Saturday, December 20, 2008

Best and Worst of a Nation (so I'm into lists these days)

I was having coffee with some students the other day and we were discussing what were the best and worst aspects of our respective nations.

For Canada, for Toronto, I said,
Best: Multicultural, in the sense that a mixed-race couple can walk down Bloor street and feel totally accepted and good. Also, national humility. Canada knows it is small potatoes on the global scale. We are so dwarfed by big brother to the south we don't take ourselves too seriously. I like that Canadians can laugh at how not powerful we are.
Worst: Lack of passion, lack of excitement. This speaks to Toronto in particular. (Because Montreal has never suffered from this and I have never lived elsewhere in Canada). Though this city is ten-fold cooler than it was a decade ago, it is still uber conservative. And as my European and South American students will point out, it feels like everyone goes to bed by 10. Stores close early. Weeknight bars are mostly empty. Also, winter (come late February and March).

For Italy, my student Livia said,
Best: Food (duh), and that people know how to enjoy life, how to have a good time.
Worst: the government (I "HATE" the government). She equated it to a dictatorship. Also, dishonesty amongst the people. Pickpocketing, for one and also how because everyone cheats and tries not to pay for public transport the public transport system in Rome, where she's from, sucks. Air quality and traffic were other low points.

For Japan, Kazu and Megu said,
Best: Food (By this point I'm getting jealous because hard as they might try a Canadian cannot say this - I blame our deeply British roots). They were also proud of the quality of things, products, etc, public transport.
Worst: That everyone works too hard and is/are so tired all the time (speaks to your comment, Kingsley, about happiness in Japan). (Neither mentioned it, but I would add summer in Osaka. As an apt cartoon in the Kansai Timeout expressed it, choose your hell: winter in Canada or summer in Osaka)

For Taiwan, Carol said,
Best: Food
Worst: air quality, traffic.

For Korea, Peelbong said,
Best: food and sense of national pride (see World Cup 1992)
Worst: air quality, people working too hard.

Other countries? Thoughts?


  1. interesting topic, would be great to see a broader survey on this. it seems to neutralize the sense of the grass is greener on the other side by stating openly what's crap about the foreign cultures we fetishize.

    this could even be fodder for a website connecting folks from around the world.

  2. i'm trying. trying to love my grass. but it's hard to see it with all that snow. and right about now my costa rica fetish is through the freakin roof.

  3. Rochelle10:40 p.m.

    London, England:
    Best: Architecture; a feeling of being 'alive' in a vibrant city; intelligent political discussion; ingenuity; fashion; theatre.
    Worst: WW2 stories abound - somehow feeding the British ego despite being over 60 years old; prejudice in a multicultural society; rain.

  4. London, England, for the three weeks I spent over two trips:
    Best: theatre!!!, beer, cosmpolitan city energy
    Worst: Is it ok to make jokes about the food? Though it is getting better. Curry and all that...

  5. Kingsley3:29 p.m.

    You know what I found interesting about Canada... I've been from Halifax to Vancouver... and I've noticed that though there are subtle similarities across the country, it's really very different lifestyle wise. All the cities have their own character that you can love or hate. Since everyone mentions food. Food is definitely one of the best parts about Vancouver, but not so for the rest of the country. Unless you really like potatoes.
    Paris France
    Worst: toilets
    Best: Cafes?


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