China is one of the many countries where competition in terms of education is strict and complicated. Our guest Ran, who was born and raised in China, shares her story of how she was able to break free from her old self and discovered a better life in a new country, Canada.
Ran was supposedly entering the university in China when, unfortunately, she could not meet the required grade on the examination needed for her to qualify for her university of choice.
Now, once you fail in China, you’ll have to start all over again. Ran needed to go back in Grade 12 and will only be able to take the exam the following year.
This circumstance in her life made Ran come up with the decision to leave China and start a new chapter of life in Canada.
Ran arrived in Canada with no English knowledge, which imposed a significant struggle on her as a student.
Ran describes herself as someone who’s not socially active, which made her journey much harder because all she could rely on was herself.
Despite experiencing numerous challenges, Ran motivated herself to open herself to other people and let herself experience life without being afraid of making mistakes. This mindset made Ran discover her potential and adapt to the new country where she lives now.
As an immigrant, Ran feels fulfilled and thankful for having a life that she is in control of, which was not possible if she had stayed in China.
It was my decision to come to Canada. I think that was probably the only proactive decision I made because I sometimes just work with whatever life throws at me and instead of making a proactive decision, so leaving the country and come to Canada was probably the first corrective decision I made myself.
Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Emigrant's Life Podcast, where we share stories of people who left their country to chase a better life. I'm Daniel De Biasi. And in this episode, I had the pleasure to chat with Ran. She's originally from China and moved to Canada to study. Because of her grades and how the Chinese education system is designed, she couldn't get into the university she wanted, so she decided to study abroad. She's now been living in Vancouver for the last six years. In this episode, we talk about learning English and the things that helped us learning it quicker. She struggled quite a bit with the language at first and going through university and following the lectures was very challenging. Ran also shares why she prefers the lifestyle here in Canada, and why she decided to stay. Before moving with my conversation with Ran consider subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast, it will be great if you could leave us a review on Apple podcasts or PodChaser. These will help this podcast grow and reach more people. And now please enjoy my conversation with Ran.
Hi Ran, thanks for being on the show.
Thank you, Daniel for having me.
No worries. My pleasure. How are you?
I'm good. How are you?
Very good. Thanks. I'm very good. So Ran, should we start maybe say from where you are you generally from?
Sure. I'm from China. And I moved to Vancouver, six years ago in 2014. I came here for university .
Can I ask you like at what age did you leave China?
I was 19 when I moved.
Okay, and so you finish your your school education in China at least high school. And then you will start at University here in Vancouver?
Yes, so I graduated from high school there. I actually attended University in China for half a year while I studied for else, I didn't do very well in our like kind of like a graduation exam one and you enroll into university with that grade, I didn't do very well in that grade in that exam so I couldn't get into the school I liked. So I decided to pursue maybe university overseas and back then my best friend was studying at University of Toronto, so I was like, maybe I'll go there and meet him there. But I ended up in Vancouver.
Okay, so it does that mean that university in China are more competitive than abroad, or at least here in Canada?
Well, we have more population, they're so hurt. And it's like a one time chance you don't get a second chance not like else they can take as many times as you want until you get the grades you need to enroll into a good university. In China, you only get one chance. And if you screwed up, you you can either go back to school and take grade 12 again, and then take the exam next year, but I decided not to do it. And just maybe take this way instead.
Was it easy for you to decide to leave China, leave your family and everything to move abroad and studying abroad?
For me, the hard part is to study English and get the ELS grade I need to get into UBC or U of T that was definitely hard because in I guess you can relate to that too. When you don't have that language environment. It's hard just to study from the books. You don't get to speak the language with anyone around you. And it's just kind of hard to get into that. But instead of leaving my family, I guess I my parents were quite busy with their work when I was little and I was left alone at home quite, quite often. So I I'm always used to being independent or being alone. So I guess leaving the family wasn't that hard for me back then. And I was just very excited to be able to you know, kind of keep the distance from my mom because she kind of wanted to control everything in my life. So yeah.
So what was your English level when you moved to Canada? Was it like they were like you would you be able to speak English at that time?
