If you’re an international student, whether you’re a thousand miles away from home or ten, Toronto is probably a big change of scenery for you. And now that you’ve been here for a few months (or years depending on which year of study you’re in), you’ve likely explained where you’re from, what life “back home” is like, and how different this big city is for you more times that you want to count. In my experience, Torontonians are always eager and interested to hear more about any place in the world that you may be from.
But what I’ve learned in my time here is that international students are not always quick to reciprocate that interest. A lot of my friends from home — and other international students that I’ve crossed paths with since coming to Toronto — have come to school here in a bubble.
They come to Toronto all excited at the prospect of being in a new place, and of course, leaving home for the first time. But then they keep the same friends, or make new ones that they share their nationality with. They eat the same food, listen to the same music and do just about everything they would have done at home. They retreat to their home country for every moment of the holiday break and heaven forbid they should stick around for even a wink of the summer. For me, this is tragic!
In my opinion, Toronto is one of the most diverse and stimulating cities in the world; there’s so much here to explore. And yet, a great deal of international students choose to ignore that. I’ve seen countless of them come to Toronto, stay in their bubble, and go back home four years later, claiming to have lived in Toronto. But have they really? Have you, really lived in Toronto? If the answer is no, I’d like to pose a challenge to you. I challenge you — at least once in the last four weeks that remain in the fall semester — to befriend someone from a country that’s not your own, and also not in your current circle of friends — and take them to experience a piece of local culture in Toronto.
And I have the perfect thing!
Tomorrow — Saturday, November 19th — the Centre for International Experience is headed to the Canadian Aboriginal Festival Pow Wow. Don’t know what a pow wow is? Go find out!
Make the effort, learn about someone else’s culture for a change instead of just spouting about your own. I promise you won’t regret it!