Culture

October is the best month of the year

It’s almost the end of October and it’s time to kiss the best month of the year goodbye.

I’m in love with October, and I know I’m not the only one. From Anne of Green Gables to your favourite Instagram influencer, October is a much-favourited month.

I know what you’re thinking. “NOT ANOTHER PIECE OF CONTENT ABOUT OCTOBER AND PUMPKINS AND FALL!!!!”

But I’m okay with that, because October is spectacular, and it deserves to have a huge deal made about it, over and over and over again.

October is an interesting month. It’s when so many things come to a close yet so many things begin.

It’s the end of the warm weather in northern countries, yet the beginning of it in the south.

October means there’s only three months left of the year, and people start counting down to things. There’s this many days until American Thanksgiving…. There’s this many days until Christmas… Now there’s this many days until the end of the year…

I don’t do that. I savour each day of this amazing month. The years go by fast enough as it is. Even if it’s been a crappy year, I always seem to feel better in October. Like there’s a chance for new beginnings.

I’m not sure why, since that is usually a sentiment associated with January.

Maybe because, where I grew up, October is the second month of spring. It’s already hot enough to go to the beach and signals the beginning of another long Australian summer.

(It’s also a month of wildly unpredictable weather, and to this day I still don’t get why Australian brides plan their weddings for October, because you never know what you’re going to get. Risking a thunderstorm on your wedding day is no bride’s dream.)

In fact, August is the best month to have a wedding in Australia, specifically in Sydney, because the days are usually sunny and quite warm for “winter”.

You’re welcome.

But back to Canada.

In Canada, October means many things, such as:

Pumpkin everything

Yes, unlike in Australia, pumpkins, squash and all those other related gifts from Mother Nature are only available in fall, and most abundantly October.

Perfect timing too, because the temperatures start to stay in the one digit range, and you want to get into that warming, soup-making groove.

And if you’re a food or beverage brand, you capitalize on that pumpkin-mania like there’s no tomorrow. You name it, there’s a pumpkin version

Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice bread, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin spice cookies, pumpkin spice cereal, oatmeal, ice cream, crackers, BEER. The list goes on and on.

Pumpkin carving

I know for a fact you can’t really do this in Australia because you can’t get these types of pumpkins there.

Apples galore

The thing about Canada is that its climate doesn’t lend itself to the production of many varieties of fresh produce. Apart from the very short summer where you suddenly can’t get away from summer squash, asparagus and corn, most of the food you will eat here for at least half the year is unfortunately imported.

Except for apples. Canada is absolutely lousy with apples. In fact, there are too many, and most of them end up in landfill. There are apple trees all over the GTA whose fruits just drop and decay without anyone paying any attention. It’s unfortunate since organic, unwaxed apples cost a fortune, and I have no idea why it’s like this.

At least you can enjoy an apple cider why you contemplate this conundrum.

Chestnuts

You sing about them, but have you eaten them? Not only are they delicious, they are also so fun to make. Roasting them on an open fire is ideal, but cooking them on the stove or in the oven also works. It’s a great way to keep warm when it’s super chilly outside, because you do have to stand there and watch them so you definitely get warm.

Make sure you look up how to prepare them first though, so you don’t end up with them exploding all over your oven like I did.

True story.

Indian corn

Colourful but inedible, it makes a great fall decoration

The leaves omg

Well duh.

But remember, I grew up on the east coast of Australia, where Autumn can often be just as hot and sunny as summer. I know other parts of Australia experience something closer to a northern hemisphere fall, but I certainly never went to those places. Plus, it’s a different time of year. So it’s not the same.

Therefore, I get to be overly excited every October and take 500 pictures that look something like this and not have you judge me for how basic I am.

Fall walks and bike rides

Fall is a spectacular time of year to learn that Toronto is a lot bigger than you think! Don’t listen to those snobs that scoff at the idea of going north of Bloor or east of the Don Valley Parkway. Because there are so many amazing walking and biking trails to discover and doing it in the fall just takes your breath away.

Halloween!

And it actually feels like Halloween here because they’ve been doing it for years. Australia is still divided over whether Halloween is to be acknowledged.

Some of the Halloween stuff here is really cool. Seeing people’s houses decorated is my favourite.

It’s also really fun to walk through certain neighbourhoods and be around all the kids trick-or-treating (since us adult Aussies missed out on that experience when we were kids).

Other times its just brands throwing some orange and black colors on things and calling it Halloween (cough Tim Horton’s cough)

Nuit Blanche

This one is only in Toronto and it means White Night. It’s an interesting annual event where art (and that term is used very broadly) is displayed all around the city. It goes all night, so energetic night owls can roam the streets until dawn enjoying the extravaganza.

