Living in Canada as a foreigner

GiancarloZ

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My wife is from Québec, and some months ago we were discussing moving to Canada in a few years. In May, though, she's visited her family and decided she wanted to anticipate the moving. So we bought the tickets and moved to Lachute, Québec, on August 23.

Things didn't work as planned there and she couldn't secure the job offer she's had when she visited in May. A Brazilian childhood friend of mine invited us to know Winnipeg, where she's been living for 5 years, and we decided to stay here.

We completed 3 months here on November 23. Thus far, some good impressions:
1. Safety. This is the highest quality of this country. We feel very safe on the streets, even at night.
2. Affordability. Overall, everything is affordable - food, clothing, electronics, furniture. There are expensive things, but on average you can get good quality stuff for good prices.
3. Social democracy. It is not paradise as generally Canada is pictured, but it does have a more democratic society than Brazil. There is no such gap between social classes and it is much easier to have social mobility.
4. Good architecture. It seems like every medium-sized or big city has architectural landmarks, of the most different eras and styles.
5. Volunteering. The volunteer culture is huge and has a lot of support. This is wonderful.
6. People are generally willing to help. All the time I voiced my worries and how I've been feeling, a lot of people showed up to help somehow - either here or at church.
7. Good food. Good quality food is more affordable and easier to find than in Brazil. Although, sometimes is difficult to find the same fruits and vegetables we have there.

Bad Impressions so far (talking specifically about my experience in Winnipeg - I don't mean to be offensive, those are just impressions, not judgments):

1. Obviously the weather. By the end of the summer, temperatures had plummeted rapidly, and we already had 0ºC in October. The sun also went away fast. The dawn has been at 8 and the sunshine at 4 - but the sun hardly shows during the day, at least until now. Not having sunshine is terrible.

2. Awkward social interactions. It is a consumerist society - less than the US, but much more than Brazil (also due to the better financial conditions), so it's increasingly individualized and lonely. Social interactions are usually very limited to the context in which they occur and it seems difficult to extrapolate them into the personal field and create friendships. Interactions with strangers on the streets are even more awkward, and many people do not know how to navigate simple things as waiting for others to get out of the elevator before getting in or saying "excuse me" in a hallway without running over you. It does not seem like a lack of education like the million pushes you get in Brazil, but rather an incapacity of interacting.

3. The difficulty of living with so many different cultures. In Winnipeg (and I believe in almost every major city in Canada), there are many immigrants and from all over the world. This is good and brings diversity, but there are practical life challenges that are complicated. In our building, for example, there is a serious problem of compliance with the most basic rules of hygiene. People from India, for example, have a very different understanding of cleanliness / dirt, privileging the cleanliness of the body in detriment of the environment, and thus they'll throw their garbage out anywhere at any time. The elevators and hallways look filthy on weekends when there are no people cleaning up.

4. Cultural shock. Yes, it exists! Even though I speak English and can communicate just fine, so no verbal communication barriers, non-verbal communication, references, usages, and customs are very different. I also miss speaking Portuguese on a daily basis, especially for more sophisticated conversations for which I generally lack vocabulary in English.

5. Health system. The public system is not universal like in Brazil (there, it's is really universal and there are no conditions to use it - even foreigners are covered). Here, there are thousands of restrictions on access and it takes a lot of time for you to enter the system. The private system is expensive and not everyone has the right to have it - it is very complicated and is usually complementary or supplementary to the public one.

6. Poverty, mental illness and aboriginal peoples. The aboriginal peoples, at least in Winnipeg, often suffer from mental illnesses as a result of the poor treatment they had until very recently, as forced separation from their families. The traumas go from generation to generation and result in poverty and very poor emotional state. The number of indigenous persons in situations of alcohol and drug abuse and extreme poverty is alarming here. In Brazil, they're not in a perfect situation, but it's different and look they're better than here.

What I miss the most from Brazil:

1. Friends and family.
2. The way social interactions flow more naturally and the way I know how to navigate them.
3. The weather and the huge amount of Sun we have there.
4. Tropical fruits and vegetables.
5. Speaking Portuguese.
6. How you can feel happiness in the air even though most people are facing difficulties.

The conclusion so far? There is no paradise on earth. I knew this before I came, but seeing it with one's own eyes is always a good way to reassess everything in Brazil with other lenses. There is no better, just different.
 

Carolla

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Such a comprehensive view Giancarloz - thanks for sharing your perspectives. I think I would agree with your insights, although I am Canadian - you've been very fair & realistic.

