Why it is so difficult to make friends in Brampton?
Well, I’ve been living in this suburb now for almost three months, and it’s kind of unfair to say I don’t have any friends. When I stop and really think about it, some names already pop up in my mind.
At the same time, I have had a hard time getting to know people. First of all I’m not involved in any activities that allow you to meet and see the same person every day, like school, college or work.
Second, it demands time for you to understand the social codes and get into the social culture. And lastly, we don’t have a place to go and socialize.
As everybody loves lists, and I do too, I will try to make a list showing why it is difficult to make friends in Brampton. I’m writing about my city, but as an immigrant you can apply these items to other similar cities too.
- Language Barrier
Ok. This was easy to guess, right? If you don’t know the language you are unable to communicate and express yourself in an understandable way. This is common knowledge, but I want to go deeper in this topic. An important element contributes to your performance in a certain language: it’s already proven that the older you are, the more difficult it is to learn something new. It is not impossible but in certain cases it’s limiting. The brain isn’t fresh anymore and you have difficult trying to memorize and fix the lessons. Another element associated with the age is how open minded you are and what is your ability to adapt. Older people usually are less open to change their costumes and mannerisms.
Let’s suppose you do speak the language, and you can maintain the conversation flowing. Even then, at one point, you will struggle to have deep and interesting conversations, explain your point of view in a subject, or be active in a philosophical discussion. For some people this barrier seems to be unbreakable and their effort is to avoid it rather than to keep trying.
I have the feeling that if you give up trying to overcome this obstacle, you will look like someone who has a flat personality, without opinions and thoughts of your own, which I’m sure you are not.
2. Background References
Do you remember studying at school how the environment you grow up in molds and affects our present behaviors and preferences?
That’s it. We all came from different parts of the world. While growing up we developed different tastes for food, clothes, movies, music…everything.
Even with globalization and the internet, which allows us to consume exactly the same things in the cultural industry, we still have a strong influence of the people and the social issues that we are surrounded with.
Sometimes, I find myself very empty while talking with someone, because I know we have different backgrounds, and I can’t rely on my own background to bring up an example, or to show the way I was thinking about the situation.
You don’t realize the importance and the influence, the collective unconscious and the common sense have in your life until you don’t have them.
3. Small Talk
This one could be a little harsh on Canadians (sorry), but they seem not to like small talk the way Brazilians do.
In Brazil it is easy to start a conversation with someone you don’t know and you don’t have any particular reason to talk with. Two people, just standing at the bus stop, is already reason enough to engage in a dialogue.
On the other hand, in Canada it’s not like that. They are very strict to the point, and don’t want to waste time asking how is your mother, unless they already are your friend.
Their social structure is based in respecting the privacy and being as polite as possible. As we live in a multicultural community, these small talks are harder to happen than in other communities. The culture values and beliefs are so distinct in itself, that you kind of loose track of what is ok to ask and what could be seen as offensive.
On number 4, I don’t need to be more clear than this.
Without interest , there is no openness, conversation, interaction.
You must be interested and interesting.
5. Social Rules
This is the last but not the least. The social rules are different in each place. That’s fine for me. A handshake is working very well and every day I’m becoming more and more comfortable with that. I think my first handshakes were a little messy, touching a lot, touching a little, the time and intensity were not in the right place yet. But now, I got it.
My problem now is another, I still don’t get what I should do when I meet you for the second time. Is it still a handshake? Some people said to me that this is related to how much affection you developed for that person. Ok. That’s good to know, but who is going to decide that? Do you talk about it with the person? I don’t think so.
What I’m doing right now is a technique called wait and see. The person goes first. I’m open. If you want to hug, or kiss on the cheeks, or just the basic handshake. This became like a very funny game for me.
The sad thing is beside someone is playing with me, this still is a secret game, and I wouldn’t try to explain it because I’m pretty sure I got stuck on the number one and two of this list.