Opinion: What a Canadian taught me about America

Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson is a senior architecture major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

I’ve been fighting with a Canadian.

I met him in Dublin last March in the kitchen of a hostel. While we’ve only spoken a few times, I’ve enjoyed it immensely. He thinks I am an ignorant American, and unfortunately I’ve never been able to successfully contest this.

After my first attempt to render that statement incorrect, he asked me to name the provinces of Canada. Needless to say, I couldn’t. I countered asking if he knew all fifty states, and he began to rattle them off. I stopped him and changed the subject.

When I returned to Florence, I looked up the provinces, and maybe after reading this, you’ll be a little less ignorant as well. Here they are: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

He has since questioned my intelligence on a number of other things, including asking me whether I thought Europe was a country before traveling abroad.

The reason I mention Phil is this: While I feel that I have a decent grasp on what is going on around me, and I have learned a lot over the past 21 years, there is still much that I don’t know, and that I should be more open to learning.

Thinking back on the times we have bantered, Phil has usually bested me, which is incredibly frustrating, but understandable since he has traveled the world, speaks French fluently and enjoys American football and the Black Keys almost as much as hockey. From what I have seen, he is talented and well versed in a number of things, and I would be thoroughly embarrassed if he knew I thought so highly of him. While it is a difficult thing to stomach, he does, in fact, make me feel ignorant.

I saw “Lincoln” this past weekend — which I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend — and I felt troubled by the fact that, despite sharing the esteemed title of junior history student of the year in high school, I didn’t know about many of the historical details that the movie depicted. What’s worse, I didn’t know if they were even accurate.

While I feel that giving the world Justin Bieber is nothing for Canadians to be proud of, I begrudgingly acknowledge that there are numerous things that Americans could improve upon as well. Something like focusing less on commercial consumerism (and not killing people in pursuit of Black Friday deals that were most likely still in place on Saturday) would be a nice start. Being more understanding and tolerant about unfamiliar cultures and traditions is something else to add to that list.

I am so proud to be an American, but there were quite a few times last semester that I considered extending my visa. What I am asking, to whomever it may apply, is to please learn to tastefully and respectfully show pride in your country, and brushing up on your history or your geography wouldn’t hurt either. I need to, as well; I know from experience that it is much easier to make fun of Canadians when you can win the argument.