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Foreigner's Perspective on Canada and the US
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rusmeister



Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Posts: 867
Location: Russia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The word native can cause considerable confusion, even offense. It has meanings and usages that are contradictory (See the Cambridge dictionary definitions below). This actually makes it a poor name for First Americans, aka Native Americans, aka Indians, because the term implies that the first people to immigrate to and live in America are native, while those that arrived later are not. The same goes even if those first people were completely indigenous (although the prevailing theory is still that they probably crossed the Bering Strait). The ethnic use of 'native' denies the other uses.

The net result is that this term would have me identifying myself as a "European-American" ((I can hear all the real Europeans sniggering at that one) or "Immigrant-American" (or how about 'just plain homeless'?). My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were all born in the US*; maybe further back but I just don't have a geneaology. I don't use or teach words that make me out to not be native to anywhere, so if 'Indian' is unacceptable I would use 'First American'. As to me, I'm fine with being mutt-American and anyone who speaks my language as a native language (sense 4, below), and if we share the same culture and can talk about Bugs Bunny and baseball, is an American with no hyphens in my book.
United we stand, divided we fall.

*(One exception, a grandmother from Quebec)

Quote:
native
adjective
1 [before noun] relating to or describing someone's country or place of birth or someone who was born in a particular country or place:
She returned to live and work in her native Japan.
She's a native Californian.


2 describes plants and animals which grow naturally in a place, and have not been brought there from somewhere else:
Henderson Island in the Pacific has more than 55 species of native flowering plants.
The horse is not native to America - it was introduced by the Spanish.


3 [before noun] relating to the first people to live in an area:
The Aborigines are the native inhabitants of Australia.
[i]the native population
native customs and traditions
[/i]
See also indigenous.

4 your native language/tongue the first language that you learn:
French is his native tongue.

5 [before noun] A native ability or characteristic is one that a person or thing has naturally and is part of their basic character:
his native wit
See also innate.

native
noun [C]
1 a person who was born in a particular place, or a plant or animal that lives or grows naturally in a place and has not been brought from somewhere else:
a native of Monaco
The red squirrel is a native of Britain.


2 OFFENSIVE OLD-FASHIONED someone who lived in a country, especially in Africa, before Europeans went there

(from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
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gregoryfromcali



Joined: 25 Feb 2005
Posts: 1207
Location: People's Republic of Shanghai

PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2007 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
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.


Yes, in the US we're sort of raised on the idea of rights, justice and questioning everything.

Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. It's also one of the reasons Americans seem rude and why we have so many lawyers.

The other problem is that Americans (living in the US) aren't usually used to hearing foreigners criticize the States and usually become very defensive when they do.

That's partly because they see everyone coming here and think that everything must be all right here. Not sure if it's the same for Canada.

Quote:
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.


Canada is the second biggest country after Russia.

China is the third biggest country.

Then it's the US.

Just something to keep in mind when trying to figure out these North Americans.
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bonanzabucks



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 27
Location: NYC

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being a dual US and Canadian Citizen and having lived and worked in both countries for over ten years each, I think Iím probably more qualified than most to talk about this. In the US, I lived in South Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland (just outside DC) and am now in NYC. In Canada, I lived in Alberta (Edmonton), but spent a lot of time in Toronto and Montreal. Iíve traveled extensively in both countries.

One thing is that both countries are quite diverse in terms of geography, personalities, politics, climates, ethnicities, etc. I think, however, the US is far more diverse in just about every way. People from the Bay Area are totally different than those from Texas or South Carolina. Whereas people from Toronto and Calgary generally have different political opinions, but I think there are fewer differences than someone from San Francisco and Dallas.

Anyways, I want to comment on some things said.
Quote:

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?


I agree with this, and Iím speaking as a Canadian who left. First off, the ďbrain drainĒ has always been a huge issue in Canada, especially when it comes to the best educated. There simply arenít enough opportunities there and Canada has a lot of people with college degrees. The few opportunities that exist donít pay as well as similar positions in the US, Europe or Asia. And yes, I also noticed that a lot of immigrants simply left the country after getting citizenship. A lot of them told me that their credentials werenít recognized and they were fed up of working menial jobs in spite of being doctors and professors in their home countries. I felt really sorry for some of them. I used to work in a call center in Canada and a lot of the people working there had Masters and PhDs.