We study English from like primary school, but I was thinking that's more they teach you how to take the exam instead of using it in daily life so I was probably better in reading and writing, than listening and speaking, but when it comes to speaking English, I had to process the Chinese in my brain first, then translate to English and then speak. So you can probably relate to that as well.
So I will say, I probably didn't learn much more words after I moved to Canada, but the speaking process I can now think in English and speak in English.
Yeah, you're totally right. He does it right. Even I was lucky at the beginning, he was asked to think in Italian and translate to English. It was like, this process would take several seconds. Even in conversation, you can't really do that.
And do that if you start a conversation, maybe you want to ask a question to somebody else I'll start processing the question in my mind, and that will just go for it. In a conversation especially I found this in, like a being funny saying jokes.
You know, the time needs to be right.
And you try to translate that in your head, the time is always off.
Yeah. And I guess after you heard yourself, it was like, sounds funnier in my mind in Chinese.
But even then sentence structure in Chinese and English are similar or completely different?
It's quite different. We don't have past tense, future tense. You know, there are so many sentence structure or terms in English, but we don't have that in Chinese. So sometimes when when I wanted to say I ate, I will say I eat. And I was like, Oh, I should say, ate, instead of eat. So that was quite different to make that transition. And also in Chinese, he and she it pronounce the same way. So I still sometimes make mistake like refer he as she or she has a he that was the hard part to overcome as well.
Okay, interesting. And for the education, when you get into the university, how hard was to get good grades and taking exam and everything to do with your English level?
It was very hard to be honest. I remember the first time I almost failed one of the course. And I my personallity, I don't initiate a conversation in class. Like I always wait for other people to talk to me first. So I don't think I made any friends in class. So the first term I took, I didn't even know there was a lab session, there was homework. I need to go to this website and take whatever quiz from from home. So I missed quite a lot of assignments. And I ended up just like, studying from YouTube finding the videos about this topic, because I can barely understand anything in lecture, especially a topic that I never learned about in the past. It was computer science, like I was, I didn't even know what copy paste was back then so it was very hard for me to catch up and finally learn like oh, there's quiz there's lab, there's you know, lots of different things.
You know, I bet even because, even for me when I moved to New Zealand, we know pretty much no English, the hardest part of work to what was it like understanding the people and I work in just give you some instruction, and there you go do your job. But in a lecture, you need to listen to the conversation for a long time, like hours and hours. And I remember like when I was trying to listen to even like a normal conversation, which only like a few minutes long, I was getting so tired just trying to understand what they were saying. Like, that's why I was asking that question it's like, it must be really tiring and very overwhelming and just studying and learn, understand what they were saying and get good grades.
It's very hard to focus when you don't know what you should be focused on. Especially say like in computer science, there are so many terminologies I don't even know what they mean. So it's, it's very hard to focus when you don't even know what that person is talking about. So the first term was definitely hard for me, but I guess after the first year, it got a little bit easier.
And what did you use? What kind of trick did you use or anything that you use to learn language?
First one is definitely practice. I lived in a homestay back then, and we have other English speaking friends living in the same house. So I forced myself to talk to them. And that definitely helps because you can pick up how, what words they use for a certain thing or how they their structure of speaking English or their accent. You definitely pick up a lot from them. And the second I tried to watch YouTube videos, find a topic that I'm interested in that gets me easier to listen in. I also in my third year, I worked in a grocery store to try to because I don't I mentioned before, like I don't initiate conversation in daily life. So I guess working in a grocery store, it kind of forced me to start a raw conversation with a customer. So that I think that helps. But definitely, like forcing myself to practice and speak more, making mistakes, because you learn from mistakes.
