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Foreigner's Perspective on Canada and the US
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Vanica



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 368
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 1:49 am    Post subject: Foreigner's Perspective on Canada and the US Reply with quote

Can we discuss Canadians and Americans, and what it is like to live in those respective countries, in the way we discuss Koreans and Argentinians and everyone else, as foreigners critiquing the natives? This would help me to understand these two cultures and also assist me in deciding which one I would best live in.

I shall start. I've lived in New York City and in Montreal, and recently visited Raleigh in North Carolina. In all three places I had problems with professional services and had to seek redress. In NY, the people scream at you and curse you, but it is really easy to find people to defend you and go after the crooked merchant, often with good results. It's like everyone is looking for a good fight, and with so many lawyers and law students, they can be quite good at it.

In Montreal, it seems it's just not done. I recently had car work, and a few hours later the belts broke and we almost had a serious accident. The garage owners were screaming at me when I asked for repair reimbursement (they are foreigners as well, Latino and Italiana), no qualms about being abusive. So I contacted the credit card company, consumer protection of Quebec, both basically told me to work it out on my own. But I have the proof, I have the receipts, everything they say is refutable. No, I have to come to an agreement with them on my own. Same thing a few years ago when I bought a used computer, which wouldn't start when I got it home.

In Raleigh, however, bought a new computer, it crashed when I got home, I go back to Best Buy, do I want money back, we'll work on it, it's up to you. Hi, thank you, yes sir, yes ma'am. You don't like the DVD player, we'll take it back and give you your money and give you another one for half price because .... On the other hand, my daughter speaks to another child in French at the playground, and I hear someone screaming, SPEAK ENGLISH. The kids shun her. I read on the city-data.com forum they write, "Throw the anchor babies in the sea." Someone gets angry because I gather bottles to recycle at their house. Really angry, not joking. People get angry also when I say they shouldn't use pesticides on their lawns.

Can some natives enlighten me? Are there any other foreigners in Canada or US who want to share experiences?
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denise



Joined: 23 Apr 2003
Posts: 3419
Location: finally home-ish

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since you've already lived in both countries and already have several observations and presumably opinions, I'm a little curious as to what your question is. Do you want us (the natives) to explain our collective behavior?

Some people believe in an English-only environment--foreigners should assimilate, learn the language, etc. It's unfortunate for many reasons, one of them being that there's not much emphasis on plain ol' (non-immigrant) Americans becoming proficient in another language.

As to the pesticide--how exactly did the subject come up? Since you didn't explain the context, I imagined you simply approaching someone's house and saying, "You know, you shouldn't do that..." Well, such directness would bother me too coming from a stranger! Believe it or not, politeness can work better than bluntness even in the US.

One very important factor to keep in mind, however, is there is no single accurate description of the US/Americans. We come in all shapes and sizes, ethnicities, mother tongues and foreign languages, personalities, political leanings, etc. Hopefully since you've lived there you already know that.

d
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Vanica



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 368
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why get defensive? People on Daves talk all the time about, Chinese are like this, Sudanese are like that. Why can't anyone describe Americans or Canadians? China is a huge country and even more diverse.
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Vanica



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 368
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

denise wrote:
As to the pesticide--how exactly did the subject come up?


No, I wasn't rude at all. In our place in Quebec, we receive notes all the time admonishing home owners that it is illegal for them to use chemicals on their lawns. But since I saw so much spraying in North Carolina, I simply asked people if there were communities where it was restricted. Very angry and challenging responses from a lot of people, other people saying there's nowhere that would restrict lawn chemicals in America. Is that true?
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denise



Joined: 23 Apr 2003
Posts: 3419
Location: finally home-ish

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't getting defensive. I just don't understand why you're asking which place would be good for you to live in since you've already lived in both of them and have seen positive and negative aspects of the culture.

Thanks for clarifying the pesticide issue. Maybe certain homeowners groups have regulations. I really can't say, not being a homeowner and never having been to North Carolina.

d
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Vanica



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 368
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

denise wrote:
I wasn't getting defensive. I just don't understand why you're asking which place would be good for you to live in since you've already lived in both of them and have seen positive and negative aspects of the culture.d


I've only lived in Montreal and New York City and I visited North Carolina. I wonder what other people's experiences are living and working as a language professional from another country in the US and Canada. Or if a native could tell me how to negotiate customer service or pesticide use (I have history of breast cancer, so this is a concern, and I still need to get my car repaired and my bills reimbused, so that would be helpful, too Smile

For me specifically, I need to live outside of a city, because of pollution issues (the New York City apartment was above a dry cleaners, hence the respiratory and cancer issues). But to my surprise, just a few steps from either city and there is a big difference in attitudes towards foreigners and immigrants. It's really not easy to understand, and as I mentioned about my daughter being yelled at, of no small concern.

Thanks for your help.
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canadashirleyblue



Joined: 06 May 2007
Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps a different country would suit your requirements better.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9300
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've lived in both countries and personally wouldn't want to live long-term in either one.

However: I cannot purport to give Vanica any advice. I don't share your personal requirements (likely you'll find few people who can speak very specifically to your situation) or your outlook, or your personal goals, probably.

Further, I can obviously only speak for the areas I've lived/worked in. Both countries are huge and very diverse. It's all very well to point out the we make generalizations about Chinese, when China is even bigger then the States or Canada. That doesn't obviate the fact that North Carolina's not California, and Alberta has little in common with Ontario or Quebec.

