Humans of WoodGreen is a monthly, casual interview-style blog series that focuses on getting acquainted with our community members by having them share their experiences of living in Toronto. Loosely inspired by Humans of New York, each month features a different community member discussing the great things about living in Toronto, as well as the challenges of getting adjusted to a brand new country.
Our very first interview features Elaine, from Nanjing, China. Elaine has been living in Canada for over three years. In that time she’s grown fond of the wide variety of international cuisines found in Toronto, and has developed a zest for many winter sports, including snow tubing!
Sally: What do you like most about living in Toronto?
Elaine: The major reason I like Toronto is the diversity of people living here. We see people coming from different parts of the world, and there’s food from every part of the world. And there’s something amazing about Toronto: there’s no place in this world where you have so many people from different parts of the world, but mix so well!
Sally: What were the hardest things for you to get used to when you started living or working here, compared to being back home. Did you face any barriers?
Elaine: I would agree that language- no matter how good your English is, if you are not a native English speaker, and you are coming to Toronto you still have to study, learn, and try to use the language the way people use it here.
I took a few cultural bridging programs to understand the differences in working culture. One thing that is funny, in my culture, if we ask somebody, “hey, how are you?” we start to talk about what we did, ” hey, I went there, I did that, and I did that”. But here, “How are you” is really just “how are you”.
(An example) When I started working here, I was in the elevator with my colleague, and she asked, “how are you, Elaine? How was your weekend?” and I was like, “oh, on the weekend I fell because of the snow…” and then I started to discuss the snow, and then I felt like that person wasn’t even responding-
Sally: – They just wanted a quick response to “how are you”, trying to make polite conversation!
Elaine: Yes, that’s it! (laughs). They didn’t want my life story!
Sally: What is you favourite thing to do in Toronto?
Elaine: I like to follow activity trends all year round and try things that people may not think to try. Last week I just went snow tubing, I have never done it before! I tried snow shoeing also. This week I am trying dog sledding.
Sally: Do you have a favourite Toronto neighbourhood?
Elaine: Downtown area because there are so many dining places on King street west and on Queen street West. I also really like the area at Old City Hall- it’s very pretty! In the summer time they always have activities, and in the winter time people can skate.
Sally: What has it been like being part of the WoodGreen community? How has it helped you?
Elaine: I feel that at WoodGreen the advice I get is more based on my needs. Just because a person is new, you don’t have to put them into the ‘same shoe’, and start to walk the same steps. Everyone is different coming here- and at WoodGreen they want you to keep your own thing, walk your own steps. That I like very much.
Also, there’s year-round events going on where you can network, make friends- this is very important! Coming here, and knowing no one, you want to have people to support you emotionally and community-wise.
Sally: If there were one piece of advice that you could give to a newcomer, what would it be?
Elaine: I’ve given this some thought, and my advice is to find a group with the same interests that you have, so you can start to build your friendships and start to feel this place (Toronto) is welcoming, and is a place that you can call ‘home’.
A big thanks goes out to our guest blogger, Sally, for putting this together!
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