Many decades ago I spent a month in Peru - and from that brief experience I do appreciate the longing for hearing & speaking one's own language, and eating familiar foods. The weather there in Lima was cold & gray & drizzling most of the time - and it got on my nerves too. You will soon see more sunshine in Winnipeg I think - but it will be very cold!! I hope Christmas will be a time you and your wife will be with friends, and not feeling too homesick.
 

BetteTheRed

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6. Poverty, mental illness and aboriginal peoples. The aboriginal peoples, at least in Winnipeg, often suffer from mental illnesses as a result of the poor treatment they had until very recently, as forced separation from their families. The traumas go from generation to generation and result in poverty and very poor emotional state. The number of indigenous persons in situations of alcohol and drug abuse and extreme poverty is alarming here. In Brazil, they're not in a perfect situation, but it's different and look they're better than here.
Agreed, but what you don't realize is that there are healthier and happier indigenous populations elsewhere. From my understanding, the Prairies and Northern Ontario are two of the hardest places to be native in Canada. Reserves that have a casino, for instance, like Rama north of me, have a much better economic base, and much healthier schools, housing, etc., as a result. Here in Barrie, we have a well-used, and well-respected Native Friendship Centre. The yearly vigil for MMIW is always attended by at least one rep from each of the OPP and the local police force and native/police relationships are generally good.
 

GiancarloZ

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Thank you for so openly sharing your impressions. Moving is hard no matter where you go!
Thanks, @Tabitha ! It isn't easy, indeed. I'm really thankful for you guys here helping me to settle.

Such a comprehensive view Giancarloz - thanks for sharing your perspectives. I think I would agree with your insights, although I am Canadian - you've been very fair & realistic.

Many decades ago I spent a month in Peru - and from that brief experience I do appreciate the longing for hearing & speaking one's own language, and eating familiar foods. The weather there in Lima was cold & gray & drizzling most of the time - and it got on my nerves too. You will soon see more sunshine in Winnipeg I think - but it will be very cold!! I hope Christmas will be a time you and your wife will be with friends, and not feeling too homesick.
Thanks, @Carolla ! We'll spend Christmas with a couple of friends from Church, so though I will be homesick I will also be very grateful that I will be able to spend it with people I like. Also, thanks for sharing your experience - it helps me not feeling crazy or too dramatic.

Agreed, but what you don't realize is that there are healthier and happier indigenous populations elsewhere. From my understanding, the Prairies and Northern Ontario are two of the hardest places to be native in Canada. Reserves that have a casino, for instance, like Rama north of me, have a much better economic base, and much healthier schools, housing, etc., as a result. Here in Barrie, we have a well-used, and well-respected Native Friendship Centre. The yearly vigil for MMIW is always attended by at least one rep from each of the OPP and the local police force and native/police relationships are generally good.
Thanks, @BetteTheRed! You are right, this is very much about my experience in Winnipeg. Thanks for sharing different perspectives and realities.
 

ChemGal

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Agreed, but what you don't realize is that there are healthier and happier indigenous populations elsewhere. From my understanding, the Prairies and Northern Ontario are two of the hardest places to be native in Canada. Reserves that have a casino, for instance, like Rama north of me, have a much better economic base, and much healthier schools, housing, etc., as a result. Here in Barrie, we have a well-used, and well-respected Native Friendship Centre. The yearly vigil for MMIW is always attended by at least one rep from each of the OPP and the local police force and native/police relationships are generally good.
Prairies is a bit of a mishmash, some of the reserves in Alberta do quite well. Then there are also those who don't live on the reserves, I know people who are well educated and affluent.
 

Inannawhimsey

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@GiancarloZ
I actually envy you; you getting go experience a brand new Country
Culture
Beliefs
Social norms
Etc.
Wow.
And able to observe and communicate these observations. So very very cool.
Seeing that part of the world as it Truly is (I find that most of my daily life consists of relying on memory, so when I meet another person I am not really seeing them but my memories of them. Same things with trees. Buildings. Food. Unkess I intentionally concentrate. Also the culture and social norms of my home country tend 2 b invisible 2 me; they become more evident if I'm away for a while)
I've experienced culture shock before. In a place I never expected to have culture shock: Washington State. I eventually got over it :3

Again, thanks for sharing.

Good thing you did not move to BC SW Coast. winters are horrible; cold and WET lol

Prettily Ugly,
Inannawhimsey
 
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@GiancarloZ It must be hard to make such a huge transition. You will get used to the flow of things soon, I think.:) You seem open minded.

