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Where we come from shapes our attitudes, emotions and expressions. Go to another country and values and behaviours may be quite different.

Consider Canadians. When confronted with a problem, many of us will directly approach the cause of it with the hope of resolving it to the mutual satisfaction of all parties involved. In Canada, that behaviour may be considered honest, forthright and appropriate. Outside Canada, the same approach might be considered too blunt and even rude.

Language is certainly one barrier to communication across cultures, but not the only one. Arriving in Canada for the first time could create anxiety. Students unfamiliar with Western or North American culture might also encounter obstacles related to non-verbal communication. When is a handshake more appropriate than a hug? How close do I stand next to someone? Do I look people in the eye when they talk to me?

And not to neglect the world of education, which is why international students come to Canada in the first place, Canadian methods of studying, learning, presenting ideas and developing arguments may be quite foreign to some incoming students.

If you plan to study in Canada, you are encouraged to take advantage of the regular orientation sessions and ongoing counseling services offered, where you can obtain valuable information about Canada and ask questions about living here. Then you will be prepared to cope with the differences you encounter.