Saturday, 28 July 2012

Elephant Mountain

Among the many hills, and mountains, surrounding Taiwan there are the four beasts. They take the form of a tiger, leopard, lion and elephant. Each animal is fierce in their own way yet they all have one thing in common, you can hike them.

Right before sunset, five friends and I set out to do just that. The heat of the day was still burning strong even though it was 5:30pm; I started to seriously regret my decision to wear a black tee. My adverse thoughts were soon erased though with my first look on the breathtaking view. Every ridge makes you want to just stare in awe. Taipei 101 looks like It’s rising from the very ground, a silent giant that if you reached out your hand you can almost touch it. At first, the sun was so bright I could only take periodic glances, thankfully by 6pm the sun had started to set, and I was able to drink in the view.

It's a funny thing that I have become so enraptured with the urban environment. For the most part of the day I don’t give it a second thought, but when hiking, or cycling, suddenly the beauty of it all hits home. Just imagine how many hundreds of hands, and million hours of labour, it took to create the cities we live and work in! To see it all form afar, the skyscrapers, houses, and hotels, is pretty amazing.  

Another part I love about being outdoors is how it gives me time for contemplation. Now really, you can ponder anywhere, including the comfort of your house, but when you go outside it makes it better somehow. Maybe it’s the fresh air, or battle with mosquitoes, but you feel more invigorated. I doubt I have made life changing plans sitting on a bench outdoors, but the ones I have made are better for it.

Lastly, the greatest part of being outside is the return home. Your feet are tired, belly is aching and your clothes are covered in grim. Once in the house, all your comforts are at your disposal and there is plenty of food in the fridge.  If you’re like me though, you have already gotten food from the fresh fruit truck on the corner of the street. Half the container of mango slices is eaten, and the rest is what you put in the fridge for Sunday breakfast. Then you have a quick shower and snuggle into bed with a good book. Once your feet are off the ground you suddenly realize how tired, and sore, you really are and drift off into a dead man’s sleep. All the while you are silently giving thanks that you do not have to walk, run, or lift anything for the next eight hours.

Sweet dreams.  








Wednesday, 25 July 2012

1 Month, 1000 Views


I missed my Anniversary.     

This may be confusing to some since I am currently unattached, a statement I seem to be reiterating a lot lately, but it’s true. July 19, 2012 was the official one month mark of me living in Taipei, as a student, on my own. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT.

I first came to Taiwan with no cell phone, housing, or contacts. I only brought my laptop after a mighty struggle with my parents, and that was so I could write them sporadic e-mails to ensure them of my existence. I wasn't insane per say but driven, and they are similar in appearance.

Looking back now, I am infused with gratitude for all of those who lead me here. First I would thank, in person if I could, my wonderful Chinese teacher at the University of Calgary, Dr. Shu-ning Sciban. If it wasn't for her patience, and ability to make language learning enjoyable I wouldn't of made it this far. It was also through her that I heard about the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship and first applied in March 2012. This then leads me to think of my wonderful roommate Patricia, who encouraged me to apply and believed just as strongly as I did that I would be accepted. I remember the late nights we had eating homemade sweet potato fries and mulling over the future and where we would be. Could I of imagined this? Never.

Once I was accepted March, 11, 2012 my preparations began. The visa and documentations were stressful, but I never was worried about the actual living in Taiwan part. The reason I was so calm, which many interpreted as scared brainless or mock bravo, was because I didn't even know what to be scared of! It was such a new turn of events that I couldn't get worked up about irrational fears or have continual sleepless nights of dread.

That being said, I was not a green-horned traveler. I have been to my share of foreign countries and could rely on those who had much more experience than me, mainly my parents. Thanks to my Mom’s experience working internationally, I gleaned many stories of how to handle custom officials and travel safely being a woman and on your own. My Dad, as always, had great advice and his own adventures to tell. Most importantly though was their confidence and wholehearted support. It can’t be an easy task to send your youngest daughter out into the world, and yet they were willing to do that for me.

More than just my parents and immediate family, I am grateful to all my relatives and friends who take the time to reach out to me; I appreciate your messages and comments. As of today I have 1,000 views of my blog! I know I come from a big family, but even they can’t be re-reading it that many times. It’s a nice surprise to know others are enjoying what I write.