I moved back to the town I grew up in, a smaller city (less than half the size) after living 20 years in the “big city”. I had to get used to bit of culture shock all over again. Everything slowed down and got more boring for awhile. The thing is I didn’t “want” to get too used to it here. I planned to move for a short time after going through some personal life stuff...I once swore I wouldn’t move back here until I’m a senior. But here I am in my 40s. I needed some R&R, a change of scenery, but I now feel a bit homesick for what became my home city! It’s too expensive there, though. (Only a bit better here.) I do have family here (we’re not really a close family though)...but I miss some friends and familiar places, and the eccentricities. This place has different eccentricities...i.e. it’s more set in its ways here, rather than the “free-form” urban city life. :cool: It’s very pretty and quaint and charming here but you can drive around the entire greater metro area in about an hour so it gets monotonous. I used to like taking transit around my old city greater metro area, to different outer suburbs/ townships. It was easy to have “staycations” (where you can play tourist in your own town on your days off and always see something completely new). I do run into an old neighbour from Vancouver who now works at a supermarket I go to here. I didn’t know him but we recognized each other from “the neighbourhood”. We commiserate , in the grocery store, about missing the city, the neighbourhood. He moved back because his dad was sick, and now passed away. But...l don’t have the guts to say “let’s meet up”... I don’t know if it’s appropriate because he is working, and if it is, I’m shy to. I’m not wanting to ask for a date, just a possible friend. I am not even sure if he is gay or straight and it makes no difference to me. If my husband and I were still together, it would be less awkward...we could both say, “Hey...our old neighbour! We recognize you. Let’s go to the pub and talk about the old neighbourhood!” But as a single person, it’s awkward.

There may be a Brazilian club or association, or a Portuguese speaking club, in Winnipeg.
 
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@GiancarloZ
I actually envy you; you getting go experience a brand new Country
Culture
Beliefs
Social norms
Etc.
Wow.
And able to observe and communicate these observations. So very very cool.
Seeing that part of the world as it Truly is (I find that most of my daily life consists of relying on memory, so when I meet another person I am not really seeing them but my memories of them. Same things with trees. Buildings. Food. Unkess I intentionally concentrate. Also the culture and social norms of my home country tend 2 b invisible 2 me; they become more evident if I'm away for a while)
I've experienced culture shock before. In a place I never expected to have culture shock: Washington State. I eventually got over it :3

Again, thanks for sharing.

Good thing you did not move to BC SW Coast. winters are horrible; cold and WET lol

Prettily Ugly,
Inannawhimsey
The past few days has been mostly sunny and about 6-7 degrees C in this part of the southern BC coast. It’s supposed to be like that for the week. I haven’t found this winter too terribly cold or wet. I wear a warm coat, scarf and a knit hat (a “toque”), sometimes both the scarf and hat are a bit too warm, sometimes I don’t zip my coat up - I only just started wearing gloves in the early evening. There were a couple of consecutive rainy days a couple of weeks ago, but 75% of this city’s reservoir is full, I heard the other day, so we haven’t had too much rain.
 
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Inannawhimsey

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The past few days has been mostly sunny and about 6-7 degrees C in this part of the southern BC coast. It’s supposed to be like that for the week. I haven’t found this winter too terribly cold or wet. I wear a warm coat, scarf and a knit hat (a “toque”), sometimes both the scarf and hat are a bit too warm, sometimes I don’t zip my coat up - I only just started wearing gloves in the early evening. There were a couple of consecutive rainy days a couple of weeks ago, but 75% of this city’s reservoir is full, I heard the other day, so we haven’t had too much rain.
You and I r used 2 it
Living in the rainforest
For someone who is not used to it...like GiancarloZ , wouldn't b a good idea 2 live in SW BC mainland
There r good reasons why US military does winter training there; damp and cold r very tough on human body and vehicles?
It's not even winter here yet and we've had rain; the entire train trip down was rain lol
Things rot and mould here a lot
Tis slightly different as u know in rainshadow of Island; the gulf islands are quite dry and very similar like interior of BC?
(Forget West Coat of Van island...I think it rains more there than LM?)
These wet conditions also makes for horrible "concrete" powder snow...lots of memories of poor wrenched knees...
My bro after living in BC interior, which used 2 get real winters cold and lots of snow when he'd come back 2 lower mainland he'd have 2 bundle up lol
Climate is great in other 3 seasons; good place 2 b homeless compared 2 rest of icy cold Canada lol

