A few weeks ago I left Canada for the first time since I moved here. Even though I was only going a few hours across the border, I was looking forward to going back to my own country for a weekend. The plane was full of French speakers and the signage on Air Canada is first in French and announcements are made in both languages but as I dismounted in Boston I noticed the French falling away. The weekend showed me how much my education in a different country is changing the way I see my own country and possibly the world.
I realized just how easy it is to operate in my native tongue. The signage was in English… the advertising was in English. As I approached an information booth for directions, my heart beat quickly, prepping the French question in my mind, and then I sighed. No need for that.
Sitting on the bus, I started to memorize the accented sound of the name of my stop so I would recognize it when the automated voice announced it. Shortly after we started moving I heard, “Next stop…” Oh, this is too easy! I thought.
I was relieved to return to some simple amenities that Canadians seem less attached to, like the option for paper towels in bathrooms, largely sized coffees, even the US dollar sign before the amount was a welcome sight. As I waited for my train in Boston I walked around and was so pleased to understand all the traffic patterns. Little things I never thought about.
Additionally, it was odd to be the girl traveling from a big city in another country (even Canada). I am used to being from Alaska, I am used to everyone assuming I’ve never really experienced urban life, not really fitting in with fashion, always being a stranger in a strange land. Now, my confidence is high. I am very grateful to my experience in Montreal for teaching me I can learn to be self-sufficient in many situations.
As I landed back in Canada, snow flew past the windows and the warm lights of the city glowed with a blurry steadiness. Welcome back to Canada, I thought. And welcome to winter.