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Canadian culture derives from an amalgamation of various immigrant groups, and expats arriving from many countries may be surprised to find remnants of their own culture reflected in the different Canadian characteristics. While culture shock in Canada is not a problem that most expats are likely to have to deal with, there are still a few things worth knowing.
Language barrier in Canada
Unless moving to the province of Quebec, expats won't experience an issue when it comes to communication. Everyone speaks English. Quebec is distinctly different culturally from the rest of the country and expats moving to its capital, Montreal, will benefit significantly if they can speak French.
Cultural differences in Canada
The large cities, especially Toronto and Victoria, reflect a strong British heritage. Montreal is proudly French and Vancouver mixes Indian and Asian cultures. Where America prides itself on integration of cultures, Canada encourages coexistence in an 'ice cream swirl' or, as it is commonly referred to, a cultural mosaic. Roughly 20 percent of Canada's population originate from a different country.
While various cultures are encouraged to flourish, by and large, mainstream culture is very similar to that of the US – which will be familiar to most expats as a result of America's far-reaching film and television industry. The exception is Quebec, functioning as a French lingual and cultural centre.
Geographical distances in Canada
What may come as a surprise to expats is more geographical than cultural. The incredible size of Canada makes driving even just to the next town quite a journey. Driving across Canada itself, from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast, is almost equivalent to the distance between the UK and Pakistan.
Weather in Canada
One of the biggest challenges that expats will encounter is the weather in Canada. Many newcomers, especially those from warmer climates, will discover long and often harsh winters. The northern territories are at the receiving end of the most extreme levels but those provinces and cities closer to the United States border typically enjoy more temperate weather. Summer, however, can be lovely and warm, with both the west and east coasts basking in milder conditions.
Are you an expat living in Canada?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Canada. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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