Friday, February 20, 2009

Moving From Canada to America: The New Canadian Girl

After a lot of tearful goodbyes to our friends and family, we sold our house (within weeks), stored our furniture, took our dog and flew to California. Saying that the O.C. was a culture from growing up in Toronto, Ontario was a shock to us would be an understatement. We went from watching Degrassi Junior High to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Health insurance to paid insurance and Bayview Village mall to Fashion Island.

At least my brother and I had each other. We entered the school and found the front office to let them know that we were new student's. I'm sure I ended my every sentence in eh! as I noticed that they kept ending their sentences in dude! My bro was taken to his new 7th grade class and I was escorted by a girl 'Jenny' who was the same age as me, but looked like she was going on thirty. Jenny asked me where was I transferring from. I told her Toronto. "Where?" she asked. "Um, Toronto" I responded. "Wait your Canadian?"
"Yes, we're Canadian eh!" I said.

Jenny then exclaimed "So your the new Canadian girl!"
I smiled from ear to ear and said "I guess I am."

Jenny then took me to my new homeroom class. As I entered the class, I felt all of the students look me up and down and I just about died. I found an empty seat and was glad to have a few moments to sit and catch my breath. I could see Jenny talking in the corner to some other student's and whispering. I wondered if she was talking about me or about my Betty Boop shirt?

Finally, what felt like forever a girl that Jenny was talking to came over and sat next to me. Her name was 'Tamara'. She asked me "Are you the new Canadian girl?" I could see a theme forming "Yes."
"I've never met someone from Canada before can I ask you some questions?"
"Sure eh! (*Please know that within months I never ever said eh again as I couldn't take the strange looks.)

Tamara asked me "What's it like to wear snowshoes, live in an igloo and have you ever felt the warmth of the sun before?"

I thought oh boy, do we have our work cut out for us. I smiled and told Tamara that Toronto is a metropolitan city, a cleaner New York. Filled with the arts, restaurants, sports and freezing in the winter, but hot and humid in the summer. So hot that my friends and I would go to cottages in the summer and swim in the lake.

So throughout my High School experience, I was always known as the friendly Canadian girl. I guess it could have been a lot worse. When I tried out to be on the cheerleading squad or when I tried out for the High School plays they remembered me.

We knew we were in an alternative universe when you walked in the High School parking lot. Why you may ask? Because the students drove nicer cars then the teachers. Imagine how the teachers must have felt when the sixteen year olds drove BMW's and Mercedes as their first cars. This Canadian girl drove a white, convertible Cabriolet Volkswagen which was perfect for taking my cheerleading pompom's and friends surf boards to the beach.

I didn't realize how much I had started to change until picture day. As a squad we took cheerleading pictures to hand out to our family and friends. My picture was of me sitting by a pool, my long hair tied with a white bow, posing and wearing my baby blue cheerleading outfit. I bought extra pictures and decided to send them to my friends in Toronto. I wrote little notes on the back of each note. When my Canadian childhood friends received this picture they had a field day. I looked so much like an American while my friends in Newport kept calling me Canadian.

Now I felt like I didn't really fit in in either Newport Beach or Toronto. And as if being teenager and moving wasn't hard enough :) How do you think you would have handled Tamara's questions? What was your favorite tv show from the '90s?


pj said...

I guess with tamara I would have been honest and a bit shocked in tone. Just explained it to her as you did. 90s tv - thur night lineup - cosby, family ties, cheers and night court!

Laura said...

Oh pj a man after my own heart. Cosby and Family Ties! I also liked Star Trek the Next Generation.

Debbie said...

I think you handled it admirably, especially for a kid. I probably would have been trying to figure out what the best answer would have been.
And wasn't Friends a 90s show? And Seinfeld? I miss those.

Laura said...

Oh I do too Debbie! Reruns of Friends never get old! Thank you for your sweet support.

Kyla said...

I used to watch Degrassi too!!

Laura said...

Hi Kyla: Wasn't Degrassi like a guilty pleasure?

June Saville said...

It's amazing what a difference a border makes. I live in New South Wales on the border of Queensland in Australia. I always swore that I would not have married my then husband if he had lived in Queensland - across the road!
June in Oz

Laura said...

Oh June so true. Our states also can feel like you have entered another country. Imagine visiting New york and then going to Colorado. Have a great weekend and thank you for your comment!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I think you should post that picture ;-)

And your post reminded me of another reason I like teaching in middle or low income areas.

Laura said...

Pseudonymous: Uhhh I think that picture is lost with my old high school plays! I also felt more comfortable helping children in the social welfare system. My high school experience could have been made into a movie...oh wait it was into a tv show :) Congrats PHST!