I Refuse To Be a Slave to Technology

No Slave to TechnologyYou’ve heard of the sensible advice: Don’t keep up with the Joneses’.

I will add to this: Don’t keep up with the Joneses’ and their technology.  While we rarely update our cars and houses, we seem to arm ourselves with the latest gadgets. Is it just me or do phones seem to be updated every 6 months or so? My salary doesn’t even get updated that often. Although I wish it would.

People want to upgrade their technology because it seems faster and better. It has more features. Oh look, it comes in blue and green now. Yes, I agree that technology is cool but you don’t necessarily have to follow it all the time to be cool. I have a Blackberry, iPod, digital camera and laptop and that’s about all I need. I have no desire to upgrade any of them because they all work fine.

Reminiscing about Retro Technology

How much bigger does your tv screen need to be?  There’s 3D, HD, and now there’s something called 4K in terms of screen resolution. Just how much more detail do you need to see on the screen? Remember when you had just ONE REMOTE? It takes me longer to turn on the tv because there are three or four of them and they all look the same. If I had it my way, but as you know in a relationship, there is this annoying thing called compromise, it would just be the television and the computer. I live with a tech nerd/geek, thus I have to live with constant updates to the television and my computer.

Back in the day, there was this thing called an electronic organizer. It looked similar to a calculator, but had more features. My dad had one. I thought they were so cool. Then came PDAs (personal digital assistants, not public displays of affection) such as the Palm Pilot. My dad also had a pager, before he got a cell phone.

Then came smartphones. Blackberries, iPhones, Androids. Yes, I will admit that using email and surfing the internet on your phone is pretty cool

The Forbidden Lovechild of the Phone and Tablet

Then this thing that resembled an oversized touchscreen phone or just the top half of a laptop came along. It became known as a tablet or an iPad, because Apple has to have their own name for everything. I’m surprised they haven’t created an iCar or iHouse by now. When I hear the word tablet, I think of biblical times and how the ten commandments were written on tablets. Now THAT was the first use of the tablet. Not only are there phones and tablets, there is also the product of a phone and tablet’s one night stand: the phablet.

I thought technology was supposed to move forward on all accounts, so isn’t making phones bigger going backwards? (See image at beginning of post for reference). Are they running out of ideas on how to advance technology that they’re just merging devices together and calling it something new and different?

Is Most Technology Unnecessary?

I can’t even understand the real need for a tablet. Except it might be easier to read recipes off of it than trying to keep your cookbook open with one hand and stirring your pot with the other. Is it like a glorified e-reader with all the bells and whistles? Sure, it’s lighter than your laptop, but I think people look silly when they try to take pictures with it. It’s as if they don’t want you to see them as their taking the picture. It also makes me think of photographers in a dark room when they hold up their developed photo.

When you think of how much technology has advanced and how much electronic devices we’ve accumulated over these years, it seems like such a waste when the perfectly older, but still good device  is tossed.  I highly doubt everyone recycles their electronics as much as they recycle their bottles and cans.

I feel like technology updates almost as fast a twitter feed. Who knows how many updates I’ve missed by now.

(End rant).

 

Is Art Worth The Money?

I’m not a professional artist or art afficionado.

After living in my house for almost eight months, I finally got around to putting up one (yes, only one) piece of artwork on the wall.  Of all places, it is located in the powder room on the main floor. While this may not be the best place to showcase artwork, given its unique size (long and narrow), it seems to be in the right place.  It just also happens to match the colours of the powder room.

Check out the rest of the post over at Suburban Finance.

 

 

It’s a Party and You’re Invited (And Bring You Wallet)

tupperware partyI thought Tupperware parties were a thing of the past, something our grandmothers would go to for a social event. Although they are not as prolific now as they were in the 50s and 60s, they still exist. I just happened to peruse the Tupperware site to find that there are even different themes for the parties. Who knew?

