This article is part of an ongoing series here on Dal News focusing on international voices in our community.
It was a love for Anne of Green Gables that first attracted Maygan Forbes to the Maritimes.
“The movie was filmed here, so that’s how I knew of Halifax. There is a lot of history behind this place,” says Maygan, originally from London, England.
“I am interested in becoming a film director and Halifax has a booming underground film history, a film culture and music culture."
Thus, Halifax was the perfect place for an exchange for the second-year history and film major, and she’s been enjoying it immensely, involving herself in the community.
“At the start of the semester, I joined Dalhousie’s World Society for the Protection of Animals,” she says. “It was my first encounter with people outside of class and I started to really know people. The animal society encouraged and influenced my eating decisions. We always talk about global issues and have friendly debates.”
Joining this society also influenced her decision to join the Loaded Ladle. “Whoever thought about this idea should get a Nobel Prize,” she says. “It’s such an incredible thing that helps everyone at Dalhousie.”
Like others who move to Canada, some of Maygan’s strongest impressions of Halifax relate to the weather.
“Being from England, we have rubbish weather, but this was different; it was just so cold. The snow is so different here. In London we get a handful of snow, it melts and turns into slush. Here, snow is a permanent fixture. It’s so deep that you can put your feet in it and not get them out for at least 10 seconds.”
The friendly nature of the people more than made up for the weather. “I don’t mind the cold. People here are just so nice. Even the dogs here are so friendly,” she says. “The way people communicate here is very different. Here, when people talk to you it’s like they actually want to talk to you. Back home people communicate, but the connection is very different.”
Unexpectedly, language was a barrier for the student who wishes to do a master’s in history and go to film school one day. “Even though we both speak English, the phrases are very different — like ‘jumper’ and ‘sweater.’ I never expected language to be a barrier and my roommates have to decipherer what I say.”
Other commonalities were also surprisingly different from home: “Canadians have a lot of magazines dedicated to the Royal Family, like the obsession with the new baby and the clothes the Duchess is wearing. This is something you won’t see back home.”
Other things that have impressed Maygan about Canada and Halifax: our money (“It’s like Monopoly money!”), the houses and coffee shops. “You have so many options to choose from of everything,” she says.
Embracing new experiences
Prior to coming to study in Canada, Maygan says she did have different conceptions of what Canada would be like. “I was very ignorant in my thinking of Canada — like, how Canada was very American-influenced and they dominated the country. I came here and I was surprisingly shocked that was not the case. Just coming here, I have gotten rid of my preconceived stereotypes of how people around the world live. Travelling has been an education in itself.”
So what’s her advice for other international students? She advises them to let themselves be surprised and to discover what Canada has to offer.
“Don’t shut yourself away,” she says. “Have the motivation to get up and do things. I got over homesickness just by sticking out and going over my emotions. Now, I absolutely love it here. Just be yourself. The human being you are is a good human being, so don’t do yourself a disservice.”
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