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Get Connected!

How can I make positive connections with others on campus?

Part of settling into a new place is building a new network of friends. An easy way to get started is by connecting with other newcomers – they need new friends as much as you do and some of them may even share your culture and language. One of the culture shocks that many newcomers find is that while Canadians are friendly, they don’t always want to be friends. They have enough already.

Some cultures focus on BEING – spending time together eating, drinking, watching movies or just sitting around getting to know each other. However, Canadians tend to focus on DOING. If you ask someone you don’t know well to go out for drinks with you, they are likely to say “no,” and might be confused about what you want. However, if you are both already involved in an activity you enjoy – perhaps a group project, a sport, employment or a volunteer opportunity, you may find that you can connect easily because of your common interests. Once you get to know each other, you can spend more time together.

Relationships in a new culture can be tricky because there are many unwritten rules.

How can I initiate friendships with people without being perceived as weird – or worse – creepy? Personal space is one concept that is very different across cultures. In some cultures, it is normal to stand 12 inches away from a person when speaking to them, to hold a friend’s hand or touch them while you are talking. In Canada, most people consider the space of an arm’s length to be personal to them. Entering that space or touching someone without permission can be regarded as aggressive, dangerous or disrespectful.

Respect means treating others the way they want to be treated.

A key to successful relationships here is consent. If you’re not sure what someone wants, you can ask. You can also communicate how you would like to be treated.

If you want to initiate a romantic or sexual relationship with someone, it is important that you make your intentions clear. Do not ask someone to study with you when you really want a date with them. If you communicate what kind of relationship you want and they tell you they want the same thing, that’s great! However, if they don’t tell you that they want that kind of relationship, then you should respect their wishes. Continuing to pursue that person would be considered harassment.

Relationships can be challenging to navigate. Good relationships help you feel connected in your community, but negative relationships can make you feel unhappy or unsafe. If you need help dealing with interpersonal situations, speak with a counsellor. They can share strategies for building positive connections with people around you

Check out this week’s Get Oriented (GO) success strategies and video tips for making positive connections in a new culture!