Whether it’s from travelling or meeting someone from another country, we’ve all experienced culture shock. Differences in culture aren’t always noticeable (language barriers, climate, religion, etc). I wanted to know what were some aspects exchange students found unique about living in Canada (minus the cold weather) that a domestic student wouldn’t think about on a daily basis.

Luckily, one of my housemates happens to be an international student from Hong Kong. Kim’s a second year psych student who was kind enough to share her experience with me. Here are some things Kim finds unique about Canada.


“Cashiers and Uber drivers always ask “how was your day?”. To be honest, I find it a bit awkward when people ask me that, cause my answers are always “good” or “great”. I know people are trying to be friendly, but I often feel awkward when I can’t find anything else to say after answering these kind of questions. In Hong Kong, strangers don’t really talk to each other, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a friendly culture. We prefer hanging out with our friends or family.”


“Although it’s not necessary it’s also something you MUST do. Western culture expects you to pay some tips after a meal at a restaurant. I have a friend that didn’t pay a tip and the waiter wasn’t happy about it.”


“Services are slow here, really slow. For example food, I think food arrives in around five minutes in Hong Kong but food delivery (even at a restaurant) takes a long time. Online deliveries also take a longer time to arrive.”


“Pizza is so popular here? People always have pizza parties or eat pizza when they go out or are celebrating something. People are just obsessed with pizza. When I lived at Saugeen, our floor had no damages so we had a lot of pizza parties so I got really tired of it.”


“Vehicle drivers are friendly, they let pedestrians cross first. But in Hong Kong, drivers don’t even bother to let you cross the road sometimes because we like everything to be fast and efficient. Canadians are definitely nicer drivers.”


“Malls in Canada are less narrow and have less floors than the malls in Hong Kong. I guess it’s because there is more land in Canada. It feels less claustrophobic and there aren’t as many crowds. Even on busy shopping days, everything feels more spread out.”


“It’s really inconvenient to not have a car for grocery shopping in Canada, but a supermarket is always 5 mins away from everyone’s home in Hong Kong. You definitely have to have a car in Canada to get to places easily.”


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