Student’s Life

The challenges of living in another country.

By Elisa Mello

To live in another country is a dream for many young people seeking the experience of living away from home and learning much more than just a new language. Challenges are largely due to culture shock, stemming from all the differences and customs of a foreign country.

The first challenge is without a doubt the weather. Canada has well defined seasons and winter is probably the most difficult to go through, as it is a lot cooler than any weather that Brazilians are used to. The difficulties begin when it comes to questions about what clothes to wear, what shoes to wear, and what kind of clothing is best suited to withstand the low temperatures. Who has not left the house in jeans and sneakers in the snow? Nothing like learning from mistakes… and some sneezing later!

Students arrive in Canada ready to learn, to face barriers, and of course, to have fun, also. But unknowingly, they end up paying some “micos” because they don’t know how simple things work here. For example, the need to take off your shoes / boots before entering someone’s house; having to respect the laws, different from the ones in Brazil that sometimes are not taken seriously; knowing how public transportation works, the tipping scheme in restaurants and bars, and more.

These are small things that make a big difference in life away from Brazil, but they are critical in learning about this country and experiencing the pleasure of having the opportunity to live abroad. Over time, things will make sense, and we even get used to the cold. After all, these are unique experiences that the student keeps forever, as something learned.