Yeah, I agree. I actually one of my tricks I used to, especially like from pronunciation, because the way I learn the language is not I've never been a good student. And as I said before, even in China, you start English, learning English, like in first grade its the same in Italy I left high school and I didn't know anything about English. I was at that point, it was probably studying English for at least six, seven years or something like that. Because I've never been like a good student, I didn't speak any I didn't know anything in English even to take my English exam for to graduate from high school. I just tried to remember by heart, a few sentences. By even then, because I was a good student, I probably learned half of the sentence, and I completely failed my exam, but they let me go. Anyway, when the thing that I was trying to say is that the way I learned the language is not through grammar, like, you know, you studied the sentence, all the parts into the sentence, I can't do that. So the way you learn is to hear other people saying that all the sentences even like in movies, TV shows would really help. So you just create like a this like pieces of sentences that you can just put together. And for me to learn that even the pronunciation and that makes me feel when I say that, it can sounds right or wrong in my head because I know that sentence, how the sentence should be. And one thing I helped me to for the pronunciation and things was songs. I was like, taking my phone in the shower. I like my phone in a plastic bag. So it was it was at the time was not waterproof. So I have my phone in a plastic bag, in the sealed plastic bag so I could see the screen and I will just singing the shower I would look at the lyrics are like a singing in the shower with the lyrics like a karaoke, are being made to learn these sentences and even the pronunciation because I could hear the singer, their pronunciations. I was trying to repeat it. But that helped me quite a bit.
That's funny. I think that's actually I guess, like when you watch a TV show, or like me YouTube videos, when you learn English that way, that's kind of the native way. Like because before I asked my roommate to improve my writing, and they're like, sounds weird. I'm like, how? It's subject, verb, object, bla bla bla, and I was like, nobody will speak English this way. And I was like, Okay, then how do you structure the sentence? Like, we don't know, I just write it. And it sounds like I read it. And it sounds right to me. So I guess yeah, yeah, it's just now like, you speak it. And you'll be like, that sounds right. And something sounds odd to me. You know, that's a native, I think that's a native way to learn.
Yeah, I'm still doing that. Even when I write, maybe I write and my head, maybe I still have this, like a kind of translation between Italian and English when I write down, and then I read out loud and this doesn't sound right. So I tried to move the things right. Yeah. Now it's now sounds right. And do you have any regrets about leaving your country leaving China?
Um, I mean, I don't regret leaving the country. But sometimes, because now I graduated, I started work working here. And I don't have any recent plan to move back to China. But I definitely, if you compare, like the life here and in China, I think I kind of gave up that convenience of life because in China, for example, online shopping is huge thing you can buy almost everything online, and the shipping is mostly free. You get your products within two days. Here its not that convenient, honestly. But I I mean, it's my choice. I work in Beijing for two months. In my first year of school, I personally didn't like that pace of life in that city, and I prefer like slower pace. Not that much competition kind of life. So that's my choice, and I don't have any regret.
Okay, so you can only partially answered my follow up question, which is like, why did you decide to stay in Canada?
Um, biggest reason honestly, is my boyfriend. He is a native here and he doesn't speak any Chinese. He's actually the first person I met in Vancouver. And we have been dating since 2014. So I guess it's just natural for me to stay on after I graduated, I didn't even doubt about if we should move to China together.
So having a boyfriend do you think that lpu learn the language?
For sure, cause I need to know I need to learn how to communicate with him. We don't fight, unfortunately. Which will definitely help as well. But he definitely helped me pick up the language, he corrects me when I make a mistake. That's actually very helpful because I would rather making mistake in front of him than somebody else. But yeah, because he doesn't speak my language, I have to learn his language, which is, you know, go saying because I were in Canada.
Its really hard for somebody to correct you. Even when I started like an even right now, when I say something that is not grammatically correct, people don't correct you. They don't say Daniel, they shouldn't put an S at the end because you know, this third person or whatever. Even before when my English was really bad. If people didn't understand would you asked me to repeat, but if they would understand, but the sentence wasn't correct, there wasn't a proper English. They didn't correct me. We're just okay. I understand what you say. And they will just reply. It's really hard to find those people that actually that corrects you if you say something wrong.
Yeah, I think you have to be close enough to correct someone's English. Even my close friend they don't correct me when I said something they didn't understand and I had to rephrase. I think it's only my boyfriend. He wants me to speak better English for my own good because I honestly I as I said, I barely communicate with anyone in school and I was, I didn't have any confidence to find an internship or job or join any club when I was in university. So he was really the only one I feel comfortable speaking English without rethinking everything. But I'm very grateful that he helped me and corrected me when I made a mistake.
