I moved from the United States to Canada over a decade ago. I like the quiet politics, cross-country train, and the poutine in Canada.Canada also has fun nicknames for its currency and legalized recreational marijuana. Visit Insider’s homepage for more great stories.
To me, the United States is like a gregarious relative who slaps you on the back, laughs too loudly, and somehow takes up all the space in whatever room they happen to inhabit.Now I live in Canada, which is like a soft-spoken, more respectful, more tactful cousin who really brightens the space they’re in. Before anyone assumes that I fled the US due to the political strife that’s made headlines in recent years, I’ve been gone for a decade.I left the US for love in 2008. Initially, my plan was to stay in Canada for a year or two, but the longer I stayed, the deeper my roots here grew, and the more the US felt like a place to which I can never return.
Here are some of the things that keep me tied to the Great White North.The politics are quieter in Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to supporters at a rally in Ottawa, Ontario, on October 20, 2015.
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP
For the most part, in Canada, I can engage in political discussion with people holding opposing viewpoints without it turning into a character assassination of ourselves or politicians.The pre-election campaign cycles are much shorter than they are in the US, and there are five active political parties. Politics are still politics, but most of the time, I don’t think they’re incredibly sensational here. Canada’s borders seem more open to meAs the world is faced with a migrant crisis, it seems to me that Canada is committed to opening its doors.
Rather than just providing charity for refugees and immigrants, Canada’s goal is to solve labor shortages and bolster the population to power the economy for years to come.As an immigrant, being given the chance to have a positive economic impact and contribute to a thriving society is much appreciated. They have a cross-country trainLike in the United States, train travel is expensive here. But both the Trans-Canada Railway and VIA Rail offer options to take you from coast to coast, giving people a way to see a large swath of the country. This one’s on my bucket list.Canada has universal healthcareContrary to popular rhetoric, healthcare in Canada is not free — it’s funded through a combination of personal and corporate taxation.
But as long as you have your health card, you don’t have to pay for the most basic services, including doctor visits, ultrasounds, and hospital stays. (Well, unless you want a private room. That will cost extra.)For the most part, guns are for huntingThere are plenty of guns in Canada. Yes, some of them are used for violent crime, and there aren’t numerous strict gun regulations in place, but the culture around guns doesn’t seem as fanatic here.For reference, per crime data gathered by BBC, 73% of homicides were gun-related in the US in 2017 — and 38% of homicides were gun-related in Canada in 2018. In addition, per a Small Arms Survey conducted in 2018, US civilians own far more guns than Canadian ones. Canada continues to update its gun regulations, too. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a ban on 1,500 kinds of assault-style weapons, making it illegal to sell, import, transport, or use them.
The currency in Canada is pretty cool
In Canada, the bills are quite colorful.
Yu Ruidong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images
No more worrying about taping that bill back together as you may have to do with US money — the bills are made of a durable, synthetic polymer here. Plus it’s pretty cool that one of Canada’s recent $10 bill designs features Black Nova Scotian civil-rights activist Viola Desmond. The currency has fun nicknames, too The dollar bill and two-dollar bill are coins, nicknamed the loonie and the toonie. Poutine is seriously amazing
Poutine is quite popular in Canada.
DAVID BOILY/AFP/Getty Images
A dish with roots in Quebec, poutine isn’t just cheese and gravy on french fries.
The star of the dish the cheese curds — the fresh, squeaky bits of curdled milk. Although some Canadians think any variation of this classic is sacrilege, I think lobster poutine is pretty divine.Recreational marijuana is legal hereWhatever your thoughts about using marijuana, it’s a fact that criminalizing usage is expensive for courts and law enforcement.In Canada, marijuana was officially legalized for adults in October 2018.
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