Travel makes you fall in love with your own country.
At least, these are my feelings after experiencing a 10-day adventure in New York.
Canadians are a friendly folk. I discovered this when I landed in Ottawa on my return flight.
Sure, New York was amazing, full of bright lights, the Statue of Liberty and fluffy-but-not-too-rich cheesecake, but there’s something about the Canadian attitude that I didn’t fully appreciate until this experience.
People in the Big Apple were blunt, only offering advice after I approached them. The subway didn’t yield as many smiles as I’d hoped and the ticket attendants where I purchased subway passes stared past me.
Granted, the city has a population of 8.4 million people – approximately one-quarter of Canada’s total population of 35 million.
That’s a lot of people packed together.
I imagine I would also grow tired of tourists bombarding me with questions day after day. I even overheard a conversation between two New Yorkers asking why tourists wanted to take the ferry to Staten Island.
“There’s nothing over there,” they said.
It wasn’t so much the island, but the Statue of Liberty. I guess after living there for so long, you forget these iconic landmarks don’t exist elsewhere.
I take sightings of bears and deer for granted, so it’s understandable New Yorkers have also become desensitized to their surroundings. After my time in the Big Apple, though, I was surprised by the greeting I received in the Ottawa airport.
The airport officer was cheery and upbeat, and went out of his way to ensure we knew exactly where we were going.
“Make sure to go to the second floor and take a right.”
After more than a week of vague signs and unhelpful people, that sentence was heaven to my ears.
There’s also a diversity to Canada’s landscape that New York didn’t have. During my layovers I saw Calgary as a beautiful sea of brown, with straight highways and semi trucks.
The east coast was loud and busy, the CN Tower in Toronto easy to spot with its changing colours.
From flat prairies to bustling cities, to rolling hills and snow-covered mountains, New York made me want to explore it all.
It’s funny how leaving the country makes you appreciate home.
The lineups may be slower, but I can walk around without feeling like I’m late, and I appreciate my sidewalk space while offering a “Hello” to strangers.
I don’t think New Yorkers know what they’re missing and I’m keeping it a secret.