Living in Canada, we often pride ourselves in being one of the most multicultural nations in the world. However, we often forget to truly appreciate this sense of diversity and fail to remember that someone as close as our neighbour could be from somewhere as far as the opposite side of the world.

My neighbour’s parents were originally from Pakistan but her family has spent many years previously in the United States. She lives in a family of 5 with a younger brother and sister. Being born in California and having lived in a small town in Oklahoma, life was quite different for Alina in the States compared to her life in Canada.  Through a conversation I had with her, I realized that unlike the popular belief that life in Canada and the US is very similar, this is in fact not true. Alina described what it was like to transition from a small-town life in the American Midwest to a suburban lifestyle here in Mississauga, Canada.

What do you miss about your old hometown?

I lived in a small town in Oklahoma. So I really missed the small-scale life with the sounds of the countryside, the comforting scent, the quietness and not worrying about grades as much.  We didn’t have huge extracurricular clubs like MUN or DECA or worries about networking. We only had to think about marching band and football games. As for my parents, they miss the community and cultural roots of Pakistan as well as their families and the simplicity of living there.

 

How did you feel when you first came to Canada?

For the first year I was mad and felt  betrayed. In other words, it was a dark time for me. Eventually I learned to accept that I was a small fish in a big ocean, even though I had difficulty accepting it, and I learned to move on and just get on with life. I like living here now and I decided it was a good thing I moved as it made me grow up and leave that small life that I thought was the only thing in the world.

 

What do you love about Canada?

The convenient independence. Moving here made many things accessible by walking such as school and the mall allowing me to gain a new sort of independence that I never thought I’d have.

Currently, my neighbour is in her last year of high school, thus leaving her very busy. In her limited free time she enjoys writing, playing the guitar, and hanging out with her friends.

My neighbours are here for the next couple of years as their kids grow up and attend school here. They are truly able to demonstrate that, despite Canada’s vastness, both tangible and intangible, it is always possible to find someone who has experienced similar things as you have, if you just take a chance, look around you and get to know your neighbour.

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