Canada is closer than I thought

- in Column, In English, Krönikor, Utbytesstudier

Canada, the big country on the other side of the Atlantic ocean – so far away yet so close. Lundagård's exchange columnist Ondrej Gomola reflects over how the world has gotten smaller.

For the last two months, all I’ve heard from native Vancouverites is just how it will rain. “Did you pack your waterproofs?”, they would joke. I found this somewhat absurd since at that time, it was something like 25˚C and Canada’s Pacific Northwest resembled the Dust Bowl rather than the ‘temperate rainforest’ it is supposed to be. While out hiking, we were slipping and sliding not on ice or wet rocks, but on dust and gravel because it hadn’t rained for so long. Well, rest assured, the rain has firmly arrived and my rain gear is being put through its paces.

Canada, like Canadians, is not too dissimilar from Europe. People bemoan the weather and enjoy hiking all the same as Europeans (even if they drive obscenely large vehicles). But over the last few weeks, I have started to miss my home continent.

One of the many things I’ve come to appreciate about Europe is its compactness: a few weekends ago, my friends and I flew to Banff, one of Canada’s national parks. “Flew?!”, I hear you shriek. Yes, I flew, because it was both cheaper and significantly faster to get there. I thought Banff, being on the border of British Columbia (the state I’m in now), would be a quick drive away. No, it’s an eleven-hour drive—that’s roughly how long it takes to drive from Paris to Berlin. 

That being said, going on exchange has ‘shrunk’ the world for me. The distance between Vancouver and Europe is still the same, but I have been struck by some aspects of our human interconnectedness. For example, flying over the pond was an eye-opening experience. Seeing rows and rows of people crammed into an aluminium tube flying over an ocean to visit loved ones or travel was exciting as well as impressive. This was a journey our ancestors made in weeks or months, while today we can jet around the globe in mere hours. And what makes all the difference to me is that nowadays, I can call my family back home instantaneously. It’s pretty cool when you think about it. 

Over the last few months I’ve learned that Canada is quite like home despite the size of the country. People complain about the weather, like the outdoors and fly around the place, just like in Europe—even if a ‘short’ drive means different things in different places. I feel quite at home here, but would I emigrate here? No! Their cinnamon buns pale vastly in comparison to Swedish ones.