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A Desi student's guide to Canadian life

Credit: ISTOCK (GLYPHSTOCK)

Embrace your new experiences while studying in Canada.


Uday Kakkar | Interrobang | Lifestyles | November 1st, 2019




A lot of students from South Asia come to Canada, spending a good amount of resources for ‘Project Canada’.

Project Canada entails a comprehensive list of things that we need to complete before and after coming to Canada like writing IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam, medical exam, visa process, buying winter clothes and college application process etc. So, after you have completed Project Canada, made new friends, tried Tim Hortons French vanilla coffee, garlic cream cheese bagel, poutine, and hooked up with a Canadian in a random night club in Canada’s downtown, you might want to take a pause and read this article.

I have observed how excited we are, as international students, in the very first month of our stay in Canada, to try everything that we weren’t allowed in India. For instance, we went to a strip club, drank way too much alcohol, made sabzi (vegetables) and missed our mommies.

Being an international student myself, I have experienced the anticipation that we feel in Canada, but I am also concerned that soon enough, when we get used to the Canadian lifestyle and our work/ study schedule, we will experience the ‘the diffuse bomb effect’ of Project Canada.

Once you become a routinised ‘polar bear’ (a Canadian student trying to balance work, study, and the cultural shock), you start feeling lonely and depressed. You start appreciating the value of choosing chai (Indian Tea) over this $2.5 French vanilla. Also, you start fighting with your friends for no reason, and they reciprocate. This phenomenon reaches its acute stage during winter.

How to cheer our minds after the bomb of Project Canada has diffused? The following options are recommended:

1. As smart learners, we must never stop learning, and movies and TV shows are also a way to learn about the life and inculcate traits of the Canadian culture. We can start watching TV shows, especially those that can teach you more about Canada and its culture, such as Kim’s Convenience, etc.

2. Become a Canadian Desi. Now, I know that we should be proud of our own culture and country but when we are in a different country we should also try to learn about the local ways of life. Our culture, whether Indian, Chinese or African is so broad and accepting that it can easily accommodate a few Canadian ways of life.

We are humans, and we keep evolving according to our surroundings and environment. A lot of Canadians believe that most South Asian students restrict themselves to the company of other South Asian people and do not attempt to make connections with Canadians.

If you do not interact with the native people, then how will you improve your communication? If you do not make new contacts, then how will you grow your network? Canada is all about networking. Most vacancies are filled by candidates who have references.

For example, I work in a fast food restaurant in London, and a lot of my Desi co-workers talk in Hindi when they are directing any message to a group of other Indian co-workers. I always feel that this, especially in a work environment, shows disrespect to others who are working with you. We also need to not only respect but also embrace/accept people who are different from us. Canada is a land of diversity, and you will find different types of people here. Instead of getting intimidated, we must hug them and call them for dinner at your house. This will help you grow personally and professionally. In Canada, they don’t isolate anyone.

3. Volunteer. This might sound boring to many, but it can help you to make friends and contacts which will eventually allow you to learn new skills or land a job.

4. Follow a healthy diet and sleep cycle. Eating out every day is something that your debit card will hate. And you never know that if you learn to cook here, you might start your tiffin services or small food business.

5. Play video games. It had been scientifically proven that playing video games keeps you motivated and helps to build brain muscles.

6. Explore the natural and artificial beauty of Canada. Visit the natural waterfalls, lakes and go mountain hiking. Explore the museums, theatre, shopping malls, etc.

7. Read books and learn more about life.

Now, this is pretty much everything that I could think of, but I am available for any help if you need it. I am an equal rights activist, guest lecturer, and blogger from Mumbai, India. Since I am also a student now in Canada, I am willing to contribute to the well-being of our student community. Contact me at my email, Udayjaikakkar@nullgmail.com.
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