Living in Canada as a foreigner

GiancarloZ

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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.
Thanks for you welcome and tips, @mgagnonlv !
I wish I can adapt to the winter, because summer here seems to be amazing. The thing is that I don't wanna live half year waiting for the other half, without properly enjoying it.
Regarding my wife, she was raised in Cushing, which is an English-speaking community by the Ottawa River, belonging to Brownsburg-Chatham municipality. At 16 she moved to Montréal and after that to São Paulo, Brazil. So she's spent almost 20 years of her life living in big cities. The shock was really big when we stayed in Lachute. She couldn't adjust - neither I. Winnipeg is also being very different for her, though, as she never lived with non-Québecois people. She says she feels in another country.
In our apartment building, as we live downtown close to the financial district, the issue seems to be a lot of young professionals who just moved from their home countries and still haven't switched to the western standards. It can be shocking, especially regarding different hygiene values.
 

GiancarloZ

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Something really nice in Winnipeg and, I believe, Canada as a whole: how a lot of people are willing to help homeless people. In Winnipeg, almost all the churches around downtown host or support meals and other services for homeless/poor people. In Brazil, most churches have diaconal programs that help poor families with food, clothes, and jobs, but I haven't seen such action as here. One church in Winnipeg, Augustine United, is even renovating a whole floor of their hall to offer not only meals but laundry and public bathrooms with showers.
The extent of the volunteer culture is impressive and is doing great things for people in need.
 

chansen

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One thing I have been doing is taking pictures and posting them on my instagram account. That's been a good way to manage my strangeness. If you're interest in seeing my photos, they're at Giancarlo Zeni (@giancarlo.zeni) • Instagram photos and videos
Cool. I sent a follow request. Feel free to follow back, or not, with my boring account.

One thing that kept striking me as I read your opening post, is how little those of us who were born here think about the struggles of coming to a new country. I suppose it just doesn't occur to us that our way of life is different and involves a difficult adjustment period.

Like I wrote earlier, I really hope you find things to look forward to in the winter, because we like you how your are and we don't want to see you become cranky and miserable. We don't need another DKS here.
 

Mendalla

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I also was born and raised in a small town and moved to Rio de Janeiro, a 12-million city, when I was 16.
That would be quite a shock. I've been to Rio and Shanghai (which is bigger still) and huge cities like that are worlds away from where I came from. My birth community of Kitchener only broke 100,000 population while I was growing up there (it has now passed 200,000) and even London, where I've lived since 1999, is only now approaching 400,000 (383 thousand and change as of the 2016 census). Moving to Toronto would be a big change for me, let alone a place like Rio.

What do you think?
We'll see. As I say, our plate is pretty full from now until New Year's.
 

Luce NDs

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TO can stay where it is ... noma tere who believes it is best ...
 
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@GiancarloZ I went to your instagram link. Nice photos...my favourite photo since your arrival in Winnipeg (your photos of Brazil are gorgeous) is of the bison (Buffalo?) :) I have never seen them in real life either.
 
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GiancarloZ

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Cool. I sent a follow request. Feel free to follow back, or not, with my boring account.

One thing that kept striking me as I read your opening post, is how little those of us who were born here think about the struggles of coming to a new country. I suppose it just doesn't occur to us that our way of life is different and involves a difficult adjustment period.

Like I wrote earlier, I really hope you find things to look forward to in the winter, because we like you how your are and we don't want to see you become cranky and miserable. We don't need another DKS here.
Thanks chansen. I followed you.back, you have a beautiful family.
I also look forward the moment I start loving winter LOL so I will stop complaining so much.
Actually, today we had a clear day and a good load of snow so I could for the first time appreciate it.
 

GiancarloZ

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That would be quite a shock. I've been to Rio and Shanghai (which is bigger still) and huge cities like that are worlds away from where I came from. My birth community of Kitchener only broke 100,000 population while I was growing up there (it has now passed 200,000) and even London, where I've lived since 1999, is only now approaching 400,000 (383 thousand and change as of the 2016 census). Moving to Toronto would be a big change for me, let alone a place like Rio.



We'll see. As I say, our plate is pretty full from now until New Year's.
It was a shock for me, too, when I moved to Rio. But being young I loved the big city - and I definitely became a big city person. I wish you can go smoothly through those busy days.
 

GiancarloZ

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@GiancarloZ I went to your instagram link. Nice photos...my favourite photo since your arrival in Winnipeg (your photos of Brazil are gorgeous) is of the bison (Buffalo?) :) I have never seen them in real life either.
Thanks @Kimmio
This crazy animal is called Muskox and it's actually a close relative of mountain goats
 

Pinga

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@GiancarloZ - have you thrown a snowball yet? or made a snowman? It requires packing snow, so much fun.

What you refer to in the apartments in Winnipeg, are similair to apartments in Milwaukee or Toronto. There are a number of people who are professionals who come to Canada and the US on work visas. They cannot stay very long, there is a limit, and they do tend to stay together to keep their costs down. Generally young men, but, often young women as well who are professionals. Anyhow, I don't know whether Brazil is a destination. I am guessing this is part of what you are experiencing.
 
