20 Culture Shocks This British Woman Had To Get Used To After Moving To Canada
Meet Kate, a personal coach and content creator who moved from England to Canada back in 2017 where she was met and greeted by an array of cultural differences.
Today, Kate not only runs “The Newcomer Collective Community” that supports and helps connect internationals living in Canada, she also shares a glimpse into her daily Canadian life on TikTok.
Her video series “Culture Shocks In Canada” reveals all the quirks of expat life in the country of lovely people, ice hockey and maple syrup.
And in fact, there are so many more things that make up this beautiful country, so scroll down to see what Kate had to say about it in her videos!
The cultural shocks Kate shared about her expat life in Canada resonated with many people who joined the discussion
Bored Panda reached out to Kate Malcolm, the founder of the Newcomer Collective, an online community and resource hub for newcomers to Canada and the creator of this viral TikTok series. Malcolm hosts the New to Canada podcast where she interviews internationals who’ve moved there, learns all about their native countries, and the story of why they chose Canada as their new home.
“I also run the Moving to Canada Academy: An online video course and community that breaks down the steps of rebuilding your career and personal life in Canada so that you can feel happy and settled that much faster in your new life,” she added.
Malcolm moved from the UK to Canada in 2017 after she met and fell in love with her Canadian now-husband whilst backpacking in Thailand. “I know, it’s a crazy story… Canada had never been on my travel bucket list but I am so happy that life took me here unexpectedly.”
It turns out that Malcolm also fell in love with the extreme seasons in Canada. “Instead of experiencing similar weather throughout the entire year in the UK, you can actually enjoy different seasons and all the activities that come with that. Summer = Boating on the lake. Fall = Hikes to view the multi-colored leaves. Winter = Skiing and sledding, etc.,” she explained.
Plus, “It’s a great country to enjoy the outdoors and I especially love how diverse it is as well so you can meet people from all over the world,” she added.
When asked how Canada and its people differ from her home country, Malcolm said it was surprising to her when she moved to Canada that there were so many differences. “I thought that the UK and Canada would be pretty similar. We speak the same language, watch the same movies, eat the same food… But I quickly realized that it would take longer than I thought to adjust and settle into my new Canadian life.”
Malcolm told us that people always comment on her “British” accent, which took a while for her to get used to. “There are a lot of differences in phrases and vocabulary between British English and Canadian English, which got me into some embarrassing situations.”
Moreover, the national sports are all different there. “Country music is very popular, which is a genre of music I’d never listened to.”
“As a whole, Canadians are a lot more straightforward and extremely friendly, whereas British people have a dry, sarcastic humor and aren’t as bubbly straight away,” the TikToker said and added that it took her a while to get used to the energetic customer service there.
“Where I live in Ontario, Canadians tend to 'hide out' for a large portion of the year over the winter months and are less sociable, so it can get pretty lonely. Winters feel like they go on forever(!)”
Another thing which is pretty hard to get used to, according to Malcolm, is that the taxes are added to prices when you are paying the total bill and the amount depends on which province you are in. “This took a while to get used to because taxes are automatically built into the prices of everything back in the UK.”
“I also still find tipping culture quite hard to deal with. There is a real pressure to tip high to ensure servers get a living wage, which I don’t think is fair on the consumer - and there is also a tipping expectation for many services that we never tip for in the UK (e.g. hairdressers, massage therapists, food delivery drivers, etc.),” Malcolm explained. Recently, CBC News reached out to her to offer her thoughts on tipping as it is a hot debate right now post-pandemic.
There have also been cultural differences that pleasantly surprised Malcolm. “This might be controversial but I actually enjoy driving in Canada a lot more than in the UK! The roads are wider and it feels like you have more space to drive safely. There are less roundabouts and more traffic lights, which I find a lot easier to use. Less traffic cameras and fines to worry about - and of course, being able to turn right on a red light is really convenient,” she explained.
She was also pleasantly surprised by how varied the landscape is across Canada. “You can choose to see the mountains, lakes, prairies or rugged damp coastline and it’s all in the same beautiful country.”
“Finally, I absolutely LOVE cottage country in Ontario. The fact that Canadians seem to have more disposable income than the average British family, so they can afford a 2nd holiday home on a nearby lake to vacation with their family, or buy a boat or jet-ski is probably my favorite thing about Canada! Summers are so amazing here,” the British expat explained.
Having said that, Malcolm missed a lot of things from the UK. “Of course, I miss my friends and family as I came to Canada alone. I miss British pubs and being able to go there for drinks socially with your colleagues after work. I miss live music as I feel it is much easier to find everywhere in the UK (e.g. festivals, intimate music venues, open mic nights, etc.)”
“Then, of course, I miss a lot of British food (e.g. a good roast dinner, Galaxy chocolate, and grab-and-go lunches from Pret-a-Manger or Boots),” she concluded.