We had a lovely conversation with Danah Reyes, an international student from Cavite, Philippines. We talked about her study experience in Toronto and how Canada broadened her perspectives of the world. In our previous article, we focused on her time as an international student. Here, we will talk more about culture and living in two worlds.
In our previous conversation, you spoke about your time as a student here in Toronto. Have you experienced any culture shock?
“The culture here in Toronto is definitely different to my hometown, especially the work culture. In the Philippines, you were expected to work long hours. I thought that was normal. But, when I moved to Toronto, after 5 PM, we were done with work completely. I was not used to that. Canada has a better work-life balance.
I also had more opportunity to meet people with different nationalities and cultures. Even though we have different beliefs, we learn to respect each other. Another shock for me was that jokes that are deemed funny in the Philippines can be viewed as inappropiate here in Canada. So I really had to choose my words and learned to appreciate other people’s cultures and beliefs. Also, It was also an eye-opener to have someone from a different nationality look different on how you imagined them to be. You know how you have a stereotype of how a person from Europe might look? Those kinds of things were an eye-opener for me. It really broadened my perspective of the world and I feel like you get a peak of the work in Canada’s diversity.
Canadian people are also more upfront here. If they have a problem with you, they will tell you straightforwardly. People won’t necessarily do that in the Philippines. Also, Canada is more progressive than the Philippines. People usually mind their own business here and won’t judge you too harshly for your look.”
How do you adjust to life in Canada?
“I was fortunate to have a family here! So, the adjustment was not too difficult. I found that talking in English all the time was harder. It is really important to know the language first before you move. I had to learn slang from here too!
It was fascinating to see how different the transportation system works. I still have to walk to a bus stop to be able to ride the bus. Back home, the public transport basically drops you off your front door. People are also more polite and organized here. They respect the law, because it is really strict. You can easily get fined if you don’t pay for your bus ticket.”
What do you miss the most about the Philippines?
“I miss my mom’s home cooking and all of the local delicacies. Even though there is many Filipino food here in Toronto, it just tastes different. The dishes are different from back home. I also miss getting cheap services. Massages and pampering services cost next to nothing compared to Canada. When I came home last December, I went to get a massage first. It only cost me around $12 for a 1 hour full body massage! I can’t get that deal here in Toronto.
And, of course, I miss my family a lot too.”
We talked about the differences between Toronto and your hometown. Now, can you tell us the similarity between the two?
“I guess from an immigration perspective, I really like that they prioritize family reunification, at least right now. Family is definitely important from where I grew up. So, I’m really impressed with how they handle processing here compared to other countries. Filipinos are also known to be hospitable so I feel like the friendliness of Canadians is a bit similar to that.”
You mentioned that you went home to the Philippines last December. How is it experiencing the global pandemic in two different countries?
“I flew home in December 2020. The Philippines is really crowded, so social distance is really hard to maintain. I went there during the Christmas season and malls were still open. It almost feels like there is no pandemic going on. Although, if you want to go to the mall, there are officers checking your temperatures and doing contact tracing before you enter the malls. There is still protocol in place. But, Toronto is definitely a lot quieter than the Philippines.
When I went back to Toronto, the procedures were really strict, especially since I live with my grandmother. I had to go through multiple security checks to make sure I am okay to go back to my home, where I live with a high-risk person.
Working from home is also a big adjustment to me. I am fortunate that I can do my graphic design work from home. At first, it was fun. But, I wasn’t expecting to work from home this long. My senior designer resigned, so I also had to adjust to the workload. Works are more lenient now, we just communicate a lot more. We would have conference calls every 9 AM to talk about daily tasks.
Working from home definitely has its perks. I get more personal times and more flexibility. As long as I am doing my job, my boss is happy. I am also happy that I don’t have to commute anymore. It usually would take me more than an hour to go to the office. Now, I can have proper breakfast and take my time in the morning.”
We enjoyed our time with Danah. She also just recently received her permanent residence. We hope you get to learn more about living in Canada
You can learn more about Danah here: