Learning in a New Culture
As you pursue your goals through your program, we hope that you will find the opportunity to build great relationships and memorable experiences and that you will not only learn but also contribute your unique perspectives and skills to our community. We look forward to supporting, sharing and learning together with you at Red River College Polytechnic.
Get Ready for Success!
Learn about cultural diversity in preparation for your intercultural learning experience at Red River College Polytechnic. This will help you improve your college experience and set you up for success in your classes and career.
Through these videos, you may become more aware of the cultural diversity around you and how your unique cultural background shapes how you see and experience the world. We will explore examples and strategies of how to communicate, live and work in diverse environments. We will also discuss the journey of integration, becoming a contributing and active member of a new community.
Let’s get started!
PART 1 - Things are different here
When you arrive in Manitoba, you will notice that things are different than where you came from. In your first days here, you may have many new experiences with the local weather, transportation, food or language.
Some of these differences will be obvious and immediate, and others you may become aware of more slowly as you experience life in a new place.
If you are already in Manitoba, take a moment to reflect on your experience arriving for the first time.
First Impressions of Winnipeg
In this video, Red River College Polytechnic graduate Jatin Dhabba talks about his first experiences in Winnipeg.
VIDEO: First Impressions of Winnipeg – Jatin Dhabba (1:30)
Depending on when you arrive and where you are coming from, your experience will be unique, but you may have similar stories to tell about landing in Manitoba.
These new experiences are part of the richness of international education. However, you may find some of these differences challenging and difficult to deal with. You may need to use new strategies and supports to overcome these challenges and to achieve success in your program.
Why Did You Decide to Study in Canada?
A journey is more successful when you have a sense of the destination before you start. In this video, we talk about the goals that most students have in mind when they choose to attend Red River College Polytechnic. Do any of these goals seem similar to yours?
VIDEO: Why Intercultural Learning (2:56)
REFLECTION WORKSHEET: Think about your reasons for choosing a program at Red River College Polytechnic. What do you hope to accomplish? Take a minute to write down a few of your goals for the next five to ten years. You could also draw a picture. How will the things that you will be doing this year help you move toward those goals?
In addition to a destination, it is good to have a plan to guide what you need to learn and do to achieve your goals
PERSONAL ACTION PLAN: Start developing your own plan for your Red River College Polytechnic journey.
- What are your goals?
- What challenges do you expect?
- What strategies will you use?
- What questions do you have?
- What resources will you access?
Continue to add to this document as you work through the next videos. Your goals may change along the way, and you may have new ideas that can help you achieve success. Continue to fill out and adapt your plan. You can also share your plan with someone else to get some feedback.
PART 2 – Developing Cultural Awareness
When we travel to a different country, we usually notice different weather, food, clothes and language. However, many times we don’t recognize the cultural differences because they are not always visible to us. Because culture shapes the way we experience and interact with the world, it is easy to be unaware of the differences between our own cultural experience and those of the people around us. In the next several videos, we will explore the elements of culture and how to recognize the cultural difference in ourselves and our environment.
What Is Culture?
In the next three videos, we explore what we mean when we talk about “culture” and how to look beyond the visible elements of culture to identify the beliefs and values that are the source of cultural differences.
VIDEO: Defining Culture (7:12)
VIDEO: Understanding Culture (2:51)
VIDEO: Comparing Cultural Values (5:28)
In this video, Red River College Polytechnic’s Director of International Education, Eddy Lau, talks about how being aware of cultural differences can enrich your experience of the world.
VIDEO: Engaging in an Intercultural Life – Eddy Lau (1:50)
As you begin to see the world through an intercultural lens, you can also start to experience personal relationships in a new way. When you attend Red River College Polytechnic, you will find that there are many different cultures represented on campus, and as you get to know people, you will encounter worldviews, values and practices that are very different from your own.
REFLECTION: Think about a previous cross-cultural friendship, experience or interaction that you have had. What did you learn about the other person’s culture through that interaction? What did you learn about yourself?
In this video, Bradley explains how culture can help us to understand how we as individuals are similar and how our culture and personality express our uniqueness as well.
