Moving to England from Canada wasn’t a massive jump. Some differences are expected, like driving on the opposite side of the road in the opposite side of the car (still too afraid to try 5 years later), but there are some not-so-obvious changes to look out for and I’m happy to offer up some advice to future Canadian expats getting ready to move across the pond.
Embrace New Coffee Language
If your morning coffee run includes a Timmies medium Double Double you might face some disappointment. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you may want to get used to asking for a White Americano. Be warned though, “white” means milk, not cream and drip coffee is not an option outside MacDonald’s and a place called Gregg’s (think Coffee Time). For ages I would scour the shelves of every grocery chain in the area hoping to stumble upon some Coffeemate but the search ultimately ended with some very confused and concerned looks from customer service clerks likely wondering, why do Canadians hate coffee so much?
It’s Cold here, even by Canadian standards
I had some dedicated friends to help me pack an entire adult life into one suitcase and one backpack but my favourite sweaters were sadly laughed out of the keep pile. So, from one Canadian to another (it’s currently 25 below 0 in my hometown), England is cold! It’s a very wet, chilled-to-the bone kind of cold. So, go ahead and pack those socks.
Spend some time walking around your neighbourhood to find your favourite pub…there’ll be a lot to choose from so it’s a fun task for your to-do list. A Pimms or a pint after work is a weekly occurrence and it really hits the spot, especially when the sun is still out. One major difference? Dogs and kids are allowed. Sunday is for roasting but get in there early, unless you’re a fan of nut roasts.
Heads up – you have to hail the bus, every time. Wave it down. It won’t stop. Also, don’t make small talk when you’re riding the tube; in other words, don’t be Canadian. Brits are lovely and conversational, but the tube is their quiet place. Finally, stand on the right side of the escalators.
Central heating isn’t a thing. Rads are a thing, so be a good housemate and keep the flat doors closed. Dryers aren’t a household item so if you’re wondering what those tiny holes are in the kitchen near the sink, it’s the washing machine. They look small but you can shove a load of clothes in there. Get it? A load.
We may not be known for our cultural cuisine, but Canada does junk food and snacks better than anyone. I’ve recently learned of this online delivery service called Expacks, a Canadian food subscription box. Each month you’ll get a selection of your faves: ketchup and dill pickle chips, Bits and Bites, Crispy Crunch, and even Poutine gravy mix.
Make Caesars for your new friends
It’s the best party trick. You just never know which way it’s gonna go! I’ve recently discovered you can get Clamato Juice at the big grocery store outlets in the “International section” and it’s always a fun thing to offer up. You can start with, “Hey, ever wonder what your Bloody Mary would taste like if you added clam juice?” Try it. It’s hilarious. I’ve managed to get a few friends to switch to team Caesar!
Moving is never fun but any Canadian living in England will tell you that the experiences you’ll collect and the people you’ll meet will far outweigh how much you’ll miss a morning double double.