Amsterdam vs Montreal


Invariably, we lead lives of almost constant comparison. Our most recent drive to work was much better/worse than yesterday's. The last episode of Game of Thrones was way gorier/hotter than last week's. Taylor's boyfriend this week is, like, totally hotter/more sensitive than last week's. 

So in the spirit of the inevitable, the focus of a number of upcoming posts here will focus on what it's like living in Montreal (and Canada in general) versus Amsterdam (and Europe in general).

Today, we're starting off on a bit of a downer note for those on the Canada side of the ledger. It has to do with rampant, almost out of control patriotism and jingoism.

Admittedly, I've arrived just before the Olympics, where the volume on national pride in most countries is turned all the way up.

But still, if national backslapping and synchronized self-congratulation were Olympic sports, Canada would take gold, silver and bronze.

TV ads running non-stop during the past two weeks say things like "The World Needs More Canada" (Air Canada), with Molson Canadian beer and Royal Bank expressing similar hubris. Barf.

A recent New York Times piece on Canada's welcoming of Syrian refugees mentions the amount of sharing on social media that volunteers are doing, as they express the sheer awesomeness of their own volunteering.

Flags Gone Wild

Driving around town these first few weeks, I've seen more flags on cars (note - this is also pre-Oympics) than I saw in six years in Holland. I don't know even know if they exist in Europe, these mobile symbols of chest-thumpery.

And well before my return to the motherland, I realized on my travels that Canadians are the only ones sewing their flags on their backpacks as they travel the world. No overt harm in this of course - but it looks like a cry for attention cloaked in national pride that seems unseemly. I doubt the flagless Italian or Kiwi backpackers are any less proud of their countries - they just don't need to shout it from the rooftops.

It's one thing to be with a great friend. It might get a tad annoying if that friend keeps saying "wow, aren't I great?"