Why is Canada making me so miserable?

I’ve been living in Canada for just under six months and from bad it’s been gradually getting worse. I moved to this country at the beginning of March when the weather was freezing cold. The day I arrived I took a walk, a walk in what felt like a ghost town. A ghost big city town with not a single person around! That day was one of the saddest days in a long time. What was I thinking when I decided to move to Canada?!

Work was mediocre when I started and from mediocre it became terrible. Today I had another “I almost resigned” and “I can’t take it any longer” day. The team is led by middle aged women who don’t inspire or empower. There is no open communication and you have to watch your back as you never know who may come and stab you from behind.

Bars and restaurants in Toronto have no atmosphere or personality and the city itself is full of ugly glass skyscraper boxes. Food is average and people seem too absorbed in work and paying off student debts and mortgages.

It’s currently summer here and I am already dreading winter. As winter is when everyone in Canada (at least on the east coast) hibernates. It’s already dreadful; can it get any worse than this?

The nature in Canada is beautiful, however from where I live, in order to get to the nature, you need a car. And most beautiful places are 3-5 hours’ drive away.

My best friend in Sydney keeps nagging how concerned she is about me being so miserable. She finds it discombobulating how miserable I’ve been ever since I moved. I mean we all have good days and bad days. I have days that are better than others. Sometimes even a week or two go by and I feel ok. And then the reality kicks…

I wish I could just leave but I have at least another seven months of this painful life. It will be a year then. A very depressing year indeed…

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Canada from a different perspective

Whenever I would read articles about Canada, they would always be positive and colourful. So I created an amazing perception on this this country. And then I moved to Canada (with the aim to call this country my home – yes) and my perception changed. Canada is not bad but there is somehow a lot of hypocrisy and contrast in this country. Here are a few examples:

Political correctness aka impaired freedom of speech
The Canadians say they are politically correct. Due to the sensitivity of most Canadians, there is a 99.9% chance that if you have an opinion on something, someone will find it offensive, racist or undesirable. The Canadians call it political correctness. For other westerners, it would be no freedom of speech.

Country of friendliness but not inclusiveness
Canadians are friendly and smiley. However, they are not particularly inclusive or actually interested in other people’s stories. Given such a great diversity in this country, there is a lack of cultural awareness and authentic foreign food (at least in Toronto).

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Advanced country with not so advanced life
If you are from another western country and you move to Canada, it feels like you’ve moved 20 years back in the past. Lack of infrastructure, backward banking system and dated technology are things you’ll be dealing with on a day to day basis.

Country of new life with no job
Canada constantly welcomes new skilled immigrants yet the country somehow doesn’t provide any jobs for them. There is already a shortage of jobs for Canadians. It’s pretty common for an university educated Canadian to work in a coffee shop or restaurant.
I’ve met a lot of immigrants since my move to Canada who were engineers, doctors or lawyers in their home countries. They came to Canada and became admin clerks and taxi drivers. Canadian immigration says “we need skilled workers”, Canadian employers say “we need workers with experience and skills gained in Canada”.

Working culture that preaches innovation and practises red tape and rigidness
Canadian companies say they want innovation and efficient processes, yet they are risk averse and usually just watch what the US or the UK do and 10 years later they copy what these countries have done. The working culture in Canada is a a culture where employee loyalty (but not necessarily contribution) gets celebrated and promoted over employee capabilities. It’s a working culture with rigid rules and red tape, a culture in which good and young junior people have no career growth or prospects and so they silently stay and complain about their jobs as they have nowhere else to go while the not so good and old senior people stick around and wait for retirement.

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Low paid jobs and high mortgages
The salaries in Canada are shockingly low when compared to the cost of living. A good salary in Toronto is considered to be anything in excess of C$100k. On a salary of C$100k (which is apparently a top 10% salary in Canada), you spend C$33k+ on taxes (not including RRSP pension contributions), C$24k on accommodation unless you are willing to share or spend 3 hours commuting to/from work, C$2,000 on utilities and bills and C$6,000 on bad food. If you want good food because you refuse to feed your body with bread with 25 ingredients or coconut water with added “natural” flavours, GMO or other north-American specialty food, then be prepared to spend three times more on your grocery shopping trips. A shoe-box condo in Downtown Toronto goes for C$450k. In order to buy such a condo, you need a deposit of at least 20%. The motto of Torontonians is “work for nothing, pay for everything”.

