It has been a whirlwind development of plans but the stars aligned and we were able to organize a quick two week visit home to see friends and family and to get some visa paperwork done. Unfortunately, my husband, Bryan, had already planned a trip to Mexico with friends for a wedding but this also meant that I am able to spend some close time with my family and get some internet work done as well. As we adjust our sleep cycle to Canadian time zones (getting over jet lag just in time to start our journey back to Ethiopia! haha), there are a few other things that are a little different in Canada…
This is not a complete list at all but it’s a start! If you have traveled to/ lived in/ from Ethiopia and can add more, please write yours in the comment section below!
Things to change from Canada after living in Ethiopia for 3 months:
When you shake hands, let go. Don’t hold their hand for the duration of the conversation. Don’t use it to reel the person in for a shoulder bump!
- Don’t stare at foreigners and call them by their racial heritage
- Avocado is for guacamole, not a fruit for juice
- Be prepared for the bill when you order a macchiato ($5 for a macchiato at Starbucks? I can get 85 mangoes for that at normal price…and as many as 255 mangoes for that when mangoes first flooded the market)
- Bones laying on the side of the street mean trouble in Canada
Ground beef should be cooked until there is no pink left (unlike completely raw with a little spiced butter here)
- Break the habit of saying, “How are you? Are you fine? Fine? Are you fine? There is peace? Are you fine? Work is fine? Fine?”
- Saying I love you, I miss you and you are beautiful to acquaintances and co-workers is disapproved of in Canada…as with holding hands, arms over shoulders and around waists, and other random touching
- Remember that dancing involves more parts of the body than just shoulders
Get ready for the fast internet. Whoa, Facebook! Whoa, Gmail just LOADS LIKE INSTANTLY?!
- “I want to enjoy you” (enjoy is the same word as talk in Amharic) and “I want to appreciate you” mean different things in Canada
- Don’t clap or snap your fingers for waiters. Leave more than 25 cents for a tip.
- Urinals mean it’s a men’s washroom…not that you just have to walk past them to get to the toilets.
- Toilet paper can and should be flushed down to the toilet.
We are no longer rockstars where everyone wants to say hello and shake our hands on the street. If they are saying hello in Canada, they are probably just talking on their cell phone
- We are protected by traffic laws in Canada! Yay!
- Stop eating with our hands (while maintaining all of the wonderful handwashing that Ethiopians do before and after a meal!). Feeding bits of food into our friends’ mouths does not convey the meaning that you respect them and that you platonically enjoy their company in Canada.
- We cannot solve all our problems with meat and beer (…well maybe that’s cross-cultural…)