CONNECTED in CANADA!

Courtesy of www.workingworld.ca
Courtesy of www.workingworld.ca

Without question, cell phones have become a necessity worldwide.  Canada is no exception.

81% of households in Ontario own a cell phone, and 20% have abandoned their house phones.  Why?  Because they’re totally amazing!  Ordering taxis, checking bus schedules, reviewing your list of assignments online, ordering pizza (yes!), translation apps, booking hotel rooms…today’s phones do it all.  When you come to study in Canada, a phone is even more important, because you’ll need to stay connected with your friends and family at home.  Here is some information to keep in mind when you’re looking get connected:

Courtesy of www.cranbrookchamber.com
Courtesy of www.cranbrookchamber.com
Courtesy of www.steveladurantaye.ca
Courtesy of www.steveladurantaye.ca
Courtesy of www.telus.ca
Courtesy of www.telus.ca
Courtesy of www.whatsnew.koodomobile.com
Courtesy of www.whatsnew.koodomobile.com
Courtesy of www.wind.ca
Courtesy of www.wind.ca
Courtesy of www.mobilicity.ca
Courtesy of www.mobilicity.ca
  1. There are seven major cell phone providers in Ontario: Bell, Rogers, Telus, Fido, Koodo, Wind, Mobilicity. Here is a site that compares the different cell companies in Ontario.  Click on ‘Find a Plan’ to compare prices.
  2. Each company offers similar phone packages.  Some like offer great student packages.  Take the time to read each over closely or ask for help.  Here are some options that I think look good!
  3. Try to find a cell plan with unlimited texting.  It is the most affordable (and widely used) way to communicate within Canada.  Also, Data plans are very useful, especially for students, and are becoming cheaper.
  4. If you a buy a phone from one of the above companies, then you own it completely and can stop using their services at any time.
  5. If you prefer, you can receive the phone for free (or at a reduced price), but you will have to sign a longer-term contract that you ‘locked into’.  Usually that contract is three years.  If you break the contract before your term is up, there is a penalty to pay.
  6. In order to switch companies, you will need to have the SIM card removed.  (A SIM card is a subscriber identity module to identify the cell phone).  Most cell phones will do this for you at a small cost.
  7. Long-distance phone cards are available at every major mall in Ontario.  There are also apps that give reduced costs to calls overseas.
Courtesy of www.accro.co.uk
Courtesy of www.accro.co.uk

Once you have your phone, make sure CultureWorks has your most recent number on file.  Give your number to friends and classmates as well, because you will want to have a support network who are easy to reach at all times.   Take the time to input important numbers, such as taxis, your landlord, student services, and even the police.  Remember your cell phone is a powerful tool for safety.  When you sign up for a plan, make sure you can place 9-1-1 calls for extreme emergencies.

Lastly, make sure you get a phone that’s practical, ok? Welcome to Canada!  Now get connected and have a blast!

Courtesy of www.snoozingrobot.com
Courtesy of www.snoozingrobot.com

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Show Me the Money!

Courtesy of www.waterballoon.com
Courtesy of www.waterballoon.com

I’m not going to lie.  I love money.  I’ve collected money from every country I’ve ever visited. I’m not a miser or anything – I don’t think it’s the most important thing in the world.  No, I mean I  love the way money looks.  It’s art, in my opinion, and a fascinating cultural representation.

Recently, the Canadian government issued a brand new twenty-dollar bill.

Courtesy of www.ebay.ca
Courtesy of www.ebay.ca

On the back there is a beautiful illustration of the Vimy Ridge memorial, which depicts one of our most famous, brutal wars fought for freedom during World War I. In the front of the bill you can see the Canadian maple leaf, which also has a security chip used to verify that the bill is real.  The Queen of England is in the middle, and you can see Canada’s parliament buildings on the bottom corner.  It is one of the newest materials ever used for money, a thin plastic, or polymer that is very difficult to rip or destroy.  Cool, eh? The $20.00 bill is the most widely used bank note, and soon new 5$ and 10$ notes will be issued later in 2013.

www.chfi.com
www.chfi.com

Here’s what the old $20.00 bill looks like:

Courtesy of http://www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com
Courtesy of http://www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com

Below is the version before that!:

Courtesy: www.flickr.com
Courtesy: www.flickr.com

I think this has been a nice upgrade to the old bills, as it represents how we value our history, our land, and of course the emblems that remain important.  Of course, change to Canada’s money  always comes at a cost.  (Pardon that double pun!)When the government got rid of the $1.00 and $2.00 bills to introduce their coin counterparts, it was a big government expense and many people opposed the idea.  Because the $1.00 coin showcased the Canadian bird, the ‘loon’, the coin quickly earned the nickname, ‘Loonie’, which is a cheeky misspelling of ‘looney’, meaning someone ‘crazy’, or ‘weird.’  Many people think the government was a little ‘looney’ for making us carry so much heavy coinage in our pockets and purses!

