150 years. That is roughly five times my age. I could have lived my life over five times in the time that Canada has officially been a country. What a thought!
This year was my first year spending Canada Day away from home – in a different country altogether. There is a beautiful thing happening in the world today. The world now has the possibility to mingle. Cultures intertwine and the world gets that much smaller.
Yesterday, I moved to Cork. I start a new job on Wednesday here as a Data Analyst for a company called GlobeTech. Moving here yesterday meant I was able to join in on a Canada Day BBQ in Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’). The lovely hostess Melissa is from Barrie in Ontario, and every year she hosts a Canada Day BBQ. I figured, ah, hell, why not! I took the train to Cobh, walked around the town during the day, and in the afternoon I headed over to Melissa’s home where she generously welcomed Canadians, and anyone else willing to join in, for some food and drinks.
Guess how I knew I had found the right house…
My cousin Danielle came with her family, and for a good part of the BBQ, there was just the three of us to officially represent Canada. Later on in the evening, another lady from Ontario joined the fun. Quite the turnout, though!
The CBC coverage of the Canada Day celebrations were hooked up to the television, and I would be lying if I said my eyes didn’t get a touch watery when the national anthem was sang to kick off the party. It’s a weird feeling, being away. I would say the pride I feel to be Canadian grew when I left. Being away makes you look at Canada from a different set of eyes, and the distance makes you appreciate some things about Canada even more.
I am so thankful for being born and growing up in a country that is not ridden by war and conflict. I am lucky to have been brought up into a country that provides free healthcare. The cost of university in Canada is taxing, but there is financial help available to those who need it, and that means I come from one of the most educated countries in the world. I come from a country that prides itself on being a welcoming culture – welcoming for people of all cultures, religious affiliations, genres, sexual preferences. Canada is one of the most well perceived countries in the world, which makes travelling easier. Not only are our passports accepted without visa requirements almost all over the world, but when we get to where we’re going, we don’t have to lie about what country we come from for fear of being judged. If we do get judged, at least people have the courtesy to do it once we’re out of earshot! 😉
Some days, I miss home. Here are the top five things I miss the most, in no particular order:
1. Family and friends. Obvious enough, I would think! Recently, this has been especially hard because I am missing some big family milestones. I missed the first wedding in the family from my generation, and I missed the first baby in the family. I will also miss the second one due in August! Family includes our cat Bagheera too, by the way!
2. Knowing which way to look when crossing the street. I suppose I should have figured this out by now, and I thought I had. I realized, though, that I was just looking everywhere. I suppose that’s safe too.
3. Dryers. Some homes here have them. I would say most do not. Most days, air drying clothes is not a big deal. Elaine taught me the art of drying clothes on the line, and how to tell if the shirt is still damp, or if your hands are just cold. Because of these things, clothes lines are not generally a big deal. The unfortunate times though – the ones where I miss having a dryer – are the “Crap, I forgot to wash this and I have to wear it tonight” moments. You have to plan ahead, or have a backup plan in Ireland. If it’s pissing rain that day, and the next day, and the next day… you’re not getting too much laundry done!
4. Street signs. Seems like a weird thing to miss, I know. One does not actually realize how useful they are until they are not available. In Dublin, there’s a good chance that there will not be a street sign where you need one. They are also very high up on the buildings, which makes them slightly problematic to see from far away – if they’re there at all. Galway had a bit of a better track record, and Cork isn’t too bad. Another thing is that they’re not all the same. In Alberta, all the street signs are green. They all generally look pretty much the same. Different sizes maybe, but you know where to look for them, and you’ll recognize one when you see it. Not here.
5. Food. I should clarify. I miss some foods. Ireland actually has a great variety of food. There are some things that they just don’t have, though. Cheese curds, for one. Dill pickle, all dressed, ketchup and many more flavours of chips. Caesars, Coffee Crisp chocolate bars, root beer and more. Bacon isn’t the same here, which is sad, and pancakes are sold premade in plastic packaging in the grocery store (and at Starbucks…). There’s something special about waking up and smelling pancakes on a Saturday morning that you miss out on if you buy them premade at the store.
For all the Caesar lovers out there, Melissa made sure we were covered today with this “Clamato” mix (which was pretty good, by the way) and all the fixings, so I got my Caesar fix for a little while!
I also miss seeing Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s shows whenever he played in Edmonton or Calgary. Today, he is doing shows in both cities. My lovely mama enjoyed the show for both of us in Edmonton today, and snapped a photo to prove it!
Stay safe and have fun tonight, Canada!
Sending love from Ireland!