Toronto’s Unique Diversity

My internship has now concluded its fourth week and continues to be a great learning experience. This past week my company and I have begun to make some real progress with our main client. While in the beginning, things appeared to be moving slowly and roadblocks seemed to appear every week, we have begun to smooth out many of the issues that are involved when dealing with companies in the development phase. Additionally, I have  begun to do work in Pycap’s main office which has previously been under renovations, rather than the client’s office. This is important because Pycap’s office is located downtown and offers great views of the city and a really unique work environment. We have just added another intern to our staff from the University of New Hampshire and I am excited to get to know him more over the course of this internship.

Considering that I am working in Toronto, Canadian culture that I have experienced  has not been that different from the United States. I have been able to adjust quickly to my new surroundings and feel that I fit in well with my coworkers and other Toronto residents. While Canadian culture in itself is not vastly different from American culture, there are several differences that I have noticed and experienced during my time in Toronto this far.

On the most basic of levels, Canada uses the metric system. While this is only a minor difference, it can cause small issues when someone is explaining directions to me or I am trying to reference distance to somebody in a conversation. I have to try to either convert in my head or use my best guess and usually I am okay. One particular example also comes to mind when I was ready to order turkey from the deli at the grocery store. As I was waiting in line, I realized that I didn’t know how much a normal amount of turkey was in Kilograms and felt a little dumb. I just avoided saying a number and asked the worker at the deli counter how much was a “normal amount” and went with his suggestion. The final element of the metric system that occasionally causes confusion is temperature. I know that there is a formula to convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit but in conversation it can be challenging to attempt to gauge the temperature they are referring to.

On a deeper level, the cultural diversity in Toronto is extremely unique compared to much of the world.  Toronto was ranked by the UN to contain the second largest foreign-born community in the world, only second to Miami. The city’s vast population contains over 200 distinct ethnic groups, with over 50% of the population of Toronto being born in a foreign nation. The residents of Toronto speak over 160 languages with English being the primary dialect. It is estimated that over 100,000 immigrants arrive to Toronto every year, as the city’s population continues to expand.

This massive inflow of immigrants from around the world has resulted in Toronto becoming one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. This diversity can be seen throughout the city as numerous ethnically distinct neighborhoods were founded across the metro area. Some of these areas include Chinatown, Little Italy, Greektown, Portugal Village, Koreatown, and many more. I have been lucky enough to experience these cultural hubs throughout the city, finding amazing food, shops and more at almost every turn. Walking through these neighborhoods can almost feel like stepping into another country as everyone is speaking different languages, offering different goods, and all the street signs change to a foreign language. I feel extremely lucky that although Toronto may be close geographically to the United States, it offers an amazing opportunity to experience new cultures and grow your own personal cultural awareness.

As I have traveled abroad extensively int he past, I would not consider assimilating to the cultures here Toronto to be difficult. I believe that the most important thing to remember when stepping out of your comfort zone and into a foreign country is to have an open mind. While I know this can sound cliche, it really is crucial to allow yourself to absorb new experiences. By keeping an open mind, you allow yourself to understand and learn about new cultures, rather than passing judgement because you simply do not know about them. This ideology overall leads to a far more rewarding experience and allows you to get the most out of your time abroad.

I look forward to experiencing more foreign cultures and continuing to expand my horizons outside the workplace.