American Canadians are friendlier than Europeans
Cultural characteristics in Canada
Lots of nature, lots of wilderness, boundless expanses and in between lots of friendly people. In addition, with a very similar culture, the land of the maple leaf and lumberjack shirts appear to be the ideal destination for a stay abroad. Without a potential culture shock, nothing can go wrong here, right? But if you take the trouble to look behind the obvious, you will learn many small cultural peculiarities that make the country even more exciting. Knowing these specifics can really only be helpful. We have put together a small cultural guide for Canada, with which you are guaranteed to circumnavigate all faux pas safely.
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Canadians are very friendly by nature, polite and respectful. A reputation that not only precedes them, but also regularly causes joking malice from their big brother, the USA. The somewhat quieter and more reserved nature of the Canadians, especially compared to the Americans, is quite pleasant for us Western Europeans. One says instinctively "Please" and "thank you"to which is expected to be answered with an equally friendly “you are welcome” or “no problem”. Even when the sidewalk in Toronto is overcrowded, the Canadian maneuvers considerately through the heavy foot traffic. And if there is a collision, it will happen immediately with an honest "Sorry" sorry - regardless of whether it was your own fault or not.
Hockey is no joke
In a country where religion is kept out of the public eye as much as possible and remains a private matter, ice hockey is, or just hockey, the unifying element of Canadians. Everyone has an opinion on hockey, everyone has a favorite team, everyone has played it before and when it comes to the Americans, the whole country is excited. It is the holy grail of the Canadians and disparaging remarks about it are considered brazen blasphemy. So, even if football is still number 1 in the world, in Canada: Hockey is Canada's game and hockey is no joke!
How are you?
The standard greeting in Canada. Whether in the supermarket, when booking a tour, on the phone or when meeting friends - it doesn't work without it. Somewhat taken by surprise, the German instinctively thinks about what to answer. But the demand is only to be understood as a courtesy and doesn't ask for a correct answer. An easy "Fine, thank you", perhaps followed by a retorting "..and you?" is sufficient here. You will see that the whole thing is relatively contagious. In no time you will start asking complete strangers how they are doing.
The thing about religion
Canada is a very liberal and open country. Regardless of whether it's about environmental protection, politics, gay marriage or sensitive topics like abortion - everything can be discussed openly. Except for religion. Even though the country is more than two-thirds Christian, religion remains a matter that Canadians like to keep out of the public eye. It is everyone's private business and it should stay that way. Many modern conflicts are motivated by religion. The Canadians are a very peace-loving people and want to defuse this potential for conflict as much as possible. Ultimately, you want to be in Canada just live in peace and harmony with one another. And if that tactic helps, why not?
If you are invited to Canadians' homes, it is time to take off your shoes at the door. The whole thing comes from them long and often snowy Canadian winters where you don't want to bring snow and mud into your house. But even in summer this habit remains the norm rather than the exception. It is best to prepare for it and check your tennis socks again for holes before you go. In an emergency, you can of course also ask your Canadian host whether you should take off your shoes or not.
In Germany a very common term, the English term "Indian" is often taken as offended by the Canadian natives. The terms are more recognized and far more politically correct "Natives" or "First Nations". The situation is similar with the natives in the northern provinces of Canada, the correctly as Inuit and not as Eskimos are designated. In general, this chapter of Canadian history is very delicate, multi-layered and complex. Allowing yourself a judgment as an outsider can almost only go wrong, therefore prefer to be a little cautious. Interested inquiries are fine. But don't be surprised if your interlocutors behave cautiously when asked about it.
Out and about - The Canadian accent
Canadian English is slightly different from American. This is particularly evident in words such as "Out", "About" or "House". Believe us, Canadians are aware of this fact and do not need to point it out again. In this case, too, the big neighbor from the south has already done that enough. So, just accept, don't imitate and don't make fun of it.
Québec special case
In Québec, French is spoken for the most part and, often surprising to us, many French-Canadians actually speak no or hardly any English. It is not uncommon to encounter the same phenomenon in Québec as in France, where an attempt to communicate in English can provoke reactions ranging from skepticism to total refusal. Similar to our European cousin, you can also do this here a little French can go very far. The attempt alone is praised and makes a lot of things easier. See it positively: In Canada you can polish up two languages on one trip.
No, we're not talking about filling out a soccer betting slip. It's about the tip the tip, and how to properly handle the topic. The tip is just for Canadian waiters integral part of the salary (which is usually very low). For example, at the end of the day the waiter has to pay off other service employees, such as the assistants and the cooks. This fee is always due and is calculated on the basis of the income, not the tips. So if no one is typing, the waiter may even lose money. 15% of the pre-tax amount is the norm in Canada, 20% for very good service. Our tip: Just look at the bill when calculating and take it declared GST (VAT) of 5% just three times.
You might also be interested in:
>> Information from A to Z for Work & Traveler in Canada
>> Work & Travel in Canada: Planning & Organization
>> Current work & travel programs in Canada
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