I Heart Tupperware

I like Tupperware. Who doesn’t? It makes food storage, meal prep and lunch packing a breeze. They’re good for the environment because they’re reusable. (Note: while I do use Tupperware containers for storage, I don’t heat up my food in the microwave in these containers). You can buy it anywhere in so many colours, shapes and sizes. You can’t store food with just one, so of course most Tupperware is sold in multiples.

Would I go to a “party” that is selling them? No because I don’t want to feel obligated to buy something at what is supposed to be a social gathering. I see it as more of a social shopping environment. Yes, it gives you something to do at the party, but even my anti-social self would prefer just to eat, drink and be merry. I know there is no pressure, but I would feel bad if someone went through all this effort to host a “selling party” and barely got any sales.  I know the feeling all too well of what it’s like to try to sell something. If the hostess was a relative or a close friend, then I would feel even MORE obligated to buy something.

The Appeal of Tupperware Parties to Women

Back in the day, Tupperware parties were a big deal.  During the 1950s and 1960s, the man was at work and makin’ the bacon. The majority of women were staying at home doing the cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids.  Women could really relate to the Tupperware parties because they were the ones in the kitchen and were experts at hosting dinner parties. Tupperware was something they used in their everyday lives.

I think these parties appealed to women because not only was it entrepreneurial, at the same time it was friendly and social. The host would be someone you knew or your friend knew, someone who appeared to be trustworthy and knowledgeable about the product.

The Evolution and Benefit of Having a Product Party

The Tupperware party has now evolved into parties that sell other items such as beauty products, jewelry and kitchen gadgets. There are even parties that promote sex toys. These are known as passion parties.

While I personally would never host one, (because I suck at sales and I already get exhausted from hosting regular parties) product parties are a great way to develop entrepreneurial skills and make some extra cash. Most companies will offer discounts on the products for the hostess. They offer flexible hours and you can make your own schedule. Best of all, you can work from home, if this is one of your ultimate goals.

Have you ever hosted or ever been to a Tupperware party or something of that nature?

The Cost of Playing Hockey

Cost of playing hockeyHockey is expensive to play and can be expensive to watch. The following is an excerpt from my post: “The Good Ol’ Expensive Hockey Game

When it comes to hockey, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan. Although being Canadian and a hockey fan are at most times synonymous, it was never really my cup of tea. The only two times I would get into hockey were during the play-offs and during the Olympics (It was the Canada vs. USA battle for the gold medal). That was where the real excitement was. I thought watching it during the regular season was boring. Then again, I find watching most sports on television quite boring.

Read the rest at Suburban Finance

 

I Suck At Sales And I’m Okay With That

I Suck At SalesIn my post Shying Away from Success, I talk about being shy and how I felt that it held me back in certain aspects.  Although being shy doesn’t hold you back completely, it does in certain professions. One profession that really stands out in my mind is sales. You definitely can’t be shy if you’re a sales rep trying to sell a product or a service. You have to be convincing, slightly aggressive, and charismatic.

My Early Years As a Sales Rep

Growing up, I never had any entrepreneurial sense. It didn’t run in my immediate family.  I never had a lemonade stand. Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever seeing a lemonade stand on my parents’ street growing up.

I remember having to do a lot of fundraising for my school when I was a kid. Every kid must have tried to sell those $3-$4 boxes of chocolate covered almonds at least once in their childhood. This was back in the day when nut allergies were unheard of and weren’t so much a health concern in schools.

Around the holidays, we were given this brochure of very nice but expensive wrapping paper, ribbons and bows to show as we tried to convince people to buy them. This was before people realized you could buy reusable bags for a $1 at the dollar store.  While wrapping paper is nice and it is fun to unwrap the present (vs wrapping the present), it almost seems like a waste of money. I wouldn’t bother buying expensive wrapping paper if I knew it would get torn to shreds.

I barely sold any of those items. I think neighbours and relatives bought those things out of pity for me. I asked, no wait, more like harassed and begged my parents to sell chocolate covered almonds and wrapping paper at their workplace.  They must have really enjoyed that.