VIDEO: Culture, Personality and Human Nature (4:14)
If groups of people who share common values and experiences express those through cultural values and practices, we can describe the shared characteristics of that group through generalizations. However, each person has a unique personality and experiences that shape their identity. Although a person may share many values and practices with their cultural group, we must be careful not to stereotype or assume that because they are connected to a particular group or identity, they must have the same values and practices.
We must approach each person as an individual if we want to understand them and develop respectful relationships with them. Each person is unique.
My Experience of Diversity at RRC Polytech
Harkirat Kaur is one of our recent graduates, who also volunteered as a diversity ambassador during her program. She shares about her experience interacting with other cultures and sharing her own cultural background on campus.
Once you become aware of the diversity of cultural values and experiences around you, you can also become aware of your own unique identity as a cultural person.
These next videos will guide you to think about yourself and your own experiences. What are the layers of identity that make you who you are, and how does your unique viewpoint of the world contribute to your relationships, your communities and career?
VIDEO: Where are you coming from? Where are you going? (3:41)
REFLECTION: Think about your cultural background and the values that are expressed in your home culture. What values are expressed most strongly in your culture? Do you think these might be similar or different in Canada?
There are many dimensions of diversity that make up our personal identities; in our daily experience these dimensions intersect to influence how we interact in specific situations.
VIDEO: Dimensions of Diversity (3:58)
VIDEO: Intersectionality and Personal Identity (4:38)
REFLECTION: Think about yourself, your culture, your different roles or identities. What words would you use to describe yourself? (For example, you may identify as a student, a pop culture fan, Buddhist, Chinese, conservative, etc.) Try to think of five to ten different descriptors. Which words are most important to you? How do these parts of your life interact with one another?
Exploring your own cultural identity is a lifelong process, and we hope that these videos and activities have encouraged your curiosity and desire to reflect more.
Learning in a New Culture
In the next section, we will talk about learning and change. What skills can you develop and practice to be effective in situations where there will be significant cultural differences? What can you do now to prepare for the new cultural environment you will experience in Canada and at Red River College Polytechnic?
Recognizing Cultural Differences
When you arrive in Manitoba or walk through the doors of Red River College Polytechnic, you will be entering a new world. To be successful in this new environment, you will need to develop new skills. In this section, we will provide you with strategies you can use to take on this challenge with confidence.
In this set of videos, you will hear about the experiences of encountering and adjusting to a new cultural environment, and we will share several strategies for learning through this experience.
VIDEO: Cultural Adjustment Cycle (5:36)
Embracing a new culture does not mean that you lose your first culture; you just develop additional cultural skills.
VIDEO: Cultural Fluency (2:21)
As you are adjusting to a new cultural environment, there are some strategies you can practice that may help you navigate these new experiences.
VIDEO: Strategies for Cultural Adjustment (6:57)
Mindset for Intercultural Success
Approaching new challenges with the right attitude is an important key to success. Red River College Polytechnic instructor Seid Hassan talks about how having an open mind can set you up for success in a new culture.
VIDEO: Mindset for Intercultural Success – Said Hassan (1:03)
PERSONAL ACTION PLAN: At the beginning of this material, you started working on your Personal Action Plan. By now you may have identified new insights, challenges and strategies for success. Take a few minutes to add more information or details to each section of your plan.
Cultural life is characterized by “rules” – but many of these rules are not written or communicated explicitly. How can you find out what these rules are and what can you do when you encounter behaviours or situations that you don’t expect?
VIDEO: Living Culturally Aware (4:49)
VIDEO: Cultural Rules (3:36)
What to Do When You Make Cultural Mistakes
One of our recent graduates, Jatin Dhabba, shares his experience with making cultural “mistakes” as a newcomer to Canada.
You will encounter unexpected responses as you interact in a different cultural setting. This video gives you a strategy for dealing with situations that might seem confusing.
VIDEO: How to Deal with Unexpected Situations (6:29)
PART 3 – Communicating Across Cultures
Communication is essential to achieve your goals, whether negotiating household chores with a roommate or writing a class assignment. However, communication styles and rules can vary widely between cultures – even if you are using the same language. Often in cross-cultural interaction, the perception others have may not be the same as what we intended to communicate. The next two videos discuss how culture can impact language and what you need to be aware of when you are communicating cross-culturally.