It may seem impossible, but in exactly a month from today July 26, 2012 I will be leaving Taiwan on a one way ticket to Beijing. The days seem so long here but I know my time is getting shorter. Let’s see how much I can pack into the four weeks I have left!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Okay, Bye-Bye


There a few cultural things that I find interesting about Taiwanese people. For example instead of saying goodbye with a “ 再見(Zàijiàn)” the way I was taught in school, most people say “ Okay, bye-bye” with a hand wave that is very close to your face, and  you wonder if you are in endanger of being  smacked.

Another thing I've noticed has to do with their favorite destination countries. From what I gather Paris, France is the go to dream place. There are pictures of the Eiffel Tower everywhere on notebooks, bags, and posters. Maybe it is the French accent they like so much, who knows. I count myself lucky that my Tai Chi class has 5 French people in it; I will have to ask them what the secret it is.

Their exotic destination of choice is definitely India. It is used in commercials to denote the ultimate travel experience, also Bollywood films are a big hit in Taiwan. I watched 3 Idiots for the first time last week, and I can see why it became a major success in East Asia. More than just being hilarious, its depiction of life as a competition between the have and have-nots, coupled with the pressure of needing to be a success to please your parents is universal. A reason it might strike a chord more with Taiwanese people is because they along with India have a big population (for its size), limited resources, and intense rivalry for jobs among the youth. I really enjoyed the movie and now have a hankering to go to India as well; perhaps I will meet my Taiwanese friends there!

Lastly I notice with their driving that yes, they are a bit erratic, but the amount of U-turns they make seems excessive. Being one who only makes a U-turn when I am lost, and don’t see a way to get out of it effectively, I tend to think they are very confused drivers. Trying to walk along the cross-walk can be bad for your health. Even though the little green guy says go you mentally don’t want to. The cars and scooters insist they have the right of way and they usually get what they want. Strangely enough it’s the Taxis and Bus Drivers you have to watch out for. You’d think that since they rely on people to use their services they wouldn’t want to hit us, but it’s not true. All I can say is it definitely makes walking to school a more fun filled experience... if I make it.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Tai Chi (tàijíquán)

I have joined a Tai Chi class that runs every Thursday, and today was the first time I attended the class. 

The first week I missed, because it coincided with my school course, but it turns out that was just a little white lie my schedule told me. This week I almost missed it again because it says the class is held on the 11th floor and yet the elevators only have buttons that go up to the 10th floor. I wasn't sure if they were the crazy ones or just me. It turns out the 11th floor is the roof, and the only way to get there is taking the stairs which are impossible to find. I feel like this not a well known fact and should be published more openly. Maybe by giant banners hanging from the roof reading “This is the 11th floor, come in! And know me better, man!”

Once I figured out where my class was I had in mind, a garden roof full off lush tropical plants and a big open space to meditate in. It turns out the roof is where the smokers go (since they are not allowed anywhere else) and it’s full of cigarette butts and who knows what else. With my daydream ruined, I resigned myself to 2 hours of boredom. As luck would have it I was yet again, ironically, in the wrong place. The class was being held in a small gym like area off to the side of the roof which was hidden by a cement wall. Entering in, it reminded me of a small dance studio especially with its full length mirrors and polished floor. I definitely felt like a stranger among the small knit-group so skipped the meet and greet and decided to head straight into warm up.

If there is one thing I can tell you about Tai Chi, is that it’s very, very, slow. Now I know a thing or two about slow movement, I took ballet for a year and it felt like a life time. I've also danced lyrical and contemporary, but in contrast they might as well be a glee musical number. They’re nothing compared to the drawn-out motions and deliberate movement we had to go through. On top of all this, I haven’t done much physical activity since University ended. I feel like the female version of the mini Pillsbury Doughboy which is fine by since giggling and smiling when poked in the stomach is not a bad trait to carry over. 

As my muscles were slowly tiring out I started wondering why in the world I joined this class. The answer came with a quick demonstration from the master. The instructor asked a male student to stand in front of him, and punch him in the chest. As the student shot his fist forward the instructor effortlessly caught his arm and twisted it so the student’s face was within a hair’s breadth of the floor. I almost clapped with delight, when did I become so malicious? We paired off and practiced in partners. I was with a French girl named Claire who I let remain in ignorance of my poor french speaking skills. The few words I do know mainly consist of “attention s'il vous plait” and “Ça suffit!”… Thanks a lot Dad.