Convincing People To Make Last- Minute Purchases

In my last year of high school, I worked part-time at an office supply store.  I mainly worked as a cashier.  At cash, there was always an item of the week  that we had  to sell. After I did the usual spiel: Hi how are you, did you find everything you were looking for, I had to insert, “Would you like to buy (blank) for $?” The item would often be something that people normally wouldn’t think to buy. With that being said, I often got the polite, “no thanks” and left it at that.  In my mind, it just wasn’t worth it.

Even With a Couple More Sales Positions, I Never Got Better At It

When I was in between professional jobs, I worked at a clothing store. The difference about this clothing store was that rather than individuals getting their own commission, it was a group commission, so everyone got a piece of the pie when clothing got sold. In a sense that worked out for super shy me, because I barely sold clothing on my own.

I hate small talk and I’m horrible at it. Imagine trying to engage in small talk for 7.5 hours/day, several times a day. It was VERY HARD for me. I’m not a naturally bubbly, cheerful person (more like dry and sarcastic), so most conversations often felt fake, repetitive and forced. I just didn’t have the natural ability to convince people to spend money in the store. The fact that I didn’t really want to be there most days didn’t help too much either.

I also tried my luck at personal training. I thought, hey I like working out and motivating people. Personal training seemed perfect.  The training part wasn’t so hard once I had a few clients. It was the selling part to get clients in the first place and trying to convince them to continue on before their sessions were over that I struggled with.

As part of the training, there was role-playing and tips on how to convince potential clients to sign with you. I felt I even sucked at that. Have you ever tried to convince people to drop several thousands of dollars for training? It’s not easy. At least for me it wasn’t.  Everyone wants to look good. But not everyone wants to drop the money or even put in the time and effort. Who can blame them? Personal training isn’t cheap!

If you really think about it, the gym is a social atmosphere. Especially during weekdays in the evening and Saturday mornings. It is prime socializing time. I envied the trainers who seemed to know everyone and had no problems talking to anyone. It was a struggle for me to even have conversations with people about their workouts and convincing them to have me put them through a workout.   I knew that it took a LOT of time,effort (more than I probably put in) and patience to become successful as a trainer. Patience was just something I never had a lot of to begin with.

So my frustrated self  gave up after about six months. I felt I hadn’t achieved much in six months and was losing more clients than actually gaining them. Nobody was renewing their contracts with me.   At that point, I felt defeated. I felt I had made a huge mistake and should have stayed in retail instead. I had too much pride and couldn’t back to it even though I should have until something else came up.

They say you should never give up and that quitting is not an option. Sometimes quitting is an option, but not quitting completely.  After all those experiences, I came to the conclusion that I sucked at sales and I was okay with it.

I also remembered that there are other things that I don’t suck at and I’m okay with that as well.

 

Aside: A high school French teacher of mine always got mad when people would say that this sucks or another person sucked.  He would say, “That doesn’t suck. VACUUMS suck”

(Harty-har har).

 

 

Not Eating it All at “All You Can Eat Restaurants”

All You Can Eat RestaurantsA few weeks ago, I went out with some family for all you can eat sushi.  I don’t really like sushi to begin with. I have eaten sushi and sashimi on several occasions and each time I was left full, but unsatisfied. I don’t think I will ever understand why people crave it and why people get so excited about it. I appreciate the fact that it is beautifully made, it is healthier for you and the ingredients are quite fresh, but I really like my salt, grease and sugar to hit the spot. I grumble to myself and grudgingly get the teriyaki dishes and/ or tempura options. I don’t want to seem like the picky eater, but out of all my friends and family, with the exception of my parents, I seem to be the odd person out for not liking sushi.

I was never good and will never master the skill at using chopsticks. I’ve tried and failed miserably. I often ask right off the bat for a spoon and fork. Yes, I am Asian and I prefer to use a spoon and fork, or knife and fork, depending on what it is I eat. (To be more accurate, I am of mixed Asian background- Filipino and Chinese, with a little more Spanish blood than most Filipinos. At least that’s what my mom claims.  Unlike most other Asian cultures, Filipinos actually use spoons and forks for eating utensils).

