This blog post was originally published in 2014. It was accidentally deleted and restored in January 2018.
My first piece advice for those of you travelling from Europe to Canada or the US: your hairdryer will not work. If it does work it’s got just enough power to take about 5 hours to dry your hair
Tip #1: Don’t bring your hairdryer, and DEFINITELY don’t buy a new one before you leave (like me). Get one when you arrive.
Culture shock or culture panic?
Everyone always talks about culture shocks and culture differences. I have only been here a day so I would not go so far as to say I have experienced a culture shock but more of a culture panic at the airport. After coming through immigration I saw my parents (who are accompanying me for 2 weeks) had gotten a porter to help with our luggage since we had a lot of bags. It was advertised that 3 bags were $10, which was fine. It wasn’t until we’d got moving that I suddenly remembered tipping is a much bigger thing in Canada than it is in Ireland and I started wondering: are we supposed to tip the porter? do we have change for tipping? what if we don’t have change or if my parents don’t know to tip? It was all for nothing since my parents did, in fact, have the money ready to tip the man who helped with out bags.
It’s just something I’m going to have to remember because while in Ireland it’s not that big an issue, over here I could forget and end up really offending someone.
Tip #2: This tip is to tip when you’re supposed to tip.
Anyway, I’m in Toronto. I presume most reading this know why I’m here but incase I have some stray readers wandering onto my blog, I’m from Ireland but I’m studying for a year in Canada. The past few months have been me explaining that to people – “Yes well I’m in college but I’m about to go to Canada for a year, then I’ll come home to finish my degree”. So much time spent explaining that I’m going to Canada and then suddenly I’m actually here. The problem is I don’t think I’m still yet fully aware that I’m not actually going back home after two weeks. My parents will go, and I will stay. It may not be until that moment where I am alone that it will really hit me that I’m staying put for a while.
For the next few days we’ll stay in Toronto, exploring the city and getting used to Canada. So far the experience has been good, we already found about 3 Irish pubs and also ran into Irish people at breakfast. Everyone in Toronto has been generally very nice and we decided to take a hop-on hop-off tour in order to get around the city and decide where to go. We’ve visited Eaton Centre and Chinatown and tomorrow we’ll go to some museums and visit the CN Tower (whether we’ll go UP the CN Tower has yet to be determined – stay tuned).
A quick round-up of other things that I have noticed that are worth mentioning: they put the tax on AFTER you bring the item up to pay, they don’t do tea the way we do tea and we don’t even have a kettle in the hotel (and I mean the entire hotel), the accents are strange simply because I’m used to hearing them in Dublin and feeling that they’re out of place but now it is my accent that is out of place. Another thing is people are less inclined to ignore pedestrian lights here, everyone seems to wait.
The next few days will be all about adjusting our body clocks, getting over the jet-lag, and getting to know this weird and wonderful city. And then to Montréal, my new home.
And now for some pictures (only a few because the hotel wifi took ages to upload just these 4):