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Reverse Culture Shock May 12, 2011

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.

After almost seven years living in Canada we’re back in the UK for a month before we move to new jobs and a new home in Malaysia.

We’re expecting many things to be very new and different in Malaysia and that it will take us a while to adjust. Meanwhile we’re experiencing a little bit of what is known as reverse culture shock – readjusting to all things British as we compare them with what we’d become used to in Canada.

Here are just a few observations and things we’re having to relearn.

1. British roads are all very narrow and people drive fast. (at least compared to our bits of Canada).

2. The really narrow British roads make the other ones seem quite wide.

3. British plugs are big, square, and clunky but can take Canadian plugs if you use an adaptor designed for an electric razor. The sockets deliver 240 volts (which I remembered and checked whether our appliences could cope with) and have on/off switches (which I constantly forget to use)

4. There are reasons North Americans love British accents. I’m hearing them everywhere and love them all! (and am resisting telling complete strangers this) 

5. The British obviously still love biscuits (dear Canadian friends I know you call these things cookies but your conceptual range of this food group is severely lacking)

6. Yes, it really does rain all the time (so far) but never more than a couple of minutes at once. (we may update this observation later!!)

7. There is history everywhere  – admitedly lots of it isn’t very interesting unless you’ve lived somewhere where none of the buildings are older than 120 years old.

8. There is an alternative to Timmy’s. Instead of arriving at someone’s door with a paper cup of coffee. People have these things called kettles which they use to boil water and pour onto granules of freeze dried coffee which they offer to guests. Many Canadians would see this as a good reason for getting coffee at a drive through but we’re okay with it. If offered a drink at a British home, do not attempt to roll up the rim.

I expect the things you notice about a new place (or an old one you return to) depend a lot about where you have come from. Maybe that’s why people have so many different experiences not just of countries, but also of faith, church, and religion?


1. VJ - May 12, 2011

Hi, I see that you are coming to Malaysia? I am a Malaysian British? Confused? Back to Malaysia in Johor Bahru, the southern most city connected to Singapore. Don’t know where you will be based but love to be in contact. I know and met Sue when we were in Dundee. Be prepared for the heatwave that we are experiencing and believed to go till September. Look forward to hearing from you. God bless.


2. Barry - May 13, 2011

Ha! I even experienced a little bit of that coming home to Wales after LBC, so I can imagine what it’s like after living in Canada.


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