Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 23, 2021

Being Canadian in the US: A candid review

By Ellen Brait | January 31, 2013

Do you drive on the same side of the road in Canada? Is there a time change? Do you have a pet beaver? Do you live in an igloo? Do you have a polar bear? Isn’t it always snowing in Canada? Do you play hockey?

I’ll stop there, but let there be no mistake, I have faced hundreds of similarly ridiculous questions during my time in the United States.

I never realized how one-sided our relationship is. Most Canadians know the answers to basic questions concerning the United States.

The same, sadly, is not true of Americans. The vast majority of United States citizens cannot answer even the simplest of questions about Canada, or come up with far-off, incorrect impressions.

Some Americans argue that this disparity is because the United States is more important than Canada.

I won’t begin to describe how condescending some of my American aquaintances have been about the country I live in.

While, in the large scheme of things, the United States truly is more important than Canada, shouldn’t a powerhouse like the US know about the country it shares a border with?

Only a country as arrogant as the United States could know so little about a country that is literally connected to it.

Another interesting occurrence during my time in the US is the general reaction of friends to the fact that I’m Canadian. People that I have known for months will suddenly notice and comment on my very apparent accent when they find out where I’m from. All at once, it becomes apparent that I say “about” strangely.

It is clear that people begin looking for and pointing out our speech differences. They reassure me that they observed my “accent” all along; they just didn’t say anything until now. This reoccurring story, as plausible as it seems, gets a little old after the tenth time you’ve heard it.

Now, based on my prior commentary, it may seem like I hate Americans and their country. However, this assumption is entirely false. I have loved studying and living in the United States.

I came specifically because I believe that the universities here offer a better education in what I hope to pursue. I’m just not a huge fan of people’s reaction to my nationality. I will never hear the end of it if I bash Americans, but I’ll note that Americans tend to be the overtly patriotic type. We get it; you love your country -enough already!

Additionally, Americans see no problem in endlessly mocking my country. I wouldn’t mind the jokes as much, so long as they were more original. I seriously cannot take hearing someone incorrectly tack “eh” onto the end of a random sentence one more time. There’s a proper time and place, people. If you can’t use the word you’re mocking me with correctly, then please, for both of our sakes, don’t use it at all.

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