The highlight of the class was when we practiced what to do if someone attempts to choke you. They had me stand against the wall as another student, a male over 6 foot 2, was told to put his hands on my throat as if he was attempting to choke me. Ever being the gentleman he used only the one hand approach (how kind). In a flash, I had him down and even made sure he didn't run his face into the wall. To be truthful I was surprised at what I did like everyone else since I had only practiced with a girl who was my weight and height. The instructor had a good laugh about it and for the rest of the class the Clair feigned being scared of me. I simply continued practicing the slow motion movements thinking to myself, this class might not be so bad after all. 

Monday, 16 July 2012

Soft Words Break Bones

There is a fable told, by one of the patients in The Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, about a man who all his life could only walk in a straight line. Never turning left or right, he could only move purposefully ahead, never veering from his course.

One day he is taken, and made to go to prison, by King Solomon. Since he can only walk in a straight line the guards destroy everything in his path. In this fashion, he is walked throughout Jerusalem as it crumbles before him. Coming upon a shabby structure of a building an old woman pleads for the man to turn and save her home from being decimated. Weeping, she implores him gently, since this is all she has left. The man’s heart is touched by her appeal and slowly he begins the arduous task of turning his body. He shifts his body right, then left, then right, and just as he is about to turn and take his first step, his rib cracks, and breaks under the pressure. This is why they say “soft words can break bones”.

This phrase has been a lot on my mind recently. More than just speaking softly to keep out of trouble, I am astounded by the power it gives to those who amplify it. This trait is not usually found in extraverts or those who always get their way. Instead, I see it abundantly in those who have suffered a lot of hardship in life and rise to the challenge. These people do not use it in a manipulative form but sincerely and heartfelt. I’ve had the chance to meet many with this understated gift, and I see it the most in the Filipinos, Indonesian and Vietnamese people here.

They fly under the radar because they have the lowest jobs. The work they do is dirty, dangerous and demeaning, often called the “Three D” jobs. Many are factory workers, domestic workers and care-takers. They come here for economic freedom, and stay because of economic restraint. They borrow money for airfare and are then constrained to pay it back. One arriving there are many instances of duplicity. For caretakers they might be told they will be taking care of “Grandma” but then made to work in the family store. Or in other cases they are made to go over and beyond what they initially signed up for.The majority are woman, who have family back at home, so to refuse employment hurts more than just them. On top of this the hours the hours they work are unregulated and unprotected. To get one day off in a month is lucky, and they are constantly under their employers watch.

To me, the ordeal is painful to hear. I once had a job where I didn't get paid for over a month because of general disorder and mismanagement of the organization. Even though it wasn’t out of spite I felt picked on because I was young and inexperienced. Fortunately there were hiring laws I could rely on too back me up.  It worked for me, but I know there are many too nervous to speak out. Thank goodness there are a lot of caring people in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese are noticing the inequality and do what they can to make a difference. There have been rallies in the streets and opinions stated in the newspaper. The hope is that stronger government regulation will act as a deterrent on employers for mistreating their workers. There have been certain laws imposed but they don’t have a binding affect on the majority of migrant workers and there seems to be a lot left to do. 

What it comes down to, I believe, is the basic treatment of others like you would yourself. This is especially true when dealings with those who you are in a position of authority over. A person who acts kindly only when they have something to gain is being deceitful; they are hiding their real character under a charade. When we are kind to others it not only brightens their day but makes us a better person. We gain practice in everyday situations by watching what we say to servers at a restaurant, or the cashier at a grocery store. In this way, a bottom-up approach for migrant workers in Taiwan with the governments backing may have more bite.

 There are families who consider their workers as one of them. They show them special consideration and have mutual trust. Not only does this increase the standard of living for the worker but it profits the employer as well. Respect, and confidence in being treated fairly, will retain employees and the chances of them running away or faulting on a contract lessens. As well, days off will rejuvenate workers and increase the returns to labour. This is a fundamental principle of economics, and it even has its own fancy name, the law of diminishing returns. The law of diminishing returns is that for every additional unit of labour, the output of the labour becomes less than the previous one. In context of domestic-workers their reaches a limit for the amount of productive hours worked, and after that limit output becomes less and less. This can become a hazard since overtired workers make bigger mistakes and become slower.  If employers decrease existing hours they can in turn get better results.         

