When I first found out I was going to Canada, I couldn’t imagine what life here would be like. Fast forward, 7 years from then and here I am living in Canada. The truth is the lifestyle and customs in Canada differ greatly from those in Iran. Whether they are different in a positive or negative way is up for debates. So without further ado, here are some of the major aspects I find to be different here.
Iran’s education system differs greatly from Canada’s. For starters, girls and boys are put in separate schools up until post-secondary education in Iran. Additionally, the schools decide students’ schedules in Iran thus all students are put in the same 13 courses. Conversely, Canada’s education system tends to be more flexible as students can choose their own courses. Perhaps the most shocking difference for me was that students had two days off each week compared to one in Iran. These are only some of the few ways schools differ in both countries. I personally prefer Canadian schools as they allow the students to have more freedom as well as time. Although students don’t learn as much information, they deal with less stress and enjoy more flexibility in Canada.
This is an odd one but eating routines and traditions is one of the first differences that came to my attention in Canada. In Iran, we have dinner past 9 pm. While in Canada people typically have dinner at around 6-7 pm. In addition, Iranians tend to eat healthier breakfast than most individuals in Canada. For instance, a typical breakfast in Iran includes small bites of cheese, nuts and vegetables wrapped in naan plus tea, milk and other small bites. In Canada, however, the American style of breakfast is very famous which includes pancakes, syrup, bacon, sausages, etc. What’s more, brunches are not as popular in Iran and lunch tends to come in larger portions than in Canada.
Iran has lots of traditions and costumes that one may consider unnecessary or the reverse. These unique behaviours are not present in Canada as much. For instance, Taarof is one of Iran’s popular customs that emphasizes an extreme sense of politeness. This art of etiquette emphasizes declining kind offers to show honour and respect for the other party. And the other person’s role is to continuously insist on offering. For instance, imagine your friend offering you food, your role is to reject the offer politely; while your friend keeps on insisting. Customs and etiquettes like these are a major part of social interactions in Iran hence why I find socializing to be easier in Canada. Here you don’t have to worry as much about abiding by the traditions and customs, making it easier to communicate.
Iran is a country of tea drinking night-owls, hence why most businesses there are open till late at night. In comparison, Canada is the land of morning birds that live on coffee. Thus it’s no wonder why most places in Canada are not open past 9 pm. For me, this was quite a culture shock. I often found myself craving a certain food and only found a few 24hr locations available. Moreover, when you leave your house late at night, you barely see any cars or people passing by. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, Friday nights in downtown is never quiet! However, for Iran, that’s almost always the case any day of the week.
Throughout my experiences in both Iran and Canada, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of sociocultural differences. My past experiences in Iran shaped how I would go about my day. How I would socialize, work, eat and just live in general were all influenced by my environment and culture. This is true for a lot of international students hence why students find it so difficult to adjust. Although these differences result in many adjustment difficulties, they are also a source of exploration and adventure. Thus if you embrace the change you will find it easier to better get used to your new home.