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Oh Canada 🇨🇦 - Issue #14

Sunletter from Ondřej Bárta
Oh Canada 🇨🇦 - Issue #14
By Ondřej Bárta • Issue #14 • View online
Gradually and then suddenly. That’s how life goes on. Small changes go unnoticed; it’s the big sudden events we tend to pay attention to, even when we should’ve paid attention to everything that lead to it.

The quote “Gradually, then suddenly” comes from Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises. It mirrors how many things in life are very predictable in retrospect: the good and the bad. Whether the ground seems like it’s collapsing beneath your feet or you experience sudden success, you can always look back and connect the dots. It doesn’t mean you can predict everything and avoid all failures, but this sentiment gives you power because all those big scary things are just smaller pieces put together. And a significant amount of failures are avoidable.
I’ll be honest and say, changes don’t come naturally to me. I’m a very conscious person. And while I’m not the biggest neurotic, I worry a lot about anything that could go wrong. That’s why I don’t travel as often. What’s supposed to be a nice adventure in another country becomes a nuisance easily. But traveling is important. There are far too many people who never travel anywhere or travel but avoid experiencing other cultures. Instead, shield themselves in a hotel and go for trips only to the places in the guidebook. I don’t want my experience to be like that. I want to meet people, make friends, and gather new experiences I wouldn’t get elsewhere.
So, it’s really important to me that I get to experience something other than the place where I live day to day. With that, I wanted to mention some things I’ve noticed about Montreal so far that are different from Europe or surprised me, in no particular order:
  • The suburbs are really beautiful here. When walking around Berlin or Prague, you get some lovely places. But here in Montreal, it seems that it’s nice everywhere you go. Very different from panel home neighborhoods in Prague and Berlin that make you feel like you are still living in the Soviet era.
  • Many aspects of life lack digitalization. When traveling through Zurich airport, everything is digitalized, and it’s also well done and reliable. Imagine my surprise when I arrived in Montreal, and I was greeted by a person with a paper label telling me where to go next. There are also other things you can only do in person, not online. It’s honestly not that bad, but I thought even Europe could be better with digitalization, so Canada seems even more behind.
  • People speak French, but nobody is annoyed when we speak English. I went to Montreal with people saying we should probably learn at least basic French. While I’ve been learning French for over two years now, even when I speak English, nobody seems to be upset about it.
  • Labels on everything are both in French and English, and I was surprised by the many creative design ways this is done. But mostly, one side of any package is French, and another is English.
  • There’s no good bread. So far, I haven’t tasted good bread anywhere here. There’s not even freshly baked bread in grocery stores like everywhere in Europe.
  • Coffee isn’t as good as you can get in European specialty coffee places. This could come down to personal preference; it’s still all Arabica. It does taste a lot different to me, though.
  • People seem richer here. Everybody’s got an expensive car, even going further from the city center.
  • Only a few places include tax in their prices. So, usually, I don’t know how much money I’m going to spend when I’m ordering or grocery shopping.
  • There’s no good beer; it all tastes bad, no exceptions.
That’s it for now; there will be more surprises here, I’m very sure of it. But for now, have a wonderful Sunday!
PS: Let me finish with a little photo dump from Montreal. ‘cause that’s what people do. (although none of these pictures are edits)
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Ondřej Bárta

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