Work, work…and…work
I appreciate that my last comment relates mostly to Torontonians. But here goes. Whenever you meet someone new in Toronto, be prepared to have a very fruitful conversation about their work, your work and work in general. You see, work defines Torontonians, work is what makes Torontonians more interesting. Work normally tends to be the main (and usually the only topic) of your discussion with Torontonians. I’ve warned ya!

Why I left Asia only to realise I want to go back (aka your home is where your heart is)

I guess I left Asia for the same reasons I now miss that part of the world. While living in Vietnam and then Taiwan, at times I felt like I was living in a bubble – all the popularity and privileges of a blonde petite girl and the fun that came with it. I understand now what all the fuss is about, why a lot of Westerners come to Asia and never leave. The life in Asia seems a lot easier, colourful even than that in the West. However, in order to realise this, one has to leave first.  

I am now based in Toronto, Canada. They say Asians are materialistic. I say Torontonians are slaves to the rat race. It seems that Torontonians just work and when they don’t work, then they talk about work and when they don’t talk about work, they talk about their MBAs or schools they went to (and which no one else in the world has ever heard of). It’s almost like they think that work (or their degree) defines them; makes them complete, more interesting, more entertaining. I guess that if I had three cups of coffee, I’d stay awake.

I always say there isn’t much to do in Ho Chi Minh. However, Ho Chi Minh seems like such a colourful, vibrant and eventful city compared to the non-happening sleeping city of Toronto. While living in Ho Chi Minh, I’d go for an amazing cup of Vietnamese coffee or hang out at a pool party, out of boredom. Here, I spend money on clothes, shoes and nice furniture that I really don’t need, out of boredom.

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Towards the end of last year, I was given the option to freelance, which would essentially give me the opportunity to continue my nomad lifestyle and travel more while having Asia as my base. In the end I decided to choose stability and routine in the city of Toronto… I thought that maybe the stability and routine would help me settle down and eventually call Toronto my home. However, when making the decision, which I thought was probably one of the hardest decisions in my life, I completely ignored what my heart was saying to me – that it has chosen Asia as its home.

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I just finished a few week romance with a boy I really liked but just wasn’t into. He sensed it and I didn’t fight it. He thought I had issues and I let him believe it. I didn’t tell him that I didn’t bring my heart to Canada, I didn’t tell him that my heart stayed in Asia. He wouldn’t understand. 

 

Tips for Asian guys trying to match with Western girls on Tinder

I am back on Tinder. I find it is a great tool for meeting new people; people that I wouldn’t otherwise meet as they are outside of my circle of friends.
While playing the “yes or no” game, I notice a lot of Asian guys have their narratives in English. To me that’s a sign that they are interested in “matching” with a Western girl. However, their photos and the content of their narratives often suggest the opposite.

I gather that being “cute” is attractive in Asia. My Korean and Japanese female friends prefer what I would define as “feminine girly looking boys”. When I point out at a handsome muscular well-built Asian guy I like, they just turn their heads with an expression that could potentially be considered “dislike”?

The take-away message for your Asian guys who want to attract a Western girl on Tinder is this: As a rule of thumb, what an Asian girl finds attractive in a man, a Western girl finds unattractive. The following will guarantee a 100% left-swipe:

1. Photos of you cuddling with pets. If you are trying to send a message across that you like pets, then include a nice photo with one, but please don’t cuddle with it in the photo. You are not five years old.

2. Photos of your six packs, especially those taken at the gym. I understand that you are proud of your guns and other muscly parts on your body and are trying to show off. There is nothing wrong with that, but please do it in a less obvious fashion. A selfie will just lead to a left-swipe I am afraid. A photo of you and your friends at the beach or a photo of you sailing or pursuing other water-sport activities while looking super-fit and hot will definitely do you more favour. I guarantee that will be a right-swipe – at least from me.

3. Mirror and other phone selfies in general. Please don’t – they look ridiculous.

4. Photos of you eating food, especially those in which you are stuffing your face with an extra-large burger. Yeah, I really am not interested to see how big a burger you can eat or how large your mouth is. I definitely don’t want to see the food stuck between your teeth either.

5. Photos of you being completely wasted. What are you trying to achieve by this one? That you can (or rather can’t) drink? In general, Westerners are able to handle (and digest) more alcohol anyway but it’s not something we are proud of or want to boast about. By the way, drinking is not a competition.

6. Photos of your “assets”. We are living in a superficial world but most Western girls (unless they are gold diggers) are first interested in you as a person. It’s the personality, hobbies, etc. that make you desirable. If you are trying to impress us by your success or other achievements, you may include a more professional photo (not a phone selfie!) from a work function or conference.