I rarely go out to restaurants and the odd times I do, I prefer to go somewhere where 1. It’s reasonably priced 2. It has the type of food I will enjoy 3.  The menu has dishes that I wouldn’t normally make myself. Back in the day when I could eat a ton of food in one sitting, I used to love going to Mandarin. I would barely eat during the day just so I could get the bang for my buck at the buffet. Nowadays, my eating habits have drastically changed.  I am a more of a grazer, eating more frequently and in smaller portions, which is better for you anyway. There will be the odd time I can overdo it on the eating, and that usually seems to be when I go out for breakfast.

I often try to avoid going to buffets because now I don’t feel I get my money’s worth. I can’t justify spending$25-$30 if I eat a salad plate and one full plate. Don’t get me wrong, I love the food they have there and I wish I could eat more, but I can’t. I try my best not to waste food at home (although I do throw a few things here and there), so it really pisses me off how much food is wasted at restaurants, including buffets. Sometimes I’ll eat only half of my meal and make sure I have enough to take home for lunch the following day. I really try my best to finish my meal though.  I’ll see people eat only half or 3/4 of their meal and refuse to take it home. Even that 1/4 of a meal could be used for a snack! What pisses me off even more is when people go to Dim Sum or Sushi restaurants, order 100 things, just because it is all you can eat or they want to try almost  everything on the menu. Sure it’s great to order lots of things and you have a variety, but don’t go overboard with it. Are you trying to feed yourself and a group of friends or a small village?

Why you shouldn’t go overboard and over order things:

Several reasons: Your eyes are bigger than your stomach and wallet. You’ll quickly realize that you’ve ordered way too much and that you can’t finish it. What’s more is that they often will charge you for all the uneaten food you’ve wasted.  I believe you can’t take it home either, but don’t quote me on that.

The most obvious one of all (but you already knew this): WASTED FOOD = WASTED $$$!

I will gladly finish my friend’s meal if I can or take it home with me. Several reasons: Free food. It’s not being wasted and one less meal I have to cook. :)

 

How I View Long Weekends

It’s almost July and tomorrow is Canada Day. That means the 2nd official long weekend of the summer. With respect to long weekends, I prefer to have the Monday off rather than the Friday. Friday is already practically the weekend. Everyone is more relaxed and happier at the workplace, knowing that they are one step closer to the weekend. I’m ok with coming into work on Fridays. Now Monday is a completely different story. We all know how hard it is to get through Mondays. Even with a cup  of coffee, I still find it hard. I anxiously wait for it to be over and then I can breathe a sigh of relief. When I know I have Monday off, I feel so much better, knowing that I can sleep in and skip over that horrendous start of a week. Now Tuesday becomes a Monday, but it’s a short week, so it’s not so bad. You know you can get through it because there is one less day to go through.

A few years back, I, like many of you saw the long weekend as an opportunity to get away.  To get out of the city and go the cottage or go camping. However lately, the idea of going away from the long weekend seemed like more of a turnoff with all its traffic and crowds at the grocery store, beer store, LCBO. You plan to leave early on the Friday only to find out everyone else pretty much had the same idea and now you’re stuck in traffic for two hours with the rest of them.  You get to your campsite or cottage, but it doesn’t seem so tranquil and peaceful because everyone decided to go to the cottage and camping that long weekend.  Its freakin’ crowded everywhere. Maybe you like crowds, drink your face off party atmosphere. Been there, done that. I got most of my partying out in the my early 20s. I’ve got news for you young’uns. It gets harder and takes a lot longer to recover from hangovers when you get older. But maybe you’re lucky enough to have your cottage in a quiet, secluded place and lucky enough to leave at an hour where you won’t hit traffic.

