Aside from the breath-taking backdrop of mountains, sea and cityscape, one of my favourite things about Canada has to be its people.
The Canadian stereotype is somewhat one of the simple, modest, shy cousin to the that of the boisterous, ballsy neighbour next-door in the US. However, I'm here to tell you, loud and proud, that Canadians are all that and so much more. And, thankfully, they seem to be rubbing off on me!
I know it sounds crazy but I've slowly come to notice that, since coming here two and a half years ago, I'm a much nicer person. Now, don't get me wrong, I still have that cynical Irish side that will never disappear, nor do I want it to, but I've come to learn from my surrogate brethren to give people the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions.
It's so evident at work.
Before, I tended to keep myself to myself somewhat and I didn't believe in mixing business with pleasure, so to speak. So, I avoided work nights out in case I had a few too many to drink and made a fool of myself in front of the boss, which would reflect badly on me come Monday morning. I made general chitchat and I had my own little posse of people I 'let in,' but in retrospect I think I could've been more open to my colleagues.
Over here, I tend to allow myself to have more fun and I don't take myself so seriously. I don't know what it is - maybe it's that you Canadians are so darn nice! - but you bring out the best in me. I'm much more patient. I laugh a lot more and I can even be soft-spoken at times which, for anyone who knows me, is an achievement in itself! I'm more willing to accept other people's weaknesses and I will offer to help them out without thinking 'that's not part of my job description.'
I'm calmer all round and I don't let things get to me so much. Now, I still worry and I'm still a perfectionist, but I try to give more of myself and the response has been eye-opening. I'm a changed woman.
I thoroughly enjoy bonding with my workmates and I make an effort to try to organise lunches with the girls, or nights out. There's no one person I go out of my way to avoid (c'mon, we've all been there!) and, in true Austin Powers style, everything's groovy baby yeah!
It's funny, when we first arrived here we tended to take our hosts' 'niceness' as being somewhat two-dimensional, but that was the old stereotype rearing its ugly head and it's so far from the truth. Canadians are just as witty and humourous as we Irish consider ourselves...but maybe not so caustic!!
They tend to have a slightly different outlook on life, which myself and my fellow immigrant boyfriend coined as P.M.A. - Positive Mental Attitude. So, whenever one of us is having a bad day or is generally just down in the dumps, we say to the other; "P.M.A., babe, P.M.A." and we get some perspective on things.
Below is a perfect example of why I love Canada so much, for all the little life lessons it's given me. We ran out of teabags in our office recently (I know, blasphemy in the homeland!), so I told the lovely receptionist who said she'd order more, and who's been apologising everyday since that they still haven't arrived.
And, lo and behold, today I get an email saying; "I think there's something in the kitchen you might like...," so off down I go and this is what I find.
I mean, if that doesn't make you smile, I don't know what will!
In the now iconic words of Jack Nicholson in every mother's favourite film, As Good As It Gets; "You make me want to be a better (wo)man," Canada. That you do.