7. Dull uninteresting photos, especially if they don’t even show your face. Once again, what’s the point of these? Instead include a photo from your travels (so that we know that you are well-travelled), with your friends (so that we know that you have friends) or doing fun activities (so that we know that you are fun).

8. Wearing sunglasses in all photos. We can’t tell how amazing your personality is through Tinder – yes, we are shallow on Tinder. We want to see your eyes and your face!

9. Photos with a female. Is she your girlfriend, wife or just a female friend? We don’t know. That’s a left-swipe – sorry!

10. Photos with kids. Unless you tell us explicitly in the narrative that that’s your nephew or niece, we will assume the kid is yours – are you married as well? Photos with kids are great – they imply that you like them and that you’ll be great dads of our halfie babies one day. Narrative is required though!

What is it like to work in Vietnam?

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A lot of my friends have been asking me what it is like to work in Vietnam. The below summarises my experience and observations of the working style of the Vietnamese in Vietnam.

Hours vs. productivity

The Vietnamese love to work (read spend long hours in the office). They claim they are busy – all the time. Yet, somehow deadlines are rarely met and work hardly gets delivered to an agreed standard. At quiet times (holiday season) when there isn’t much work around, you will still find a lot of Vietnamese in the office at late hours. Such great employees: they really like their work, don’t they?

If the boss works late, the juniors work late too. Interestingly, once the boss leaves, the juniors do too, approximately one minute after their boss’ departure. What a coincidence the juniors are always as busy as their boss.

Now, as a comparison of average time spent on a piece of work in the western world vs. Vietnam, if you give the Vietnamese a task that you would expect to be finished in 30 minutes in the western world, you should allow at least two hours for a Vietnamese to handle such a task. You’d expect the final product to be of better quality or to be more innovative given the time spent on it, right? Only in your dream…

Ownership and accountability vs. the lack thereof

The Vietnamese work on a task given to them; they don’t own the task or assume accountability for such a task. If they think they can’t handle their task, they will tell you so and ask you to find another staff member who can. As mentioned above, deadlines have no meaning to the Vietnamese. Where is the rush? Nobody is dying…

Urgent task – DIY (do it yourself)

You give a Vietnamese an urgent task and that task ends at the bottom of their “to do” list. The Vietnamese don’t understand the concept of “prioritising”; when asked to prioritise a particular piece of work, they’ll tell you they are working on an extensive (usually non-urgent) project and also have other work to do and as such, they won’t be able to get to the urgent task until a couple of days later – no compromise. Result? If you want something done urgently, do it yourself.

Manners, courtesy, respect – what’s that?

Time manners are absent and so is spatial perception. You should expect a meeting scheduled for 10 am to start from 10 to 30 minutes later. You should also expect the office doors to be shut in your face when entering the office if you are behind a Vietnamese colleague. While visiting the ladies room, you may also get exposed to some interesting (read weird and loud) noises. I always thought that only animals are capable of such noises.

No skills do get you to the top

With a little skillset you can get to the top, due to the lack of competition and low expectations. I see a lot of Vietnamese at senior positions that lack most skills (people management, time management, etc.) and traits (charisma, charm, etc.) that you would normally see in a lot of senior executives in the western world.

If it’s not written, it never happened

If something has been discussed orally but has not been documented in writing, for the Vietnamese, it has never been discussed. They say one thing one day, then another thing the next day and in a few days they don’t recall any of the things they’ve said.  This can be very frustrating as you may end up repeating yourself like a parrot and may usually not get anywhere anyway. Lesson learnt? Document everything important that you discuss orally in writing.

Common sense is not so common

New shops, cafes and bars open every day in Vietnam. The same shops, cafes and bars close overnight. It seems that the “try and fail” method is used as opposed to a thorough market research or just pure common sense.

Have you ever been to any of the airports in Vietnam? It’s impressive that you can get a piece of painting there. You can also buy gifts and other unnecessary clutter at the Vietnamese airport shops. Need a toothpaste or suncream? Yeah, you will not get those at an airport in Vietnam.

It’s all about the family vs. the good and the bad are equal

True communists, the Vietnamese companies promote family atmosphere at work; they want everyone to feel good about themselves. As such, it is common practice amongst many companies in Vietnam that over-performers get the same performance review results as those who are under-performing.  In the western world, this approach would encourage under-performing employees to carry on under-performing while those who are over-performing to care less and eventually leave. I have started to see a similar pattern happening in Vietnam. Companies that promote communist equality and the “feel good about themselves” attitude are starting to end up with bad-performing employees as the good-performing ones are leaving for challenging roles.

