Laurenwallace

Cultural differences and fitting in

Recommended Posts

Nelline

"We came to Canada for work!"

"SA is a beautiful country"

Then I change the subject.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nelline

My husband today said a strange thing. He said: "I'm tired of the passive aggression I pick up on in many Canadians"

South Africans tend to say what they think and "get it off their chest"

Edited by Nelline

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Only time I really find a deeper interest from Canadians on happenings in South Africa is if they have visited South Africa or they have family living there. My professional / work conversations are always short, professional and to the point. In the work environment it does get better once they get to know you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jules

Only time I really find a deeper interest from Canadians on happenings in South Africa is if they have visited South Africa or they have family living there. My professional / work conversations are always short, professional and to the point. In the work environment it does get better once they get to know you.

This is true. Over the years they do start to "get" you but it's a sloooooow process. After 10 years with the same work team they actually seem to get my sense of humor and I'm rather relaxed around them. But when interacting with other departments and people I don't know then I act very different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M-N

I might be different in this sense. I work for a very small company and they already have a South African working for them for 4 years or so. He is not as loud mouth as I am so needless to say, they underwent a bit of a culture shock when I started.

I do work with Canadians from all over Canada - ACCOUNTANTS and AUDITORS, it's mostly a telephonic relationship and i find that most of the time they actually understand my accent and we can communicate effortlessly. I've had a handful of them tell me outright that they don't can't hear me and it might be the accent. I just laugh and then try and slow it down. I've noticed that I think we speak WAAAAAYYYY too fast for them and that is probably the biggest reason for mis-communication. So you learn to slow it down by at least 50%. It gets easier the more you speak to them.

First time I spoke to a certain client, let's call him Popeye, he refused to talk to me because, in his own words, "he couldn't understand me and it was nothing personal", so he would always ask for my SOUTH AFRICAN colleague. Lol, the irony. The one day Popeye phoned in again and my colleague was busy and I told him I could help him. After making some adjustments to the headset and just carrying on, we managed to sort him out. The next day he phoned, and guess what? Now he only wants to speak to me. :ilikeit:

I throw in silly jokes and things in there while I'm on the phone with them and most of the time I get a chuckle, if not, I brush it off and carry on. I've realized a long time ago that not everyone understands my particular brand of goofiness, not even South Africans, so it doesn't really bug me too much.

I am who I am and I will MAKE them like me. :whistling::P

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SSB

Hi Lauren,

How is it going now? Made any significant changes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Laurenwallace

Hi! Ag I read this stream and I was such a Debbie downer when I wrote this!!!! (Sorry)

Yes, I finally took the leap and quit my job. I stay home with my youngest, who will be starting kindergarten in September. I do flyers every Thursday and Friday for some extra cash.

My quitting work had a negative effect on our pocket of course, but we made a plan and worked around it. It had a positive effect on my children (my eldest was struggling to keep up at school) as I was then able to sit with her after school and do the extra reading and writing that she needed. It also had a positive effect in the household - so it was a good move.

Lesson learned? I learned that I am not up to standard when it comes to corporate communications (my field of expertise) unfortunately the differences between South Africa and Canada in this field are vast / everything from spelling of words to writing style, tone, formats - everything is different, and I struggled to unlearn what I learned over ten years. I will definitely go back to work once our youngest child is in grade one, but I won't go back to the corporate communications world again.

We have found that we 'fit in' much better with retail people. My husband working at Canadian tire has been such a blessing in so many ways, including the wonderful friends we have made there. So maybe it was a 'class' thing after all? Corporate canadians are waaaaaay more different than retail canadians. And I'm talking in and outside of work.

I also think that we have adjusted to a more Canadian way of being. It's tough coming from tense gauteng to laid back edmonton - that is a challenge that only time can solve. I see the changes in us compared to our friends and family back home as clear as daylight now. That was definitely a contributing factor to me not being able to fit in, in the corporate world.

This is just my experience, so please don't take offence to my post anyone.

Edited by lauren.wallace
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jules

I think Lauren's post is a very open and honest account of the difference between working in SA and Canada. There was a time when I believed strongly that the "canadian experience" requirement was just used as an excuse to discriminate against immigrants. But over the years I have changed my opinion. There actually is a difference in some fields and they do things different here. Sometimes very different. Some immigrants adapt and thrive while others take a long time to unlearn and then relearn. Not always easy.

I sometimes cringe when I think back on how I was in the workplace when I arrived 10 years back. Lord knows how I survived it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Laurenwallace

The Canadian experience is vital for success in the corporate world, from my experience. And what I mean by the Canadian experience, is living and functioning in Canada independently as well. Not just working. After a few weeks, the novelty of being a South African wears thin, and I found myself on the outside more and more at work. It wasn't done on purpose, generally speaking canadians are not unfriendly. It just happened because we had only been on Canada for 3 months, so when they would refer to a place or an event or even a clothing store, and I would get this blank look on my face, I can understand now why I didn't fit in.