I don't think you are likely to get useful information from this thread.
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Vanica



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 368
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

canadashirleyblue wrote:
Perhaps a different country would suit your requirements better.


You don't think it's worth looking at other areas of Canada? Why not?

I read all the time in the newspapers how there is a retention problem in Canada, accusations of people leaving as soon as they get their Canadian passport, supposedly waiting for the next war to get "repatriated" at Canadian taxpayers' expense. Why do so many people leave? The weather and the taxes? I haven't been here so long, is it really so bad?

Which country did you go to, and ... can you suggest somewhere? I appreciate the commentary.
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advice



Joined: 12 Jun 2007
Posts: 39
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am from Ukraine. I have lived in the USA for 3 years in total. Cultural shock is cultural shock, even though you come to a more civilized in many ways society.

America is diverse. After one year in Washington, DC I thought that I knew a lot about this country:))) About 1.5 years in Midwest changed my mind. You cannot see a white female in the American capital city cleaning public restrooms or, being pregnant, working in store. Midwest is very different.

What is the topic, actually about? Everybody's experience is unique, depending on many factors. Take a course of quantitative research:))) You will observe how the results change depending of a change of just one factor among a hundred of others.
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Vanica



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 368
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you leaving US for Canada or other way around? Can you say why?
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advice



Joined: 12 Jun 2007
Posts: 39
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to stay in the USA, but I cannot stay here because of American immigration law. I have temporary visas for me and my dependents. American government paid for my new education. Even if I got married an American or had American children I would be required to leave for 2 years. Who will invite me back? Nobody.

Canada has immigration law which depends on the points you get for your education, years of experience, language, spouse, etc.

In my country Canada immigration is very popular. We did not want this before, but I got too tired from all the corruption around. It's just looks like a theatre of absurd. Teachers with bought grades, doctors with bought grades, children, understanding that the success in life comes when you know how to cheat, give bribes or receive bribes.

Besides, prices on real estate went high. It makes more sense now to sell our apartments, we can buy more abroad. In Canada it's possible to get mortage.

For example, what cost $10,000 5-6 years ago costs now $100,000. My university professor salary was $50 in 2001 and now it is $200. Our children in Canada will become eligible for scholarships and grants. At home everything now is based on bribery. In 1998 my friends sold the apartment for $20,000 and it covered only their coming to Canada, if they sold it now they would buy a 2-bedroom one hour by bus from downtown Toronto and still have plenty of money.

Of course, during these years they also earned a lot and got new education, etc. I mean, now it's easier to buy estate in Canada for us. At least have a roof. Ukraine is very important. In political meaning.

It says: "We'll go to Russia" and the USA pays to the politicians:))) Then they say, "Russia is coming", the USA pays more. There is much money in the country, the real estate goes high. This is stolen money, not earned. That's why the university professor earns less than the caregiver charges when she takes care after old people.

Caregiver is paid from abroad. Many people immigrated, they pay for their parents from abroad. Majority of people who agree to have this kind of job have also immigrated to provide this job in the USA, Canada, Italy, etc. The main thing for many of them is to come abroad, then she can get married. Very successfully often. Sixty-year old females come to take care after females of the same age, then they get married the wodowers:))) Plenty of real examples around me:)))

Sometimes 60-years-old women are more in demand than 30-year-olds:)))
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advice



Joined: 12 Jun 2007
Posts: 39
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One detail to add. Sometimes we have certain assumptions and the reality is not just different. I would say, it has certain sides we do not know.

For example, in my country the people with disabilities have been always considered as very poor, disadvantaged, etc.

Our family had a friend from a blind community. She, in fact, was not blind at all, she just bought such documents. Her vision is not ideal, but the document states that she has no vision at all:)))

That is why my family knew a lot about that community. The information was very surprising. It was in the Soviet time. They got salaries much bigger that people without disabilities, they got many benefits, not available in the country and their females had completely different value in their community than healthy females around. When a man is blind he never prefers 30-year-old female in front of 70-year-old female. He does not see her:))) There were so many cases when a 70-year-old woman could have 30-year-old man in the country where employers give ads: "Only females under 25 years old" or for high-professional jobs which requires too many skills : "Only females under 30 years old".

I mean, sometimes our assumptions are completely wrong.

Beleive me, there are Russians who do not drink alcohol:))))
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Vanica



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 368
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, advice, for your heartfelt reply. Have you been to Soyuzivka? Beautiful location. We used to go to a bar in Queens, New York City, one wall was covered with a scene of Karpaty. We liked to drink and stare at it, such a contrast to what was outside.

This situation is so strange in Canada. I live in a section that is all immigrants. At the playground today, Omani and Venezuelan and Russian and Haitian families, all here two-four years, all professional to get the number of points, all calculating 1095 days, so different and all the same.
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VanKen



Joined: 29 Oct 2003
Posts: 139
Location: Calgary, AB Canada

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 6:45 pm    Post subject: Canada or USA? Reply with quote

Vanica wrote:
I need to live outside of a city, because of pollution issues (the New York City apartment was above a dry cleaners, hence the respiratory and cancer issues). But to my surprise, just a few steps from either city and there is a big difference in attitudes towards foreigners and immigrants. It's really not easy to understand, and as I mentioned about my daughter being yelled at, of no small concern.

Sounds to me like you have to find another community, not neccesarily another country, to live in. As others have pointed out, both USA and Canada are big, diverse places. I'm sure somewhere within those two you'll be able to find something to suit your liking.

As for the Canadian tax system, if you don't like it you are always free to declare non-residency and move elsewhere. A lot of people do that.
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