Mind your manners: integrating into Canadian society

Canadians are known around the world for their politeness. As a newcomer in Canada, I have been exposed to this Canadian trait and I’ve found it to be welcoming. Being in Canada means people need to learn the customs and manners that are acceptable in this country. I find this is a very important aspect that helps newcomers integrate into Canadian society more easily. It helps in every aspect of your life: from simply going out to buy groceries to feeling comfortable at work around your colleagues.

I have to admit that there are certain behaviours which are considered normal in Mexico but in Canada they would be less than polite. That’s why I made it a point to learn manners that would help me better socialize with my Canadian peers.

Among the Mexican behaviours that wouldn’t be well-liked in Canada are: talking about your salary (we don’t think that’s a big deal), kissing someone’s cheek as you’re introduced to that person (weird, I know, but accepted), not saying “sorry” or “excuse me” when you mistakenly walk into someone on the street, among others.

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Minding your manners can help you go a long way

I have encountered several examples of newcomers not following some important gestures of politeness. Among the behaviours that I have commonly found are not saying “thank you” when someone opens a door for you, groups of people walking together and taking up the whole sidewalk and cutting in line. I understand that it takes time and exposure to learn Canadian customs and manners. I encourage all newcomers to make an extra effort to be polite as per Canadian standards. It will make a big difference in your life. It makes it easier for everyone to live together in this great multicultural country.

If you are a newcomer, what have been some of the changes you‘ve had to make in terms of manners in your new country?

If you are Canadian, what are some suggestions you would make to newcomers so they can be exposed to and adopt Canadian manners faster?

All comments are welcome and appreciated!

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Sun and warmth? Yes, please!

Campeche, Mexico, the town I’m from, is a nice city near the beach. Except for a couple of weeks in January, Campeche is warm and sunny all year round. People in Campeche try to avoid being outside in the afternoon as temperatures reach 35°C and higher. When I lived there and my husband (then boyfriend) was in Canada, he used to put a lot of emphasis on being outside whenever it was sunny. I just couldn’t understand it. Why do you need to be outside in the sun? Sometimes I would ask him to stay in to chat but he’d ask me to wait until the evening so he could go and enjoy the warmth. I assumed he was just an outdoors type of guy.

It took me moving to Canada and experiencing the change of seasons to finally understand what he meant. After having to bundle up for months just to walk to your car, it’s nice when spring finally arrives. Now whenever it’s a sunny day, I’m eager to be outside to feel the sun and absorb all the vitamin D I can take. I also look forward to hot days when you can wear a pair of shorts and a t-shirt without getting cold.

Being in Canada has changed my perspective on weather. In Campeche, people don’t reallycheck the weather. It’s either hot and sunny or hot and rainy. It’s nice to be able to experience the four seasons and enjoy the activities each one brings. This is one of the things I’ve adapted to in my new life in Canada and I love it.  As for this weekend (Victoria Day weekend), it looks like we will be getting some really nice temperatures. I plan to sit back, relax and just enjoy the sun

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Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day in Mexico. It’s a date that I keep close to my heart because it gives me an occasion to remember everything my mom has done for me. She has been an amazing friend and has always supported me in good and bad times. I don’t know about other newcomers, but to me, my native country’s major holidays (Mother’s Day is one of them) are the times that being far from friends and family hits me hardest. Although I enjoy my new life in Canada, there is a part of me that will always long to see more of the people I love. Holidays make me feel that I’m missing out on good times with them.

Mother’s day is a very big celebration in Mexico. Typically, people will serenade their moms on Mother’s Day’s Eve. The family will get together and either hire a group to play (Mariachi)  or they sing themselves. The day after (May 10th every year) the family gets together for dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day.

It is days like this that I get mixed feelings. I’m very happy in Canada and I’m grateful for my life here and everything I’ve experienced so far. But I’m also sad to miss some precious moments with my family and friends.

I don’t know if a day will come that I won’t get these mixed feelings. While I find out, I will embrace the best that my two countries have given me and patiently wait for the next  time I get to visit Mexico.

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The journey continues – Life as a newcomer in Canada

After a rather lengthy absence, I’m excited to continue writing about my experiences as a newcomer in Canada. My last post was in December 2011. At that point in time I had been in Canada for a year and nine months. It’s incredible how different things look a year and a half later.

