After my first 8 months in Japan, I told my students that I understood what they were saying in Japanese, but I couldn’t say anything back. The words wouldn’t come. One of my students laughed and said, “That means you’re like a baby!” I didn’t laugh at his joke. You can imagine how happy I was to hear that he thought I was like a baby. I was really trying!
Of course I understood what he meant. When we first learn a new language, listening is important. Like a child, we hear sounds repeated, and watch people making certain faces. So it makes sense that when you want to learn a new language, people always give the same advice, “Watch TV and movies!” I agree, listening and watching in a new language is super important!
Check out this awesome website I found. It shows movie trailers, and then gives listening exercises afterwards. With the exercises, this is even better than movies and TV. Don’t be a baby! Try doing a couple every week. 🙂
My colleague Christina informed me this week that our “Loonie”, the Canadian dollar, is at its lowest value now since 2009. “Isn’t that cool?” she exclaimed. “Wouldn’t it make a neat blog post?” “Yeah,” I laughed. “It’s a little loonie, but it’d work.”
Loonie is the slang name for the Canadian dollar. We call it that because it has the image of a beautiful Canadian bird, the loon, on it. Also, loonie (or loony) is another way of saying someone or something is ‘crazy’. And let’s face it, there’s a lot of things in Canada that are pretty loonie!
So how is a lower dollar value a good thing for the Canadian economy. I admit, I am no economist, so I had to do the research on this. What I learned is rather cool.
1. A lower Loonie will help our economy
Canada sells a lot of stuff to other countries (export). This includes manufactured goods and services. Canada’s tourism and services industry is big, too. So with a lower dollar, suddenly our stuff isn’t so expensive compared to the rest of the world. As a result, more countries will want to buy Canadian.
2. A dip in the dollar will help employment
Our lower dollar will make the U.S. exports more expensive. This means that other countries won’t buy as much from the U.S., and American workers could lose their jobs. Meanwhile in Canada our exports are busier than ever, which creates work for Canadians to keep up with the demand.
3. A bargain buck means ‘buy Canadian’
A lot of Canadians shop ‘over the border’, or in the U.S. because their prices are usually cheaper than ours. This is especially true for groceries and gas. But with the Canadian buck (slang for dollar) low, it doesn’t make sense to buy in America. Canadians will buy in Canada, and a higher volume of business is great for the economy. Also, Americans will come to Canada to buy Canadian! It’s a win win!
4. Cut-rate cash is great for tourism
Canadian music and theatre festivals, ski resorts and summer resorts, will all benefit from a lower dollar. Why? Because other countries’ money is higher value, making Canada a great place to travel too.
There are drawbacks, of course. People with Canadian investments and retirement savings won’t be earning as much. Bank rates haven’t been lowered either, which means people are paying more on their credit cards while the dollar is technically worth less. In the end however, this was a good lessen for me. When people say the ‘dollar is low’, it doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing. It’s when people say your pants are low, or your marks are low – that’s pretty much always a bad thing.
Hello new and returning students! Welcome to another exciting, brand new term at CultureWorks. 2014 is just getting warmed up, my friends…because it can’t get much colder, can it! Ha! (Ok, bad joke. Too soon?)
I’d like to start the new year off with a wish. My wish is that all of you will embrace your first week, cherish it, and remember it, because these memories are golden! They only happen once guys. You are in Canada, studying at CultureWorks, and that’s super cool! So here’s 5 tips to make your life as an international student memorable. Believe me, I’ve lived abroad before. Some people look like they’re having the time of their lives, and other people look like their doing time. (Like, in jail!) The choice is yours!
5. Take a picture of something everyday.
Choose something that looks new or unusual to you, compared to life in your home country. Your friends, Canadian fashion, transportation, the food, sites, etc…These pictures will add up over time and will be a great reminder at how different, and how great, your experience was.
4. Think of your life in Canada like it’s an adventure.
It is! When you wake up, tell yourself that you have no idea what weird and wonderful things you’ll see and learn. Maybe you’ll try a new food. Maybe you’ll meet an odd bearded Canadian at a Tim Hortons who will tell you strange stories. Who knows! That’s the thrill of the ride!
3. Spice up your life.
If you feel your routine is getting dull, change things around. Take a different route to school. Visit a different area of Toronto, or London, or Ottawa. Explore a new area of campus, or even join a club. Just like a good curry, life is better with spice!
2. Meet people, make friends.
Honestly, the friends you make now will be with you for the rest of your lives. When you’re 80 years old, you’ll laugh together about the time one of you took the wrong bus and ended up in Montreal. Or the time you finished an exam and then passed out with your face in the middle of a pizza. You get the idea.
1. Ask questions.
This is my number one piece of advice. Your teachers, your student services co-ordinators, your cafeteria workers, your neighbours, your homestay parents…these are all people who hold the key. When you ask, you learn, and you will learn so much from the people around you. And you know what? They want to help!
I’m jealous of all of you, to be honest. I want to feel that *new* feeling again of living and travelling abroad. You know what? Forget it. I’m enrolling in CultureWorks. I’ll pretend I’m Russian and wear a big fur hat. See you in class!