I think the worse part about the long weekend is the drive home. Everyone decides to leave at the same time and now your two-hour drive has turned into a  four-hour drive. That’s four hours of your life you’ll never get back. You’re completely exhausted by the time you get home.  I guess by this point, it’s quite obvious I detest traffic. I’m lucky enough to not have to deal with it during my weekly commute. I once did a two-hour round trip to get to work. It sucked the life out of me and I said to myself, NEVER AGAIN.

Lately I’ve been staying local when the long weekends roll around. To be honest, I’d rather take an extra day off  and make an extra long weekend or make my  own long weekend during another weekend. I really, really like the idea of not having to deal with traffic. If you were a commuter that had to deal with traffic everyday for work, why would you want to put yourself through even more traffic? Is it really that worth it? Come to think of it, are owning cottages really worth it? (I don’t think so, unless it is a rental property). Everything is just so much more quiet and less crowded. I like to think of long weekends of an opportunity to catch up on whatever you fell behind in, whether it be housework, yard work or even hanging out with friends. You’d be surprised how many people prefer to stay local when it comes to long weekends. You can still have the BBQ or bonfire.

I felt pretty productive this long weekend. I got a lot of things crossed off my to-do list that have been on my to-do list for quite some time (including writing another post).   I still managed some relaxation here and there. If only every weekend was a long weekend.  Maybe for some of you it is.

How do you view long weekends?

EDITOR’S NOTE: I just noticed when I published this, the date said July 1st. July 1st is actually Canada Day, not the day after, as one may believe from reading the intro to this post.

Organic isn’t necessarily better for you, neither is it better for your wallet

Organic foodOrganic food may appear to be fresher and of better quality, but does that necessarily mean organic food is healthier for you? It almost seems as if the idea itself is psychosomatic. You just think it’s healthier because it has the term organic attached to it. The way the animals are raised and slaughtered, the fact that the farmer is local, no pesticides are used-These aspects seem to put a more personal touch to it. This may cause us to think that oh wow, I feel so much better and healthier eating an organic tomato vs. a tomato grown with pesticides on it. Although I had mentioned in my first post about organic food supposedly tasting better, there is virtually no evidence that organic food is safer or more nutritious than the other kind (Wente, 2013). Furthermore, the American Cancer Society states that there is no evidence that residues of pesticides and herbicides at low dosages present in foods increase the risk of cancer” (Wente, 2013). Many detailed studies conducted around the globe have come up with the same results: organic food isn’t any healthier than food grown conventionally.

Here are what some researchers and key leaders in the industry had to say in regards to the comparison:

In our view the current scientific evidence does not show that organic food is any safer or more nutritious that conventionally produced food.”- Sir John Krebs, former head of the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency (Luik, 2003)

Hundreds or rigorous tests have failed to reveal better-tasting properties or improved nutritional value, but have consistently shown that organic produce has lower nitrate and protein content.” – Anthony Trewavas from the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Edinburgh (Luik, 2003)

Katrin Woese from Germany’s Institute for Health Protection of Consumers examined 150 studies comparing organic and conventional food. No evidence was present to support claims that organic food is “nutritionally superior” because better quality plants are produced through the manure decomposition that is vital to organic farming” (Luik, 2003). With the exception of nitrate and protein content and in regard to all other desirable nutrition values, no major differences were observed between organic and conventional foods or contradictory discoveries did not allow any clear statements (Luik 2003).

As someone having a scientific background, and reading about lack of scientific evidence to the “organic is healthier claim”, it seems as if people who pay for organic food are really only paying for the luxury of the label. The same reason why people buy Lululemon, but with the difference being that their clothing is superior in terms of functionality, breathability and quality. (I can say this because I have worn workout clothing of different brands and go through rigorous workouts. My Lululemon clothes are the only ones that provided the most durability, comfort during movement and performed the best). I have purchased organic bananas and conventionally grown bananas. Needless to say, I didn’t feel any better or worse when I ate the organic bananas. My health hasn’t improved due to eating organic food, but rather exercising intensely and regularly and eating everything in moderation.

