Today at work someone asked what cultural differences I was experiencing after moving from Canada to the USA. It’s kind of interesting now that I have been here in California for over a week some things have become more noticeable and some stereotypes are less.
I remember the first few days, a lot of the interactions I had were tinged with my preconceptions that Americans are less polite than Canadians. But looking back, anywhere you go there are going to be nice people and people in a hurry and people with other things on their mind.
Anyways, now that I am fully immersed I can notice some of the subtler things that remind me I am in another country. For one the patriotism here is amazing. American flags are everywhere. Talking with my coworker about this she told me how there are people who go on their daily jog and carry an American flag for no reason at all. That is ridiculous. Canadians in my experience have only ever been that patriotic if they are IN the Canada Day parade or during the Vancouver Olympic games. The rest of the time we couldn’t care less about demonstrating our nationality. The interesting thing I learned though is that my coworkers saw the intense national pride as sometimes annoying. I guess it could get tiresome to see intense displays of pride for your country day after day. When I see a proud Canadian wearing a flag as a cape I applaud them, but if I cheered every time I saw an American flag I would have very little energy left for other things.
There is something to be said for moderation though it’s great to see so many people united by a symbol like the American flag and the fact that they celebrate it everyday is commendable. Perhaps Canadians could stand to be a little more ‘out there’ when it comes to celebrating our country.
In the past 6 days I have driven down the pacific coast to a new country, met my roommate, and gone to Disneyland. Today I also was finally able to do some unpacking and decorating in my bedroom.
On the first day of driving I learned a lot. Like any road trip we started out fresh but as time wore on we wore out. The hope was to make it to Grants Pass Oregon on that first day. It was a long haul but we did it.
We stopped for dinner near Salem about 4 hours before Grants Pass. We were probably 2 hours out from Grants pass on the I-5 when it started to get dark. We were in trucker territory, with the only civilization being small towns, with names like ‘Drain’ and ‘Hugo’, separated by rolling hills and farmland. We were low on gas and going to stop at the next station we could find. Then we came across a sign, “Next Rest stop in 2 miles”, then “No rest stop for 60 miles”. No rest stop for 60 miles! Did that also mean no Gas stations? We pulled into the Rest stop to check the GPS for the nearest Gas station. The few that it listed were all in the direction we had come from, and there was no way to cross over the highway to go back in that direction. The GPS gave us directions to go ahead a few miles then use an exit and overpass to go back towards the last town.
It felt like hours before we got to the exit. Once we exited and were over the highway we missed the turn back onto the I-5 in the other direction. Instead we were on a local road that went parallel to the highway. We thought we could follow it along until we got to the gas station but then we saw the sign: No turnaround, dead-end. This particular road was narrow with no shoulder that dropped into a small ditch on both sides, deep enough to bottom out my little car. It was also long and windy and we were running lower and lower on gas. On a straighter stretch we made a the tight 3 point turn around; my car was as long as the road was wide. Then we were back on track, sort of. We didn’t miss the turn onto the highway the second time but it was getting darker and the gas level lower. The worst thing would be to be stranded on the side of the freeway in the middle of nowhere, at night. We were also very tired at this point so everything seemed like a crisis. We drove back along the I-5 and made it to the gas station. We filled up and were on our way. Distracted by our success, we got back on to the I-5 in the wrong direction. We had to proceed to find another exit to turn around. By the time all the turns had been corrected we were headed in the right direction we had lost at least half an hour, and about 40 miles. The kicker was that shortly (less than 60 miles) after that ‘last rest stop for 60 miles’ was a small town with a couple of gas stations, and more towns with gas stations after that. So really we had done all those maneuvers for nothing.