Leaving home and studying in a new country might be a stressful experience, even though it can be something you have planned and prepared for.
Many students who choose to study in Canada experience at some point what is referred to as “culture shock.”
What is Culture Shock?
Culture shock includes moving from a familiar culture to one that is unfamiliar. It describes the shock of a new environment, meeting lots of new people and learning the ways of a new country. It also describes the shock of being separated from the essential people in your life, such as family, friends, colleagues, and teachers: people you would talk to at times of uncertainty, people who give you support and guidance. When people first arrive in Canada, everything will be lively and exciting. The new smells, sceneries, food, and coming from your home country to study in Canada are much quieter than you are used to. Moreover, Canada is known for its cultural diversity in the world. A lot of international students experience some degree of culture shock in their first few months in Canada. Even though most Canadians are warm and welcoming to newcomers, adapting to cultural differences may take time and effort.
10 Biggest Culture Shocks for International Students in Canada
Canadians are very friendly and polite. Even if you don’t know them in person and feel like an alien, they will smile and keep their doors open to help you. Based on Inter Nations, Canada is among the top 10 most welcoming to newcomers’ countries in the world, taking the 10th position in this list. People worldwide are not familiar with sharing smiles with strangers, so this might come as a culture shock here.
Canada is proud not to promote or favour any discrimination.
Every person in Canada is equal. Discrimination is not allowed in Canada and is protected by law. The act of discrimination in Canada is against the direction of the country. Moreover, discrimination against anyone who works for an organization violates human rights laws in Canada. Employers are responsible for taking appropriate action against any employee who discriminates against or harasses someone. Canada’s government has created programs to remove systemic barriers and racism faced by racialized communities. So, you might be calm and not worry about it while in Canada.
One more culture shock in Canada that you might witness is that Canada is ethnically diverse and welcomes students and tourists from all over the world. In Canada, you won’t feel like you’re the only person with a different ethnicity. Anyway, it’s a wonderfully ethnically rich country, and you will also make friends with folks of other nationalities and races while studying in Canada. It will also give a chance to try as many cuisines as possible, but that’s just the icing on the cake.
Canada has the hottest summers and the coldest winters, with temperatures ranging from 7 – 20°C during the spring and fall. The temperature in Summer can vary from 20 to 30°C, while winter temperatures can range from -30 to 5°C.
In fact, the climate in Canada is variable, and the differences in temperature vary greatly between different provinces.
Weather in Vancouver has a moderate, oceanic climate. Protected by the mountains and warmed by the Pacific Ocean currents, Vancouver is one of the warmest cities in Canada. Actually, Vancouver’s winter is warm. Snow is a rare occurrence, even if it falls, it melts quickly. The days when the temperature drops below zero are negligible.
The Climate in Canada is associated with cold weather and snow, but in fact, its climate is as varied as its landscape. Generally, Canadians enjoy four very distinct seasons, particularly in the more populated regions along the US border.
In short, students may need to acclimatize to the climate of the city or state where they will be studying in the country.
Small talk or the art of having a light, friendly and casual conversation with possibly a stranger, or an acquaintance is an excellent skill to develop while you prepare for moving to Canada.
It’s always suggested that when you meet with someone you don’t know, small talk is a great way to break the ice in an alien country.
Weather, sports, breaking news in Canada, current events, and other impersonal themes are all common small chat topics. That’s why, next time, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation – it’s a part of Canadian culture.
Canada has topped the rankings of the most LGBT-friendly countries in the world. Moreover, It is one of the best LGBTQ-friendly study destinations, where students can enjoy a gender-inclusive learning atmosphere. Not to forget that Canada established an anti-discrimination law for the LGTBQ+ community in the 1990s when half of the world was still debating on legalizing same-gender marriage. Be prepared for a culture shock in Canada if you see people accepting students belonging to the LGBTQ+ community.
Canada took 24th place for work-life balance in a survey by the OECD. Ottawa has the best work-life balance among all Canadian cities and takes 7th place globally. 88% of Canadians said they enjoyed working from home more often during the pandemic. 21% of the workforce works full time from home.
On the other hand, people who live in Canada tend to live a balanced life, with allocated time for various activities such as studies, hobbies, sports, exercise, and social life. This can come as a culture shock in Canada if you see people paying equal attention to sports exercises and art and their studies.
While a lot of education systems from all over the world value individual contributions in class, group work is an essential element of Canadian studying. You’ll need to cooperate with a varied group of students and take responsibility for your work without coming across as pushy during teamwork. Individual tasks and tests are your responsibility. Canadians believe in diversity, so get ready to work in different learning teams.
Based on the popular belief that Canadians are polite, it might be reflected even while stepping out of the bus. You can hear many people yelling, “thank you,” to the bus driver as they arrive at their destination.
As much as we love cute animals, we never know what to do when they are strayed outside. In Canada, you will barely see this. Most animals are regulated.
Stray animals in Canada fall under the jurisdiction of each municipality. Many communities have animal control bylaws to deal with dogs running at large. However, municipal legislation for stray cats remains inconsistent, with most municipalities having no legislation to deal with cats. animal.
These were the 10 biggest cultural shocks in Canada that you might experience while studying here.
If language shock and cultural shock are not overcome and if the learner does not have sufficient and appropriate motivation and ego-permeability, then he will not fully acculturate and hence will not acquire the second language fully." These are the international students' thoughts on what they feel leads to culture shock and how they deal with it.
The following definitions were offered by the students:
- “It is kind of failure to adjust ourselves in a new society”.
- “The definition is I think that the symptom or … ya … um …. symptom, phenomena and stress we get from the difference of culture”.
- “Not familiar. Not comfortable. Something different. Nervous. Something yeah”.
- “Like uhh. It’s like when you move to the place where you stand out. Like for me it’s being insecurity and like it’s a big challenge you know to understand the environment something like that”.
- “I like to define like this the feeling of the bad feeling, or it could be a good feeling also but a feeling of difference, different feeling and not unusual if the one people the situation is changing and they should adapt that situation for surviving and it takes a time during that taking time probably that people got some depression some nervous or something uncomfortable feeling, yeah, that might be a culture shock”.
- “Culture shock is being a little bit negative. Your perception is kind of negative”.
Based on these definitions provided by the participants of the study, the researcher was able to distill the following definition of culture shock.
Culture shock is “a failure to adjust to a new or unfamiliar society or environment that results in depression, stress or negative attitudes.”
According to these international students, the main causes that lead to culture shock are:
- Cultural differences and misunderstandings
- The language and fear of contact
- Social differences
Cultural Differences and Misunderstandings: The differences between the cultures of the students’ own countries and that of Canada were stated as the major reason leading to culture shock.
How to cope with Culture Shock?
Communication – talk with someone that you can trust. Let out your feelings to someone who will listen. The main factor in dealing with difficulties is communication. The communication process can be engaged in a variety of ways and is the key element in dealing with the realities of culture shock.
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