Yeah, I agree. 100%. Because that's not super common. Even I have to say that. I'm not a good person that corrects people when I because I remember my ex, she was trying to learn Italian, she wanted to learn Italian, she will ask me to speak Italian to teach her Italian. It was hard for me to say something that I'll every once in a while trying to teach her Italian even when he went to Italy, I was doing the same thing. It was just odd for me to correct her to say no, I shouldn't say this. Probably like, I will probably correct it like 40% of the time. Because most of the time, okay, I know what you mean and you just move forward.
It is hard to because it's like, it's really tiring. If especially if you're trying to have a conversation, you can stop and let the person every every time that the person say something wrong. At the end of the day, you don't have a good conversation. It's hard to have a good, a full conversation if you keep stopping interrupting that person. So I have to say it's, I admire your boyfriend that's doing what he does, because it's not it's not easy.
Yeah, I think he did a good job. Like I believe this domain mistake when I we talk but he doesn't. He doesn't correct me 100% of the time. Otherwise, I'll be like, okay, shut up already. But yeah, he did a good job. He only corrects me when its necessary. And like, I will confuse someone else if I say it this way.
Yeah, my ex did a great job because she wasn't correct me. She was just repeat the word if I say the word like different past tense or something she would not just not correct me. She would just repeat the same word in the right way.
So at first, I was like, I didn't really connect the dots. But after a while, I was like, I started figuring out like, oh, okay, that makes sense. And so I will just repeat the word or repeat the sentence with the right word. And that actually helped me. Even pronunciation she was making fun of me of my pronunciation. Like with it th because I the I can't I can't do it. I'm getting better, but still not very good. When you say thinking is up like a threat. Like an F kind of sound like I'm thinking with F now what the th so she was making fun of me and sometime helps. I change the pronunciations on different words, because because of her making fun of me.
Mm hmm. Yeah. I can totally relate to that.
And what's the biggest upside with about immigrating, about moving to Canada?
Um, I guess it's, uh, it's quiet here. And I don't have to well, I mean, I kind of put all my life behind. My best friend is still in China. I keep in touch with like two or three of my best friend for sure. But other friends I just totally lost in touch. And I guess it was, I wasn't a very good student either back then, honestly. And I probably made some bad friends, according to my mom. And I kind of just like put them all behind, started a new life. I guess it would have makes sense if I was still in China, even though I was in another city, I believe some friends will like to catch up. And I, I usually don't say no. So I guess the upside is you get to restart your life, even though I was just 19. And the other side is, I guess I will say, I guess it's I think my life in Canada is more relaxing than what I would have in China, because the population and the number of people you have to compete with, and I guess the whole career culture, I think I like it more in the career culture in Canada.
What do you think is the main difference in the in the career culture?
I mean, I never really work in China before. But according to my mom, in China, you have to have slight relationship with, say, the owner or the boss that you will move up faster. But in Canada, I wouldn't say it doesn't exist, but at least the company I work for, I think it's a very fair system that they promote the people with the ability instead of the relationships. But I mean, there's definitely upside in China too. I guess if you have the ability to move up, you can end up making more money than we can in Canada. I guess it's just the economy is better in China, but it depends on what kind of people you are, if you are more aggressive, and you want to do very well, in your job feel, I guess at least in Vancouver is not a city for you to be a workaholic. Its just a beautiful province for you to you know, enjoy life, instead of just work, no life, no work life balance. I guess just just in China. Maybe that's the word I'm looking for the work life balance. It's hard to have that in China.
Yeah, I remember a friend of mine that was from from China, I think from the northern part of China. But he was telling me that the culture, about around work, around society in China, everything. Like everything is around money. If you want to be a person in, in your society, and the people look up to you need to have money, you need to be rich. He told me even that he got married with this with his wife, mainly because he had a job and because he had a car, or probably even because he had a house or something like that. So he need to prove to his parents in law that he was he was financially in a good situation. Otherwise they wouldn't let let him marry this his wife.