Uticaria Smooth,
Inannawhimsey
 
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Mrs.Anteater

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It took me a couple of years at work to notice the more subtile differences between Canadians and Germans. ( not sure what Brazilians are like). The Canadian politeness is easy to spot on the surface, but it seemed to go along with the need to interpret what others are saying, because they are used to not say things directly. It actually seemed to be a Canadian vs European issue, because we also had two British in the department who would tend to speak their mind directly. this being perceived by Canadians as rude.:
simple example ( it gets more complicated as it gets personal)
German ( matter of factly noticing): “ Oh, we are all out of ......”.
Canadian, thinking-“ she wants me to get more of.....” ( runs and gets it if she likes the German). second thought, if she doesn’t like the German: “ who is she, to tell me to get......” ( might still go get it, but will store a grunch against German). German, thinking” oh, I didn’t ask her to go get this right now, but whatever” and forgets about it.
 

Luce NDs

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It took me a couple of years at work to notice the more subtile differences between Canadians and Germans. ( not sure what Brazilians are like). The Canadian politeness is easy to spot on the surface, but it seemed to go along with the need to interpret what others are saying, because they are used to not say things directly. It actually seemed to be a Canadian vs European issue, because we also had two British in the department who would tend to speak their mind directly. this being perceived by Canadians as rude.:
simple example ( it gets more complicated as it gets personal)
German ( matter of factly noticing): “ Oh, we are all out of ......”.
Canadian, thinking-“ she wants me to get more of.....” ( runs and gets it if she likes the German). second thought, if she doesn’t like the German: “ who is she, to tell me to get......” ( might still go get it, but will store a grunch against German). German, thinking” oh, I didn’t ask her to go get this right now, but whatever” and forgets about it.
Like brutus on Eire ... a nighttime thing for those that have denied conscience ... PTSD ... sometimes one has to say what they will under coven ante ... brutishly forward, or just brusque? Sharp edged words are bandied about with great freedom in circus meant to intimidate those into the schism ... a divide of love'n thought! That's oude ... like Van Deimansland in the Black Velvet Band ET!
 

Mendalla

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Should try to talk Mrs. M into signing up and posting her thoughts in here. She's been in Canada for over 30 years now and both China and Canada have changed a lot in those decades so I imagine she has some different perspectives to offer. Not likely to happen, though. She's scrambling to finish the marking for this semester before we go on vac next week (a week tomorrow).
 

mgagnonlv

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Welcome to Canada, GiancarloZ.

There are many differences between regions in Canada, and even more between smaller cities like Lachute (or Brandon or Portage La Prairie in MB) and larger ones like Montréal and Winnipeg, with the smaller cities being usually friendlier.

Regarding food, you might look for a small independent fruit store somewhere in Winnipeg. If it's anything like Montréal, some independent fruit stores have a much greater selection of fruits and vegetables than grocery chains... and sometimes at much better prices. You probably won't find the exact selection you had in Brazil – and certainly not freshly picked tropical fruits – but you will find something interesting.

Sunlight also needs getting used to, especially for someone coming from an equatorial country. Especially in Winnipeg (50th parallel), days are short in Winter, but very long in Summer. With the sunrise and sunset officially at 5:20 and 21:40 on June 21st, it means that you still have decent light almost until midnight and it's very easy to "forget" to sleep. And you learn to appreaciate summer heat and winter coldness... with appropriate clothing of course! Apart from the individualistic North-American mentality, I would say that Winter helps to keep conversations very short. Another difference is that spread out towns and cities (and Winnipeg is much more spread out than downtown Vancouver, Toronto or Montréal) favour car usage, so people drive from point A to point B and never interact with eachother.

Finally, how is your wife adjusting to Winnipeg? If it is her first stay in Canada outside Québec, she might have had some kind of culture shock too.

You talk about cleanliness and some ethnic groups. One issue (at least in Montréal) is that relatively affordable appartments are scarce, so people crowd themselves in too small appartments. Add poor ventilation or none at all and you get issues that people would not notice in warmer climates. Imagine people cooking side by side Mexican, Indian and Chinese food on electric stoves that have absolutely no ventilation hoods and in poorly heated buildings where people don't want to open a window at the other end of the appartment, and you see the problem!

As for poor people in general and especially natives in our cities, I wish I knew how to solve the problem, but what worries me is that the issue is not seriously acknoledged by our governments.
 

Luce NDs

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Welcome to Canada, GiancarloZ.

