Just different, that's all

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There are many similarities between Canada and Australia. I can understand why our two countries get along so well, as we have a lot in common. We seem to have a fairly similar outlook on life, we are both very egalitarian and multicultural societies, and having a common British heritage, we have similar political systems. So far I think the cost of living is comparable (except for housing and cars, for which Australia seems far more expensive!)

But here are a few things - just small things - that I've noticed that struck me as being a bit different. Not better. Not worse. Just a bit different.

1. Driving. Obviously, driving on the other side of the road is a pretty noticable difference. It was pretty freaky at first, especially turning left and feeling like a head-on crash was imminent. But I was surprised at how quickly one adapts to it. In fact, it was not so much the driving on the other side of the road that was weird, but more the sitting on the other side of the car, shifting the transmission with your right hand not left, glancing at the rear-vision mirror to the right not the left, reaching for the seat belt on the left, not the right. It took a bit of getting used to. I've still managed to get into the passenger seat to drive a few times, but I'm getting better. Once we get our own car I'm sure it will improve rapidly.

2. TV Hosts. We seem to have most of the same TV shows here as we are used to at home - Who wants to be a Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune, Price is Right, and so on. But what really surprised me was the age of the hosts! When you are used to seeing people like Eddie Maguire and Larry Emdur, it just seems weird to have TV hosts in their 60s. And it's right across the board, with newsreaders, weather presenters, and game show hosts all being considerably older than those seen by Australian audiences.

3. Supermarkets. The Supermarket choices are huge here. There seem to be so many brands, sizes, varieties and options to choose from. The supermarket across the road from us is smallish compared to some of the bigger ones around here, but still has tons of variety in the products on offer. And the packaging is different too. Not only does every product have to, by law, be labelled in both English and French (except in Quebec, where it is just in French and apprently illegal to label in English)... also there are some curious packaging options, like milk that you buy by the plastic bag. Yes, plastic bag. You buy the milk in packs of three plastic bags, then insert a bagful of milk in a jug, snip the corner and pour from the bag. It seemed odd at first, but is actually a great idea from a minising waste point of view.

4. Scratchies. I don't know why this struck me, but it did. I watched a guy in front of me at the service station buying a scratchy ticket. In Australia, when you buy a scratchy, the newsagent just tears one off the roll and hands it to you. In Canada, (apart from the fact that you can also buy scratchies at petrol stations as well as newsagents) they are laid out on a big board under the glass counter and the attendant slides the board out, holds it out in front of you so you can randomly select the scratchy of your choice. I like the idea that you have the opportunity to make your own random choice as to which scratchy you actually pick. Like I said, I don't know why I noticed this, but I did.

5. Toilets. This is hard to explain, but the toilets here flush entirely differently. They have a much bigger bowl with a much smaller drain, and when you flush them, they fill right up to the top then swirl away in a big whirlpool. (By the way, they swirl counter clockwise if you're interested in knowing) Without going into an excessive amount of detail, the contents of the bowl swirl around in the whirlpool and go round and round and round before eventually they vanish down this little hole. They are quite effective, although seem to use an inordinate amount of water.

Anyway, that's enough for now... I'll keep my eye out for more.

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