by Victoria; May 25, 2008
“Friendly Canada,” shows us exactly the situation that every new immigrant has to face, especially those who have limited English. I admire Victoria’s courage. Sometimes, Canadian’s friendly showing of their thirty-six teeth makes Chinese newcomers embarrassed or even nervous and so they forget to smile because of their poor English. I often regret my frosty looks and slow reactions to those friendly greetings with warm smiles when I had recently arrived in Canada. Now, I am friendlier than before! Honestly, talkative and friendly Canadians help us to feel that we are accepted and trusted!—Ruth, Writing 12 student.
“Oh my God! Such lovely earrings you have there. Where did you get those?” the cashier of Save-on-Foods store smiled, showing all of her “thirty six” teeth.
I was quite in shock. I didn’t expect her to say that. Moreover, I didn’t speak much English and my prepared speech contained only “hi, how are you?”, “thank you”, and “have a good day.” I had nothing in my vocabulary about earrings. So, I smiled.
I was warned that Canadian people are very talkative and friendly when I moved to Vancouver. But I had no idea how much friendlier they could get. After I gained a bit of confidence in speaking English, I found a job at the Liquor store. I was amazed by how much information people dumped on you while they shop.
Back home we usually don’t start conversation about personal matters with a cashier while buying goods. We keep the conversation very simple unless we know a person well.
“The weather is very nice today, isn’t it?” And then, after a positive or negative feedback we continue with our business.
Canada is different.
I hear thousands of very personal stories every time on my shift. I feel like I am a psychologist (a cheaper version of it). Stories about ex-wives, ex-boyfriends, ex-bosses and also the whole medical history of many of my customers have become an essential part of my shifts. I try to keep track of who cheated on whom, who had psoriasis and whose dog ate a bone bigger than itself. But I am failing for a number of those whose wish to confess becomes bigger every day.
I like people. I like to converse. However, I was taught that there are boundaries between topics that you can discuss with a friend and topics for random people like clerks and cashiers.
Being as open and as friendly as Canadians is the hardest adjustment in assimilating to this country. Nevertheless, I am getting there.