No one loves hating their city more than Winnipeggers
When you're doing the expat living thing you tend to meet a lot of other expats. Especially when your husband works for a UN organization with people from all over the world. We have one actual Swiss friend, a token Swiss friend if you will, it totally gives us street cred at the Saturday market stalls. However, everyone else is from somewhere else. Here is a brief list of where some of our friends are from; Brazil, France, Spain, Russia, the United States, Romania, England, Ireland, Poland and the exotic wonderland known as Canada.
John's home town attracts 1700+ people a year to its annual Carnival of Crafts and my home city is the slurpee capital of the world (which by default I think makes us the brain freeze capital of the world too.) I'm going to be super honest, our friends are from WAY COOLER places than we are (especially Russia...budum tiss...)
Our roots are planted in Manitoba, mine in Winnipeg and John's are in a farming village called Pierson (one of these days I'll blog of about the adventure it is being a the personification of country mouse and city mouse but today isn't that day.) Neither of the places cause our friends to become green with envy. The best we've heard from our friends is that John's hometown sounds "charming" and "quaint." And they only thing they seem to know about my home city is that we lost our hockey team once. To combat our inferiority complexes about where we call home we've both become very very good at selling our home towns and province and here's how we do it in a few simple steps.
1. There are celebrities that call your home town their home too!
This will give you coolness points because they'll think your city is teaming with celebrities. Don't tell them few of them live there or have home there now. It's best to let them thing there is a celebrity around every corner...just like Hollywood.
Winnipeg is home to the following people; Monty Hall of Let's Make a Deal fame, Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame (she's an alumni of my high school), Sir William Stephenson aka Intrepid, Bif Naked, Chris Jericho, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Randy Bachman, Neil Young, Burton Cummings and a whole mess of others but these are the ones most outsiders would know. That's key, stick to the people who people would know. A whole mess of famous NHLers call Winnipeg home but on the grand scale of things those mean nothing to most people outside of Canada.
"Tatiana, what famous people come from John's home town?!"
According to Johnathan he is the most famous person to come out of Pierson after Marty Murray the hockey player who didn't actually come from Pierson but played at the rink there. You're going to have to take his word for it about this one.
2. Make stumbling blocks, stepping stones.
I like to use the follower phrase, "No really Manitoba is great, there isn't really anything to get in the way of your view." Okay, this only works if you're from a place where it's so flat that you can see you visitors coming 45 minutes before they get to your house. The key here is conviction. Believe that the thing that sounds like a disadvantage is really an important talking point and perhaps a reason to visit. Turn those stumbling blocks into stepping stones! A lot of our expat friends are from busy cities around the world so we really like use our flat nothingness to our advantage. It's not as boring as it sounds. You can miles and miles of nothing in our home province. You can't do that in a lot of places. It's a really nice feature. Trust me.
3. Tell them what you DON'T have!
John likes to inform people that while Pierson is small and they've had their hockey rink burn down twice at least THEY don't have a giant fiberglass banana at the edge of town like the town next door. Amen! I don't know about you but not having a giant piece of fruit as a road side attraction is totally brag worthy. Winnipeg doesn't have a global stereotype of having rude people. Unlike some of the places our friends are from *coughFrancecough* we're so friendly we've put it on our license plates! Sure we tried that "spirited energy" thing for a while but we just couldn't shake the friend Manitoba moniker. And yes I'm aware it's "Friend Manitoba" and not "Friendly Winnipeg" but the point still stands.
4. In some cases just keep your mouth shut.
Don't tell them about the murder rate (I'm from the former murder capital of Canada), the flooding, the fact that we have the coldest intersection in Canada (although there is no official way to measure this we still like telling people that), the bugs that are the size of cats, snow storms that happen in April, the fact that there is almost nothing between my home city and my husbands home town three hours away and especially don't even try to explain why we're proud of confusion corner.
Sometimes some things are better left unsaid.