Finally it’s really the people we must take a look at. They have sacrificed so much to come here and earn more money. I think going a year without my family is hard, try five or twelve. There are cases of mother’s living here, and sending money to their children until they are all grown up. They don't get the chance to raise their kids, but have to make do by watching from a distance. Marriage is put off for the young and plans are sacrificed. Instead of having a job to live they are living for their jobs. Such complete dedication can be demoralizing. It isn’t enough to break bones, but definitely enough to break your heart.      

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Little Incidents



This week seems to be full of little mess-ups here and there. I didn't find them that funny at first, but in hindsight, they are not as bad as I supposed.

1.  A washing machine that doesn’t CLEAN your clothes

I was excited to use the houses laundry machine since I had accumulated a pile of unwashed clothes from living in a hostel for 2 weeks. I had washed things by hand, here and there, but bigger items like jeans, and towels were hard to do. Using the machine wasn’t so hard even though it was all in Chinese characters. What I did was close my eyes and and randomly pick a button, just joking. What I actually did was choose the biggest button I could find that was also green! Green means go usually, and red means stop or combustion, I can’t remember…

So I started the machine and then listened for the little tune it makes to signal its done washing. It’s not an annoying “beep, beep” sound, instead it’s more like a nursery tune. They like their music here, even the garbage trucks play Beethoven's “Für Elise”.

Once I heard the tune, signaling the end of the wash cycle, I headed upstairs to hang my clothes to dry. At first I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, my clothes looked clean and they smelled good too! But as I started hanging them up I noticed pieces of lint and fluff on them. Then I looked closer and there were streaks and blotches (for the record, I do know how to sort laundry into colors). I decided then and there that it might be worth my while to go use the coin laundry machine down the street, a washing machine that makes your clothes dirty isn’t exactly a keeper.

2. When the shower head sprays  you when your fully clothed

I wanted to do some washing and needed a bucket full of hot water. The sink isn’t quite big enough so I decided to go with the bathroom faucet. I know the water can get really hot there because I've been scalded by it before. Positioning the bucket under the tap I turned the hot water on, noticing the valve for the shower head was turned left. In a moment of horror I realized no one ever takes baths (because we don’t have tub) so the chances of the water coming from the faucet, rather than the  shower head was very slim.

Luck was not in my favor. I ended up being sprayed with scorching hot water… again.   




Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Hibernation


A funny thing about my new place, is that when I go to sleep, it is impossible to get up in the morning. Now it’s not physically impossible to wake-up, but man is it hard to drag myself out of bed and into the sunshine. The reason is because I’m in the basement with the A/C blasting and absolutely no light. My blanket is this big lumpy quilt, the kind where you just curl up in it and never escape. It doesn't even seem to matter what time I go to bed, late or early, I can never revive from my comatose state.


The solution to my problem can be found in those special lamps, where you set a timer for them to turn on and slowly light up, but I prefer to use my will power. I have tried a couple of different scenarios. First I tried to minutely manage every second of my morning the night before. This way I had to get up or else I would fall behind in my day and get that terrible feeling of wasting time. Sadly that didn't work because it is far too easy to mentally delete items from the list as unimportant.

My next step was to use food as incentive. Every morning I walk five minutes to a little breakfast shop. It is small food like stall but with places to sit inside for especially lazy people like me. What I like most about it is its proximity to my house, of course, and it’s satisfyingly cheap food. I go every day and order the same thing “Wǒ yào shí ge guōtiē “(I would like 10 cabbage dumplings). The ladies serving the food are quite used to me now and help me pronounce that little sentence everyday; my own personal mantra. Once I ordered something different out of curiosity and they were very shocked, I quickly reverted back to my old ways to keep the peace.

Since nothing compares with freshly made dumplings early in the morning, I went to sleep with this delicious incentive in my mind. It didn't work! I procrastinated so much getting out of bed that by the time I got to the shop it was 9:00am. The ladies were as inviting as ever and even packed my breakfast to go. Truly they had no idea they were supplying ammo for my bad habit.