After living in Canada for three years, my view of things has changed as I feel I have stronger ties to my new country. Though it is true I was exposed to the culture here (my husband is Canadian) from day one, I didn’t have a sense of belonging in the beginning. I used to wonder if I would ever get that feeling or if I would always feel like a newcomer. I can now say I am happy and proud to live in such a wonderful country. A funny thing that used to happen to me during my first couple of years in Canada was that whenever I talked about my native country, I used to say “home”. Now I think of Canada as my home. That doesn’t mean I have forgotten about my own country or that I feel I don’t belong there; however, whenever I go back to visit, after a few weeks, I do long to return to Canada and see my relatives and friends here. It’s a nice feeling that I welcome as it’s made it easier to enjoy my new life.

Three years in Canada also bring another important event as I’m now ready (and eligible) to apply for citizenship. It’s a huge step that will symbolize the culmination of my journey as a newcomer and the beginning of my life as an official Canadian citizen. I look forward to sharing my experiences with everyone as every day brings new adventures.

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25 best cities to live in Canada

I never had to wonder where I would like to settle once I moved to Canada. I knew I would live in my husband’s home city (he’s Canadian). If we ever move, it will be due to work commitments or to avoid long commutes. I don’t think we would consider moving very far because we would like to be close to relatives and friends.

Hamilton, Ontario

Many newcomers have the choice of selecting where they will live once they move to Canada. With no friends or family ties, they are free to pick the city that fits their needs best. This must be a tough decision. There are so many different cities to choose from. It is already hard to select an apartment building or a house, so imagine choosing the city where you will settle.

I decided that even though I don’t have to make that choice, I’d like to know what the best places to live in Canada are. I found this list that ranks the 25 best cities based on items such as affordable housing, average household income, job prospects and crime rates. The results are pretty interesting. I’d definitely like to look at a list like this should I ever need to choose where to live.

What was your experience like when choosing where to settle in Canada? Was it a difficult decision? Please leave your comments. Thanks!

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Things I love about Canada: multiculturalism

One of the things I love the most about Canada is its multiculturalism. In cities like Toronto, you can hear many different languages just by walking down the street. Perhaps for people who come from cities that are somewhat multicultural this is nothing new. It is for me though. I come from a city in Southern Mexico where there is not even that much tourism. Also, I’ve always been fascinated by learning about different cultures.

There are many advantages about living in a multicultural society. One of the things I love the most is the variety in food. I never had access to so many different types of dishes. In Downtown Toronto, even if you sampled a different dish each day, it would take a long time before you can taste everything there is to try.

Here is a video that shows some popular neighbourhoods where you can get great food.

Kensington Market is another section of the city where you can find different kinds of food and stores. I highly recommend visiting this market. The video below shows you some interesting aspects about Kensington Market:

Another aspect I love about being in a multicultural country is learning about new cultures. I had never known so many people from so many different cultural backgrounds. I think it’s great that I can ask them all kinds of things about their native countries. I have learned a lot more this way than I ever did by just reading about it.

Finally, I love the fact that although I’m a newcomer, I don’t feel like a foreigner. Canada is a big country with all kinds of people. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who is new to the country. We are all here making this country a richer, more diverse place.

What is your favorite aspect about living in a multicultural society? Do you have any favourite spots where you find great multicultural food? All comments are welcome.

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Adopting Canadian values

I was browsing the web when I came across an article that caught my attention. The title read:Immigrants should adopt Canadian values to settle here. This is a topic that I’ve given some thought in the past. Canada is a country made up of many different cultures; each one has its own unique characteristics. So what happens when all these different ideas converge in one country, city or town?

According to the article, Canadians think that newcomers should embrace Canadian values as a requirement to be admitted into the country. This sounds harsh, unless you pay attention to what they really mean. When they say values, they are talking about things such as gender equality and tolerance for others.

I think when a person is considering moving to another country, they should be ready to go through some changes. This doesn’t mean you have to give up your core values; as long as you comply with Canadian laws, you should be free to have your own customs and beliefs.

I moved to Canada knowing that I’d have to adapt to a new way of life. I know that when I have kids, they will be more Canadian than Mexican. I’m not going to deny that this idea makes me a little bit uncomfortable. After all, I was born and raised in Mexico, and until recently, that was the only way of life I truly knew. One thing that makes me feel better is that I like my life here. As time goes by, I find that I’m growing fonder of my new country each day. It has only been one year and 9 months since I moved here; in a few more years, I will probably feel that I’m Canadian, though deep down, I will always be Mexican and will always love my native country.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think there is anything wrong with adopting Canadian values. Doing it won’t mean you will stop being who you are or that you’ve forgotten your roots. Adopting Canadian values is a wonderful way to embrace your new life in your new country. It makes the transition easier. So let’s all be proud to be able to live in such a wonderful country and let’s be open and tolerant; after all, multiculturalism and tolerance are among  the most important Canadian values.

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