Challenges of Winter in Canada

About two months ago I arrived in Sault Ste. Marie. A small city on the shores of Lake Superior in Ontario, Canada. The winter months here are pretty harsh. Very cold temperatures, strong winds and lots of snow. When I arrived it was -26°C cold. I had never seen winter like that before and therefore also never known how life is like under these conditions. It led to quite a few minor cultural “shocks” for me. Let me tell you about a few of them:

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Being polite in Korea

During my childhood, I was taught to be polite in every daily situation. My mother would be extremely proud whenever my brother’s or my own behavior was praised by adults. When I was a young boy, I wanted to make my mother proud and therefore strived to be a well-mannered citizen. This self-evident principle is still valid today. 

However, here in South Korea, I recognized directly that the rules of etiquette are not just a little but completely different. After spending the mandatory seven days of self-isolation in Seoul, two weeks ago I was finally allowed to leave my quarantine hotel. Therefore, this short essay is a summary of my first impressions about Korean politeness gathered during that short time span. This essay should by no means to be understood as a guide, but merely describes my subjective perception.

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Lekker, itafile, weak performance

South Africa has eleven official languages. The most spoken ones are English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa. My roommates are English natives, the lectures at the university and most information is in English. As I graduated in English linguistics and literature in my Bachelor Minor, accomplished a C1 English certificate and lived in an English-speaking shared flat for a while in Switzerland, I was confident regarding the language challenges.

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Please, don’t do it by yourself – it’s a job for someone else.

This is not the way I learned it at home, neither in my private nor my professional life.

I was taught early to put clean sheets on my bed, to wash the dishes, to do grocery shopping, to cook, and other domestic tasks. Later, I learned to park a car in a narrow parking lot, fill the tank of a car, take care of my bike, to not leave my waste behind, and put it where it belongs, and countless other things of daily life. In my job, I was taught that economic efficiency is keeping personal costs as low as possible. Even though I do not agree with that approach, I know the concept. I was socialized to be independent, to behave respectfully towards people and objects alike. I was taught to behave as I wanted others to treat me.

In South Africa this is different.

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