A little update on our life here. It’s been a little over a year we have moved to California. The kids have started a new school year, back-to-school was so much easier for us this time around. Just a regular back-to-school excitement.
The US being not that different than Canada, but still different makes the adjustment easier, and it sometimes feels like your life isn’t all that “different”. However, we still have those “WTF” moments and observations of certain cultural differences that we are adjusting to.
Here are some differences we have noticed all through this past year.
How is school different here in California, from Québec. We have roughly the same amount of school days, in a year, but school starts mid-August and ends early June. There are not as many teacher days, through out the year, but we get 3 days off for Thanksgiving (end of November), Christmas vacation is almost the same, and then we get winter break in February and spring break in April. And there are less than 10 days of teacher days. The hours the kids are in school is also different. School starts at 8:15, younger kids finish at 2:11 and the older kids finish at 2:36. On Wednesday there is early dismissal, where everyone finishes at 1:22. and scattered around the year are other early dismissal days. For example one week during September, for parent-teacher conferences, they finish at 1:22.
Another difference is, for elementary school, the school supply list is voluntary, which means you buy what you can. Usually it’s good idea to consult with the teacher, to know what she needs, they usually have leftovers from the previous year.
The biggest difference that we noticed right away, is how the schools are built. All hallways are outside, lockers, or coat hangers are outside of the classrooms. There isn’t a gymnasium, because PE (Physical Education) is done outside on the playground.
Everyday life, from groceries to restaurants, to our day to day is: We still have hockey, but the ice rink is 15 minutes away, on a Sunday morning, without traffic, instead of 5 minutes. We still have fries, but they are not the same. It’s all frozen type fries, they don’t have Belgium fries or our very own Quebec fries. The cheese selection is not the same. Raw milk cheeses are not legal here.
The cost of living, everything is 10 times more expensive here. I was used to going to 1 grocery store, for my groceries, now I do 2 and they are 15 minutes away. Ok so everything is a little bit farther away, than what we are used to. I do have more time on my hands, since I am not working. The main reason for this is the work permit. The only way for me to be able to work, would be for me to find an employer that would agree to sponsor me, with a work permit, but that is very limited in the type of company and the type of work. Other reasons are, that after-school care and summer day camps are super expensive, I would basically be working to pay that off. We also wanted to make sure the kids were settled in. Instead of finding a paying job, I am doing volunteer work in school. I volunteer time in the classroom, and I am also thinking of joining the PTA this year.
Hope you liked this post about our new life here in California. If you have any other questions about the differences between Canada and the US, I would be happy to answer all of your questions.