 Finally I have decided on a compromise. I am now sleeping in later then I would normally on weekdays but I do an hour of homework in the morning. I bring my textbooks to the breakfast shop and write characters while they are frying up my food. It’s a nice little setting I've got going.  I get an unobstructed view of the  busy street while watching them create dumplings which is an art in itself. One of these days I will ask them if I can try making my own. Until then, I am happy eating what they serve me and listening to their chatter in the background. I’m positive one of them is talking on and on about her ex-husband, or how badly behaved her kids are, but to me it is all very interesting. When I pick up on words they say it is like little nuggets of wisdom I store away for a later date. One day I will be able to understand them but until then, I just let the words wash over me while I eat my food bright and early in the morning.         




As a side note, dumplings are a more Northern Chinese dish but they are served everywhere in Taiwan. I love having them first thing in the morning so it is a good thing I am going to Beijing after this tripJ

Friday, 6 July 2012

New Home



I finally have a permanent place to live out the next 2 months! I moved in Thursday but due to school and just plain laziness I didn’t actually unpack and get settled until Friday evening.

It’s just how I remembered it (sometimes your mind can play tricks on you) and I really like it. Basically I have a queen size bed and a living room all to myself in the basement. I share the upper area, with three other roommates, which consists of a kitchen with a fridge and stove tops, a bathroom and living room area. I’ve only met one roommate so far so it seems like everyone stays to themselves for the most part. I don’t mind so much because I am pretty tired after school and it’s nice to have so much privacy. Living in a 6 girl hostel was fun but a bit trying at times. Now I have so much more space and freedom of movement!

My classes are going well and, as classmates, we all get along. The girl from Russia is named Natalie and we had a conversation about a book I just finished reading called The Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

 Its premise is the cancer ward  of a hospital in Russia the year 1955. The patients are men from all different backgrounds but it is mainly seen through the eyes of an ex-labour camp prisoner named Oleg, and a well to do government official, Pavel Rusanov. What I like most is the emotional description of each life, how they view death, living, and their purpose in the country they live. It goes into great length about human characteristics and whether greed is a natural tendency or a hold over from the bourgeois. My favorite part is when describing Rusanov's life the author shows how selfish he had become. In speech it was always "For the People, We Love the People" but truly he couldn't stand the average citizen and went to great lengths to be separated from them. I think that can happen a lot in political life. Individuals can get so caught up in their own image or to a certain standard of living that they aren't in touch with those they are supposed to help. It's probably because it is far easier to describe a poor person, than to be one. 

It turns out though, my friends isn't much of a fan. She says it is too dark, and recommended I read Tolstoy instead. 





Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Routine



My days have been so busy and I love it! My first class is at 10:20am and my last class ends at 4:20pm. There are 20 minute breaks between each class and I usually grab a bite to eat at noon.

Many of the classes I am taking are supplementary which means they are not mandatory but count up to a certain point towards my credit. I really am taking as much as I can so I will learn faster. My morning classes are completely in Chinese which scared me at first but ended up being a lot of fun. The teacher will have you speak into the microphone to practice sentences so you have to always be on guard! The first class I attended was Chinese Conversation for Beginners where I learned how to shop for fruits and vegetables (because you know how much I love my veggies).

The second class had to do with pronunciations and tones. It’s much harder for the Spanish and Japanese speaking students because some of the sounds they never had to make before. For me I find the “ü” sound challenging, it’s halfway between an “E and U”. Then finally you get to my last class of the day which is really my core class. It consists of 10 students and we practice speaking, writing, and pronunciation. By the end of the day my brain is overloaded and I’m super hungry. I eat at one of the many restaurants in the alley way and rest for a bit in the Library even though technically you’re not allowed to sleep there. I strategically place a book to cover my eyes or I just pile Calculus books on the desk cause everyone knows what that subject can do to you.

In between studies and eating I do make time for friends. I am going to add an extra list to my finances which is “ unavoidable eating”. Whenever you meet someone new you have to eat with them or at least buy a drink together. This makes my stomach really happy but I do have to watch my spending. Luckily everything here is less expensive than in Canada so my money spreads farther. The big news for this week is  I move into my new home which is much closer to the University. If I plan it right, I will hardly have to use the Metro at all! I will be able to walk to school or cycle (with the bike I don’t have).

