If you haven’t been following the MESH Facebook page, then you may not know that my first week of being an intern was in Ottawa, Canada.
I am with the Lenoir-Rhyne debate team and I have travelled to many states for various competitions. This is the first time we crossed the border into another a country for a tournament.
The first big surprise was my “bosses”, for lack of a better phrase, at the Jackson Creative were so hype for my trip. I never thought the reaction I’d get was “Oh Cool! Send pictures!” It made the trip a million more times less stressful knowing that my “bosses” were supporting my debate escapade to Canada.
It makes sense though doesn’t it, my internship with the Jackson Creative is a focus on the MESH which of course is their podcasting branch. Debate is a fantastic way to practice your speech. You learn how to speak clearly, precise and effectively convey your point of view. So this definitely fits within the lens of podcasting.
You didn’t come to read about to debate though, you saw the header to this blog. You want to hear about the great country of Canada.
All through high school I joked about Canada being “America 2”. I always thought the only difference between Canada and the United States is maple syrup and drinking age. 18 year old me tried to convince my fellow graduating seniors that we should take a trip to Alberta because the drinking age was 18 (19 in some regions). My friends joked that Canada has nothing for us but maple syrup and expensive books.
Like most teenagers we bought stereotypes and believed whatever the popular sentiment happened to be. Fast forward to me in College and I began to learn more about other countries, mostly finding the truth to vanquish the fiction. That’s typically how debate plays out, fighting for what is true using facts or narratives. The easiest way to learn about a country is to visit it.
So, now you are ready, you are asking me what makes Canada different from the United States. The biggest culture shock for anyone leaving the States for the first time is the metric system. Here we are in a United States van that lists mph on the speedometer while every speed limit sign was posted in km/h. Let’s just say our coach drove a little slow just to be safe.
The next shock was the niceness. We’ve all heard the jokes about Canada apologizing for everything. While they don’t apologize for everything, they are polite. From the hotel to the restaurants to the video game store that I spent a little too much money in, every single employee and bystander respected space. People got out of your way, I had someone ask me if I need directions (I guess I looked like a very confused United States dude-bro) and I never encountered a jerk. Of course they exist, jerks are everywhere, but when I didn’t experience one in 3 days, the stereotype is probably deep rooted in some truth.
There is a lot of tiny details that you wouldn’t find in the US. Road signs, for example, are in French and English. In most cases cigarettes and other tobacco products are on the shelf instead of behind the counter.
Much more was left to discover but alas, it was time to go home. We were only in Canada for two days and it wasn’t enough, but I have unfinished business in Hickory. Now that I am finally back in my community it’s time to use what I learned in debate, and in Canada in general, to better my future productions and creations. Goodbye Canada, hello home.