Saturday, March 11, 2006

Exhibit A: Canadian Exchange Student

Every now and then, I meet people who are intrigued by my Canadian citizenship, or the fact that I'm a foreign exchange student. This often leads to a barrage of questions, and occasionally they will pull out the "Oh I know someone from Canada" line. When this happens, I always feel a sense of responsibility - what I tell Americans about Canada could either propagate stereotypes or debunk them. (It is sometimes tempting to play a little bit with this one:)

Today was one of those days. As the snow melts, Smith magically transforms into a space for the public to enjoy. Families with young kids and babies galore, dog-walkers, older couples, and skateboarders all take advantage of the sprawling lawns gardens, and paths. I was on my way home from the gym this afternoon when I encountered one of said older couples. This is what ensued:

Man: Excuse me miss, is Smith a coed school?
Jess: No, it's a women's college.
(Couple asks more questions about Smith)
Man: And what year are you in?
Jess: Well, I'm actually an exchange student...
Man: Oh, from where?
Jess: Canada
Man: I should have known, you talk funny. (really?)
Man: Where do you go to school?
Jess: In Newfoundland.
Man: Ooohh, Newfoundland! Wow... we were just in..in... Nova Scotia. Yes that's it. Please tell me, what is it really like? It just seems so... out there. (Wife tugs on his elbow)
Jess: (extolls the virtues of Newfoundland and it's physical beauty, and proceeds to answer questions about how to get there).
Wife: So, what do you think of the United States?
Jess: Well...

And so it goes. I actually don't mind this answering of questions. I've found that either A) people have never heard of Newfoundland, New Brunswick, or anywhere other than Toronto and Montreal, or B) people have heard of Newfoundland, but in the context of: "is that the one they always make fun of?" What I tell these people will influence how they think about their neighboring country, and I'm honored to have a chance to set the record straight. It's always interesting to find out how people perceive Canada, and I'm curious to know: how do you perceive the US? And do I really have an accent?

Still nothing on the photo front. I had an alternative planned for today but it will have to wait until blogger fixes this. I'm writing from the Science library where I *will not* be distracted by the lovely row of books next to me. No, I will not succumb to the alluring glossy covers of "Medicinal Chemistry", "Chinese Drugs of Plant Origin", or any of the many plant books. I will not give in... (this is why it is generally not a good idea for me to study in the library). Hopefully the plant books will somehow (through osmosis)inspire me to write my lab report. Just maybe.

4 comments:

Marie said...

Hi Jess, this reminds me of my formerly frequent travels from Nova Scotia to Chicago and Washington, D.C. The really odd thing about that period, is how often I met Americans who had visited Halifax. I even met one couple in DC who had been to Citadel Hill, where I used to work!! How statistically unlikely is that, I wonder?

don Bossé said...

Jess you could of told them that you know everyone in Canada. How about the dog sleds? Lots of snow in NL.

Mike said...

How about the dog sleds? They're parked outside my igloo. Jess, I don't think you have an accent, it's the people down south who 'talk funny.'

Jessica said...

Hi. My name is also Jess, and I'm an American going to school in Canada. If you want to get the reverse perspective, feel free to read my blog, "O Canada!".