Ranked among the top ten safest countries in the world and famous as the land of the maple syrup, Canada is a delightful haven for students across the globe. But if you are going to study in Canada, it would be very handy to know more about Canadian cultural values through a culture guide to studying abroad in Canada.
The country is culturally diverse with an immigration and education policy that welcomes students with open arms. Canadian cultural values trace their roots to the British and French cultures. A well-varied religious population of Catholics, Protestants, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims holds testimony to the country’s multi-faceted ethnic set-up.
The core values of the Canadian social culture are honesty and individualism. The social conventions of the country call for an empathetic and humble population. There is, however, no preference for lofty ideals and pretentiousness. The society is predominantly egalitarian and calls for equality in all spheres of life. A natural friendliness pervades the Canadian local culture and its people are known for their extreme politeness. Canadians generally are considered to be reserved in their lifestyles.
In order to adjust to a new social and cultural milieu, it is important for you to understand the basic requirements of acceptable behaviour. It is an added advantage if you are acquainted with the favoured manners of the destination country.
Here is an our brief culture guide to studying abroad in Canada so that you may have a successful stay.
(If you are more interested in Australia, you might want to check out our culture guide to Australia)
Culture Guide to Studying Abroad in Canada
There is an emphatic stress on the regional differences in Canada. Due to multiple variations in the Canadian cultural values, it is essential for you to be aware of the particularities of different regions.
The people of the Atlantic Provinces, for instance, are considered to be more private as opposed to the open and casual stance of the Western Canadians. The city of Quebec has a French cultural identity while Columbia is regarded as a predominantly British ethnic estate. The North Canadian regions display a progressive outlook. Ontario, a hub for all business and economic activities, is known to have a conservative people.
A culture guide to studying abroad in Canada is incomplete without understanding the country’s social protocols. Even though Canadian cultural values are marked with a multitude of regional differences, there are some codes of conduct that predominate the business and social etiquette in the country. A handshake is the most common way to meet and greet the Canadians. Their social meetings and ways of greeting one another are essentially formal. There is an emphasis on politeness and sincerity when it comes to public behaviour.
Dining manners are relatively relaxed in the popular culture in Canada. People mostly follow the continental way of dining; Some areas also accept an American dining style. If it is a public event, you have to wait for a formal toast to be made before beginning with your drink. When dining in restaurants, it is essential to tip at least 15%. The failure to tip is regarded as rude in the local culture.
The Canadian cultural values lay a principal emphasis on the need for personal spaces and you are expected to respect people’s privacy, both of acquaintances and strangers.
Gestures to avoid
As is common to many cultures, the popular culture in Canada considers certain gestures as offensive. Pointing towards strangers, talking with a full mouth, middle-finger, and thumbs down are some of the commonly prohibited motions. Public nudity, as well as public display of affection, is also disapproved in the Canadian social culture.
Wearing sunglasses while speaking with somebody is regarded as unpleasant. Sneezing without covering your mouth and scratching in the public is amongst some of the unacceptable behaviours. Touching someone while conversing should also be avoided, keeping in mind the Canadians’ preference for private spaces.
The education system has a somewhat standardized culture in Canada. There is a marked stress on discipline in the Canadian educational sphere. Seminars are a commonly popular format of classes in higher education here. There is ample time for socialization before the class begins. Once the class is underway, the use of cell phones is considered inappropriate.
The educational set-up advocates punctuality and integrity vis-à-vis project submissions and exams. Many extra-curricular such as students’ meet and recreational festivals also form an indispensable part of the academic culture in Canada.
Decorum for Communication
Codes of communication are very important to adjust as an international student in any society. Despite the major regional differences across the country, the communication style is quite standard in the Canadian social culture. You cannot be very direct in your manner of talking; a tinge of diplomacy is essential for all communications in the country. The local culture in Canada promotes a pragmatic approach to socializing and, therefore, requires you to rely on your common sense for the most part. There is a stress on people’s personal spaces; avoiding discussions on private affairs is a strict business and social etiquette.
There are some minor variations in the manner of communication in the English and French-speaking areas. The former, for instance, practice a less direct approach to talking and are comparatively formal in discussions. Overall, politics and religion remain conversation taboos in Canadian local culture.
This culture guide to studying abroad in Canada aims to help you understand and get acquainted with Canadian cultural values. We hope that this is valuable for your study abroad plans in Canada.
If you have more information to share for our readers’ guidance, feel free to reach out to us with your knowledge or experience! Do share your insights in the comments below.