My grandparents moved to Canada from England with their children to give them a better life. Fortunately, when both sets of grandparents arrived, they each had one Canadian child who would later become my parents.
My dad has a job that requires our family to move every few years. This is the reason my two sisters and I were born in different provinces in Canada. My older sister was born in Manitoba like my dad, and my younger sister and I were born in Ontario like my mom. I lived in four cities in Canada before moving to China, but none of them can
compare to life in Beijing. Before coming to China, I had never left Canada apart from a family vacation to Florida in the US. Living in such a diverse setting, I have been given the opportunity to learn several languages. Although I consider myself a “typical Canadian,” I have three languages under my belt and I’m currently working towards my fourth. Though I speak English, French, and Spanish, I am now trying to learn Mandarin to fully immerse myself into Chinese culture. I feel lucky to identify with these different cultures, because this diversity helps me feel a lot more unique in the world.
Like any homesick teenager, I miss home; after all, home is where the heart is. Part of my heart lies here in China with my family, and the other half lies back in Ottawa. I’m enjoying my time here to the fullest, but I look forward to returning home, where my close friends and my boyfriend are waiting for me. As a senior, I only have a year to go until I see them again – but it seems so far away.
As I’m graduating this year from high school, I can only dream about what my future will hold. I plan to attend university in Canada’s capital city in the field of linguistics. With this degree, I can fulfill a promise to represent Canada to the best of my ability while trying to make the world a more united place. To me, being Canadian is a great thing. We get along with other nations, we have citizens who come from all around the world, and we have a beautiful country. Poutine (French fries with cheese curds and
gravy) is a must-try for anyone who comes to Canada and a trip to a Tim Hortons is in order to experience the taste of real coffee (I recommend the oh-so-popular Double Double or iced cappucino). They are an absolute delight – and I’m not just saying that because they’re Canadian treats.
It is safe to say that I also love China. I love the food, I love the atmosphere, and I love the historical landmarks. The friendships I have made here will last a lifetime and I am so thankful for the time I have been given in this beautiful country I’m allowed to call home. China is something I have never had the opportunity to experience before and may never have the opportunity to experience again.
If any of you reading this happen to visit Canada in the future, be sure to note the astonishing contrast between the two countries. And lastly, don’t forget to support Canada’s best hockey team: the Toronto Maple Leafs. Go, Leafs, go!
Erika Richards is 17 years old and attends the Canadian International School of Beijing.