For many people around the world, when they hear the word Canada, they instantly have the image of cold snowy winters, maple leaves and hockey. While these things are certainly part of Canada and Canadian culture, more and more foreigners are discovering it is also a great place to study and learn English.
Each year more people are flocking to the Great White North on ESL exchanges and vacation. So why are so many people increasingly choosing Canada over countries such as the USA or England? There’s no single answer to this question, but rather there are a number of factors in play which have been affecting people’s decisions. Let’s take a look at some of them.
This is a guest post by star Canadian teacher, Santino Filoso. Santino lives and teachers English in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and has a really useful and dynamic facebook page dedicated to learning and teaching English through visual vocabulary, online ESL games, interesting ESL articles and songs. It’s updated daily and we encourage everyone to have a look and LIKE it!
The Dreaded Canadian Winter
Contrary to popular belief, winter does not reign supreme in Canada. For most of the country, winter lasts around four months, from mid/late November to March. While Canadian winters can certainly live up to their reputation as being cold, snowy, icy and dark, this is no reason to avoid them.
In fact , you should embrace them! If you come to Canada from a country that typically does not experience winter, this is your chance to try your hand at a number of new and exciting winter sports ranging from snowshoeing , tobogganing , skiing and skating. Despite the cold, winter can be an extremely beautiful time of year. There aren’t too many sights that are more breathtaking than looking out over a forest full of tree-tops covered in snow.
One thing often overlooked by people outside of Canada who are worried about the winters, is that they can always buy proper WARM winter clothes from practically any store! We know it gets cold and so we are prepared!
Four Distinct Seasons
One of the biggest advantages of living and studying in Canada is that you will get to experience the full range of weather as you pass through the four seasons.
Winters will be cold and snowy. Spring will be muddy as the snow melts and you’ll literally be able to smell the flowers growing and notice how each day lasts a little longer. Summer will be hot and green with temperatures in the high 20’s to mid 30’s and Fall will feature an explosion of autumn colours. You’ll have a great time hiking around and appreciating the magic of the leaves on the trees changing colours to deep hues of red, orange, yellow and purple. Winter’s approach will be marked by darkness, making your days shorter and you’ll notice a lack of animals that were abundant in the summer, as they go into hibernation.
Again, if you come from a country where you don’t get to experience all four seasons, spending a year in Canada will give you a new appreciation for the cycle of life and nature’s beauty and power.
Friendly Canadian People
Canadians are known for being extremely polite and friendly. Canadians are very approachable and you won’t have trouble making friends as you settle into your ESL exchange.
In fact, because Canadians are typically very proud of and passionate about their country, they will have an endless amount of suggestions of things for you do and places for you to see.
Canada is a bilingual country meaning many people speak both English and French. As a result of this, most Canadians have had to learn a second language and because of this, people will be very sympathetic to your goal of learning English. They will also be more patient than in a country where English is the only language.
Canada is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world and is a better place because of it. Canada really is a place for people of all races, religions and cultures and more importantly, it is a place where everyone is treated equally. Nearly all Canadians have at least one grandparent who immigrated to Canada from another country and are proud of their heritage.
This is one of the reasons that it is nearly impossible to describe a typical Canadian. Canadians can look like anyone, from any country and very often at first glance, you won’t be able to pick a Canadian out in a crowd. Because of its rich history of immigration and social acceptance, as an ESL student coming to Canada, you will feel very welcome.
You won’t have to worry about people discriminating against you simply because you are a foreigner, because unless you tell them, they won’t even realize that you are not a fellow Canuck!
ORGANIZATION, INFRASTRUCTURE & SAFETY
Another benefit of doing your exchange in Canada is that it is a very organized country. When you need some paper work filled out, or need to get documents, there usually isn’t too much red tape.
Also, thanks to the digital age we live in, you can find the answer to every question you have online on user friendly government sites. There are sites for all three levels of government; municipal, provincial and federal. If you still can’t find what you are looking for, there will always be a toll free number for you to call.
The infrastructure in Canada is well maintained and it’s easy to travel from city to city, either driving, on a bus or by plane. If you can’t afford to fly and don’t want to drive, you can always check out the ext
ensive ride sharing and couch surfing communities found online. You won’t have to worry too much about crime in Canada, as it is generally quite safe. Like anywhere, you always have to be smart and put yourself in good situations, but crime in Canada is at its lowest point since 1972.
So you like the outdoors eh? Canada is blessed with a stunning variety of landscapes from arctic tundra to boreal forests, from the Rocky Mountains to golden prairies and swampy wetlands. Bordered by three oceans and containing nearly two million lakes and rivers, Canada is home to the world’s largest supply of fresh water.
If you are interested in exploring Canada’s nature and seeing first-hand an amazing assortment of wildlife, you simply have to head to one of Canada’s 36 National Parks or 8 National Park Reserves. In these parks you’ll be able to do everything from canoeing and kayaking to hiking and fishing.
You’ll be able to camp deep in the woods kilometers away from your nearest neighbour, or you can stay in a wooden lodge, or even camp from the comfort of your car. You can’t really say that you’ve seen Canada until you’ve explored a part of its outdoors.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article and I hope that if you do get the chance to go to Canada in the future, that you enjoy it and make the most of your time there. It is a great place full of great people and I guarantee that if you choose to do your ESL exchange there, you will come back more fluent and with fond memories of your time in Canada.