Of course. I mean, if you especially for boy, I guess the stress is if you you're not from a wealthy, not like a I wouldn't say wealthy but you, you you if you're not from a family who can buy you a condo, buy your car, when you want to get married, the parents of the girl might not approve it, or, I mean, it's definitely changing now, like the younger generation, they probably don't even care about getting married or having kids. But I mean, as, at least for my parents, their generation, it's still about, like marriage is not only about the two individuals, it's about the two families. So you get evaluated not only by you, your potential, your qualities, your whatever it's about, or your parents, your family. And that's definitely something that I don't like about the culture in China.
Okay. Yeah, no, I agree. I mean, I agree. It's not that I agree. It's just, I'm not used to kind of culture. And for me, jus thinking that my family has any right to say, who should have married to, for me, it's just it's just crazy, but that's part of my culture. So that may be for other cultures seeing my point of view, it's totally crazy for them. So just yeah, you know,
And what was the biggest challenge you have to face when you move to Canada?
Uh, first thing is definitely the language. I will say even after six years, I'm still struggling with it sometimes. I'm especially my job is a client facing role. So it requires me to fully understand my clients But sometimes it's just that the word they're using or the I don't, I don't fully understand them and I have to ask them to repeat. That's definitely a struggle that I have but it definitely helps when you talk to your other colleagues, especially native colleagues, and this is why we have that issue too like it's it's okay to ask them to repeat because that says, you know, English as our second language sometimes you think like, Do I look stupid? Do I sound stupid when I ask them to repeat or rephrase? But it seems normal for native speaker too so that definitely makes me feel more confident in my job as well.
I think because English has so many different accents. Because I even I remember when I was in New Zealand I was talking with my roommate at the time who was from Australia, and which just the two accents are kind of similar, but I was like complaining with him because I couldn't understand when Kiwis when ntives, New Zealand people were talking and he said yeah, don't worry Daniel. I've been speaking English for 27 years and I still don't understand sometimes what the Kiwi says and another episode I work, I remember a Kiwi person referring to a Scottish person he told this like a Scottish person like please speak English and it was like a super rude to say but we couldn't understand what this like a person from Scotland was saying. Just like his accent was like so thick that we really had a hard time understanding so especially over the phone and in a city like Vancouver you probably talk with people from all over the world with so many different accent so being a native doesn't really mean that you will understand everybody with so many different accents so I don't know if you have the same problem and for me at the beginning was like talking about the phone was impossible. That got to the point where I know I wasn't even like answer to the phone call I would just send them straight to voicemail so I could understand, I could listen many many times.
Totally Yeah, I even first I wouldn't pick up phone call for my boyfriend. I was like text me please. If I can read it and in black and white I can understand better. But definitely even I mean even with my name because my name is not like a traditional English name and I would have to spell my name in Starbucks when they when they asked for my name. So I even made up an English name so they don't have to ask again. But my boyfriend told me it's your name and you should teach them how to spell it instead of making up a name for them. And he told me even his name, his name is Neil and he told me even sometimes people spell his name wrong which is an English name. So I get I guess you just have to share your concerns with other people and know that it's common it's not just your fault that your name is not an English name. Or you ask them to rephrase what they say. I guess like being more open up to people definitely solve a lot of my problems.
Yeah, but at the same time I don't know for me like having like I I'm pretty lucky I got my name which is pretty much international and I never had that problem I have a big problem with my last name but with my first name I never had problems, but when my other friends they have English names or like in the name that are not English. So I find it always funny when people spell it wrong. Because then you figure out what what they came up with. So even though I kinda like wish I'd like a weird name or like I said a common name so I will just play with it and see what the people will write on my cup of coffee.
Yeah, for sure. I got Ram with an M all the time, or Run or Rane with an E and like anything. Sometimes in email people thought I made a typo of my name and call me Ryan that happens all the time too. Yeah.
Yeah, I had a friend who had from I have a friend that he was from it was from Estonia. And his name is Vahur. First of all, it's it's spelled a V A H U R and first of all when I was trying to ask Siri to call him and Siri will understand Navajo Bo or something else and they said like Daniel that's not have an account detail, Daniel that's not appropriate. So even for him when he was trying to order something on over the phone I was trying to order coffee it got to the point where it was like a getting so crazy and he was like I couldn't bother to everytime spell out his name. So he came up with a different name. Now we every time he orders coffee or something he used the word that the name Thor, like the superhero.