When dealing with issues of world hunger and the cost of providing food to the masses, organic food seems only attainable to people living in developed countries or people of an affluent nature who are willing to shell out the extra dollars. The reason why it costs more because the growing process is more labour-intensive. It may be considered better for the environment, but shouldn’t good quality food be available to people from all walks of life, not just those who can afford it?  According to a consumer poll, “More than half of Americans think an  organic label is just an excuse to charge higher prices even though more people are concerned about the environment.” (Huffington Post, 2013)

 

 

The bottom line how I see it: Save yourself and your wallet by skipping the organic food. It just doesn’t seem worth it. I am NOT against organic food, I’m just against the prices they charge and the claims made, but lack of substantial evidence to back up the claim.

Do you consider organic food trendy?

I have never set foot in Whole Foods even though there is one that I could easily bike to from my house.

 

Sources:

 

Huffington Post. “Organic Prices: Food Label Just An Excuse to Charge More, Majority of Consumers Say in New Poll.” Accessed: June 7, 2013 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/22/organic-prices-food-label_n_3133043.html/)

 

Luik, John. “Organic Orthodoxy: The idea that organic food is tastier or healthier is no more than an article of faith.” (Final Edition) Western Standard (1710-1026): 2007. Pg.: 49.

 

Wente, Margaret. “Organic tastes good, but better for us? No.” The Globe and Mail Accessed June 7, 2013

(http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/organic-tastes-good-but-better-for-us-no/article1344742/)

Do You Believe in Luck or Do You Make Your Own?

Do You Believe in LuckGrowing up my mother often told to stop thinking so negatively or being negative. For as long as I could remember, I was never a naturally positive or naturally happy person. I wouldn’t call myself a cynic, but I would definitely consider myself to be a pessimist or when I felt like being a real smart ass, a realist.  I’ve told my members that I’m not a naturally happy-go-lucky person which they found hard to believe because they always see me happy. The thing is, I have to try hard and get into a happier more positive state of mind before I set foot in the gym. Some days are easier than others, but it never comes naturally. Once I’m there greeting them and talking to them, I feel a bit more positive. After a hard workout, I feel like sunshine and lollipops, but beforehand I’m not.

I’m sure we’ve heard that saying about the power of positive thinking. I’ll be honest. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in luck either. Probably because I never felt I had it.  You know those people who seem to have it all together and an endless supply of horseshoes up the rear end? Do you consider them lucky?  What if they worked their asses off to get it together? As I said before, I don’t believe in luck. What I do believe in is hard work, grit (I love that word. GRIT.), fortitude, and strength. I believe that is what will (usually) get  you the good fortune you deserve.

Of course there are those people who work their asses off day in and day out, and can’t catch a break. And there are those people who don’t deserve ANYTHING, but have EVERYTHING.  What about them?  I’ll just consider them anomalies, even though there are quite a few people out there on either end of the spectrum.

I have never considered myself to be a lucky person nor do I know the “right” people. I’ve had my share of my misfortune. I consider myself accountable for it, but at the same time in hindsight, (although it is easier to say this in hindsight because it is 20/20), I am glad I went through it because it made me a stronger person.  Sure I had low points and broke down quite a few times, but I dusted myself off and put myself back together and pushed on. I had no idea what the future would bring or if anything good was coming my way anytime soon, but all I could do was keep pushing.

Anything I have ever achieved in my life has been through what I have mentioned before. None of my professional jobs, including my current one have ever been through a “connection”.  It took almost four years to get my steady job with the federal government. Perhaps I am “lucky”, because my job is considerably more secure and has good benefits, but I chose to apply for it. I chose to go through the testing and interviews. I chose to accept the job.  Out of all the jobs I had during my co-op experience in university, I enjoyed the government work terms the most. Probably because they were more laid back. :P Perhaps you are “lucky” because you are self-employed  and you are your own boss.  You chose that route for whatever reasons, you took that leap,  worked for it and now you reap the rewards.

