Merriam-Webster defines culture shock as “a feeling of confusion and uncertainty sometimes accompanied by feelings of anxiety that can affect people exposed to a foreign culture or environment without adequate preparation”. This shock impacts people who migrate or visit a foreign country.
At the start of the fall 2022 semester, international students from more than 130 countries will begin their studies at UTM, leaving their homes to start a new chapter in Canada. There will be many aspects of Canadian life that students will have to adjust to, such as Canadian colloquialisms, crappy coffee, and endless snow. I remember feeling confused and out of place as a new student in middle school – asking teachers questions during class or approaching my classmates to join their groups for class projects made me so nervous as a new immigrant. I felt intimidated and didn’t have the confidence to show up. Over the past seven years, I have learned a lot during my time in Canada and seen how willing people are to help you feel at home. So here are some simple tips that helped me adjust to my new life in this country.
One of the first hurdles is understanding the language and the accent. At first, I found a lot of unusual slang terms and different pronunciations in everyday language that were difficult for me to understand. In class, when my teachers were talking, I had to follow the words written on the whiteboard or the document, because following the teacher was so difficult. The language barrier combined with unfamiliar accents made things difficult, including understanding class assignments, navigating social interactions with my classmates, and class participation, which is essential in many courses.
Before moving to Canada, I watched a lot of media, especially Bollywood movies and Hindi TV shows. Then I decided to start watching English TV shows regularly, like Friends and Brooklyn 99, which helped me because they spoke the same accented English as Canadians. They are comedy shows that have light-hearted jokes and simple plots, which helped me get used to listening to and understanding the English commonly used in Canada.
Moving to a new country can be a stressful experience. One of the many ways to overcome this is to make friends. Socializing is key and can be very difficult and nerve-wracking, but UTM offers lots of fun opportunities to interact with others. There are events held almost weekly by various clubs on campus that provide opportunities to meet new people. You can follow their social media pages to be notified of these events in advance. UTM has a variety of diverse student groups and societies so you can find clubs that match your tastes and interests. Thanks to these organizations, you will quickly meet people who share the same interests and tastes as you. Once you get over the initial awkwardness, you’ll discover all that the UTM community has to offer.
The weather in Canada is particularly dangerous these days. Getting used to snow can be difficult, and seasonal depression makes it worse. The best way to get used to snow is to accept it as a constant. The weather app on your phone and warm clothes will become your companion for at least four to five months, maybe even longer. Invest in puffer jackets, knit beanies, warm socks, woolen scarves, fuzzy leggings and other winter essentials as they are essential for survival in the cold climate. You should find fun activities with your friends, like snowball fights, taking photos with serene snowy backdrops, and ice skating at Celebration Square, just a 10-minute drive from campus.
Coming to a new country is a nerve-wracking experience. I salute those who decide to go abroad to study and dream of a better future. Going through these mental and physical trials can be difficult, but these adversities don’t have to define your experience. Many people understand and want to support you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Making the most of your adventures with my advice can help make your experience more favorable and ease your transition to Canada.