This was the old $1.00 bill:

Courtesy: http://johngushue.typepad.com
Courtesy: http://johngushue.typepad.com 

Here are the ‘Loonies!’:

Courtesy: www.coinsandcanada.com
Courtesy: www.coinsandcanada.com

So what do indestructible bills and crazy coins say about Canadian culture?  It’s a curious question, isn’t it?  For me I believe our nation is strong, both geographically and in attitude.  The many colours of our money show our culture’s vibrancy and our positive outlook on life.  And there’s no question we’re a funny bunch.  What do you think? What does your countries’ money say about your culture?

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At the Drop of a Dime ~ Interview with Matt Devlin, Vice Principal @ CultureWorks Oshawa

Matthew Devlin, Vice Principal, Oshawa CultureWorks
Matthew Devlin, Vice Principal, Oshawa CultureWorks

Name: Matt Devlin

Title: Vice Principal of Oshawa Campus, CultureWorks

Best Canadian Film:  My favourite film set in Canada is Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. It’s such an inventive, unique film, and the city of Toronto plays a major role.

Q. Matt, you’re someone who seems to be able to do anything at ‘the drop of a dime’.  That idiom perfectly describes how you get a job done without hesitation. Outside of your regular duties as Vice Principal, there must be many different, more surprising ways you help students that come up unexpectedly.  What are they?  dime

A. I love a challenge. When a student comes to me with a question or a problem it’s important that I can help them as best as I can, and as fast as I can. I love using technology to help students.  For example, communicating with students through email or instant messaging means students have faster, easier access to me.  It’s great.

Q. Your love of technology seems a perfect fit for UOIT and Durham College.  What apps are you using most often these days?  Is there an app you’d like to develop for our students?

A. There is an app for everything these days and that pretty much describes my app usage. People say we live in the age of technology, which is certainly true, but it is really the age of access. Technology, like smart phone apps, gives us instant access to people, ideas, thoughts and knowledge. If I had to develop an app for our students, it would be one that incorporates these things. It would give students immediate access to teachers, textbooks and other educational tools. Either that, or I’d design an app would give students an electric shock if they are late for class…just kidding.

Courtesy of digital3000net.blogspot.com
Courtesy of digital3000net.blogspot.com

Q. Why do students succeed at CultureWorks?  In your opinion, what are a few basic Dos and Don’ts when studying English for Academic Purposes?

A. Someone once reminded me that a successful school really needs three things: a good teacher, an eager student, and a log to sit on…and the log is optional. Our students are hardworking and dedicated to their studies.  Technology is a great tool for students, but it really comes down to a solid student-teacher relationship. At CultureWorks we have a teaching team that is well educated, passionate and empathetic to our students’ needs. Our success comes from there. Basic dos and don’ts? Do: Work hard. Don’t: Make excuses.  Durham Fast Track Program

Q. Lastly, for fun, if you had to eat only one kind of Canadian food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A. That’s a difficult question! I love grilled or smoked salmon from British Columbia. Montreal-style smoked meat is delicious. Of course, this time of year I’m all about Quebec maple syrup. Do I have to pick just one?

Courtesy of www.healthy-delicious.com
Courtesy of www.healthy-delicious.com

Thanks for your time Matt, we hope to have you back on the Hotspot soon! 

Courtesy of www.about.montreal.com
Courtesy of www.about.montreal.com
Courtesy of www.941thefox.com
Courtesy of www.941thefox.com

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Craving Canada?

What makes you want to travel? Why did you decide to study abroad? What’s the spark that ignites your passion for seeing the world?

For me, it boils down to one simple reason.  I crave new things.

New nature, new culture, and new fun!

Care of www.gotransit.com
Care of www.gotransit.com

Niagara Ontario offers a lot of  ‘newness’.  It is a vibrant tourist destination after all, and for very good reason.  The air is clean there, with vast acres of beautiful fruit farmland surrounding the region.  I’ve eaten more fresh peaches than you could ever dream of…it makes my mouth water thinking about it!  And then there’s the thrill of Niagara Falls of course, whether it is the mighty waterfalls themselves, or the many options for amusement on Clifton Hill.  I’ve been to Ripley’s Believe it or Not countless times, and believe me, you won’t believe it!  Cycling paths and hiking trails, world-class theatre venues, and some of the best jazz music in the country are all amazing features and I highly recommend you visit the area.

Courtesy of www.niagarafallscourtsidein.com
Courtesy of www.niagarafallscourtsidein.com

Niagara is super close to Toronto!  Ontario’s capital city at once became my number one destination for culture. My Canadian, ‘cultural Mecca’, if you will. As Canada’s largest city with nearly 3 million in the city’s core (and almost 6 million in the surrounding areas), there is no limit to the fun to be had.  And at the CultureWorks Summer Experience this year, you’ll adventure across both Niagara and Toronto!  You’ll have a blast!

