Another thing that people tend not to know about Canada is that it is home to modern, North American cities. With skyscrapers and shit. Shock and awe, yes, exactly like in the United States. In fact, exactly as if Canada were in North America! I don’t blame foreigners for not recognizing the name of my city- Edmonton. However, the immediate assumption is that it is a hamlet, a village of a thousand people dispersed in the Arctic tundra. That’s fine to assume, but this line of thought continues even after I explain that actually, Edmonton is the capital of the province of Alberta that Google tells me has a population of over 932, 546 people as of the 2016 census. Milan’s population is 1.3 million and Turin’s is 870, 702. So yes uninformed people, the population of the hamlet town of Edmonton is a bit under that of Milan’s and more than that of the teeny-tiny village of Turin. Next, I’m usually faced with describing the fact that we have a downtown that doesn’t look like the far west with tumbleweeds blowing around. This normally has to be supplemented by photographs because people continue to imagine something akin to the The Wall in Game of Thrones, with all of us shuffling about in furs like Jon Snow. Then I talk about how Edmonton also has the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in all of North America: the city’s river valley is 22 times larger than Central Park in New York City. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
It’s consistently said that travel is the cure to ignorance and I understand that travel, especially across the Atlantic, is not economically feasible for everyone. But inform yourselves the old-fashioned way. Ask questions, read books or at least scroll through Google images of different countries. Do all of this before telling me how relieved I must be to be “out of the cold” and living in a “real city”. I live in Bergamo, it’s 115,223 people. Remember Edmonton’s number? 932,546. I think it’s safe to say that I was living in a real city before as well.
The final cherry on top is that people have asked me when I am going to “bring over” my family. They don’t intend it in the vacation sense but in the “when are you going to save your family from the hard life they are enduring in the third world country of Canada?” When I tell them that they are not planning on moving here, everyone gets really confused. They don’t want to move here?! No, they don’t want to leave upper middle-class North American suburbia to live in Italy. Shocking, I know.
This has been a bit of a rant but it’s only because these are the kinds of comments that I’ve heard consistently having been an expat since 2014. I was actually inspired to write this post after accidently stumbling upon an old video of Jim Carrey doing stand-up comedy and making fun of the same issue.
Check it out here (there’s also Italian subtitles!): https://youtu.be/NFY8bmQLWUc
Oh and visit Canada when you get the chance. We promise it's not always cold and it's kinda pretty.