Tuesday, 25 March 2014

20 things I learnt over the past six months in Quebec

  1. Actually, not everything in shops carries hidden taxes, but it is better to assume it is than to rely on having exact change.
  2. If you don't know how much to tip someone, add up the federal tax and the provincial tax on the receipt (unless, of course, you want to tip more than 15%). Thanks Andrea!
  3. Snow isn't a magical, powdery occurrence that cancels school and makes everything look pretty for a week. It's this hideous thing that gets all muddy and gets piled up on the sides of the roads as a snowpack for literally half the year and you just have to deal with it.
  4. Any temperature above -10°C is tropical.
  5. You will accept Tim Horton as your one true lord and saviour.
  6. Wash your hair the night before. Frozen hair is cool at first but then it's not really worth it.
  7. Banking is a pain. You have to pay to use a cashpoint that's not from your bank. You are only allowed a certain number of transactions per month. You have to go to the bank in person to ask if you can set your account up to make international transfers.
  8. The winter boots you choose will make or break your year. Don't skimp on them; make sure they are sufficiently waterproof and not too heavy to walk in.
  9. The more you travel through towns of Quebec at night, the more you will realise that huge, illuminated crosses are a thing.
  10. Hockey haircuts are also a thing.
  11. Many francophones pronounce "Macklemore" the same way as an anglophone would pronounce "Michael Moore". This can cause confusion for both parties.
  12. If someone describes someone else as "English", they usually don't mean the person is from England. This word is politically loaded in Quebec, meaning an anglophone.
  13. In Canada, pitta bread is not oval, but circular?! Which is why pitta pizza is common. Not that oval pizza is against the law, or anything.
  14. Some people at home asked me whether milk-bags-in-Canada is true. I can't personally confirm this, as I buy non-dairy milks, but in the culinary section I did see a jug specifically for the purpose of pouring milk from a bag.
  15. You will spend many long-distance car journeys in the company of complete strangers and this is completely normal.
  16. No matter how good you get at French, don't be surprised if someone in Montreal replies to you in English. Probably best to go with it if they don't appear to be struggling.
  17. Primary school students will get surprisingly excited if you offer them stickers from England as an incentive to finish their work. As in, they dance and they chant.
  18. Secondary school students will shyly approach you and ask if you've met their favourite One Direction member.
  19. Back home, you will pay £40 for a plaid shirt. In Canada, you probably won't pay more than $15.
  20. When you fly home via a country where English is not the official language, and you see a poster in the airport exclusively in English in huge type, you will subconsciously wonder why it's not also in the official language in bigger type. (On Quebec signage, if there is an English translation it is required to be a lot smaller than the French.)