Do you feel lucky to be an immigrant?
Um, definitely I and especially for my personal experience. My It's always quite smooth for me, I guess, because my experience is quite straightforward. I came here to study, graduated, I got a three years work permit automatically. And then I was able to apply for PR one year after I started working, and I got my PR before the pandemic thank goodness. So it was very smooth experience. For me. I think we are very lucky in Canada, the immigrating process is fairly simple compared to other countries like US. So for me, I definitely feel lucky, I was able to, I mean, compare, compare with being an international student and pay five times higher tuition fee than local student and paying the health care premium, which was eliminated for PR or citizen, I definitely feel lucky that I was able to get my PR. But I also feel lucky that I made a decision to move to Canada. So I got to experience a different lifestyle. And I mean, I met my boyfriend on the other side of the world. So definitely, I would consider being lucky as well.
Speaking of the immigration process, was it easy for you to leave China to get a visa to for Canada?
It was easy for me because my family we never apply for I, I said that because I know my other friends who their family apply to immigrant before, but they got declined. So when he applied for student visa, he got declined as well. But my family would never try to apply for Canadian immigration. So I got approved, I believe I got approved right away for a study permit. And then I got the bachelor from UBC. So I got work permit for three years automatically. So I think that was definitely like I didn't have to have a job first before I can apply for work permit. It was given to you automatically no matter or not you have a job. So it was quite easy for me.
If you could go back in time to when you left is there, hat would you say to your younger self?
I don't think I would say anything, I would just let her do her thing and figure out what she wanted. Maybe there is another possibility than my current self. But just go with her. I guess just go with your heart. I I honestly didn't think about what I wanted to do up until my 18 probably. My ex boyfriend we we were together for a very long time as as well, when we were students. And I was always following his dreams. Like he wanted to go to that school. He wanted to go to that city. And I'll be like, okay, I want to go there as well. But after we broke up, I'm like, Okay, what I what do I want to do? So up until I was 18, or almost 19. I was like, Okay, I want to leave. And that's I said like restart my life.
Okay, that's interesting. That's it. I mean, in 19 I mean, you left, you left China at 90 a minute, that's still pretty young. I don't think at 19 I was even thinking about my future, to be honest.
I mean, I it was my decision to come to Canada. But nowadays, those international students, they left home probably at 17. I believe that's the proper age, you go to university. But that's sometimes their parents arrangement, or they started was International School earlier. And that's their path to go study abroad. But it was my decision to come to Canada. I think that was probably the only proactive decision I made because I sometimes just work with whatever life throws me and instead of making a proactive decision, so leaving the country and come to Canada was probably the first proactive decision I made myself,
Which makes a big difference if you make your own decision or if there's a path that has been pre designed for you. I mean, if you're growing up thinking that okay, when I get to 17 I have to move to a new country, you kind of know that that's going to be the path you got to kind of be prepared, but when you find yourself in a situation and you find the courage to make the decision to leave your life behind move to a new country, we know where you can speak the same language where you don't understand them and you don't know anybody. It's a big leap of faith.
Totally. I mean, for those international student who knew they were coming here before they can, they probably are made already made friends who will come together. So they have friends when they arrive here. But when I came here, I had no friends, no families, not a single person I know here in Vancouver. So that was a big change for me.
Which my perspective not knowing anybody in a new country, I think its somehow yes, makes the other maybe make you feel lonely at the beginning, but the same time, the experience and the people you met, you would have made otherwise because you stick around with your friends and don't really trying to meet other people. I'm so glad that I left Italy on my own because they're just for the friendship and the people I've met just because I have to meet somebody else. Because if it wasn't the path and I was with a friend, maybe we could find a place together, we will live together. But because I was alone, I have to I was like kind of forced, financially forced to live with other people. And that was the best decision ever. I met so many cool people that I can call my friends and I ask people from all over the world it's so amazing. I wouldn't have done it properly otherwise.