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Thanks @Kimmio
This crazy animal is called Muskox and it's actually a close relative of mountain goats
Ah, yes. A muskox! Thanks. Forgot about those critters. I remember now. I've only seen photos of most of the big wooley wild animals in Canada. We have seen mountain goats and a bear, when driving through Banff many years ago.
 

chansen

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Actually, today we had a clear day and a good load of snow so I could for the first time appreciate it.
Clear winter days can be amazing. Sunshine does wonders for how we perceive the cold. A cold, clear morning after a light snowfall is neat when the snow "squeaks" under every footstep.
 

Pinga

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@GiancarloZ -- I remember when my son came back from a trip to Guatemala. He had prepped for the trip for the better part of a year, with some Spanish learning, history of Guatemala, study of indigienos and water issues in Canada, impact of canadian businesses, and so on.

When he came back, he had had a good trip, but, the one thing that shocked him was how cold we are in our relationships. I cannot do justice to how he felt or how he explained it, but, he commented on it, and was sad that we were not as welcoming.

He had prepped with his head. I don't think they had prepped as much for their heart.
 

Mrs.Anteater

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@GiancarloZ -- I remember when my son came back from a trip to Guatemala. He had prepped for the trip for the better part of a year, with some Spanish learning, history of Guatemala, study of indigienos and water issues in Canada, impact of canadian businesses, and so on.

When he came back, he had had a good trip, but, the one thing that shocked him was how cold we are in our relationships. I cannot do justice to how he felt or how he explained it, but, he commented on it, and was sad that we were not as welcoming.

He had prepped with his head. I don't think they had prepped as much for their heart.
I wonder if cold inside has anything to do with ocld outside?
 

Luce NDs

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@GiancarloZ -- I remember when my son came back from a trip to Guatemala. He had prepped for the trip for the better part of a year, with some Spanish learning, history of Guatemala, study of indigienos and water issues in Canada, impact of canadian businesses, and so on.

When he came back, he had had a good trip, but, the one thing that shocked him was how cold we are in our relationships. I cannot do justice to how he felt or how he explained it, but, he commented on it, and was sad that we were not as welcoming.

He had prepped with his head. I don't think they had prepped as much for their heart.
:) ... do harts have core values? That's 'ole ... that fishy lack as lackie ... something to respect! Just for the break ...
 

Luce NDs

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I wonder if cold inside has anything to do with ocld outside?
Sometimes uncivilized disconnect? Extending into occolđ ... nothing to sneeze at as some traditions say it involves loss of spirit ... Eire aye?
 

GiancarloZ

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Today was a sunny day again. I went to a Starbucks at a Chapters store to work and was cheered up by the Christmas feeling.
I also opened a bank account with RBC and was impressed by how quick and easy it was. It took me 15 minutes, passport and lease agreement.
In Brazil, opening a bank account can take you hours and lots of documents.
Point to Canada.
 

GiancarloZ

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@GiancarloZ - have you thrown a snowball yet? or made a snowman? It requires packing snow, so much fun.

What you refer to in the apartments in Winnipeg, are similair to apartments in Milwaukee or Toronto. There are a number of people who are professionals who come to Canada and the US on work visas. They cannot stay very long, there is a limit, and they do tend to stay together to keep their costs down. Generally young men, but, often young women as well who are professionals. Anyhow, I don't know whether Brazil is a destination. I am guessing this is part of what you are experiencing.
I haven't thrown snowballs or made snowmen yet. It is not very snowy in Winnipeg so far. Also, I live downtown and generally the snow becomes very dirty some hours after it falls.

Ah, yes. A muskox! Thanks. Forgot about those critters. I remember now. I've only seen photos of most of the big wooley wild animals in Canada. We have seen mountain goats and a bear, when driving through Banff many years ago.
I haven't seen any of those winter animals before going to the Zoo here. They're fantastic.

Clear winter days can be amazing. Sunshine does wonders for how we perceive the cold. A cold, clear morning after a light snowfall is neat when the snow "squeaks" under every footstep.
That's so true. Second sunny day and I feel much better.

@GiancarloZ -- I remember when my son came back from a trip to Guatemala. He had prepped for the trip for the better part of a year, with some Spanish learning, history of Guatemala, study of indigienos and water issues in Canada, impact of canadian businesses, and so on.

When he came back, he had had a good trip, but, the one thing that shocked him was how cold we are in our relationships. I cannot do justice to how he felt or how he explained it, but, he commented on it, and was sad that we were not as welcoming.

He had prepped with his head. I don't think they had prepped as much for their heart.
Well, it has its good side, though. Sometimes, you can get very drained in Brazil because of the obligation of being social. Parties all the time, invitations for dinners, cinema, theatre, etc. When I lived in Rio, it was difficult to stay home for more than 2 or 3 times a week. And if you turn invitations down two or three times, people won't invite you again then you'll be isolated. You need two chose between 0 or 100, there's no midpoint. I do feel I need more social interactions, but on the other hand, people here seem freer to do as they wish instead of fulfilling social expectations all the time.

I wonder if cold inside has anything to do with ocld outside?
Not scientific, but I do think there is a relationship. Even in Brazil, the hotter the city the warmer its people. In Southern Brazil, where it's colder, people are more distant.
 
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