There are so many contributing factors to making a success of your job here in Canada (especially if you are like me, and on an open work permit) it's not only whether or not you can do the job. That is only part of it.

My ego was bruised and my self esteem took a beating. I am a perfectionist, and not being able to do the work that I was assigned to do was so very frustrating and demotivating. Couple that with having very little Canadian experience in every day life, two small children still trying to adapt to life and schooling, a husband working crazy retail hours - it was a mistake for me to try and get back into work so soon after arriving here.

If I can offer my ten cents worth to anyone / it's this - take your time settling in. It takes time, and nothing you do will speed it up. Learn the Canadian way of EVERYTHING, settle your family in, support your spouse in their new endeavour (as the main applicant and tbe LMO holder) make your LIFE here first before you make your LIVING.

I am still absolutely in love with Canada, and I am still in awe of our blessings. And I am looking forward to going back to work, after a year, because then I know that I will have the Canadian experience and I will make a success of it. ?

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Smith007

Ms. Lauren if I may chime in here; in my opinion what you said was needed and required. Please do not doubt your post and more importantly your SA sincerity at the time - thereby refusing your very "SA" being, heritage, innate ..... of you!! on how you responded to a challenge. Wow you even had the courage to say and admit to the "disease" depression GOOD ON YOU - YOU ROCK!!!!!! You were very courageous indeed in my humble opinion. I think depression is very real in newly landed families and individuals hopefully those reading your posts will be forewarned and a rmed

If asked to comment on what to expect or be weary of with the "big city plop" I would use the symptoms and remedies associated with unintentional bullying and discrimination ("two worlds collide" syndrome - Innate Racism against foreign workers) - It certainly IS NOT intentional, but the physical meeting and colliding of different cultures is absolute and certain. Those tips and remedies mentioned directly above are built on real life experiences, are very important and may not have been written had you not started writing.

To me the most important one is the one centered on playing " Hyde": - don't do "Jekyl" keep quiet and soak it all up and ask for suggestions rather than offering a conclusive remark or decision - play to their ego in the first few mnths - as far as most white collar positions go. PLEASE NO Jokes the humour is flawed just look at the crappy adverts (N American one's that is) in comparison to SA wonderful humour - what punch line in the former you may ask or yes and ......

I think.... if you do this you would gain most of the "Canadian experience" or the Canadian work Culture (Canadian home culture is obviously different and easier)

How does one learn or acquire this illusive work culture before landing? - look for and join a forum in your profession - seek out Canadian members perhaps communicate

Edited by Smith007
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nettie

Very well said Smith007. However, I tend to like the ads. :ilikeit:

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raquel

Wow - what a wake up call!

Thank you for your honest / open opinions and experiences lauren.wallace- it was great as a reality check and an emotional preparation exercise for those of us on our way over...

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Laurenwallace

Lol that's me - Always honest and sometimes to my detriment ? I always say, take from someone else's experiences and see it as advice. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions! PS - I'm sill happily staying home raising both kiddies, albeit some days feeling a bit of cabin fever, but for the most part, feeling blessed every single day. We count our pennies, and don't have luxuries as we are just on my husband's salary, and I bring in about $200 per month extra doing flyers. I have always been of the opinion that if we have a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, food in our bellies and love in our hearts, we are rich. I will go back to work, next year when both my kids are at school full day. Until then, we make do with what we have, and count our blessings xoxo

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Lauren, sharing your experiences on settling is greatly appreciated by all those preparing for their big move to Canada. Would be great if we had more feedback from members on this forum and their settling in experiences.

Just this past week I spent some time with a husband and wife from South Africa that's visiting Canada with a view to immigrating. I was candid in our experiences and challenges settling in. My conversation ended with a; "I would do it all over again". What a pleasure travelling with my Canadian passport! Like a kid with a new toy, loving it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raquel

Amen Lauren!

With that view of life, you can be happy ANYWHERE you choose to settle! :ilikeit:

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Helanie

Lauren - loved your posts - really an eye-opener!!! :hug:

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Worsie

Hi everybody

After reading this thread I felt like a bergie who had his papsak taken away! 

If successful I will be living in Calgary. I will be a lowly technician, so at least, according to your posts, it is not as bad as corporate. I know that Alberta is rather different than the rest of the country, more conservative etc. How do you guys perceive Albertans generally compared to the rest of Canada? The way co-workers interact, lack of humour etc.? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Worsie

On the weekend I read that they are slightly less PC in Alberta (apparently from Red Deer south). I also found out about the movement to secede from Canada and either form their own country or to join the US, although it is not really a big movement anymore -at least not politically. Apparently they much more like the US than Canada. I also see that there is some bad feelings towards Albertans from the rest of Canada, apparently they do not share the wealth. I find comments like "time for Alberta to suffer" etc now with oil and all being so low. I tentatively conclude that Alberta is perhaps a bit easier to assimilate into than the rest of Canada... not that that is really a big factor for me, I will love the country and never complain, but some comfort after reading posts about how different Canadians are -which was a bit of a shock to me having never really considered it.

