Examples of my cultural shock
By Nhi ‘Jenny’ Vo, Production Assistant
Imagine a bus going at 40 km an hour. What should the speed be at the stop? Zero? Vietnamese bus drivers would say 10 kmph.
Moving here from Vietnam two years ago was quite a big change for me. Besides the lack of good food (pho is way better than poutine) Canada has a lot to offer! Here are a few things that are perhaps mediocre to Canadians but are absolutely outlandish to me.
1. Self-checkout and Compass tap
If automation is the future, Vietnam must live in the past. For grocery shopping, we need to see a cashier to pay for the goods. For bus rides, we need to see a bus conductor to purchase a ticket. Yes, they are actual people. Are we in the 1900s or what? My introverted self gives thanks to all the self-checkout booths and the “tap-to-pay” systems every day. Nobody wants to engage in an awkward conversation when commuting or getting some frozen pizzas.
2. Lack of homework
My fellow post-secondary students, I am also in pain about my upcoming midterms, projects, and deadlines. Before you guys bash me, I want to clarify that this is only for elementary school children. Whenever I am on a call with my 8-year-old cousin back home, he always cries about his extra classes. “I’m so stressed about school! I have computer and math lessons on the weekends!” the boy sadly says. I guess Asian kids don’t really have a fun childhood. After all, our parents don’t want us to be Bsians.
Yes, we do have parks in Vietnam, it’s not like we’re on Mars. However, the majority of them are small playground parks for kids. The ratio of park per neighbourhood is relatively low. We can’t really go on hikes or practice forest bathing and enjoy nature. Parks in Canada are marvelous. You can literally do anything in a park. Reading, sleeping, kayaking, crashing a wedding, you name it! In an effort to lose a few of the 10 pounds I’ve gained during the pandemic, I am exploring a new park every weekend this summer.
4. Buses coming to a full stop at bus stops
You think this is a complete ordinary thing, Canadians? Guess what? It is not! I almost died a few times riding the bus in Vietnam. How? Imagine a bus going at 40 km an hour. What should the speed be at the stop? Zero? Vietnamese bus drivers would say 10 kmph. So, every time you get off the bus, you’re actually flying off. You think that’s tricky? Here’s another scenario. Imagine getting on the bus. Piece of cake. Imagine your bus is still moving slowly. Still easy? Imagine your bus is on the middle lane of the road and you need to somehow get pass the 50 motorbikes on the right lane and precisely jump onto the open bus door in 10 seconds. Unless you are Superman, I don’t think that can be done smoothly.
5. Drinkable tap water
Don’t ever drink tap water in Vietnam… you’ll die. Okay maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. But water there has a weird smell and shady quality. We always need to boil water to drink or make ice cubes. But here, I don’t have to wait 30 mins for boiling and letting the water cool down before drinking. Good ol’ tap water is perfectly safe. When I wake up extremely thirsty in the middle of the night, there’s nothing better than a cup of water straight from the bathroom tap.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my country but there is certainly some room for improvement. I can’t wait for the day when I can safely ride the bus back home. In the meantime, I’m gonna enjoy these little perks here in the Great White North. To Canadians, you’d better cherish these weird normal things, and Happy Canada Day!