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canadian cultural etiquette do’s and don'ts for international students
Canadian Cultural Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for International Students
canadian cultural etiquette do’s and don'ts for international students

Canadian Cultural Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for International Students

Cultural etiquette is crucial for exchange students to navigate and adapt successfully to a new country. In this article we will discuss some general tips that may vary depending on the specific countries involved, and some specific tips for etiquette in Canada. Be sure to do your own research before you begin your exchange. 

General Tips for Cultural Etiquette: 

Research the cultural norms – Take some time to do your own research, or ask locals in your country of exchange about the traditions, local customs, and values found in the host country. When you understand the cultural context, you will be able to adapt easier. 

Greetings and gestures – Learn appropriate greetings and gestures to ensure you understand what is considered polite. Head to Youtube, or a language learning app such as Duolingo for this. Some cultures may use a handshake as a greeting, whereas others may prefer a kiss on the cheek, or a bow. 

Respect for elders – Many cultures hold a strong emphasis on treating elders with respect. Be mindful of this, and ensure that you observe how locals treat older individuals, before you act. 

Punctuality – Many cultures prioritize punctuality (being on-time), while it may not be as important in others. Ensure that you understand how locals treat timeliness. 

Dress code – Familiarize yourself with the common dress code in your host country. Some countries value modesty and may even treat you differently if you do not meet their standard. Others are more flexible, and adapt based on the season.

Dining etiquette – It can sometimes be very difficult to understand the dining etiquette in new countries. Table manners, “tipping culture”, and the use of utensils are all skills and rules that you should understand before dining out in a new country. 

Learn basic phrases – It might not be necessary to learn the language of the host country that you are visiting, however, learning a few basic phrases can go a long way in showing respect and making a positive impression.

Cultural sensitivity – Ensure that you remain open-minded and culturally sensitive. Never make assumptions based on your own cultural background.

Ask questions – If you are unsure, or need help, remember to ask questions. Most people appreciate the effort you are making to understand and respect their culture.

Some tips for Canadian Etiquette:

  1. Canadians are taught to be friendly and polite to friends/family, but also to the general public. For example, you may find a stranger smiling or waving to you for seemingly no reason. 
  2. Canadians follow general western cultural traditions, similar to the United States of America. 
  3. Canadians shake hands upon initial meeting, and may hug closer friends/family. However, Canadians keep kissing reserved for family and their romantic partners. 
  4. “Tipping culture” is very common in Canada. It is often considered rude if you enjoyed your service at a restaurant and choose not to tip. Tipping is also practiced with any service provider such as: hairdressers, food delivery, or taxi’s. 
  5. Canadians have very wide religious and political beliefs, therefore these are not generally discussed during small talk. 
  6. When purchasing gifts for others, Canadians use gift receipts. Gift receipts are ways for gift receivers to return/verify/or exchange their gifts without knowing its price. Head to our social media to learn more about gift receipts as we just shared some tips on how they work, and why they are useful. 

Remember that these are general guidelines, and it’s essential to be open, observant, and willing to adapt to the specific cultural nuances of your host country. Additionally, building relationships with locals can be a valuable way to gain deeper insights into the culture. Lastly, remember to always ask questions! 

Sources: Canadian Etiquette Tips

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