There are many differences between regions in Canada, and even more between smaller cities like Lachute (or Brandon or Portage La Prairie in MB) and larger ones like Montréal and Winnipeg, with the smaller cities being usually friendlier.

Regarding food, you might look for a small independent fruit store somewhere in Winnipeg. If it's anything like Montréal, some independent fruit stores have a much greater selection of fruits and vegetables than grocery chains... and sometimes at much better prices. You probably won't find the exact selection you had in Brazil – and certainly not freshly picked tropical fruits – but you will find something interesting.

Sunlight also needs getting used to, especially for someone coming from an equatorial country. Especially in Winnipeg (50th parallel), days are short in Winter, but very long in Summer. With the sunrise and sunset officially at 5:20 and 21:40 on June 21st, it means that you still have decent light almost until midnight and it's very easy to "forget" to sleep. And you learn to appreaciate summer heat and winter coldness... with appropriate clothing of course! Apart from the individualistic North-American mentality, I would say that Winter helps to keep conversations very short. Another difference is that spread out towns and cities (and Winnipeg is much more spread out than downtown Vancouver, Toronto or Montréal) favour car usage, so people drive from point A to point B and never interact with eachother.

Finally, how is your wife adjusting to Winnipeg? If it is her first stay in Canada outside Québec, she might have had some kind of culture shock too.

You talk about cleanliness and some ethnic groups. One issue (at least in Montréal) is that relatively affordable appartments are scarce, so people crowd themselves in too small appartments. Add poor ventilation or none at all and you get issues that people would not notice in warmer climates. Imagine people cooking side by side Mexican, Indian and Chinese food on electric stoves that have absolutely no ventilation hoods and in poorly heated buildings where people don't want to open a window at the other end of the appartment, and you see the problem!

As for poor people in general and especially natives in our cities, I wish I knew how to solve the problem, but what worries me is that the issue is not seriously acknoledged by our governments.
Thus NG situations in which some authority tells us to be serene about ... without hope whee depart ... sliding into the dark side ... the other side of the Whole E we arrived in at birth ... then more ...? OchM'N .. taken as explete've something else ... alternate? From there off to Van Diemen's land ... there are those that don;t believe the legend about lost loves and displaced times ...

Where to go when real physicality runs off ... into essence?
 

GiancarloZ

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About aboriginal populations, I'd like to reaffirm that I report what I've been seeing in Winnipeg. Although, after a little research, their overall structural situation in Canada as a whole doesn't seem much better. Lots of data here: Aboriginal Peoples: Fact Sheet for Canada

As someone with a strong sociological and anthropological foundation, I understand that are exceptions, both regional and individual/specific, but when we think structurally, i.e. how the whole system operates (and/or operated) regarding the aboriginals, I can see through data there are clear patterns of poverty and trauma. Brazil also doesn't have the best structural treatment of its aboriginal populations (who like to be called Indigenous Peoples), especially when they want to integrate into the wider society. The ones who wish to remain at their reserves, though, don't struggle with poverty or mental illness as much as it seems to be the case here.

I wasn't expecting the alarming numbers of poverty here, especially because the Canadian population isn't that big and it's a much wealthier country than Brazil. On the other hand, I'm really happy because I haven't seen children on the streets or asking for money so far. That's something very shameful and sad that happens in all the Brazilian major cities.
 

GiancarloZ

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@GiancarloZ
I actually envy you; you getting go experience a brand new Country
Culture
Beliefs
Social norms
Etc.
Wow.
And able to observe and communicate these observations. So very very cool.
Seeing that part of the world as it Truly is (I find that most of my daily life consists of relying on memory, so when I meet another person I am not really seeing them but my memories of them. Same things with trees. Buildings. Food. Unkess I intentionally concentrate. Also the culture and social norms of my home country tend 2 b invisible 2 me; they become more evident if I'm away for a while)
I've experienced culture shock before. In a place I never expected to have culture shock: Washington State. I eventually got over it :3

Again, thanks for sharing.

Good thing you did not move to BC SW Coast. winters are horrible; cold and WET lol

Prettily Ugly,
Inannawhimsey
That's a very good way of seeing things, @Inannawhimsey . Thanks for this input!
Regarding the weather, it's been wet here, too. Lots of clouds and humidity around 80-90%. Not what I expected!
 

GiancarloZ

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@GiancarloZ It must be hard to make such a huge transition. You will get used to the flow of things soon, I think.:) You seem open minded.