Mm hmm. I mean, especially China, I'm from a small city. If I was living in Beijing or Shanghai I'm I might have been able to meet more people from different countries, but I'm from a small city and we barely see different faces in our city. So for me to be able to meet people from different cultures, different backgrounds, different countries, I definitely wouldn't be able to do that if I stay in China.
And speaking of that, did you have some kind of culture shock when you moved to Canada?
I wouldn't say so. I think I just adapt to difference pretty well. Do you have any culture shock when you move to here? Maybe give me an example that would trigger me to think about something.
No, I mean No, I mean when I'm over here I mean, I was kind of prepared but when I moved to New Zealand I didn't have like a culture shock most of them was the language barrier but that was not like a culture shock. I was probably feel like there was crazy just some time to remind myself that I was on this small island on the other side of the world yeah not culture shock No, but I interview other people that demote from other countries to China and for them was definitely a huge cultural shock just from the language, the culture, the people just it's it's so different. That's why I thought maybe you had the opposite, coming from China from a small city in China to a western country like Canada, maybe you had that culture shock.
Um, I I kind of understand why people who go to China we have culture shock because I guess even like, the food is very different from here. But I think I guess because Canada is quite it's already a multi culture city and you have not only Canadian Food, but you also have like Japanese, Korean, it's already like quite Asian infused? So I wouldn't say it was culture shock, but I mean, definitely, I I get to experience the festivals here as well like Thanksgiving, which we don't celebrate, or even Christmas like it wasn't a big thing in China. So being able to celebrate those festivals with my boyfriend's family, it's a Caucasian family. So see their traditions. That's kind of like new experience to me too, but I wouldn't say it was culture shock.
Okay, that's interesting, because yeah, definitely when I went to Japan there was like, it was definitely completely like it blew my mind.
Even the maybe be many mostly but maybe it's the language
Because you don't see the same kind of alphabetic build completely? When you try to move around, you don't have any indication where you have to go even just signs. I mean, maybe you can find the toilet because there's a sign of the classic the toilet but if you're looking for the exit, if it's there's not a symbol next to it, you don't even know what exit will look like it just anything even the name of the city, the name of the street or whatever. Just so complete different. While if you go, for example, if I would go to this pay to France, I can kind of figure it out because it got the same alphabet, I can take maybe the same kind of similar word in Italian or English, they sound kind of similar, I can make sense of it. But in our culture if I, if I go to Japan or to China with completely different alphabet, I can't do that.
You can't spell any words, because
Yeah, yeah, that's, yeah, I guess from for people who are used to alphabet they will be like, What language is this like? Every word is individual. Like they don't, they don't connect to each other or they don't. They don't look, they can look similar. But you can't spell like letter. You can spell letters like in English or Italian, other language. So like the some of the Asian language said, totally different from like the other Latin language.
Absolutely. Another thing I think, correct me if I'm wrong, but Asian countries like China, like Japan to have like a strong culture. They they have their own custom, which is very different from the western world, which, where I'm from. So even then, I can tell by my experience in Japan, I've never been to China, but even then, like going to the bathroom, you have to actually walk into a building to remove your shoes and go to the bathroom, find your slippers to go to the bathroom. It's just like a smoking inside of the bar and the restaurant. People aren't even able to say hi, they just bow.
Yeah, yeah, that's that sounds very Japanese.
Exactly. All of that. It's just like, I don't know, it's so I found like, the culture is so different from the rest of other countries that because if if you move on now from Europe to the US, yes, the culture is different, but it's not that different. Still, it's pretty much the same.
Well, I will say in China, it's already I guess the country itself has the culture shock from many many years ago when like maybe the first time Chinese saw McDonald's, KFC, but nowadays, especially in big cities, like you see other cultures everywhere to like Western food, Western restaurants, they are everywhere. So I guess it would if I if this was like 30 years ago, and I just moved to Canada I'll be like, Wow, I've never seen this things before. But they are everywhere now in China as well. So I guess that definitely prepared me to adapt into the Canadian culture or food or other stuff.
