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Cultural Differences

Cultural Differences

One of the dear ladies who works in our Contact Center sent me an email the other day gently reminding me that I was getting lax on my delivery of blog material. This blog is dedicated to her. This one's for you, Bobbi!

I've spent the last month or so facilitating programs in various locations in Canada. I'm in Halifax, Nova Scotia as I write this. It's given me an opportunity to absorb the differences in Canadian and American culture. While the differences are not major and similarities are much more, there are some subtle differences that have unfortunately caused some minor problems.

While Canadians, like Americans, drive on the right side of the road, I've been driving on the left, which means I've been wrong. It's all the monarchy-tinged highway names that have caused some confusion for me. Queens Way and Prince Albert Street and the like remind me of the British heritage that is so historically embedded here. Lame excuse, I know; and it certainly didn't impress the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. That was my first ticket. When I asked the officer where his horse was, I got a second one. One similarity I noticed was that the eyes of Canadian drivers get just as big as Americans when you are barreling towards them in a car at 60 miles per hour. Scratch that, 100 kilometers per hour. I'm catching on.

Food is another area where we have similarities as well as differences. French fries are just as abundant here as they are in the States. While I was in Calgary I was given delicious brown gravy with my fries. This is something I'm not used to getting back home. The waiter gave me an unusual look when he noticed I was mashing my fries with a fork, pouring the gravy on top and asking for a side of “Southern fried chicken, ya'll.”

I've never been fond of coffee. I've been a tea drinker my whole life. One request that has not been met with a confused look here is my asking for a pot of tea at a restaurant. Again, it's all about the heritage of a particular country. If I ask for a pot of tea back home, people look at me like I've just asked them for their credit history.

Hockey is as ubiquitous here as baseball is in America. Asking Canadians what “inning” the hockey game is in will produce a lot of pained expressions.

Money is different as well. If a Canadian asks me if I have a “looney,” I often mention my sister. If they ask me if I have a “tooney,” I will show them my iPod. Yes, I still have one. Again, lots of confusion.

My trip ends with a return to my sweet home Chicago. My order of a deep-dish pizza will be met with a typical Chicago response: “Da Bears!” But I'm sure that my Wisconsin-based CPI colleagues will register that phrase just as foreign as any phrase could be! NFC North. Game on!

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