Study Abroad-Calgary 2017 travel blog


Day three has been my favorite so far. We were able to finally go to a Canadian school and see what life is like for the students there. Suffice it to say, our differences, culturally and school wise, are quite astounding. Perhaps the biggest surprise came when dealing with the 150 year celebration for Canadian independence. The vast amount of cultures represented at the Nelson Mandela High School was incredible to see. Various dances from all different cultures were great to watch. But I do wonder, exactly, why there weren't any Canadian cultures expressed. Also, I found it actually quite troubling how few of the students knew the words to the Canadian national anthem. On top of that, there was an unmistakable buzz of talking that went throughout the room, the entire time. It didn't matter if someone was speaking, if the anthem was playing, or if someone was dancing, the talking was a constant buzz of sound echoing around the entire auditorium. To me, that's simply unheard of. Not knowing the American national anthem is bad enough, but talking during it? That's basically a cardinal sin in our culture. That was one of the major differences that I noticed at that high school. The one we went to afterwards was incredibly different in the sense of how it was set up. It was a charter school which apparently is very popular in Canada. Strange, since there was so much backlash over charter schools in the States. Around 10,000 people are on a waiting list to just get into the school. The school itself is massive, but in a strange way. Its like multiple schools that were just conjoined together as the needs arose. The entire school is also strange in that special needs students aren't really included in the school. In the States, that's against federal law, I believe, in that we can't discriminate against those with special needs. But this entire school is based around not having them involved. Strange.

Language wise, I noticed two major things, mostly involved in terminology. For instance, one of the students believed that the word "idiot" could be offensive, as he prefaced that by saying "pardon my language." But then he immediately insulted Donald Trump, our president by calling him an idiot. For me, I took that as a "I can insult my brother, but you can't" moment. I wasn't angry about it, but I was annoyed. The other major difference in language that I heard was actually a different word for special needs students. Instead, Canadians call them "complex learners." I am not entirely sure where the term came from, as none of us asked, but I feel like it is interesting how different terminology is here as compared to the States.

The night ended with a great karaoke session. Almost the entire group went to go sing karaoke at one of the local bars. The culture there was incredible different as well, in the sense that we were there laughing and singing and cheering the whole time while the Canadians who were there were generally quiet, only doing small things like clapping politely. We sang almost exclusively country songs, many of which I doubt Canadians had heard before. But it was a blast, I have been to karaoke before but never had the guts to sing before. But belting out "All Star" with my cousin while 13 other people cheered us on was worth the whole experience. Definitely will be going again this week.

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