french-canadians from a distance, or “y’a rien qu’icitte qu’on est ben”

Why is it that I seem to love my own French-Canadian culture most from a distance?

Stick me on another continent and I’m speaking French, downloading French-Canadian music, proudly defending our unique history and culture, and missing snow, pancakes with maple syrup and St-Jean Baptiste festival, but when I actually lived in Quebec all I wanted to do was speak English and go to university in Ontario.

The only exception is French-Canadian men, who remain the best men in the world, no matter where I am. They are sexy and masculine without being macho. Sometimes they are too lazy, that’s their only flaw, but it’s just the flipside of their ability to enjoy life.

I wish they were French-Canadian mail-order husbands, coz I would totally order myself one right now. There are not many guys in Thailand, especially not the type of white guys that Thailand usually attracts, that are as fine as a good French-Canadian man.

I’ve also never met a French-Canadian man who bitches about hating French-Canadian women, unlike the losers of other nationalities who encrust Bangkok. Vive le Quebec libre! (I will never think of this cry the same way after seeing the movie Bon Cop, Bad Cop, which is an excellent introduction to the awesomeness of French-Canadians. )

But seriously, does anyone else have this reaction to their own culture? Does absence make your heart grow fonder? For the Thais that read this blog, did going abroad make you feel more proud to be Thai?

6 Responses to “french-canadians from a distance, or “y’a rien qu’icitte qu’on est ben””

  1. 1 Gary Haran October 6, 2008 at 2:52 am

    Funny enough that you mention this. Friday night I was having supper with some friends and we’re quite a bunch of unrooted people.

    It seems that today’s debate we hear so much about in the news about “acomodements raisonables” stems from the fact that lots of immigrants latch on to their ways more so than they would have if they had stayed in their own country. While seeking some form of cultural anchor so they can understand their surroundings they go with whatever they understood as pillars in their own society.

    Because of that we see non-practicing muslims suddenly take up Ramadan in Quebec although they had never done it in Morocco or Algeria. We see Asian families put an emphasis on keeping their kids at home for as long as possible even though in lots of asian countries this is loosing out in favor of a more liberal approach.

    Of course being half French and half Acadian while living in Quebec puts me in a funny situation. Whenever I decide to cook something I’m usually cooking some French or Acadian meal. It grounds me in a way. Gives me some form of foundation on which to build my shaken identity.

    I surely understand a lot about Quebec culture but I somehow don’t connect as easily with it as I do my French or Acadian heritage.

    All of this brings me back to when I lived in France and I missed Canada. I was talking to a colleague from Toronto and told him that I wanted to listen to some Canadian music. Neither of us had listened to lots of Canadian music but we went through the effort of discovering it from a distance. I don’t know about him but I surely became fan of The Tragically Hip (ironically after they had lost their hipness).

    Btw my wife and I are landing in Bangkok on December 14th and will be staying there for a day or two. Anything you’d want from Quebec? I’d trade some sucre a la creme against good recommendations for cheap and safe hotels and good restaurants.

  2. 3 julielavoie October 8, 2008 at 11:08 pm


    thank you for this insightful comment. I think you’re on to something about the behavior of immigrants. Maybe when we’re abroad, we see more clearly what makes our own culture different from the others around us. And we also feel a bit threatened — like we have to go out of our way to be part of our culture, instead of just following what’s around us, so people can go a bit overboard. I mean, I never realized there was anything good about being French-Canadian until I went away to university in Ontario, and then started thinking “man, these anglos are really uptight! Why can’t they be more like us?” 😛

    As recommendations, I’d be happy to make some once I have a little bit more time to myself. I haven’t stayed in a hotel here in a while but I could look around a bit and see if I hear of anything good. At the very least I can tell you what neighborhoods to stay in. As for restaurants, no prob. 🙂 Thank you for your kind offer to bring something Quebec — I am sure there is something i am missing dearly once I have two seconds to think about it. 🙂

    You are Dan’s brother right? Please ask him for my email address and drop me a mail and I can hook you up. 🙂 I don’t know what I’ll be up to then yet but if I have some time I might be able to show you around a bit if you’d like a guide. 🙂

  3. 4 pycito October 21, 2008 at 1:00 am

    salut julie
    je suis tombe sur ton blog presque par hasard, un ami quebecois m’a fwd une presentation de basecamp (je me rappelle plus du nom exact sorry) et en lisant la liste des organisateurs j’ai vu ton nom, pensant que ca sonnait tres quebecker! bref, je suis encore a montreal mais je quitte pour bangkok en janvier pour quelques mois pour travailler avec une ONG (peut etre plus inch allah) et je me disais qu’il doit y avoir d’autres choses que des backpackers et des bargirls dans cette ville (en tout cas c l’impression qu’on a en lisant la plupart des blogs d’expat). donc c cool de voir qu’il y a des quebecois aussi. pas que ca me derange qu’il y en ait pas, mais bon, you know what i mean
    bref, je fais des recherches pour voir ou habiter et quoi faire (y a t-il une scene “alternative”, indie rock? par exemple, c quoi les bars sympas, etc…), si tu avais des idees ca serait vraiment cool. et je te payerai une biere rendu la bas haha!
    sinon et bien continue ton blog, ca donne vraiment le gout d’y etre

  4. 5 pycito October 21, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    hey julie
    je viens de remarquer que j’ai lance un message dans french canadians boys are the best. haha, j’avais meme pas remarque sorry. je cherche pas de blondes ou anything in that sense don’t worry
    mon email:

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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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