Love (along with winning the lottery) may be one of the few things that ties in with luck, but even then you still have to work hard at it to make it successful.

When it comes to your life and well-being, I wouldn’t count on luck.

Too Canadian for My Own Good?

Canadian for My Own GoodOne of the great things about living in Canada is that we are very accepting of different cultures and embrace them to a huge degree.  I would like to think that most newcomers would not feel too out-of-place considering there are many “cultural corners” in the large metropolitan cities.  Most of them manage to keep their culture and at the same time embrace Canadian things such as poutine, ice hockey and maple syrup.

Although both of my parents immigrated from the same country, they did not meet until they arrived in Canada. It wasn’t right away either. My mom was living in the east coast for a bit, before she moved to Ontario.  At that time, the 70s, it was easier to get a job and you didn’t have to have “Canadian” work experience.  There weren’t as many people coming to Canada back then.

Fast forward to the 80s. Growing up, I was one of the few non-Caucasian kids in my class. Majority of my friends were Caucasian. The neighbourhood I grew up in was mostly Italian and Polish. Obviously, there was absolutely nothing wrong with that. Perhaps that may attribute to why I have a love for pasta. I’m a very picky eater and to make things sound worse, I don’t even really like my culture’s food that much.  I love certain ethnic foods such as Italian, Portuguese, Thai, and Lebanese, but not the stuff I grew up eating. Perhaps I got sick of it eating it all the time?

Every now and then, we would get a new student in the class who came another country. It was one thing to be new, but to be the new kid from a completely different country and not speak English very well was a whole  other story. I remember vividly some kids making fun of the new kids because of the way they dressed and the way they spoke English. I also remember them just sticking together because they felt safer and more comfortable that way. Having lived in Canada all my life, I can’t even fathom what it would be like to leave your country, come to a foreign one as a kid and experience a culture shock. Having traveled to quite a few countries, I still haven’t experienced culture shock.

Fast forward to the late 90s. High school was bigger and a little more diverse. We all know high school is all about the cliques. Jocks, nerds, goths, skaters, etc. There were also a few ethnic cliques. I was never part of them. I just hung out whoever I got along with, regardless of their background. A few people from the clique with the same ethnicity commented on how I hung out with Caucasian people. I didn’t see this as an issue and I couldn’t understand what would it matter.  I can’t help it if the environment I grew up in was with mostly people of European background.

Growing up, my parents only spoke English to me and their mother tongue to each other. I tried taking a language course in high school for extra credit and as an effort to be more cultured, but I still can’t carry a conversation. My mom took cultural dancing when she was young, but I was enrolled in ballet and jazz lessons instead. I tried again in my last year of university to join one of the ethnic social groups. At the first encounter everyone else seemed to know each other and my anti-social self just got fed up and left.

People who were born and raised in another country often talk of back home and visiting back home. So wouldn’t it be fitting for me to go and visit my parents’ home? To learn more about where my parents’ came from and the culture? Last time I visited the country I was 11. It’s been 20  years.

Does it seem bad that I only want to go out of guilt? I know despite all its shortcomings, its a beautiful country, visited by many tourists. But it’s not even in the list of  top 10 places I would like to visit before I die.

I consider myself Canadian first and foremost. My parents’ background comes second.  I grew up watching Mr. Dress-up. I had a Roots sweatshirt. I listened to I Mother Earth (I had the biggest crush on the lead singer) and Our Lady Peace. I work for the Canadian federal government and my side job is with a Canadian owned company. So what if I’m too Canadian for my own good.

I ask you this, if you have recently come to North America from a different country, have you managed to still keep close ties to your culture? Or have you shed that skin and become Westernized?

If you are an 4th, 5th, 6th, etc generation Canadian or American, do you feel more Canadian/American than where your ancestors came from because your family has been in the country for so long?

Has anyone experienced something similar to what I experienced growing up?