10 Things I Learned After Moving To Canada


July 24, 2014 by Katia

Earlier this month we celebrated Canada Day. We got out of our houses* ou-ed and eh-ed, said thank you and sorry to anyone who would listen and drank maple syrup while fighting off Grizzly bears who were apologizing for trying to steal a sip.

To relocate to Canada from the Middle East, I had to leave a comfortable tent behind, park my camel at the airport and board a transatlantic flight. In the seat next to me was a Russian WWII veteran. We chatted in Russian for a bit, but mainly drank vodka, then hit each other on the head with the bottle, hugged it out and plotted how to take over the world.



Prior to moving here, I was familiar with most of the stereotypes about Canada. Upon relocating, I realized that some of them were true.

I created a Canada construction in my mind. A mini, Lego Land type skeletal representation of what it meant to be Canadian and then I started adding layers, continuously expanding and enhancing my model by making new discoveries. Granted, some of them were skewed and merely stemmed from the fact that, for the first time ever, I was away from the family that raised me, tackling life, immigration, parenting and adulthood on my own. Other discoveries, the trickier ones, were based on observing my surroundings and relying heavily on generalization. I still do that, seven years into Canada. Whenever a game is played on the playground at 5 Year Old’s school, I’ll usually assume that this is a game that children HERE play, almost never that this is simply a game that Alex or Cayden came up with. And what does here mean, anyway? Is it here Toronto, or Ontario or is it here in Canada or even North America? I never know for sure. Yet within the set of my experience-based limitations, I manage to make some observations, learn from them and if I’m very lucky, I may even better myself .


5 Year Old started recently referring to people as humans (and in the singular form: ‘human’ instead of person). With immigration comes another kind of discovery: humans be the same. Everywhere.  Cross my heart. Check this out:

  1. People everywhere confide in their hairdresser.
  2. People everywhere complain about public transit and the weather.
  3. No matter the size of the country, it still (desperately and relentlessly) needs its ego stroked.
  4. People everywhere are curious about their neighbours although but will mask their curiosity in different ways.
  5. Teenagers are loud everywhere.
  6. While their backdrop scenery might be different, acts of kindness look and feel similar everywhere.
  7. Weathermen are universally prone to jokstery.
  8. Customs people everywhere aren’t.


And then there were a couple of really cool things I discovered about living here.

9. Like that if I happen to be downtown around mid September when the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) takes place, I might bump into Jim Broadbent and Hillary Duff (true story) or end up chasing Scott Speedman down Front Street unbeknownst to him (-II-).

10. Did you know that they shoot a lot of shows here? Like Suits, Once Upon a Time and The Killing?

Bonus: Did you also know that you have us to thank for the universally notorious Caillou? You’re welcome.

I recently wrote a post for In The Powder Room about Kids shows that drive parents insane. It was cool to find out that a couple of shows I don’t find annoying, are actually Canadian-made. You can catch Team Umizoomi and Math Monster on Netflix, as well as the other shows mentioned above.


For more shows filmed in Canada, read this post. Are you surprised about any of them, because you totally thought they weren’t filmed in Canada?

20 thoughts on “10 Things I Learned After Moving To Canada

  1. Oh, I love Canada! And I would totally fit in because “sorry” is one of my favorite words and I enjoy maple syrup whenever I can (although I still think the best kind comes from Vermont). I also love the Tim Horton’s and the poutine… and the hockey to burn off all that yummy food. 🙂

    • Katia says:

      Sorry is my middle name, Jessica! I don’t like Timbits, but I can’t resist a good poutine and I’d have to try some Vermont maple syrup! 😀

  2. LisaListed says:

    YES! I loved this!! I am from Calgary (Western Canada) and just moved to Chicago. I absolutely adore Canadian stereotypes because they are mostly so true! Like the brawl starting with an “excuse me” or everybody saying “sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry”… loved this post and made me feel proud to be Canadian, eh 🙂


    • Katia says:

      The brawl that started with “excuse me”? True story, eh! 😀 Thank you, Lisa. I haven’t been to Calgary, but my best Canadian friend is from there. I visited Chicago last year for like two minutes but loved it. I hope you’re enjoying it over there.

  3. As a Canadian, I really think we need to downplay the Caillou thing. So embarrassing! Great post!!

  4. Howdy from the west coast! Currently pouring here but expecting lots of lovely sunshine forecast for the next week.
    They shoot lots of shows here too – we were the original Hollywood North before our BC taxes caused the crews to seek out Toronto. Anywho (Canadian, eh?) Once Upon A Time is filmed here – often within blocks from my house. I actually disrupted filming on the latest Percy Jackson film. Poppy (border collie cross) and I were on a walk with her running free off leash and we skirted the set. Or I thought we did. So delightful to hear booming across the field “We’ll resume filming once the black and white dog gets out of range…” Oops.
    Thanks for making Canada your new home! We’re all the richer for it. Off to pour the maple syrup on my poutine and Nanaimo Bars and butter tarts while I watch hockey and basketball …

    • Katia says:

      Don’t forget curling! I always curl when I watch hockey and baseball!

      I love you, my fellow Canadian, and the Poppy story is priceless! So typikel, eh? I’d love to read a post from you about that!

  5. I want yo visit canada when I grow up it seems a really cool place to visit someday:)

  6. lrconsiderer says:

    I know very little about Canadia, except that once I had a (supposedly) Canadian breakfast which had all the components of an English fry-up, PLUS American pancakes, PLUS fruit salad. On one plate. It was weird good.

  7. Sasha says:

    My daughter is obsessed with both Caillou and Umizoomi! 😉 I loved reading more about your land!

  8. Roshni says:

    Totally agree about people…I mean, humans being the same everywhere!!

  9. I’m from Toronto (born and raised) and didn’t know about Umizoomi (my kids love it). Not that I should, of course. I am trying not to be that Torontonian who thinks everyone should admire Toronto (which is why most of the country dislikes Toronto – we seem to be Toronto-centric!) But it’s cool seeing this city from your POV, even though you’ve been here a bit. I have done a lot of travelling, and you are bang on about humans being humans…lol. Weather will always be the #1 topic no matter where you are.

    And yeah, I say “eh” a lot 🙂

    • Katia says:

      Hi Paul, loved your comment (eh!) Thank you so much for stopping by and offering another angle to the discussion. I know about the whole Toronto vs. the rest (or rather The Rest vs Toronto) but totally did not go there, although of course you’re right all of my observations would be very Toronto-centric. I should get around more. Eh. 🙂

  10. maurnas says:

    I also just heard on NPR that Canada has a hitchhiking robot and that might incite me to move there myself!

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