Um, I'd like to ask you another question and feel free to answer or not just I was thinking about this earlier today because I was talking with somebody else in the show I don't remember who. Somebody asked me about how immigrants are seen here in Vancouver, in Canada? And I said that my personal experience was completely fine. I never had any any problem with people treating me different because I was from Italy actually was completely the opposite. But I found the people at least in Vancouver, the only people that can be like kind of racist is against Asian people. And I even say on the podcast and I think mostly is driven by jealousy. Because a lot of Asian people are coming here are wealthy. So you can see people like young people driving like super fancy cars and I think part of the racist starts from from jealousy. Have you ever had this kind of experience yourself?
Um, I personally Luckily, I didn't have any never received any racism comment myself. I have other friends who did. Sometimes I not racism but some clients would may like political comment on me. Or like not me but Chinese government to me which is totally irrelevant to myself. But yeah, luckily I didn't have any racism common or attacked to me personally. But I did feel when I just moved to Vancouver I did feel kind of discrimination or ignorance from maybe say like salesperson in store when you don't speak proper English. But that I don't I don't take it as that's for Asian, that's probably more like language barrier. But I think it's, I mean Vancouver we have so many different races and I don't think racism is the issue here, which I consider as being lucky. But I do. I did hear comments from loco especially from Caucasian that they think it's the it's Asian rich Asian, who has the high housing price market in Vancouver, something like that. Which I wouldn't say is not true because I mean, Vancouver's beautiful city and but I mean, the government allowed foreigners to buy houses, condos, unlimited, unlimitedly, if that's the proper word. But it's not just like Chinese or Asian, there are other races there, but people focus on Asian sometimes. Sorry, I thought I already forgot your original question. And I'm like, just blah blah, blah, blah, blah.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, you actually You did a great I think it was just a good thing side about about about that. Because as you said, Yes. We are lucky I don't see much of racism here, at least, not often compared to nothing compared to what they were seeing in in the US. But definitely I heard previously comments against against people from from Asia, especially people from China, mostly because we don't know much about China. China's kind of always been kind of like a mystery to other culture. And second of all, because usually most of the time like a Chinese people have as a culture. I don't want to I don't want to put everything in one big group but mostly like Chinese people are famous to be kind of on their own. Create like their own community and not really integrate properly with with the culture and probably even that fuels racism more with people that don't understand what's going on.
I totally agree. I usually even my my friends who are not Chinese, they would tell me like, there is a group of Chinese student in her class or in her lab, they only talk to they they don't talk to other people or they still speak Chinese in class that no one else would understand. I honestly I think I know its language barrier. And it's hard to pick up another language. But I was still considered polite to speak English in a big class that other people would understand although like the topics might be irrelevant to them. But I don't think anyone even for myself like I used to live with two Cantonese roommate. They can speak Mandarin, but they their first language is Cantonese. When they speak Cantonese in front of me, I will be like, I I know you're not talking about me because I can kind of understand like, maybe 40, 50%. But I, I think I would appreciate if they can speak Mandarin in front of me even though they're we're not talking about me. So I think Chinese students, they definitely to do better. And not just social life in within their groups. If you already come to Canada, why not just embrace different cultures and meet different people. And I agree most people have never been in China. And their impression about China was probably from Canadian media, US media, which I wouldn't say is completely true. But I want everyone to consider a person as his or her individual, not categorize her as Chinese or just forget about the stereotype. Because everyone could be different and a Chinese can disagree with another Chinese and they can be totally different person, which is I mean to every race really I know there is stereotype about every race but maybe get to know this person personally instead of you know, categorize her as Chinese and he or she will think like this, do like this. Just forget about that and get to know that person.
Yeah, I agree. I agree hundred percent. Awesome, thank you so much for sharing your story. If people relate to your story or wants to get in touch with you where people can find you?
I'm not very active on social media, but I if people want to connect, they can find me on LinkedIn.
Awesome Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.
Thank you so much, Daniel, for having me. Nice chatting with you.
Yeah, the same. It was really a pleasure. Chatting with you was really fun. Awesome. Thank you.
Thank you so much for tuning in this week. If you like the show, consider subscribe and leave us a review. You can find the show notes with everything we discussed in this episode at emigrantslife.com/episode22. And if you want to be my guest and share your story, you can visit a emigrantslife.com/yourstory. Thanks again for listening. Talk to you in the next one. Ciao!
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