And yes, the weather and taxes do get to you. It can get as cold as -40C in Edmonton during the winters. Thatís just depressing. I also pay less tax here in NY (which is considered tax hell in the US) making a lot more money than I did in Edmonton, which has the lowest tax rate in Canada. Those reasons coupled with better employment opportunities are many reasons why people leave.

So, Canada is easy to get into, but really hard to establish yourself and get a decent job. If there were a lot of opportunities, then why do so many Canadians teach English overseas? I doubt that itís because Canadians are more ďworldlyĒ than others.

I even had problems finding a job in Edmonton too, which supposedly has a booming economy. I went back there about three years ago due to some family issues, but I had an open mind and considered staying there. Now I have a degree from a big Canadian university and many years experience working in the financial services sector in the US. The only jobs I got were call center jobs, which, as anyone who has done them, can be very humiliating. Nobody else would recognize my experience. After about a year and a half there, I packed up and moved back to NY. Luckily, I had the option to do so, but if I wasnít a US Citizen, I would have gone overseas.

Quote:
In Montreal they say, Les grands asthmatiques vont en Alberta, people with bad asthma go to Alberta. Is that true? I would have thought with the oil industry and the construction boom there would be a lot of particulate matter in the air.


This is absolutely false and typical of Quebec ignorance (and I know you didnít say that). As much as I hated Edmonton, I never had an asthma problem there. Edmonton is not the cleanest city in the world, but itís far less polluted than Montreal. Most of the oil activity is way up North, hundreds of kilometers away from any of the major cities. Calgaryís only link to the oil industry is that itís where all the oil companies have their headquarters. Edmonton has a lot of the regional offices. No refining in either city.

And yes, the cost of living in both Edmonton and Calgary has become too high, especially when it comes to housing. My friends in Edmonton now pay more in rent than I do in NYC! I heard that housing in Camrose (a city of only 15,000 people, about an hour south of Edmonton) starts at $250,000! What the hell!?

Quote:
The buzz is that Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill is becoming very international with a lot of job opportunities and very low costs, and it is true is some respects. There are a lot of ESL jobs because they have opened up many new schools, and translation opportunities because of all the tech businesses. But Raleigh et al is not very big (though extremely spread out) and exists in a sea of ultra-conservatism (from what I could see in a few months). Many people said, Wait, it is changing. Now is the time to grab the opportunities. I don't know how I feel yet.


Yes, Raleigh is changing a lot and itís an up and coming city. I think it says a lot about the difference between Canada and the US. Raleigh is maybe 1.2 million people, including all suburbs. Montreal is about 3.5 million. There are still more jobs in Raleigh. Iíd still rather live in NYC than move down there.

Quote:
Do you think Vancouver is better than Montreal for life and jobs? Not having been, it seems Northern West Coast is more enlightened than Southern California. I am shocked at any internet forum from LA or San Diego at their racism against Mexicans, and the racist discussion is very open and tolerated by moderators in what would seem otherwise neutral forums.


Vancouver is more expensive, but taxes are a little lower. The cost of housing is the highest in Canada, and itís really high. There also arenít many jobs there and the jobs donít pay all that well. Also, not sure if this would bother you or not, but Vancouver has a massive Asian population; they donít really mix into the general society too well. Vancouver has been nicknamed ďHongcouverĒ. Other than that, it rains a lot and there are no highways there, so the traffic is terrible. The roads are in much better condition than in Montreal, though. But at least Vancouver has nice scenery.

Quote:
The other problem is that Americans (living in the US) aren't usually used to hearing foreigners criticize the States and usually become very defensive when they do.

That's partly because they see everyone coming here and think that everything must be all right here. Not sure if it's the same for Canada.


I found that Canadians were more defensive when defending the country. Like I said in the beginning, although there is a lot of diversity in both countries, there is a far greater range of diversity of opinions in the US compared to Canada. You really get points of view from all over the spectrum here and you will find Americans than criticize everything about this place and those who defend it to death. In Canada, the spectrum is a lot smaller, so I found the range of opinions on this not all that different.