VIDEO: Culture & Communication (10:50)
VIDEO: Communication Styles (9:51)
REFLECTION WORKSHEET: How direct do you think communication is in your culture, on a scale of 1 (very indirect) to 5 (very direct)? What strategies do you use to communicate with people with very different communication styles? Can you think of an example where you tried to modify your communication style? What happened?
The following videos offer some tips for understanding and adjusting to Canadian communication patterns.
VIDEO: Communicating Effectively in Canada (6:11)
VIDEO: Communication Pyramid (1:34)
Communication Styles in the Classroom
In this video, International Education Director, Eddy Lau shares his experience coming into the Canadian classroom for the first time.
VIDEO: Communication Styles in the Classroom – Eddy Lau (4:09)
Becoming aware of the gaps between cultures is a great first step, but building the skills to effectively bridge those gaps takes a lot of time and practice. This video will discuss the lifelong journey of developing intercultural competence and why it is a path that is worth travelling.
VIDEO: Journey Toward Intercultural Competence (2:13)
When you come to Canada, you will have many new experiences. As the “honeymoon period” wears off, you will need to learn the “rules” for your new environment and new ways of communicating and trying to negotiate unexpected situations.
The next section will discuss ways that you can move beyond exploring a new environment to becoming part of it, participating and contributing to your new school, workplace or community.
PART 4 – Contributing to Your New Community
Now that you have thought about the kinds of cultural differences you might encounter and some of the challenges you may face along the way, it is time to start making a plan for how you are going to integrate and make yourself at home in Canada and Red River College Polytechnic.
If you visit a Canadian home, you might hear the phrase “make yourself at home.” This saying expresses a desire that a visitor can relax and be informal as if they were in their own house. However, it is not always easy to do this in practice.
Hopefully, your goal of engaging in an intercultural life is not just to survive the change, but to thrive and change yourself, to move from being a newcomer to being a contributing and engaged member of your new community. In this section, we will learn how to prepare and plan to start your new life and career in Canada.
These next videos and supporting activities talk about preparation – getting into a positive mindset, setting realistic goals and planning the actions needed to achieve those goals.
VIDEO: Setting Expectations (3:13)
PERSONAL ACTION PLAN: Look again at your Personal Action Plan. Update it with your new ideas and insights, and write down any questions that you have. You may find answers in the upcoming videos or you may be able to research them on your own.
Practical research and preparation can make your landing and settlement in Canada much easier.
In this video, one of our international graduates, Ligia Braidotti, shares some of her experiences about how she could have prepared herself better for her experience as an international student.
VIDEO: What to Know Before You Go – Ligia Braidotti (3:19)
Networking in a New Country
In this video, Red River College Polytechnic graduate and former diversity ambassador, Shuai Wang, shares his experience networking and connecting with people as he worked through his program.
VIDEO: Networking in a New Country – Shuai Wang (2:43)
Many of our international students decide to stay in Canada after they graduate in order to start their career. If this is something that you are considering, you will want to start building connections as soon as you arrive with people who will help you to become part of your community and access opportunities for employment and other activities. The next series of videos discuss the importance of networking and strategies for making connections in Canada.
VIDEO: Networking for & through your Career (5:25)
VIDEO: Making your Home in a New Community (4:28)
VIDEO: Making Connections in Manitoba – Norlan Page (4:23)
PERSONAL ACTION PLAN: Look again at your Personal Action Plan. This is a good opportunity to organize your planned actions – what you need to do now, what you should do just before / after you travel, etc.
REFLECTION:Choose one or two things from your plan that you will do this week to continue preparing for your journey to Canada. (If you are already in Canada, choose two things you can do to expand your experience and understanding of the cultural differences around you?)
We hope that you will continue to actively learn and develop your intercultural competence with the confidence to contribute your perspectives and experiences in this learning community.
We can’t wait to meet you and welcome you to Red River College Polytechnic!
Advising with your International Student Support Team
If you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to connect you to support services and offer encouragement and resources to help you succeed.
If you would like to request an appointment to meet with your International Student Support Staff at your campus after you arrive in Winnipeg, please contact us by email at email@example.com.