We are at the end of the Fall term… many new international students moved here a couple of months ago to start their first term at a Canadian university, and other new international students will soon move to Montreal to start their studies here in the Winter term. And sooner or later, they will compare Canada/Quebec to their home countries, just like I am doing here. This is the last post of the Everyday differences between Italy and Quebec series… unless in the next months I find some new differences to write about. In Part 1 I discussed transportation and roads, in Part 2 I talked about houses and rural/urban landscapes, while the topic of Part 3 was shopping. In this Part 4 post I will not focus on any specific topic, I will simply talk about the differences that had escaped me in the previous posts.
First, election campaign posters. When it’s election time, you can’t escape them: Every signpost and every street lamp along any major street has a poster with a smiling, confident face, a party symbol, and a name. And that’s it. Italian election campaign posters are very different. First, you don’t find them on street poles, but only on dedicated panels. Second, these posters are not hung, but glued. Third, since they can be posted only in dedicated spaces, they are often all together, next to each other, which is in my opinion a nice thing, because it allows you to compare the different options. And fourth, the most important thing: They do not show necessarily a pretty face, a nice symbol and a name. They contain slogans, election promises, and any content that, in the candidate’s opinion, can convince you to vote for them. This means they are usually bigger than the Canadian ones.
The second difference between Italy and Quebec I am pointing out today is related to buses. Here in Montreal I saw bell cords for the first time–I don’t know if they are completely absent on Italian buses, but I had never run into one, I was only used to stop buttons. And while in Italy I only saw buses with two doors, generally one for getting on and one for getting off, here it is normal to use the front door to get off, and in some cases that door is the only one. In addition, Canadian buses, as well as metros, have many seats dedicated to pregnant women/injured people/the elderly, while I don’t remember that many dedicated seats on Italian buses. Moreover, in Canada there is a habit that I find practical but somewhat risky, that is, the fact that here people are allowed to stand up on buses even when the bus also when the bus is riding on the highway. In Italy you can certainly stand up on the bus, but not when the bus is on a highway: Usually, at the last bus stop before the highway the driver checks if anyone is standing, and those who can’t find a seat are asked to get off and wait for the following bus–which may or may not be coming soon. I have mixed feelings about both ways. I think the Canadian way is more practical, because if you prefer standing up over waiting for the next bus, it’s great to have the possibility to do so. But conversely, I am a bit concerned about the safety of standing up on a bus while it’s on a highway.
The third difference I’ll discuss today concerns the holidays. It’s not exactly an everyday difference, but I find it relevant to this post. Needless to say, when you move to another country the holidays are partially different. Since many university services and buildings are accessible every day, sometimes it is hard to notice when a certain day is a statutory holiday, but several times I went to the campus and found out that there were less people around because of a holiday I had never heard of. Similarly, Canadians clearly don’t stay at home on Italian Republic Day, or on Italy’s Liberation Day. Sometimes a holiday that exists in a country does not exist in the other, while sometimes the same holiday exists in both countries, but with a different length: for example, the Winter break here in Canada doesn’t last until January 6 as it does in Italy. And on this note I end this post: Looking forward to the break, and wishing you to enjoy the Holiday atmosphere!
Banner photo: Collage of pictures by @gradlifemcgill Instagrammers @fanidee, @kipunsam.daily and @_martinella_.