Like any good Canadian, you hate the C-word; you don’t dare breathe it and to hear it is like nails on a chalkboard. But as weeks pass by on your travels, that grind fades into white noise in the background. Maybe it was the three weeks you spent in London hearing phrases like “This is my friend Timothy; what a proper cunt – but I do adore him.” Perhaps you became brainwashed without even knowing it.
It’s months later and you’re back home in Canada. You catch yourself saying it ten times a day. Your friends use you to deliver it for them: “Hey, can you please call him the C-word for me?” And then comes the day you accidentally say it in front of your mother. You’ll swear it just slipped out, but that doesn’t make it less awkward.
You grew up anxious about crossing the street. Police hid behind every corner, ready and waiting to give you a ticket. But after enough time spent in a civilized country where people still manage to be responsible enough to cross the road safely, you’ve begun to realize how absurd the whole thing is. Now, you cross the streets like a born and bred New Yorker, and the little red man on the crosswalk might as well be a tacky art piece in a gallery of Van Gogh’s, and you’re gonna walk on past it like it doesn’t even exist.
Except, you are home again. Police DO hide behind a few corners. And somehow, “I learned it in the states,” doesn’t cut it as an excuse.
Drinking in public
Drinking wine in the park in France is a casual Saturday afternoon. Doing it back home will make you feel like you’re fifteen years old again, sneaking sips of wine while your parents are in the other room, hoping they don’t notice the level’s dropped when they come back in. Did you not reach the legal drinking age? If you can’t have a cold beer on the beach when its 40 degrees out, where are you supposed to drink one? Alone in your room? Who exactly is this law supposed to be protecting?
Hugging and kissing someone instead of “Hello”
At a music festival, your friend introduces you to a new friend of theirs. They’re about to give you the usual North American greeting of a handshake, but you haven’t shaken hands in months, so naturally you go in for a hug – Is this awkward? It probably would’ve been fine, but then you doubled down on that unwarranted affection by going in for a kiss on the cheek. By now, both of you are a little uneasy, but you’ve already committed, and at this point you feel like you need to get that other cheek pecked. You know it’s terrible. But it’s too late. You’re already committed. You’re past the point of no return. You play it off as if that wasn’t weird at all, and you reply with, “it’s nice to meet you.”
In this awkward limbo of a moment, this individual has one of two impressions of you: either you’re overly touchy and unaware of personal bubbles, or you’re trying to make a move on them. If only there was time to explain option three, that you just came home from Barcelona where everybody kissed everybody platonically. But by now, he’s already running away.
Openly talking to strangers as if they’re your friend
You’re at the bakery purchasing dessert for your dinner party, and you notice someone beside you looking at a similar item. You’re thinking, what are the chances. So you strike up a friendly conversation about the intriguing trivia surrounding this item. You’re comfortably chatting away with this individual as if this isn’t the first time you’ve seen them. Then you realize that you’ve been talking at him without a reply for who even knows how long, and now he’s uncomfortably going to buy something you’re fairly sure he wasn’t even interested in. Did you overstep your boundaries? Just the other week when you were in Morocco, you did the exact same thing, but instead it ended with you both sharing a cup of mint tea. And here you thought Canadians were nice.
People Watching marathons
It’s the middle of July and you and a friend grab the perfect spot on the patio of a café. You small talk and catch up with each other’s lives, but your friend notices that your attention seems to be constantly drawn to what’s happening outside your conversation. You apologize and say how “people-watching” has become a past time of yours that you picked up on your travels.
At this point, it’s a hobby. There are far too many interesting people around, everybody doing different things you’ve never noticed before until you were thrown somewhere with completely different customs and mannerisms. Now you’re home, and the mannerisms are the same as they were before. That excuse doesn’t work anymore. Great, not only do you kiss people on the cheek upon meeting them for the first time, but now you’re watching them for hours on end. You swear “creep” isn’t your new middle name.
There’s a craft market going on in the main square of your hometown, and you’re browsing through all the vendors seeing what possible trinkets you may want to buy. You come across a small handmade bracelet and you’re so drawn to it that you want to buy two. And no, you’re not going to buy each of them at full price – so you bargain with the vendor for a deal. They kindly apologize and say there’s nothing they can do, because clearly here in North America, the majority of the things you will want to purchase will be at a set price already. You’ll leave the stall in a huff, wondering where the hell that vendor learned to haggle. The truth is, they didn’t. And now you’re down a bracelet that you really wanted to buy. Oh well. Money saved to go to the next trip abroad.