 

 

Why I love (and care about) Asian men

Fact: I never cared about black men, I never cared about Indian or Latino men either. I didn’t care about Asian men.

I never found black men attractive. I did fancy Indian men for a while in my life but never actually dated one. I did have a Latino boyfriend a couple of years ago but he didn’t change my perception on them – I still don’t fancy Latino men, I still don’t care.

Then I got the yellow fever. I am trying to think when exactly I got infected. I think deep down I always found Asian men attractive but I didn’t care and would never approach them – you know why, you hear stories about their boring personalities, about their materialism, about their … “tools”. Finally, I also thought that they wouldn’t find white Western girls attractive or that they would be just too shy to approach me because “white girls don’t date Asian guys”.

Then I started dating them and I started to care. Now, I only like Asian guys and this is why:

  • They have hair at the right places. It’s hard to see hair at the right places on Western men. Western guys usually have hair all over their body but not where it’s supposed to be. Asian men have pretty awesome hair where it’s supposed to be and they let you touch it. Hands up – if you are a female – how many times have you heard “don’t” when trying to touch your Western boyfriend’s hair (well, if they still have any left on their heads)?
  • They have amazing smooth skin. You want to cuddle with them all the time. You want to kiss their face too. The stubble on Western men just irritates your skin.
  • They are super hot. I’ve read countless articles about how a lot of women (including Asian women living in certain Western countries) don’t find Asian guys attractive, how “ugly” they find them. I believe that these women are either blind or have been brainwashed in those countries by the “white supremacy”.
  • They don’t mind carrying your handbag. Whenever I’d ask my Western exes to carry or hold my bag for a second, the answer would be the same: “no, I am not gay”.
  • Sex is pretty awesome. Somehow, they know what to do with their “tool”.
  • They are perceived as “nerdy” or “good with computers”. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Better nerdy than stupid!
  • They all want to have children. I have a lot of female friends wanting children while their husbands or boyfriends don’t. All Asian guys I’ve met want babies.

 

 

 

 

How to impress a European lady – tips for American men (or what American men should learn from their European counterparts, to win the heart of a European girl)

I am European. As such, I have standards and am hard to impress. Most European women have standards, most European women are hard to impress. American men like European women. European women don’t like American men. In order to get a European woman interested, an American man needs to learn to be more European.

Dining manners (learn from the French)

Dining with you guys is … ehmm … quite an experience. A European woodcutter holds a spoon the way you do while a four-year old child in Europe licks their knife like you. You could definitely do with a lesson or two on a dining etiquette from the French.

Appreciation of good food and wine (learn from the Spanish)

Your favourite dishes are a double cheese burger and mac & cheese. Please don’t commit such cringe-worthy food faux pas by ordering your favourite dish for us. Instead, do yourselves a favour and find some Spanish friends that will introduce you to the world of tasty paella, delicious tapas and divine wine. If you want to impress us, take us to a fine Spanish restaurant on a date. If you want to get rid of us, take us to an American diner.

Fashion style (learn from the Italians)

It’s common knowledge amongst us, Europeans, that you have poor taste in clothes. The ill-fitted suits, the ugly shoes, the hideous caps you wear at weekends?! Walking fashion disasters! I would encourage you visit Milan and observe the stylishness and elegance of the chic Italians.

Sense of humour / banter (learn from the English)

Dear American men, being loud and in our face is in no way hilarious or entertaining for us; it’s annoying. The English would definitely have one or two things to teach you.

Efficiency (learn from the Germans)

You are known for working long hours aka office face time. The Germans are known for working less and being efficient. Dear American men: more efficiency, less face time! Ask a German how it’s done.

Charm (learn from the Scots)

Telling us that you are a hedge fund manager or investment banker and how much you “make” will not get you into our knickers. I’ll give you a tip: go on the pull with a Scot. He’ll show you how to approach and talk to a girl, without all the cheese and sleaze.

Intellectuality (learn from Scandinavians)

We know, you are American and you live in America. For girls from third-world countries, an American passport would probably be the passport into their hearts.  For us, Europeans, it’s the intellectual and stimulating conversations that will open the doors for you into ours. We want to talk about history and philosophy – go and learn some from the Scandinavians.

Global awareness & worldview (learn from all Europeans)

Dear American boys, there is an entire world outside of the United States. It’s the travel and appreciation of different cultures what makes men for us interesting; not boasting about the fact you live in the best country in the world without ever having stepped outside of America. So go travel, go explore! Just like us, Europeans…