How she integrated into life in Canada?
Author: Leon Ling | Editor: Doug Pattison | Photo: Eliott Reyna | Guest Speaker: Lulu Yuan
95%: This is the degree to which Lulu considers herself integrated into Victoria society.
Social integration can be a tough challenge for international students and newcomers due to many factors, such as cultural differences, social connection, and mindset switching.
Lulu was born in Shanghai, China, and came to Canada in 2006 for her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Victoria. Now she is working as Manager, Reporting, and Analysis at the Debt Management Branch of the Provincial Treasury, BC Public Service.
“My current identity can be described as a fusion, and it changed gradually,” said Lulu. She has become a wife, a mother, and a Canadian after living in Victoria for 14 years. She changed her nationality for her family after a few years of consideration.
For people who were new to Canada, it was not easy to get a job. When applying for her first co-op position, Lulu sent out at least ten resumes, but seldom replied. After a conversation with the branch manager of a bank and a recruiter at an event for international students, she started her first co-op position as a customer service representative at the bank. When Lulu realized her interest was not in banking, she started her second and third co-op work terms with KPMG in Victoria, which she heard about from the campus’s job information session.
As a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Professional Accountant with previous experience, she secured a BC Public Service position. She was glad to communicate and work with people from diverse backgrounds, who were friendly and respectful. Though some people are not as friendly as others, Lulu chooses to build herself up and be confident to start a casual conversation with them.
“Friendliness” is one of the reasons Lulu fell in love with Victoria. She received help with kindness from another newcomer and met professors who also cared about international students. Lulu participated actively in many volunteer activities and social events to become more familiar with communities. Romantically, she also met Mr. Right during school and got married soon after graduation.
Lulu had already immersed herself in the local culture when she gave birth to the third of her children last year. Though she has deep roots in the Chinese culture and still maintains connections with friends and family in China, the journey Lulu has taken in Victoria has involved strangers becoming friends, and friends becoming family.
As a former international student, Lulu encourages newcomers to be outgoing and to engage with communities. She considered herself to be an introverted person, but then changed her mindset and became proactive in communicating with local people. The remaining 5%, indicating incomplete integration, is attributable to different life experiences and lifestyles in Canada and China. It does prevent Lulu from enjoying island life with her beloved husband and children.