Back in December I wrote about stereotypes and cultural differences that I’ve experienced living in Canada. Click here for a refresher .
Stereotypes are never one-sided! There are just as many misconceptions about Canada and Canadian people (or rather Canadian-Ukrainians) in Ukraine.
I am very excited about our upcoming trip to Ukraine. My trips back home never feel like a vacation as we MUST visit all family members or we run a chance of seriously offending them. It always means that we have to eat 20 huge lunches and repeat the same stories 20 times 🙂 We always count on hearing this:
“Aren’t you lucky you are in Canada, it’s a second Ukraine” – while there are many Ukrainian-Canadians in Canada I still have to speak English almost all the time.
“Say something in English” – as if the person who’s asking me this speaks flawless English with an Oxford accent. However I tremendously enjoy helping my little cousins with their English homework.
“You must be so proud your daughter graduated from the University of Toronto. Btw, does she speak English?” – No, she was speaking Japanese all this time (she came to Canada when she was 7) 😛
“So, how much money do you make?” – I am avoiding (very politely) answering that. I know that it’s acceptable there to ask about finances but after almost 20 years of living in Canada this question makes me uncomfortable. Yet my family just won’t give up and somehow manages to get the number from me which leads to:
“And how much would that be in US dollars / Euros?” – I still don’t know why they need this info. It’s not like I get paid in Canadian dollars but my local grocery store accepts Euros only. Then it leads to another classic:
“So, if Canadian money is worth less than Euros than everything is much cheaper?” – Logical, right? People are in disbelieve when I mention the prices on wine, beer, liquor, cigarettes and housing.
“How much did you pay for your flight?” – I am avoiding to respond for as long as I can. If they do manage to pull an answer out of me, then expect the following:
“Both ways??? That’s way too much!” – Hmmm… Should I be swimming across the Atlantic ocean so I can save some money?
“You are too thin!– a blunt assessment from the family followed by some extra generous helping of salo at lunch.
“Well, you don’t have good food in Canada. Look at you!” – count on “care packages” to be taken “Do Kanady” (to Canada) with some mandatory homemade smoked meats, sausages, cheese and pickled mushrooms. My pleads of “Please don’t pack anything for me. I can’t bring any animal or farm products to Canada!” are falling on deaf ears.
During my last two trips I’ve experienced these situations that made me feel like now I am a stranger at home:
In a taxi:
The driver: “Welcome to Ukraine! Where are you from?”
Me: “We are speaking Ukrainian. How do you know I am not from here?”
The driver: “You fastened your seat belt as soon as you got in the car” (local people don’t do this)
In a clothing store:
Me: “May I please see that yellow blouse on the very top shelf?”
The salesperson: (somewhat annoyed) “Are you going to buy it?”
Me: “Well, I’d like to see it first”
The salesperson (mumbling): “Foreigners… don’t touch the merchandise if you are not going to buy it”
I LOVE PEOPLE & CULTURES, THIS POST IS JUST FOR FUN!