Finally, Iíd say there are good and bad things about both countries. I much prefer living in the US (though there are only a few cities I could live in here, like San Diego, Miami, NYC, LA and Honolulu) to Canada. Iím not sure Iíd stay here forever, but I would never to return to Canada. I tried that once and it didnít work out. And I find a lot of Canadians who did try returning after many years living abroad werenít that happy when they returned. Iím kinda looking into moving to Singapore or Australia within the next five years.
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Vanica



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

PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you so much, Bonanza, for your thoughts and comments.

Please allow me to clear up a misunderstanding.

bonanzabucks wrote:
Quote:
In Montreal they say, Les grands asthmatiques vont en Alberta, people with bad asthma go to Alberta. Is that true? I would have thought with the oil industry and the construction boom there would be a lot of particulate matter in the air.


This is absolutely false and typical of Quebec ignorance (and I know you didnít say that). As much as I hated Edmonton, I never had an asthma problem there. Edmonton is not the cleanest city in the world, but itís far less polluted than Montreal.


The French quote means that Alberta is good for people who have asthma. In other words, the air is cleaner than in Montreal. So Quebecers recommend that people with asthma GO to Alberta for the clean air. I guess you are in agreement on this one.
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ntropy



Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 644
Location: ghurba

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alberta, especially the south in the Palliser Triangle (whose European discover judged it uninhabitable, it is semi-desert and relies heavily on irrigation), has a very dry climate. People with breathing difficulty are often advised to live in dry climates.
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nickelgoat



Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 160
Location: Where in the world is nickelgoat?

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

.....

Last edited by nickelgoat on Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Vanica



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

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bonanzabucks wrote:
And yes, I also noticed that a lot of immigrants simply left the country after getting citizenship. A lot of them told me that their credentials werenít recognized and they were fed up of working menial jobs in spite of being doctors and professors in their home countries. I felt really sorry for some of them. I used to work in a call center in Canada and a lot of the people working there had Masters and PhDs.


I notice this year a lot more immigrants having the intention of doing their three to four years for the passport and leaving, especially from South America. Previously, immigrants seemed to intend to stay and really enjoyed the security they experienced in Canada. It seems ironic, because now the Canadian dollar is up and there are so many more jobs about and lots of subsidies.
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Vanica



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

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nickelgoat wrote:
My priority would be Columbus, Seattle (very close), Charlotte and finally Nashville.


Ohio is also a great value right now for housing. Are there historic sections, like I saw in Northwestern New York State?
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Symphany



Joined: 10 Aug 2006
Posts: 110

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Canada as a whole is a lot more tolerant than a lot of countries, including those in Western Europe or Asia. Its considered rude here to call someone a foreigner to their face. In many circles its considered rude, period to say it, even if its not directly to someone and people are likely to call you on it. On the opposite end, some cultures appear to be openly xenophobic. To note, Japan has recently begun fingerprinting on arrival as a standard procedure. To my knowledge in Germany you can live and be educated there for all of your natural life and never be recognized as a German citizen.

The education system in Canada is not as reasonable as in many European countries (next to free or free) but it is still more reasonable generally than a private system, which is in large part what is allowing people to head abroad and live and work.

As opportunities go, there tends to be a limit to the number of industries we have, partly due in thanks to our free trade policies. Bonanzabucks, I find that culturally speaking Canadians and Americans tend to share similar values, (compared to say, Europeans) that's my knowledge from Americans I have gotten to know from visits and those I've worked with. I'd like to know how you got a dual citizenship, because it seems nowhere near as easy to work in the US as it would be to say, work in China, Korea or Japan where the need for English teachers is great.

The one thing I've noticed is that even though we're right next door to each other, Canadians tend to have a lot more knowledge (generally speaking) about the US than the other way around. It also seems next to impossible to get a working visa either way -- Americans to Canada, and vice versa.