Please enjoy these terrible photos I took at Nuit Blanche in 2013.

Those are some of the things I love about October and that’s why I think it’s the best month of the year.

It’s also the best month to enjoy all that fall has to offer, in my opinion.

Because of how quickly it gets cold here, by mid-November , it’s already lot colder than October, most of the leaves and the colours are gone, and there’s nothing really fun to do (even Canadian Thanksgiving is in October.)

So it’s a rush to enjoy it all in October, before Christmas and New Years fly by and then the long winter sets in.

That means, if you hate winter, fall is actually really depressing because of what comes after it. But it sure is pretty.

Maybe I should make it all one hashtag: #octoberthebestmonthoftheyear

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Australia flag Canada flag Differences between Canada and Australlia
Culture

Random differences between Canada and Australia that are weird, confusing or just bloody annoying

A lot of people have told me that Australia and Canada are exactly the same, only one is hot and in the southern hemisphere, and one is cold and in the northern hemisphere.

But anyone who has experienced both countries knows that this isn’t true. Canada and Australia are very different from each other.

Sure, we are both colonies of England, we have a similar parliamentary structure, similar schooling system and a similar quality of life, but that’s where they stop being the same.

Even the English spoken here is not exactly the same!

So we polled a group of about 2500 Australians living in Toronto, Canada, and here are some of the things they think are weird or different here.

The banking system is a little different

Most unlimited every day bank accounts have a fee of $10 to $15 a month, with some charging thirty dollars a month, unless you go with an online-only, branch-less bank.

Cheques are still commonly used, so make sure you know how to use them. Especially for rent, and sometimes even to pay you for doing work. And a lot of places still make you physically go to the office to pick them up so you can deposit them.

Source: Royal Bank of Canada

(I reckon they’re hoping some of their employees won’t bother making the trip and will just miss out on their pay). Not a chance, especially in this paycheque-to-paycheque city.

EFTPOS is called “debit”, and your regular every day account is called your chequing account, not savings. I took me about two years to stop automatically pressing savings on the debit machine (and I still sometimes do it when I’m tired/rushing). Check out this helpful write up from RBC on how banking works in Canada

And you still have to specify to the cashier whether you’re paying with debit or credit here. Because it’s nice to slow down and chat with strangers sometimes.

Source: investwisely.ca

They have strange ways with electrics

Powerpoints are called power outlets and they don’t have on/off switches. This is strange for Aussies, since we are taught to turn the outlet off before plugging in/unplugging an appliance.

Sourve: Home Depot Canada

I guess that’s handy when you go on vacation and don’t have to worry about switching them all off to save money. It’s not so handy that the risk of electrocution is real, but no one seems to care over here, and you know. When in Rome….

The switches are only for lights, and in a lot of buildings, they are gigantic. They’re good if you have your hands full and want to turn the light on with your elbow. Or your nose… Don’t act like you haven’t done it!

A lot of living rooms don’t have ceiling lights (but there might be an outlet controlled by a switch by the front door, into which you can plug a lamp and use that as your living room lighting. Fine, I’ll bring my own lamps then!

“Toilet” is a dirty word

It’s washroom or bathroom, thank you very much. If you ask someone where the toilet is, they will look at you funny. Even toilet paper has to be called something dainty like hygienic tissue. No dunnies over ‘ere!

But then when you go in to the bathrooms, there is a huge gap in the doors in of the stalls! Like, big enough that you can make eye contact with someone standing outside. What happened to the dainty, hygienic tissue business? What does it matter when everyone can see your business?

Prices are just outright lies

Nothing costs what it says it will cost, because you have to remember to add taxes (and sometimes a tip) to the advertised price. And merchants don’t always remind you because it goes without saying over here. So, for example, when you sign up for $10 a month gym membership, it’s really $13 a month including taxes.

But…. service quality is much different here. people really wait on you in retail and dining establishments, and that level or service is expected here. So don’t be surprised to see someone kick up a stink here when they’re not satisfied with something they’re paying for. Enjoy working in customer service for $14 an hour, folks!

Taxes and voting are different

The tax year is aligned with the calendar year, whereas in Australia it’s July to June. Australia, explain this one? I found some “theories” but nothing concrete.

Voting is optional but it’s on a weekday, forcing people to make time before or after work. No sausage sizzle or cake sale to make it fun either. Canadians are missing out on the inspiration of the democracy sausage!

