: When people say Canadians are nice people they aren’t lying. Gestures such as holding doors, allowing people go before you, asking if you need help are quite common here.
Public Display of Affection: It’s not a big deal, everyone hugs, kisses, caresses, their partners in public and it is completely normal. What would be abnormal will be you staring like it isn’t normal. I’ve learnt to peep through the corner of my eyes. That will have to do until I get used to not staring at all.
Paying Monthly Bills: House rent, phone bills, transportation bills, electricity bills, insurance, internet bills, etc; are all paid every month. Coming from a country where many of these bills are paid just once a year, I took me some months to get used to this.
Getting Paid Every Two Weeks: What is better than one payday? Two paydays! So in Canada, workers get paid twice a week. Payday is also always a Friday. This I have absolutely no issue with getting used to.
It will be really difficult to list all the things that might be different or new for you as a new immigrant. The whole idea is to take it all in and enjoy every step of the process.