To answer the defensiveness question, I find that anyone gets defensive to criticism about their country, and again Canadians tend to be a lot more tolerant than others, it seems that in other countries you couldn't even bring up a word against that country without being painted as a "whining foreigner". To my knowledge Britain has a political party in operation, where, if they had their preferences, there would be no immigration in that country, and many Western European countries have a similar counterpart.
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Vanica



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

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Symphany, here in Quebec people are very friendly to immigrants -- but what's not to like? We've been hand-picked and scrutinised, very educated, family-oriented, upper middle-class willing to work for lower working class wages. The problem is that the professions are not open to immigrants, and we are too old and/or have children, have no time or money to redo a degree after so many years. Security is a big issue for me, and I enjoy it here immensely...but having second thoughts.

And why are my provincial taxes so high? I barely cover my rent.
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cangringo



Joined: 18 Jan 2007
Posts: 327
Location: Vancouver, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok I'm not really sure what the point of this topic is. Vanica, are you asking which country you should live in?? Which country is better? It's a very strange topic but your very limited (or so it seems) experiences do not give you a feel for the culture. I have had bad experiences in Chicago and Dallas but I wouldn't say that the entire country let alone the entire city is like that.

I am currently living in Vancouver after living in Mexico for a year and a half and I find that I am much more tolerant of the things that used to drive me crazy. Also Canada is a very, very diverse country and you'll find that attitudes in the east are vastly different than those in the west. Vancouver is a very tolerant city with many different cultures.

As for your examples...uh, so you had bad service with repair shops...and stores. You can go into one store in Vancouver and have crappy service and go next door and be treated like royalty. So I'm not sure how these examples are in any way related to the culture. Same goes for the recycling and pesticide example. For instance, last night we were parking the car for a few seconds so that one of us could run into a store. Some guy came along and said "hey, you gotta park better than that". At the time the driver was just getting repositioned in the parking space. Did we say "oh gosh thanks, we didn't notice". I'll let you figure out the rest. In his mind, it might have been a helpful suggestion. In ours, it was rude. So I guess you have to remember that.
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adz595



Joined: 12 Jan 2007
Posts: 16
Location: Scotland

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanica wrote:
I agree with Symphany, here in Quebec people are very friendly to immigrants -- but what's not to like? We've been hand-picked and scrutinised, very educated, family-oriented, upper middle-class willing to work for lower working class wages. The problem is that the professions are not open to immigrants, and we are too old and/or have children, have no time or money to redo a degree after so many years. Security is a big issue for me, and I enjoy it here immensely...but having second thoughts.

And why are my provincial taxes so high? I barely cover my rent.


i too teach in montreal and barely cover my rent but love it. I am in the process of immigrating while on a temp working visa.

have you thought about toronto?
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 755
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting thread. When I first read the title, I thought it was going to be one of those seriously lame threads that blanketed all cities in the U.S. as the exact same. This thread is completely different than I expected. Some great posters on here!

My experiences:

Michigan - SPORTS SPORTS SPORTS. All they talk about is sports. If you aren't into sports, you will be bored out of your mind. There are a few oasis like Ann Arbor and East Lansing, but the mass majority of the State is pretty much entirely sports oriented and not much else.

Arizona - I lived near Flagstaff, Arizona near the Grand Canyon. Huge mix of Indigenous (Native Americans), Hispanic and Caucasian. A lot of tourism oriented things - they have skiing, mountains, the Canyon, etc. A lot of people pass through on Route 66 heading West. People are laid-back. (A bit cowboyish as well in some ways). Rachers and such. But some new agers live and influence the culture there as well. As the park is right there, also very outdoorish - hikers, climbers, skiiers, etc. are very attracted to the area.

Oregon - Well, I lived in Portland. Very HIPPY, very ALTERNATIVE. Very environmental and progressive. Amazing politics particularly if you like to see idealism and it actually working extremely well. People are very community-minded. Very friendly! Mountain biking, microbreweries, etc. are very popular. Bookstore and libraries and indy movies are very prevalant. All good things to say about Oregon culture.

Minnesota - I lived in Minneapolis. Great punk scene and alternative music. Another progressive city but almost unknown. People there refer to themselves as 'the Third Coast'. Theater and literary things are huge there. Prarie Home Companion with Garrison Keller comes of there. Huge Swedish and Scandinavian population, so much so that blondes are the very dominant group, and Scandinavian thinking applies strongly to its politics as well.

