Author: Nada Percan, 26 year old linguist, creative writer and new media ambassador from Croatia. Nada has just moved to Canada and is writing for Generation Y about her experiences.
Follow her on Twitter @nadica92
People often ask me to write something about Canada. They want me to tell them the differences between Canada and Europe. Cultural differences, or just differences in the way of living. Firstly I thought I was going to have a lot of things to say. But the truth is – there isn’t much. Well, at least not about differences.
When someone asks me if I liked a certain city, I don’t just think about what the city looks like, but also about the people there. I think about how the city (or the people) made me feel. I know I love Sarajevo, I know I love Prague. I know I love every little corner of where I’ve been.
After two months in Canada I realised that people are the same everywhere. Anywhere you go, you’ll meet a lot of good people, a lot of bad people, a lot of smart and a lot of a boring people. It’s just the way it is. Sometimes you’ll find your soul mates, sometimes you won’t.
Lets talk instead about attitudes and about languages. I find it interesting (but sometimes also annoying) when people in Canada ask me where is my accent from. Or, even better, from which part of Quebec I am from. At least thirty people have told me they love my accent. Is it possible to love someone’s accent or does my accent just awaken someone’s imagination and make them think I come from somewhere exotic and far away? Do people love languages or do they love something that the languages remind them of?
Let’s, for example, imagine someone telling me they hate my accent. What would my conclusion be? I would probably think that this person is a language purist, which is related to nationalism and other kinds of discrimination. That would mean the society I live in isn’t very open-minded. But since that didn’t happen, there’s no need to think that way.
Sometimes someone’s attitude about your accent can tell you if you are welcome in their country or not. If they accept your accent, it probably means they accept you, your origins and your background. And if they accept you, you’re already half way integrated into a new society, in a new way of living. Don’t be afraid to talk in a foreign language, even if you think you sound funny. It can only help you.