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Back in Saskatoon | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Back in Saskatoon

Saskatoon, I can see where my parents live

This is where Saskatoon is

It’s been almost a year since I left Canada for NYC. I’m back in Saskatoon to see my parents and then I’ll head back to reapply for my TN Visa. It should be a relatively painless procedure, but until I’m back walking around Manhattan I’m not taking anything for granted. Vacationing in the US is easy for Canadians – working there is not as simple. Once I do get back I’ll outline some of the adventures a Canadian graphic designer has to go through to have the right papers.

Since I’m here and I have time to reflect, I thought it would be interesting to check out some of the contrasts between the US and Canada from my pov. Some differences are bigger then others of course and that just goes w/ the scale of things. If you’ve never been to Saskatoon or even heard about it, there’s been a couple notable exports. There’s Joni Mitchell who apparently must have known a ton of people b/c I remember most of my english and social studies teachers having stories about her. The second notable character was the Undertaker from professional wrestling fame.

Probably one of the first things that surprised me about NYC was in restaurants. In the restrooms there’s signs mentioning how employees must wash their hands. I thought that was a bit of a no brainer or would hope that would be the case. The second thing was straws. There’s paper on them to keep them sterile. Up until then I had not really seen that on any kind of day in/ day out type of thing. Now that I’m back here in Canada I kind of cringe when I don’t see that piece of paper on the top of the straw. I was surprised to learn that very few people in NYC know what tuque’s are. Mention the capital of Saskatchewan to a Canadian and most will say the city as a matter of fact. However the word Regina to most that have never heard the word will find it quite amusing.

The one thing that people from Canada reading this post should know is that most American’s are actually not that arrogant and are actually more friendly then the average Canadian. Politics aside, at least in NYC I’ve been able to meet, talk and drink w/ more open minded people then any where else I’ve lived. Yes, it is NYC – so there’s a different mindset, but still it’s something more Canadians should be aware of. I also think Canadians take it for granted that everyone wants to move there or that people should just know a lot about Canada. The thing is, there has to be a reason for people to want to know and I don’t think there’s been an effective message ever put out there by any Canadian government. Canada can’t afford to be known as just an exporter of natural resources. The economic climate right now is being taken for granted in Canada because of the oil reserves, but that will not last forever. I hope some strategic thinking about what to do after the boom comes quickly.

I think when you’re in a bubble like NYC, you take speed and convenience for granted too. I don’t think things are really slow here, but I’m slightly disorientated when ordering stuff. Whether it’s getting coffee or buying a sandwich – it’s taking me a lot of time to spit out what I want. I have no idea why that’s the case. Car culture is car culture, for some reason I find it extremely liberating to not be tied down to one. I walk a ton in Manhattan – in most cities that’s not the case. It’s taking some adjustment time to realize I can’t just go outside and get somewhere w/ out a car. If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed that I’m happy about, it’s the fact that I can be online and connect to the same people – either in Canada or the US.

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