New York - I lived in NYC. Very ambitious. People are very career-oriented. "What do you do?" is the first question people will ask you, it also means everything, so be sure to answer it very carefully. People go to New York to succeed at something. People are also very quick, smart, and just educated. Everything really does happen in New York.

California - I was in San Francisco. Gorgeous city, but overrated in my opinion. Public transportation is 1000 times better in NYC. SF tries to be progressive by coming up with laws that discourage cars in the city, but offer no viable solutions. People are incredibly left-wing, but not in the interesting ways of Oregon. They are just way left-wing in that giving tons of money to homeless is very popular. I like the Asian population. The gay community is strong here. Not a bad thing, but if you want to go out at night, you pretty much have three options. Either the gay area, the yuppie area (North Beach) - defintely not bohemian anymore), Haight-Ashbury - where all kinds of teens and burned out adults think its cool to offer joints and various drugs every two seconds, or technically the Mission as well. Which is kind of Mexican and suppose to be hip, but can get really hairy at times. Drug culture is just incredinly rampant in SF, way too much so.

Everywhere is so different in North America. New Orleans with a heavy French culture, Miami with heavy Latin culture, Honolulu with heavy Asian/surfer culture, on and on. An altogether interesting place.
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Vanica



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

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Tiger Beer, I appreciate your observations.

US is such a paradox to me, big and diverse yet also homogenous (shopping and hotels and food identical in every place I visit!). So many people tell me that Target is better than Walmart, etc. -- uh, they look the same to me.

Well, we just took another trip, this time to Burlington, Vermont. Noticeable Bosnian, Russian and Somali immigration and refugee resettlement, some ESL opportunity though it might be a bit late. Also some interest in foreign language education in the schools.

We were scared to venture too far away because there have been back to back snow storms over the last two weeks. Very good road clearing, but you never know. As in Montreal, I find the cold and snow conditions very inhibiting. I am a nervous wreck every time in the car.

So much cheaper than Montreal, unbelievably cheaper than Calgary. I got a little giddy and bought my daughter anything she wanted, except the Shelburne teddy bear (75$!!!). Their factory is in a beautiful place, by the way. Quebec/Vermont border control is much, much nicer than NY side, so no problems there.

Beautiful mountain and lake views all around, despite the overcast skies. Must be ovely in the summer. Favourable impression, all in all.

Would like to go to West but hate to drive!!!! Do people in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado et al stay home all the time unless they live inside a city? The warmer climate beckons however, so I hope to figure this out.
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 755
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2007 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanica wrote:
Would like to go to West but hate to drive!!!! Do people in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado et al stay home all the time unless they live inside a city? The warmer climate beckons however, so I hope to figure this out.

Colorado is a very outdoors-oriented geographically-speaking. Skiing is huge in the winter, and hiking is huge in the summer. It's always rated as one of the 'thinnest' and 'healthiest' on most polls.

Arizona is just way too hot most of the time. Great winters, but the heat in summer will make you want to stay indoors. Arizona's Northern region has mountains and a very pleasant summers and skiing winters (much more like Colorado). Most of the population of Arizona is in the dry heat, I heard golf courses are hugely abundant around Phoenix, Arizona however. I'm more familiar with northern Arizona myself.

New Mexico, I'm not too sure about. I've driven there, it's a totally different world. Highly indigeneous and highly mexican-influenced. Santa Fe and Taos is more arts and tourism and literature. Albuquerque is kind of college-town meets city in the middle of nowhere. It's really different there, totally unlike anywhere else. Well, actually Tuscon is very similar to Albuquerque though.

Housing architecture is REALLY different in the Southwest - New Mexico and Arizona. Abobe-style. Still have all the same strip mall chains and such, but they give them southwest architectural styles as well.

Southwest is nothing urban like East Coast (Montreal, New York City, Boston, etc.) or even West Coast (San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver). It's more sunbelt city which is much more car-oriented and spread out. More Los Angeles-type style for cities. But a lot of outdoor activities that you can drive your car too, rather than public transportation to do urban-type activities.
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