Life in Canada

20 Interesting Things in Canada From the Perspective of a Newcomer

As of writing, I have been living in Canada for the past four years. Technically speaking, I can still consider myself a newcomer. And as a person coming from a developing country, I can’t help myself from observing my new home– from people’s habits and the governance to happenings in my surrounding. Curious what’s on my list? Read on…

Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

Canadians are crazy for coffee. They drink coffee in the morning, with their lunch, and whenever they are outdoor. They love taking one in a disposable cup that can be brought anywhere.

Double-double, please?

You might hear people order double-double for their coffee, which means two shots of sugar and another two shots of cream. And yes, you might hear triple-triple, too. I usually prefer regular, one-shot for both sugar and cream or black, which means nothing in it.

Respect is how to treat everyone

It’s not surprising that someone may open the door for you. I experienced someone opening the door for me multiple times in different scenarios – whether entering a store or a subway station. I have my hands free to do it for myself, but they still offered this lovely act. And to make the world a better place, it’s best to do the same thing to strangers.

Health care financed with general revenue

Publicly-funded healthcare is one of the fantastic services you could get from Canada. Coming from a developing country, I never thought this type of health care system would exist. (It’s not FREE, okay?)

Give way when you hear emergency sirens

When you hear a siren while driving on the road – whether coming from a police car, fire truck, or ambulance, you need to stop and let them pass first. If you are driving in the middle lane, go to your right side safely. If it’s not possible, stopping safely on your lane will be fine.

Daylight saving time = tired for a week?

You will hate daylight savings in the fall season when you are on a night shift. The time moves 1 hour backward, so if you are working at 2 am, it suddenly moves back to 1am. That’s an additional hour of work! But don’t worry, my husband says it gets paid!

Canada supports families

The Canadian government supports children under 18 years old through Canada Child Benefit (CCB). It helps eligible families raise children by providing tax-free monthly funds deposited directly to the parent’s bank account.

Work and receive benefits and services in Canada

Social Insurance Number is one of the necessary documents you need to apply upon arriving to Canada. Previously, applicants receive a SIN card, but in my case, I didn’t receive one. They say it is to prevent the chance of someone acquiring your SIN when you accidentally lost your wallet (where a SIN card is usually stored).

More than what your naked eye can see

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your mobile phone service providers and ask for good deals they can offer as a subscriber for at least a year. The best example is the loyalty offer my husband saw in his account showing 30GB of internet for just $70. My point here is, don’t rely on whatever you see on their website or flyers. Take some time to connect with their representative via phone or in-person to ask for the best deals.

First-world library

You can bring food and drinks inside the local libraries. Yes, that’s something new to me because I grew up knowing that the libraries don’t allow it. And there are study/meeting rooms available that you can request to use for yourself or your group. My husband and I used one before because we wanted to discuss a plan. Doing it in the library could disturb people around us, and since there is a vacant room, why not use it, right?

Free annual flu shot for everyone

You can get your flu vaccine as early as mid-September as long as there are already supplies available in your doctor’s office. Pharmacies are an alternative place where you can receive your flu vaccine.

Child care cost support

Child care costs subsidy is available in Canada, but the eligibility requirements and amount received by parents differ in all Canadian provinces. For example, in Ontario, there is no income requirement. And the amount of subsidy depends on the parents’ combined income and the cost of childcare – it increases for every additional child when the household income remains the same. On the other hand, in British Columbia, families earning $40,000 or less may apply for the child care cost subsidy program. And the highest amount that a family can receive is $750 per month.

English-French words spotted

You will always see French translations everywhere – from signs to product packaging – because English and French are Canada’s official languages. I even hear the Prime Minister speak both languages in his statements during daily Canada-wide COVID-19 briefing.

Call the specialist right away

Referrals to specialists from your family doctor may take months before your first contact. I highly suggest that you connect with the specialist’s secretary/front desk and ask if someone canceled their appointment and let them know that you would like to grab that time slot.

AEDs available in common places

You will find Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in any establishment. I saw it inside a school building – and if there’s more than one building, there’s one in each of them. I saw it in a mall, in a construction site, in a plaza, and probably anywhere! Yes, you’re not limited to see it only in clinics/hospitals.

Affordable homeownership

There is an organization called Habitat for Humanity Canada that helps families acquire decent homes by becoming a partner. My family obtained our first home through Habitat’s path to affordable homeownership. As a partner family, we are on our way to complete 500 volunteer hours as our form of down payment.

Just do the card tap

It is very seldom that I have seen cash transactions. Most of the time, people use Interac Flash in supermarkets, malls, restaurants, and any store. You just hold your card close to the terminal then you’ll hear a buzzing sound – which either means your card got approved or it’s rejected. I haven’t experienced this technology before moving to Canada, so I was thrilled and, at the same time, felt it was so convenient. No more typing of PIN!

Individuals from several countries

Canada is a multinational country. You will meet different nationalities in your neighborhood, school, workplace, public transportation, etc. – literally everywhere! And it’s not surprising that you will see some of them wearing their traditional attire in public places.

Free newspapers

The first time I paid a visit to my husband’s university, where he took his Master’s degree, I was surprised to see the newspaper stands in the hallway. Students have access to daily national newspapers for free! That’s not common to my schools back in The Philippines. You have to pay to get national publications. Unfortunately, he mentioned there are days that some are untouched by the end of the day.

World’s second-largest country by total area

Canada has ten provinces and three territories. And this country has six time zones!

Did you have fun reading this collection?

Feel free to comment on which among the list caught your attention!

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    1. It’s great to know you enjoyed my list. I think I have some more things to add – and that requires a second post!

      And yeah, take time to write down notes every day. Sometimes, ideas come while I’m outdoor or talking with someone else. It might happen to you, too!


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