Me and my girlfriend are both university students. I live in the UK and she lives in Canada, though we met when she spent a year here. I've met her mother once before, but that before we were together, and only briefly (though she did end up pre-approving me). Her father I've not met. However, she's been saying over skype for a while that they're very keen to meet me and think rather highly of me based of what she's been telling them.
I'm going to Canada this December to visit her. Since we're both on student budgets, it means that I'm going to be staying with her parents for the duration of my stay (two weeks). I know that they currently seem eager to have me stay, but I'm very aware that they might have issues about someone who they haven't met before staying under their roof for two weeks, eating their food and needing them to drive me everywhere.
I'm already aware of some basic things I should be doing - don't get amorous when they're around, make sure to spend lots of time socializing with them (that is, don't disappear except for meal times), be very polite (and avoid controversial subjects of conversation), try to help out with chores, etc.
But what other advice can you give me? I haven't had any girlfriends before, so my experience in meeting the parents is zero. It's also the first time that I've been to Canada, so anything I should know before heading there would be useful too.
Canadians drive on the correct side of the road, but their road signs are in French. You'll still feel at home though because their money has the Queen on it. They have two basic coins, loonies (with a loon stamped on them) and toonies (with a bear). When going to a pub, Canadians queue up politely for a drink as if at a shop. Canada is populated with grizzly bears and hockey hooligans. They're very polite hooligans, and will apologize both before, and after, punching your teeth out. They have national health care, so no worries about getting fixed right up. The bears will not apologize for eating you. Do not anger her parents, they likely have guns.
This made me laugh !!!!!
That's very good except there are a few changes for Toronto. In Toronto, only criminals are allowed to carry firearms (police may carry tazers but only once they have received no less than three formal letters of rejection from the criminal that he will most certainly not put down his pistol) and the only bears you'll meet live on Church Street and frequent bars with the cool rainbow flags. Either way, the bear is a friendly loveable species and a far less dangerous creature than the one you'll find in every other bar. The wily female cougar. The cougar tends to hunt alone and is often camouflaged in trampy clothes. They are known to cling to their prey and hold on until his wishes for death.
We have free healthcare but just remember that if you go to our hospitals and are over 65 you run the risk of being killed by our death panels.
Also, he may come across some youths who are as ignorant of our money as he is (twonies??), outraged by the cost of our cigarettes, and speaking with a slightly slowed form of our accent. Not to worry, these men have not had a stroke waiting in line at our socialist hospitals, they are simply Americans who've come over to drink alcohol at the age of 19. The age Canadians experiment with whiskey and stop using their siblings' id cards to buy beer (which as anyone knows is a part of the Canadian diet from the age of 14).
In terms of language, he might notice that Canadians call it "gas", not "petrol", and a "fanny" is a polite word for bum and not the UK use of the word which is a crude word for something found a little closer to the front in women. So if he hears a child say she hurt her fanny, do not worry, she has not been sexually abused, more likely she's fallen on her bottom. Further on a similar note, a beaver in Canada is slang for a buck-toothed rodent and a national symbol, and not, as in his country and others, as a synonym for fanny. He might notice that Canadians are very similar in both culture and language to Americans. DO NOT MENTION THIS. There is no quicker way to insult a Canadian than to point out how American they are. Don't ask why they know the names of more American politicians than Canadian nor why they only watch American tv/movies/etc. Better to flatter them by commenting on things like how tall the CN Tower is (just don't ask what its for), or how big the West Edmonton Mall is (feel free to call it the biggest in the world since like really, who counts China), or how the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is nicer than the American (Canadians love that one). Another great option to pretend you read about the war of 1812 and say your reading makes you think the winner of that conflict was the Canadians (be sure to ignore the fact that the "Canadians" in question were mostly British officers and much of the best trained troops came from non-Canadian colonies. Burning of York (ie Toronto) is to be mentioned only if you follow and overshadow it with the burning of Washington).
Finally, he should be wary of his own language slang. A friend of British origin in High School (or secondary school to him) once went up to the older kids outside the school and asked if one of them could "bum him a fag". It did not end well. Then again, if the parents are of the Toronto variety, then perhaps he'd better off not correcting this one. A future son-in-law who is a closet homosexual is probably easier to take than one who smokes.
If we end up going out for a meal or something (as will be pretty inevitable), should I offer to pay for my share? Also, I suspect that it will be good for me to arrive with a gift for them, but what sort of thing should I bring? Given that I'll be there just before christmas, what should I do concerning christmas gifts? I'll be getting the girlfriend something, but when it comes to the others, should I get something for them individually, something for them collectively, or should I just give a 'Thanks for having me' gift instead of christmas one?
I don't think they expect you bring them gifts individually. I'd bring a gift for the gf and another for the family for having you there, A great gift idea I think is to bring British sweets. Canada has Cadbury products but the chocolate is much better on your side of the pond. Bring them British chocolates and sweets I think will go down well. Like the kind they sell at the customfree shops in the airport. My wife, on her first visit to my family in Canada, brought Irish chocolates and it went down really good with the folks.
l have done this myself 20 years ago . l would gift on arrival something that is iconic to your home town , does not have to be expensive and l would have it focus on more of a present for her mum as she is the only one you really have to impress . Do not offer money as they will most likely be insulted so when you go out on your day trips just buy treats every day and bring them back to enjoy eg: pastries , cake , saltwater taffy , and while your at the house just keep offering to do things like wash up , clear the table . Oh as for the paying for a meal out , if they are anything like my old girlfriends parents they will pretty much want you to get your wallet out so they can tell you that they have already taken care of it or l got a " your moneys no good here "
Good luck and enjoy your trip .