Fancy cars, designer clothes, and high paying jobs are how many people in third world countries might imagine life in the western part of the world. After all, those who are lucky enough to immigrate to Canada, U.S., or the U.K. for a new and prosperous life, always return home for a visit after a couple of years bearing a ton of gifts for the entire family, building homes on huge acres of land, and spending heaps of cash that seem to be limitless. Yes, the lifestyles of those who live in western countries are very privileged in many ways that I can’t deny. I should know, I live in Alberta Canada, an oil rich province where jobs are plenty; salaries are high, and poverty, almost non-existent.
In addition to living in what appears to be a life of luxury, there are things all people should be fully aware of before settling in Canada.
#1) WESTERN MENTALITY
Most people in third world countries do not have or may not be aware of credit cards or mortgages. So, if you know or see someone living in a big house or driving a luxury car you can safely make the assumption that they are rich. However, in Canada or U.S. someone driving a luxurious car and living in a big beautiful house may or may not be rich. If you have good credit, you are eligible to get a mortgage, credit cards, car leases which basically means the bank really owns your car or house and you make monthly payments depending how much the loan is. It could take 2-5 years to pay off a car and 20 plus years for a house.
#2) STANDARD OF LIVING
Keeping up with the Joneses is a common phrase used to describe a person who strives to have what their neighbour has. It is very common for a family who might make a combined annual income of $100,000 to be deeply in debt. Most likely, because they are living above their means in order to keep up appearances. A classic example of this, is a person I once knew who owned a beautiful million-dollar home in an upper class community. This house was decorated with elegant furniture top to bottom, big screen TV, and she even drove a brand new Mercedes. A lifestyle enviable by many, but what most people didn’t know is she could not afford to pay the electric bill and mortgage. Does that make sense to you? So it is important to understand that not everyone is rich in Canada, our idea of success is unrealistic and we are creating debt while in pursuit of riches.
#3) MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES
In Canada, believe it or not, money is made from very hard work, long hours 5 days a week and for many even 6 or 7 days a week. There are some people who work 3 jobs just to make ends meet. Industrialization in Canada has created many jobs for skilled workers. However, many highly educated immigrants are found working such jobs as, slaughterhouses, taxi drivers, or janitorial jobs that most Canadians consider to be undesirable. These jobs do pay well because nobody wants to do them and they require very little training. Foreign credentials such as: medical, law, or any other degree obtained in a country outside Canada does not guarantee you a job in Canada. Your degree, which you worked hard for, may not be recognized by Canadian standards. To avoid disappointment it is important to understand what level of professional and academic standards you need to meet before you arrive.
#4) DISCRIMINATION & RACISM
If you are planning to migrate to Canada you must know that you may face this issue. Some cities are better than others but here in Alberta it might be the worst. A recent article in the Calgary Herald exposes Calgary as the hate crime capital of Canada. Growing up as an African Canadian in the 80’s , at a time when there were few black families I faced a lot of issues with racism. Though there are more visible minorities now, this problem still exists. Recently I met a man from Russia who faces racial slurs daily at his work place, he said even though his skin is the same colour as there’s they still discriminate against him because of his Russian accent. The fact that discrimination and racism can be very subtle and even non-verbal at times means that we need to work hard to prove ourselves at all times. Minorities are undervalued and may not have the same privileges as our Canadian counterpart, but we can still require respect in the work place or in school. The anti-harassment and discrimination policy is design to support us in this regard.
#5) CHANGE OF A LIFESTYLE
Canadian customs may be different from what your used to, but there are a few customs you may not be aware of. For example, it is customary to call and make an appointment to visit someone at their home, showing up unannounced is considered impolite. When you arrive make sure it’s on time as Canadians value punctuality, don’t forget to remove your shoes at the door at all times. Never make a comment about a women’s weight if she is over weight, this is considered very disrespectful, you’re better off commenting on weight loss as a compliment. In order to guarantee a successful social integration try to socialize with people outside of your cultural group. I notice a lot of immigrants of all different ethnicity’s tend to only surround themselves with those from the same cultural background. I understand that meeting with people from the same country you’re from is human nature, you have a lot in common such as: language, culture, or religion. But it is equally important to integrate into society by not segregating yourself. Spending time with people from other cultures is a good chance for others to learn about your culture and break the barriers that cause discrimination.
As you can see here, in the western part of the world things are not always what is seems. We may not have smoke and mirrors like a magician but we do a pretty good job at creating the illusion that we live the ideal perfect life. Make sure to prepare yourself by weighing the pros and cons. Now that you have this knowledge what are you going to do about it? Share this article with someone you know and create awareness through education because knowledge is power.