FESTIVALS!

Food festivals, music festivals, cultural parades and art shows fill the streets at different times throughout the summer. Guaranteed, anytime you go into Toronto between April to September, you’ll stumble upon some variety of festival.  And what’s even better, is that most of them are free!  Here’s a couple that I enjoy:

Courtesy of www.blog.corporatestays.com
Courtesy of www.blog.corporatestays.com

LuminatoThis is an annual multi-disciplinary celebration of theatre, dance, music, literature, food, visual arts, fashion, film, magic and more.  www.luminato.com

Summerlicious: 150 of Toronto’s favourite restaurants open their doors for tastings of cuisine ranging from Indian to Japanese and everything in between. Summerlicious

Buskerfest:  At the St.Lawrence market downtown, the streets come alive with every performer imaginable!  Great fun! www.torontobuskerfest.com

Courtesty of www.gocanada.about.com
Courtesty of www.gocanada.about.com

SPORTS!

Love a good game?  Grab your shades and watch top-notch athletes battle for the win.

The Toronto Blue Jays (baseball) http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/

The Toronto FC (Football Club)  http://www.torontofc.ca/

The Toronto Rock, (Lacrosse team ) http://www.torontorock.com/

Courtesy of www.dailydealtips.com
Courtesy of www.dailydealtips.com

Not to mention Toronto Island, The Exhibition, or the Grand Prix! I’m telling you, you will not have enough hours in the day to do it all.

Courtesy of www.carmk.net
Courtesy of www.carmk.net

Whatever your reason for travelling, quench your craving, fellow explorers! Don’t waste your time trying to explain why you do it…just do it!

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As Cool As a Cucumber ~ An Interview with CultureWorks London Principal, Derek Martin

Derek Martin, Principal, London CampusName: Derek Martin

Title: Principal of London Campus, CultureWorks

Best Canadian TV show: The Red Green Show (http://www.redgreen.com/)  or Rick Mercer Report (http://www.rickmercer.com/)

Q. The idiom ‘as cool as a cucumber’ is an appropriate one for you, Derek.  You always look calm and collected, ready for your many responsibilities as Principal.  Could you describe a few ways that you help students along their academic path? 

A. A significant number of the students I see in my office come because of issues with their studies and their cultural experiences in Canada. My number one message to students is to stay focused on their purpose for studying at CultureWorks. At 19 or 20 years old, students are really in transition. They are learning about taking responsibility for their actions, accepting the consequences of those actions, and learning to reach out to resources on campus and in the community for other extra needs they may have. I reinforce our teacher’s work inside the classroom, and remind students to take charge of their life, inside and outside school.  So I guess I am a little like their ‘Canadian parent’ to these students when they come to my office.

Q. You have a degree in Anthropology.  What attracted you to this field?  Are there aspects of our students’ cultures you would like Canada to adopt?  Why?

A. I specialized in Social-Cultural Anthropology, which is the study of human culture – its development, its diversity, etc. I did not grow up in mainstream Canadian culture, so I was conscious of the influence of culture from an early age. When I studied Anthropology in first year university, I loved it, so I decided to major in it. My studies helped me a lot after university when I lived in Japan, and in my work at CultureWorks.

I think Canadians can learn from the cultures of our students, which often place more emphasis on the interests of the group.  One thing that I’ve noticed among our students is that family is very important to them. They tend to be good at cooperating with one another.  Family is also important to many Canadians too, but I think we may place too much emphasis on the individual.

Courtesy of http://www.cbc.ca
Courtesy of http://www.cbc.ca

Q. What is culture shock? Have you ever experienced it?  Imagine a student is struggling with culture shock, what advice would you give him or her?

Courtesy of http://www.studyabroad.universiablogs.net
Courtesy of http://www.studyabroad.universiablogs.net

A. Culture shock is the discomfort, stress, or anxiety that results from living in a different culture.  I definitely experienced it several times in Japan. I also experienced it when I first moved from my hometown to Toronto after high school. To deal with culture shock, it is important to deal with the stress. Do something that you enjoy. For me, it means playing music, going outside, exercising, or reading. It is also important to stay connected with people from your home culture. At the same time, it is important to reach out and try to learn about the new culture and make friends from that culture. These people will help you to understand the new culture. The key here is “learn”. This means you need to have an attitude of curiosity about the culture.

Q. Lastly, for fun, if you could have any Canadian celebrity over for dinner, who would you be?  Why?

A. Bruce Cockburn. He’s still my favorite Canadian musician – colourful lyrics, challenging messages, and a great guitar player!  Also someone who is interested in many cultures!

Courtesy of http://www.last.fm
Courtesy of http://www.last.fm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1-DI_ZeG0s

Thanks for your time Derek, we hope to have you back on the Hotspot soon!

If you are interested in learning more about Canadian Family statistics, this CBC news piece is very interesting! http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/09/19/census-data-families-households.html

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