Telcos rob you absolutely blind here

Want the latest iPhone?

(Of course the prices don’t include tax)

Phone calls between mobile phones out of the city you’re in are classified as long distance and cost more money.
Depending on your phone plan, you could be charged for incoming calls as well

Source: Bell Canada

Phone numbers are the same length and format whether it’s a mobile or a landline, and they all have an area code specific to the city they’re in. This is across all of North America. So you won’t know whether the number you’re calling/is calling you is a mobile or a landline.

And things are okay here that were outlawed or changed in Australia decades ago

Like they still use Styrofoam packaging in takeout foods

And businesses will ask you to fax them documents! For example, insurance companies. So you have to go to Staples (or somewhere) and pay like $3 to send a fax.

In some provinces, wearing bicycle helmets is not mandatory for adults. Here are the current laws for each province:

  • British Columbia: all ages.
  • Alberta: under 18 years old.
  • Saskatchewan: No law.
  • Manitoba: under 18 years old.
  • Ontario: under 18 years old. .
  • Quebec: No law.
  • New Brunswick: all ages.
  • Nova Scotia: all ages.
  • Prince Edward Island: all ages.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: No law.
  • Yukon: No law.
  • Northwest Territories: No law.
  • Nunavut: No law.

There aren’t many different “bottle shops” in Ontario, and they have limited hours. There’s the LCBO, The Beer Store and Wine Rack. Some grocery stores are now selling limited selection of beers.

But it’s okay for other things to run late

Retail stores don’t open until 10 or 11am but stay open until 9pm every weeknight (which is actually super convenient and I don’t know how Australian retailers stay in business when most of their prospective customers are at work while they’re open). You can have a 9-5 job in retail in Australia, but not in Canada.

If you have kids, and you put them in after school activities like sport, they run late on weeknights, sometimes until 9pm.

But don’t you dare be late for work!

Many workplaces make you sign an agreement upon hiring that if you’re late a certain number of times per year, (mine was seven) you will be terminated. Many others sneakily track your arrival and departure times and if they notice a pattern of lateness, even 5 minutes, they will eventually present them to you as an reason to terminate your employment.

Canadians don’t like to wait

Canadians think a 5 hour flight is long. Most of them practically keel over when you tell them how many hours you spent inside an aircraft to get here.

When in line at takeaway places etc, people leave a huge gap between the next person and the counter. Don’t yell at me when I don’t realise you’re in the line ALL THE WAY BACK THERE.

People speed in Ontario (and surely other parts of Canada). If you’re only going 120kph on the highway you’re probably driving slower than everyone else.

And the road rules are weird (and dangerous)

Pedestrians also always have the right of way and are given crossing rights at the same time that cars are trying to turn into the road they’re crossing. This creates traffic and causes more people to be hit by cars.

In Ontario, you can turn right at any red light. Pedestrians play chicken with impatient Toronto drivers because it takes an hour to get anywhere (and driving a BMW makes you feel powerful I guess).

And other unusual cultural things

College sports are a big deal here. A lot of money is invested into them and they have a large following.

Canadians love putting their flag on everything and are proud to wear Canada-themed clothing (especially Olympic gear) and it’s not considered racist or bogan (redneck).

A lot of houses don’t have fences in their front yard. Not all, but a lot.

Canada can’t decide between the imperial and the metric system. Body weight and weights at the grocery store are expressed in Imperial, but the scales are in metric. So are measurements of length, height and are, except for travelling distances and speed limits which are in kilometres. Weather temperatures are in Celsius, but the temperatures for swimming pools, hot tubs and ovens in Fahrenheit.

Source: Loblaws

People walk around holding hockey sticks like its nbd. Like even at the grocery store. Or using them to decorate. Like this flagpole.

The shower/bath combinations are confusing. Do I push it? Pull it? Press it? Lift it? I JUST WANT TO TAKE A SHOWER.

Interesting food choices

People eat their pizzas with dipping sauce. There is a whole article dedicated to how it became a thing.

Raw broccoli and cauliflower to snack on is everywhere

They also put mustard and hot sauce on everything. at diners, bars etc when they bring you condiments it’s usually mustard and hot sauce.

And when you order something like sandwich and it comes with “a side of chips”, they actually give you potato chips. And a gigantic pickle. North Americans love their pickles. You won’t find the pickle from a McDonald’s burger flung against the wall in the restaurant like an abhorrent intruder.

So there you have it. We obviously didn’t get all of them ( not even close) but these are some of the ones we thought of!

What about you? Have you noticed any weird, different or bloody annoying about Canada? Let me know in the comments!

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