Stranger in Cantonese: 陌 [mak6] 生 [saang1] 人 [jan4]
Growing up in a city where people rarely wear their smiley faces or greet their neighbours, it was unusual to me that Canadians can initiate a conversation with strangers. Parents and teachers have always reminded us not to talk to strangers since I was a kid. But as I grow up, I also came to realise that all friendships begin with strangers.
It was my second week at SFU as an exchange student here, I had lots of opportunities to meet and chat with strangers who later become friends. As an introvert, it is definitely a challenge for me to socialise and start a conversation with people I just met, it drains my energy but I have to step out of my comfort zone as this is a rare opportunity to meet people from around the world. Following a series of orientation and welcome week activities, I have met lots of new faces:
- a Hong Kong girl who can’t speak in Cantonese. She asked me if I want some homemade Nian Gao (a rice cake that Chinese have in Chinese New Year)
- a Pakistani with a Chinese name, which is named after a famous herbal tea brand
- my GPS buddy from Guangzhou
- A guy who works at the ticket office
- group of exchange students from Hong Kong
and many more
Out of all these new faces and the interesting conversations we’ve had, the conversation between him and I have made my day more special. On the first week in Vancouver, my dad and I decided to do something very Canadian – watch an ice hockey game. We walked to the ticket office which is just a few blocks away from our home. While he was processing our booking, he asked if we are tourists. I told him I am an exchange student in Simon Fraser University for one semester and turns out his son went to the same university as I do! (For some reason, people always ask me if I am studying in UBC when I tell people I’m an exchange student in Vancouver.)
After we got our tickets and put into our bags, he saw that we have two cameras with pretty long lenses. He said we cannot bring lenses longer than 75mm into the stadium but sometimes there could be exceptions. He gave us a cap with the maple leaf on it as a gift and put on my dad’s head, “Now you look more like a tourist! Just pretend you can’t speak in English and you might be able to bring the camera with you!” We were so lucky to meet him who tried and helped us to sneak in our cameras.
I can’t wait to meet more awesome people like him in my exchange!