Canada, the great compromise between the U.S. and Sweden

Sorry I have been out of commission the last week or so since I was traveling to Texas to meet my family. I feel like a fish out of water here, as I traveled from an arctic -15C to a balmy +28C with nearly 70% humidity within a day! My skin feels great, but I am still dizzy and acclimating to the steamy, sub-tropical city of Houston. Still, it’s so sweet to be able to just slip on my flip-flops and run to the store in January, if only for a little while. However, I am definitely more of a four-seasons gal.

While I am grateful to be with my family in Texas, I sometimes wonder how I ended up in Canada after living in both Sweden and the U.S. As my dad and I were driving around, I had an epiphany. Canada really is the best of both worlds! It’s as if we were led to this promised land, but had to live in two extremes to finally figure out that Canada is the place to be for us. I am one to always try things, but it is very difficult to live between 2 countries, which is why we moved 10 times over the past 18 years. We have now decided that we’ll plant roots here in Canada.

Flag-Pins-Sweden-USA

I have long realized that the old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side” is basically true for the most part. But I strongly believe that every country has its good and its bad, some having one side weighing way more heavily than the other. Regardless, I will try to  be as positive as possible and tell you why we decided to settle in Canada. But first, I’d like to mention why I love both the U.S. (Texas in particular) and Sweden. Some of my observations on Texans can also be applied to all Americans, yet a more diluted version.

Don't Mess With Texas 2-02

I love how Texas is so damn big and proud, where people are extra cheerful and a little bit pompous. We Texans aren’t afraid to praise others and ourselves when we do a good job. And why not? It makes us feel good. And feeling good makes us even more friendly. You can never really feel lonely in Texas. Feel like talking to someone other than a family member? Just pour your heart out to your local cafe barrista or grocery store clerk. Believe me, they are used to it. Texans love to talk shit with people and it is not uncommon to hear someone’s sob life story and give advice to a complete stranger. There’s never a shortage of colorful people and every cartoon-like depiction of a Texan (picture Bush with pistols and cowboy boots), is usually not far from the truth. I love how Texans open doors for you, say “sorry” when they bump into you or pass you in the grocery aisle. I adore how Texans say hi or howdy when they catch your eye. I am also amused by their extra wide SUVs, cups the size of buckets filled all the way with ice, and gigantic portions to fit their big personalities and big appetites. Stuff around you is also very new in Texas, as they believe in knock-down/tear-down of older buildings instead of renovation. Surprisingly, Texas is one of the most progressive places I’ve seen, as far as technology and convenience are concerned. They have drive-thru banks, drive-thru BBQ restaurants, and drive-thru liquor stores that blow your mind, especially if you’re from Sweden. YES, I said drive-through liquor stores!!! Even their grocery stores are very advanced and modern, with aisles that light up as you walk past helping to save energy and to showcase the many dozens of varieties of each kind of product you can think of. Just don’t take their guns away or not wave thanks when they let you pass them on the road.

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In stark contrast, Swedes are super modest, clever and humble, and it is a no-no to brag or make yourself stand out. Yet, Swedes make fantastic inventions such as Skype and Spotify. They are technically-savvy and aren’t afraid of progress. I love the fact that you can hardly tell the difference between a millionaire and a school teacher or that you can eat lunch with the CEO. I love how people recycle and make it part of the norm, not just for beggars trying to make a few extra bucks. I love how you can leave your doors unlocked and walk around at 3 am with no fear. I love the fact that the parents, workers and children rule society, meaning that the government makes it easier to be a parent, worker or child in society. I love the smart design, the beautiful architecture of the cities and towns, and the timeliness of the people. Things get done because people do as they say, not just say what they do. Those Swedes are efficient fuckers, both literally and figuratively. Sex is not a problem because they don’t make it a problem. Nudity doesn’t make a Swede look twice, unless they are around us Americans who get shocked by it. But then the Swedes only really notice because they’re amused by us. Swedes are ultimately the hippest people on the planet, both with fashion and their world views. After reading this, you can see why I married one :-).

ilovecanada

So why would we move to Canada, with all that the U.S. and Sweden have to offer? Here are our top reasons for settling in Canada:

Toronto feels more European, but is still North American.

Living in the city of Toronto, we walk everywhere as we did in Sweden. But it’s even better, since we’re surrounded by restaurants from at least 14 different countries (and counting!) and enjoy the fruits of living in a multi-ethnic society, which is so much of an advantage living in North America. I love the fact that we can get Indian, Malaysian and Greek food delivered to our door with a few clicks on Just-eat.ca.

Canada gets first-hand entertainment from the U.S.

As fans of U.S. politics and entertainment, we can view our fave shows, channels and comedians easily from Canada. You definitely get a chance to see how Americans look like from an outside point-of-view, and sometimes that’s pretty freakin’ hilarious!

Canada has universal healthcare and other benefits.

The U.S. still hasn’t learned that healthcare is not a “benefit” or something to be earned to deserve.  We have enjoyed some of the best healthcare ever in Canada and even cheaper than in Sweden since there is no “avgift” or copay to visit a doctor. While not as advanced or socialized as Sweden, there is at least a child subsidy, 1 year parental leave and a much better living minimum wage ($10/hr). We feel it is a watered down version of Sweden, but it will do for us.
It’s easy to pop over to the U.S., yet also just as easy to get to Europe.

Many of the same stores exist both in the U.S. and Canada and many of the major Canadian cities border the U.S.  But even when we need something from a U.S. store not in Canada, we only need to drive 2 hours west to Buffalo, New York. What’s nice is that the Canadian dollar is quite strong nowadays. Seeing my parents is also not too expensive if flying domestically to Texas from Buffalo (a much smaller and easy-to-access airport).  Flying to Sweden is also pretty smooth, since Air Canada introduced a direct flight to Copenhagen a couple of years ago and Icelandair has bargain flights to Stockholm from Toronto.

Canada’s landscape and climate are very similar to Sweden.

Canada has similar nature to Sweden, especially around the lake regions in Ontario. We also enjoy a true summer, fall, winter and spring, which is exciting if you like to shop for the seasons. I welcome the change every 3 months!  You will also find a berry and mushroom picking culture in the north like in New Foundland and other areas in Ontario.

Canada isn’t as scary as the U.S.

With less than 200 gun fatalities per year in Canada vs. over 11,000 gun fatalities per year in the U.S., you better believe it’s safer in Canada! One wonders why, when guns are available here as it is there. This makes it easy to choose Canada when you have children.

Canada is not as friendly as Texas, but more friendly than Sweden :-).

I hate to say it folks, but Canada is a bit friendlier than Sweden. At least people are willing to help and talk to strangers. Maybe the Americans rubbed off on the Canadians?!

Canada is still cheaper with more variety.

Canada is similar enough to the U.S. and cheaper than Sweden for most goods especially if you like big shops. However, that is probably changing in Sweden as well.

texasembassy

With all the great things Canada offers, I still wonder why Canada

  • Doesn’t have Spotify?
  • Doesn’t have debit cards associated to Mastercard or Visa?
  • Doesn’t have affordable childcare?
  • Doesn’t have 5 weeks vacation for all?
  • Doesn’t have better civil and architectural design?
  • Doesn’t do away with those damn milk bags and milk holders?

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Categories: Living & Traveling, Swedish Culture

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One Comment on “Canada, the great compromise between the U.S. and Sweden”

  1. April 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Mycket bra skrivet!!!

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