Next week we are off to the UK to run our Welcome to Canada Seminars so I am starting to think about going back. I have been back before, and have written about my impressions of the UK. This time I wanted to look at how impressions of the old country change with time away.
We have been living in Canada now for 8 years, and have put our kids through secondary school, and some through university too. They are Canadians. They speak like Canadians, and think like them too in many ways.
Sue and I don’t speak like Canadians. Our accents are resolutely British. And probably will always be. (My mother was Canadian and in 25 years living outside Canada never entirely lost her accent).
Our heritage is still English, and so a trip back is tinged with nostalgia. Some of it is rose tinted for sure. English village life, with the village green, picturesque pub with welcoming landlord and great beer may exist, but we’ll probably not see it. (I do intend to research this while we’re in England – and Guinness in Dublin too!)
What am I looking forward to on our trip?
Friends and family are the main reasons people have for returning “home”. For some this can be the only reason. And it may even be why they decide to return for good. For us, we know that we’re staying in Canada, so this trip will be a chance to catch up with people we have not seen for a long time. We will not even have time to meet everyone so it will be rather bittersweet – time is too short to pack years of socializing into a few days.
Immigrants, like me, tend to miss the food and drink from their old countries. Some we can get in Vancouver (at a price) and some just don’t travel well. So we will be reminiscing about familiar foods, over dinner with friends – or just grabbing a sarnie (sandwich) from Marks and Sparks.
You know, as I write this now, I cannot think of anything more that I want except perhaps to see old familiar places and marvel at how they’ve changed, or not. Again this can be bittersweet, when somewhere you remember fondly has changed for the worse.
And that brings me to the things I know that I will not enjoy.
Crowds. It is easy to forget that even a big city like Vancouver is small by comparison to many in the UK. The sheer numbers of people on the tube in London, piling onto the bus or just walking down the sidewalk will be more than we’re used to. (Except during the Olympics or Stanley Cup Playoffs when good natured crowds fill the streets)
Rudeness or worse. Canadians are polite. And chatty too. I know from past trips that this can be one of the hardest things to get used to. You get to expect to engage anyone in conversation and it can be a shock when your conversation starter is ignored.
Small cars being driven very fast (and on the wrong side of the narrow roads). Canadian cars tend to be large SUV’s, trucks and vans that fill our wide roads. The standard of driving is not very high, but it tends to be genteel and usually pretty courteous. Driving in London is both aggressive and dangerous to my Canadian eyes!
One of our friends has also recently been back to the UK and her post on that is worth reading too. Perhaps when you too have been in Canada for a while, your views of the old country will be ones you’d like to share with us all.