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. (I shall dedicate a different blog to that). After you have completed Project Canada, made new friends, tried Tim Horton’s French vanilla coffee, garlic cream cheese beagle, 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 blog.
I have observed how excited we, as international students, in the very first month of our stay in Canada, 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 mommy.
Being a desi, 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 cutting chai 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 Modern Family, Kim’s Convenience, etc.
2) Become a Canadian Desi: Now, I know that “mere desh ki dharti sona ugle ugle heere moti, but Bhai yeh Canada hai aur tu yahan permanent resident ban’ne aaya hai.” (Roughly translated to: We are patriotic, but we have come here to become permanent residents.)
Indian culture 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 desi students restrict themselves to the company of other desi 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!
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.