1. Assuming that Canadian culture is similar to their first country’s culture
Some immigrants assume that Canadian culture is similar to their first country’s culture. This happens because people mistakenly believe that culture only means food, clothing, music and holidays. They wear Western style clothes, listen to Western style music and eat Western style food but they are unaware of the deeper, highly emotionally charged layer of culture that deals with ways of showing respect, ways of forming and maintaining relationships, ways of raising children, attitude to seniors, attitudes towards risk, cooperation and competition, work values and beliefs, etc. Learning about these cultural differences often comes in a form of shock to most immigrants when they don’t know they are dealing with culture.
2. Underutilizing or never utilizing mentorship programs and opportunities
This happens because the concept of mentorship is a new one to many immigrants. In many countries mentor-mentee relationships are not formalized or sought after and happen either organically or within an extended family, especially in collective cultures. The idea that you could seek and find a person who would be willing to mentor you formally is a foreign concept to many newcomers because of the cultural differences.
3. Not networking
A lot of the above applies to the concept of networking as well. But even when the new immigrants learn about networking, they are often confused about the way it is done in Canadian culture. As a result, they often approach new contacts and openly ask them for a job, which a lot of times fails. Another aspect of the issue is that networking means taking responsibility for their own career – again, a new concept to some immigrants who come from the countries where certain level of education almost guarantees one a job. Newcomers end up blaming the system, saying Canada failed them while in fact they are faced with the cultural differences between the collective and the individualistic societies.
4. Going to school to study more English when they already speak English
Having been rejected at a job interview or not having succeeded at getting an interview in the first place, many newcomers go back to school to study English, assuming this was the reason they did not succeed before. What is mistakenly described by employers as insufficient level of English often turns out to be the insufficient level of soft skills and the lack of Canadian workplace culture knowledge. Learning more vocabulary, more grammar or improving their pronunciation will not lead to them succeeding at the next job interview in this case.
5. Going to college/university to get Canadian education
Not realizing that in Canada work experience is valued more than education, many new immigrants decide that they are unable to get a job because they don’t have Canadian education. They end up going to college or university only to discover that local education does not guarantee one a job either, and a better option would have been working a survival job while improving their English and soft skills, and gaining Canadian experience and references.
6. Thinking Canadian healthcare system is perfect and relying on doctors
Not knowing what culture shock is and how it differs from depression results in many immigrants being unnecessarily put on antidepressants. Many people immigrate to Canada because of its better healthcare system and this leads them to trust medical professionals to correctly diagnosed their health problems. Unfortunately, the symptoms of the second stage of the culture shock mimic those of depression which leads to an incorrect diagnosis when it comes of mental health. As for their physical health, depending on their background, some immigrants are unaware of the alternative medicine options that could be utilized to actually treat various conditions, while western medicine often helps exclusively with symptom control.
7. Socializing with and living among people of their own community
Surrounding themselves with the people from their own cultural background, whether in their neighbourhood or on social media, leads to the initial feeling of comfort and safety, but may eventually result in an unnecessarily long period of adaptation when it comes to language and Canadian culture. Also, it often results in a very one-sided, often negative perception of certain aspects of the way Canadian society functions, which makes some people regret their decision to immigrate to Canada.
8. Not benefiting from their survival job and getting stuck in it
Accepting a survival job is a reality many immigrants have to face. The main goal for most at that time is to make money. However, this should be used as an opportunity to improve their English, learn Canadian workplace culture, network and get some good references. Most immigrants make a mistake of accepting a survival job that brings nothing but money and as a result they are not able to move forward. One or two years is maximum amount of time that should be spend doing such a job, after which period one should be moving on.
9. Not being flexible in their career options
Not being able to find one’s ‘dream’ job often paralyses those immigrants who didn’t have an alternative plan. It is important to think of several options, within or outside of one’s professional field that one could shift their search to if the first option (plan A) didn’t work out.
10. Learning ‘wrong’ English
Some immigrants spend 5-10 years attending classes and trying to improve their English. The reason it takes them so long to make progress is trying to learn all and everything, instead of focusing on specific knowledge that will give them fast results. Learning conversation management strategies, appropriate topics for conversation in Canada, ways of speaking politely, as well as phrasal verbs and idiom commonly used in Canada, and focusing on specific vocabulary needed for their profession could save one years of unnecessary studying.
11. Adopting unhealthy Canadian lifestyle
Cereal for breakfast is a bowl of sugar that your kids could be consuming if your family adopts Canadian lifestyle and might lead to them developing diabetes later in life. Typical Canadian diet is consists of highly processed foods, low in nutrition but high in calories. Combined with sedentary life style – in the car, at school, in the office – this type of eating leads to the fact that relatively healthy immigrants, after about 10-15 years in Canada, develop all the typical Canadian health problems and become as sick as an average Canadian.
12. Assuming soft skills cannot be learned (Fixed Mindset)
When learning about soft skills, such as leadership, interpersonal skills, teamwork, conflict resolution, public speaking, etc., a lot of immigrants stop at the point where they decide they either have them or they don’t. Failing to realize that, just like any skills, soft skills can be developed and improved leads to missed opportunities in the workplace and in life in their new country.
13. Failing to realize that they no longer belong to one culture
Thinking in terms of ‘better culture’ and feeling they have to choose between the old and the new culture creates a lot of anxiety, frustration and internal conflict for new immigrants. Both the immigrants and their children, after living in Canada for a period of time, acquire the new habits and behaviours that make them bi-cultural. It’s important to realize that through the experience of immigration, as stressful as it is, a person’s horizons expand and they acquire new knowledge that enriches them.