Lessons from Living in Two Countries (and visiting a third a lot)

I’m often asked what it’s like living in two countries. Having lived in two countries is probably more accurate. But I also spent a lot of time in Canada, so I s’pose it’s a fair question.

It has definitely been eight years of learning and discovering, even if I’m a little spoilt with all three countries being so similar. So what have I learned?

People are all essentially the same

I know everyone wants to be unique, but sorry, it’s not so. There are some very distinct trends. Inner-city people tend to have experienced more things and thus more liberal and open. Heading further out of cities and people tend to stay in their bubbles more and their ideas are less challenged. Melbourne, San Francisco, Seattle: it was all the same.

This also means there’s nothing to be afraid of when moving cities or countries. If there are people you like where you currently live, there’ll be friends to make elsewhere.

No country matches its stereotypes

Some friends warned me about moving to the United States. They were convinced I would be shot. Another (former) friend made comments about enormous meals, and he was one of those mentioned above who live in their bubble. America is not like that, just like Australia is not all outback and shrimps on barbies (prawns on the BBQ, please).

All countries are made up of sub-cultures. Sure there are some who match the stereotypes, but they aren’t the norm. The casual professionalism of the United States west coast was a shock at first (Melbourne is so formal), and I laugh when told I’d never cope in the south-eastern states, where it’s much more conservative.

It’s easy to forget which country you’re in

Currently, I’m traveling between Canada and the US near daily. It’s confusing. I was in a bookstore on the border recently discussing a new Harry Potter release. The booksellers weren’t familiar with the new set and asked if I’m Canadian (indirectly asking if it was released in the US). I replied “I am American”, but it took me a moment. First I was taken back by their unfounded assumption, then had to remember where I was. That’s why I blurted my nationality, and it was possibly the first time I’m verbalized it.

Maybe the three countries are all too similar and my next shouldn’t be English-speaking. By the way, flags and currency are easily overlooked.

The internet is amazing

This isn’t really a tri-country thing but definitely, makes it all easier. There are some people in Australia whom I miss, but the internet keeps us in constant contact. I could not live the life I want without the internet, as cheesy as that sounds.

There are probably more things, but they come to mind most. Have I missed anything else of living in two countries that I’ve mentioned previously?

 

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