Both ways it will be a shorter trip for me. I look forward to settling into my new place and having a consistent weekday. The weekends I have saved especially for outings and sightseeing so there will be lots of pictures to come J    

Monday, 2 July 2012

First Day of School



There is something wonderful about new beginnings. It’s the thrill of heading into uncharted territories and never knowing what you’re getting to get out. This is how the first day of school feels like to me.

Today was my first day, and it went really well. I should right away erase any rumours of my classes being completely in Chinese, they are taught in English as well. I have a “large” class of 10 students which is tiny compared to what I’m used to.  I went a bit early so I wouldn’t be jammed in the elevator and instead had to fight for a spot on the couch outside of the room; darn over achievers. Once the prior class headed out we slowly trickled in. Truly it was more of a step-stop, step-stop, and step-stop approach. I think the reason is because we had to calculate where we were going to sit. Seating placement is very important you see. We have this annoying habit of sitting in the exact same place every time. If you don’t sit by the cutest boy right away then you are doomed until partner projects appear.

Our classroom has two round desks pushed together that makes a figure eight if you were to draw its outline.  I chose a spot far right of the room that faced the teacher but wasn’t directly in her view. Nonetheless I was called on first to say my name and education experience. To my left was a boy from Vietnam who spoke Mandarin but didn’t know how to read or write. On the other side was a pretty girl from India who has lived in Taipei for 8 months. Turns out she is married, more educated and older than me so out of respect she is a woman but looks much younger.  Many of my classmates are from Japan and one is ethnically Chinese but grew up in Russia. We did our little introductions then headed straight into review of Pinyin and Bo, Po, Mo, Fo etc.

We were given a 15 minute break then spent the last hour talking in Chinese to the person beside us. Once English was forbidden the classroom suddenly got very animated. It was fun using all the words we knew up to that point and knowing the other speaker was at the same level as us.  After class I went to get a bite to eat with my classmate. One of the things we talked about was arranged marriages. That was how she met her husband and married him soon after.  It was a very enlightening conversation and we joked about the troubles of dating. I must say I have thought about it once or twice, imagine having someone chosen for you? No first date jitters, or analyzing text messages…

It can seem idyllic but I don’t think I would take to it so well. My Dad had an idea for a grad date and I didn’t even give it a second thought. The most annoying part was he never told me who it might have been! I had a goodtime though and my date, who I chose was really fun. I can see though how a balance should be played out. Many girls cling to guys who are terrible to them just because they’re parents don’t want them to. They think there love is deeper just because they alienate more and more people around them. Having a choice is nice but I’m glad I don’t have to decide completely on my own.

That is what sisters are for =)    

Sunday, 1 July 2012

July 1st


I’m so glad that it's Canada Day! 

For 24 hours I can celebrate my countries achievements, unabashedly. Technically I could do that every day but that wouldn't be very Canadian of me.

There tends to be a one sided joke of what it means to be Canadian. It focuses on what we are not, rather than who we are. Personally, I am very proud to be Canadian. It may not be easy to define, yet it is very much there, an identity that is unlike any other. 

Because of this, it is ironic that I am most seen as a Canadian when I am not in my own country. At home I'm always asked where I am from, whereas here, the question is the same but the answer is completely different. This can be tiresome at times but then I remember not to sweat the small stuff. Once my ancestral puzzle is complete people are more than willing to take me at face value. Instead of making rapid assumptions they take the time to get to know me and that is what I like best.

The ability to see people for who they are and not what you presuppose is a true talent; it is one of those ever attaining goals of mine. Blunders are bound to happen but after a while you get better at it. Living in Canada I think is great for this type of experience. You meet so many different people every day and get to talk with them and hear their stories. After a while nothing can surprise you until you accidentally run into that one person from so-and-so…..

I remember as a kid in grade 5 how my best friends and I made a group. We were the “Shrimp Club” and the conditions for getting in were very diminutive. We had fun together and didn’t feel the need to ignore or blatantly voice our differences. I think the self-nickname “United Nations” said it all. By the way, I was Secretary General, if your  interested.

All in all, I just wanted to wish everyone a happy Canada Day! Heaven knows I never really celebrated it when I lived at home, but you’re never too old to get patriotic fever. Enjoy the fireworks and the food stands. I am very sad that I will be missing the free pancake breakfast, so have a double helping on me. Above all have a good time and share some thoughts on what you love about Canada.