When you think of Canada versus the Netherlands, you don’t immediately think of major cultural differences, right?
Rather, you think of both countries as being allies during World War II.
Or having prime ministers at the helm—who you can have an opinion about.
Smoking pot—that’s legal in both countries.
Maybe the Trucker Convoy will come up.
Or just the clogs and tulips of Holland. And the bizarrely beautiful Rockies in Canada.
There aren’t many “big” cultural differences because both countries have a lot in common. They are western countries. Yet there are differences.
And Daisy will tell you about those. With her story as a 17-year-old Dutch girl in Canada.
– – –
“Welcome to Pearson Airport, Canada. The local time is 3.30 PM. Welcome home or a safe continuation of your travel.” The words echoed loudly through the plane.
I pressed my face against the window and looked out.
It was April 10.
In the Netherlands, it was already evening.
Here in Canada, the sun was shining.
In Holland it was piss weather, as I always called it; rain and 13 degrees. Typical for a Dutch spring.
In Canada, people in thick layers of clothing were escorting the trunk to the plane. It showed that the temperature in Toronto is a lot lower. The melting snow at the airbase clearly tells.
I felt a hand on my arm. “It’s really going to start. Are you looking forward to it?” my mother asked. She frowned cheerfully—an attempt to stimulate some enthusiasm.
I stared at my mother. Was she serious? Mom didn’t say anything else—apparently, she was.
“No. Of course not,” I snarled and immediately looked out the window again.
What parent pulls her daughter away from her familiar surroundings to emigrate to Canada? Selfish woman!
While the people around me immediately stood up when the seatbelt light turned off and eagerly grabbed their suitcases, I sank further into my seat. Canada sounds nice as a holiday destination, not as a place to live!
An exasperated growl filled the immigration waiting area. With a stern look, my parents looked at me.
“What?” I defended myself. “It does take a shitty long time, doesn’t it?”
“We have to be patient,” Dad replied.
“How much patience should a person have according to the Canadians?” I dropped my head into my neck and heaved another dramatic sigh.
“Now you need to cut it out, Daisy. You’re 17 years old, act like it,” Mom said sharply. Clearly, another person had lost her temper.
“You should’ve left me in the Netherlands! I could have done just fine on my own.”
“I think we’ve closed this subject,” Dad said in a quiet voice, precisely the way psychologists talk.
I gripped the winter coat I had in my arms tighter. “You guys did.”
“Daisy! You…” started Mom but Dad soothed her. He shook his head at his wife.
I pursed my lips. I had such a desire to shake things up around here. Everything was so stupid! The ridiculous “no phone” sign. The windowless room. The stale air. The idiotic queue—one you only see in amusement parks. Like meek sheep, everyone zigzagged around the posts at an agonizingly slow pace. I let my eyes slide over the immigration officers: a stout man with a beard, a dark woman with cool braids—I had to give her that—a brown woman, a white girl who had clearly slipped on her eyeliner…
“Next!” called the officer behind the rightmost counter. He looked like he might fall asleep from dullness at any moment. Bravely, the family in front of us, presumably from India, moved to the counter with all their papers.
“Next!” I heard again. “Oh, that’s us!” cried my mother delightedly. She grabbed her briefcase and sauntered over to the dark woman with the cool braids.
Just a little too enthusiastically she said to the Officer, “Good afternoon! How are you?”
I rolled my eyes.
The Officer responded, “Can I see your papers, please?”
“Of course.” My mother put everything in front of her. “We have a work permit. He’s going to work at Ryerson University and I’m employed at Deloitte.”
The Officer picked up all the papers and leafed through it. “Can I have your passports?”
The minutes ticked away. You would think that when it was finally your turn after two hours of waiting, immigration would be a snap. But after this counter, it wasn’t done yet! We had to go to the next room where we had to wait again, this time for a SIN number. That is the same as your Citizen Service Number in the Netherlands. “Very secret,” said the Official here. “You may never tell your SIN to anyone.”
“Or what?” I blurted out.
The Officer looked at me as if I had just insulted him. “You could become a victim of identity theft.” He said it as if he threatened me.
My mother quickly interjected into our exchange, “Well, thank you. Have a nice day, sir.” She put her arm around me and pushed me out of the room.
“Are we finally done now?” I asked, irritated.
“Yes, Daisy. We’re done.”
To be continued.