Workwise the biggest change for me will be that I will no longer be the boss, I have been running my own business for 7 years now, But I am happy to work for somebody else (perhaps 5 years) to get my family out of this bad situation.

Anyway, just thought I would share that

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GrantM

*I have only been here a year and this is just my observation*

Living in Alberta and speaking to a few people that I work with its not really the case. Actually they feel like the East are happy to take the large taxes that are paid when Alberta is doing well but when Alberta needs assistance then it is not forthcoming from the East.

As for the comments saying that is "time for Alberta to suffer", we all know people like that. People who get jealous when others succeed at something and they get a kick out of when people fail. I think that is the case. 

Didn't know about them wanting to join the US or become their own country, if I did that would have swayed my decision to move here cause I don't think Alberta could manage on their own. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Worsie

Thanks, Grant

I hope there lekke fish there behind your picture... trout?

Look, I am not tooo concerned with the internal politics of Canada, although it will still be of interest. I am fully cognisant of oil etc. I am moving to get the hell out of dodge and work damn hard -finish and klaar. Believe me, Zambia and even Romania were options for a while.

Baniff is like 2hours away, no crime, :censored: cold, good schools, Cant wait!

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GrantM
1 hour ago, Worsie said:

Thanks, Grant

I hope there lekke fish there behind your picture... trout?

Look, I am not tooo concerned with the internal politics of Canada, although it will still be of interest. I am fully cognisant of oil etc. I am moving to get the hell out of dodge and work damn hard -finish and klaar. Believe me, Zambia and even Romania were options for a while.

Baniff is like 2hours away, no crime, :censored: cold, good schools, Cant wait!

 

 

 

 

Haha, don't think there are any trout in that pic - was taken on Chapman's Peak in Cape Town.

We are happy here, drove through Banff last week and we will be heading there for a whole day next week - only 1h20min from our home. It really is amazing!

Just be aware that there is crime, generally not violent and usually not random. The cold is very cold but everywhere you go has heating and you dress appropriately so it is fine! As for schools, don't know and don't care :) we ain't having kids.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M-N

I love Banff and Canmore.  My husband and I got married at Hoodoo viewpoint (Banff) in October. It was sunny and 5C.   Just the two of us and witnesses.  It was magical.  There's so many beautiful hiking trails.  

Calgary has so many parks where you can   go cycling and just walking.  Dog parks is huge here and you have offleash and onleash.  Animals here are really well behaved. :o

I have a lovely (crazy) group of friends that are from all over Canada living in Calgary. Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Manitoba.  

I'm sure you'll love it here.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cathy K

Worsie, Jo'burg and Cape Town. Boksburg and Germiston. Namakwaland and the Karoo. We all experienced cultural differences in South Africa. It's the same in Canada. For many in Ontario there is no Canada west of their provincial border. Most of Canada's prime ministers hail from Quebec, and for those in the eastern provinces it's unfathomable that we actually had a prime minister from Calgary. They hated poor Stephen Harper.

For some perspective. There are more cowboys in Alberta than in Texas. The frontier spirit is alive in Alberta. People work hard and until the oil price collapse, few were dependent on social services. Most South Africans feel very at home in Alberta. It used to be the most prosperous province in Canada and it has the potential to become it once again. For many years Ontario and Quebec received equalization payments from Albertans. Now that fountain of wealth is drying up.

I sometimes think Canada needs a real crisis so that Canadians can face actual challenges. If one read about the things they gripe about, you realise that they don't know how fortunate they really are.

We live on Vancouver Island. Think "Outeniqua roes" in the Garden Route: the people are amicable, laid back, friendly, great believers in the outdoors and not adverse to the pleasures of Canada's biggest home industry. :rolleyes: I have never seen so many senior gentleman sporting grey ponytails and beards in my entire life. The quality of life is superb. Quantity? Not so much. Who needs wealth when nature provides so much?

Canada IS a culture shock, but mainly a nice one. Sometimes South Africans are misunderstood and some explaining is needed. It can even be hilarious. Let me give you an example. Lately I have been pestered by telemarketers and had to resort to drastic measures to stop the calls. So I began answering the phone in Afrikaans. One of my granddaughter's friends was listening  while I explained to the latest caller why I didn't want their offer.

"Baie dankie! Baie dankie meneer, maar ek het dit regtig nie nodig nie."

The girl looked perplexed, and then whispered to my granddaughter: "Why did your grandma just tell that guy to buy a donkey?"

 

 

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raquel
1 hour ago, Cathy K said:

 

"Baie dankie! Baie dankie meneer, maar ek het dit regtig nie nodig nie."

The girl looked perplexed, and then whispered to my granddaughter: "Why did your grandma just tell that guy to buy a donkey?"

 

 

@Cathy K Bwahaha ??? thank you for making my day!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now