I moved back to the town I grew up in, a smaller city (less than half the size) after living 20 years in the “big city”. I had to get used to bit of culture shock all over again. Everything slowed down and got more boring for awhile. The thing is I didn’t “want” to get too used to it here. I planned to move for a short time after going through some personal life stuff...I once swore I wouldn’t move back here until I’m a senior. But here I am in my 40s. I needed some R&R, a change of scenery, but I now feel a bit homesick for what became my home city! It’s too expensive there, though. (Only a bit better here.) I do have family here (we’re not really a close family though)...but I miss some friends and familiar places, and the eccentricities. This place has different eccentricities...i.e. it’s more set in its ways here, rather than the “free-form” urban city life. :cool: It’s very pretty and quaint and charming here but you can drive around the entire greater metro area in about an hour so it gets monotonous. I used to like taking transit around my old city greater metro area, to different outer suburbs/ townships. It was easy to have “staycations” (where you can play tourist in your own town on your days off and always see something completely new). I do run into an old neighbour from Vancouver who now works at a supermarket I go to here. I didn’t know him but we recognized each other from “the neighbourhood”. We commiserate , in the grocery store, about missing the city, the neighbourhood. He moved back because his dad was sick, and now passed away. But...l don’t have the guts to say “let’s meet up”... I don’t know if it’s appropriate because he is working, and if it is, I’m shy to. I’m not wanting to ask for a date, just a possible friend. I am not even sure if he is gay or straight and it makes no difference to me. If my husband and I were still together, it would be less awkward...we could both say, “Hey...our old neighbour! We recognize you. Let’s go to the pub and talk about the old neighbourhood!” But as a single person, it’s awkward.

There may be a Brazilian club or association, or a Portuguese speaking club, in Winnipeg.
I'm pretty open-minded, that's true. There's a lot of things and people here that I enjoy.
I also was born and raised in a small town and moved to Rio de Janeiro, a 12-million city, when I was 16. Lived there for 12 years. Winnipeg is really small for me, so I can understand your shock. Going back to my hometown would be a nightmare for me!
What I like the most of big cities is the buzz you can have downtown or in certain neighborhoods, that are absent in smaller cities/towns - especially in the winter, where everyone seems to be rushing back home or their offices.

In Brazil, we have certain codes for denoting if you're flirting or not - in your case with the former neighbor, for example, if you invited him for a coffee it clearly wouldn't be seen as flirting, whereas if you invited him for a dinner or a beer it could be seen as flirting. This is the kind of thing that I miss in the social relations, some unwritten and unsaid rules that you just know. Surely that are some codes here, but the fact is that I don't know them.
 

GiancarloZ

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It took me a couple of years at work to notice the more subtile differences between Canadians and Germans. ( not sure what Brazilians are like). The Canadian politeness is easy to spot on the surface, but it seemed to go along with the need to interpret what others are saying, because they are used to not say things directly. It actually seemed to be a Canadian vs European issue, because we also had two British in the department who would tend to speak their mind directly. this being perceived by Canadians as rude.:
simple example ( it gets more complicated as it gets personal)
German ( matter of factly noticing): “ Oh, we are all out of ......”.
Canadian, thinking-“ she wants me to get more of.....” ( runs and gets it if she likes the German). second thought, if she doesn’t like the German: “ who is she, to tell me to get......” ( might still go get it, but will store a grunch against German). German, thinking” oh, I didn’t ask her to go get this right now, but whatever” and forgets about it.
Brazilians are not known for their straightforwardness, though they won't act in the Canadian way you report. In general, we act in a very relaxed and casual way - but not necessarily speaking our minds if we're not comfortable or close to the other person.
But if we like someone and think that person would be a good friend, we put a lot of effort to bring them into our lives. We invite them over to a coffee or to dinner, and after to our place, and then keep a routine of seeing the person regularly. Without waiting 2 years before that. It can happen as soon as 1 or 2 weeks, or 1 month if we're not sure. We're very social, and being socially isolated is the worst thing for a Brazilian.
 

GiancarloZ

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Should try to talk Mrs. M into signing up and posting her thoughts in here. She's been in Canada for over 30 years now and both China and Canada have changed a lot in those decades so I imagine she has some different perspectives to offer. Not likely to happen, though. She's scrambling to finish the marking for this semester before we go on vac next week (a week tomorrow).
That would be great, @Mendalla ! If she's not likely to do it, though, you could ask her to report some impressions to you, then you can post it here. What do you think?
 
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