I have come across many websites that talk about foreign nationals living abroad. They are not necessarily travelers and one doesn’t have to be a traveler to be living abroad. These individuals share their experiences, adventures, emotions and how wonderful the experience that have been for them. For some, it is to satisfy their sense of adventure. For others it’s actually living the dream of living abroad. Then there are those who come involuntary and living abroad because of their spouse’s career. I somehow fit into all these categories. While it is a good thing, the definition of being a “Canadian living abroad” became a bit clearer to me, and I’d like to share what I learned being a Canadian living abroad.
Living Abroad: What I Learned
Canadians Are Reserved
When I first started traveling to places and met people abroad, there were a couple of questions that sure got me tense. For instance they tend to ask bold and blunt questions like How old are you? Are you married? Why aren’t you married? etc. It makes you feel awkward when total strangers ask such questions. Canadians tend to keep things to themselves about their personal life. That is why I found these type of questions as invasive. However, while living abroad it seems that these type of questions are asked in some cultures to indicate a personal interest. As time goes by you learn that people are just curious and not being judgmental.
Canadians Are Independent
I would be surprised if I met Canadians in their 20′s and 30′s who still live with their parents. Come to think of it, no one comes to my mind because majority of Canadians are very independent. Having said that, living abroad I always admire that many young adults in some countries live with their parents even after they get married. Personally, I’ve spent most of my time far from my hometown but seeing the bond in local families inspired me to be close to my family as well.
Canadian Women Speak Their Mind
Living alone? Going out alone? Speak openly about any topic? These are some of the things Canadian women do without being judged or questioned. I have described to some of the people I met about Canadian women’s lifestyle, and at times, believe it or not, eyebrows sure did rise. However, living abroad has allowed me to share my life with others, especially women. I’m lucky to know and understand about other cultures, their goals and dreams while sharing mine.
Canadians are known for speaking English or French. However, we tend to pick a word or two in a foreign language and try to speak it when we travel and while living abroad. We might get laughed at but hey, at least we try and be polite. Also, Canadians are used to hearing their own language spoken in a rainbow of accents and varying degree of fluency as well. So when we speak while living abroad, some just stare at us with a blank face as if we are speaking an unknown language altogether. Maybe I get it more than other Canadians being someone from South Asian origin.
In Canada we use our words wisely. You wouldn’t hear someone calling another ‘fat‘ to their face. That would be crossing the line in Canadian courtesy. However, it’s just a frank observation in some countries and is said to another person openly. Canadians see being descriptive as a positive or a negative and tend to keep it inside rather than saying out loud. This reminds me of a conversation I heard in one of the local salons while living abroad. An Asian woman approached another and said ‘you’re very beautiful and fat!‘ I almost got a shock but it was not the case with others.
These are the ones that I constantly come through being a Canadian living abroad. Good thing is, as time pass by, you learn the positives and negatives and sometimes even laugh about certain things. My ego sure has toughed up and I know what to expect. What have you learned while living abroad?