When most people think of the word “foreign”, they think of countries other than their own, countries where the language is not the same as they speak and the culture is different. They travel to a foreign country or someone comes from a foreign country or they speak a foreign language. Foreign can also mean something that’s unknown to you, like a “foreign concept”.
Canada is a multi cultural country and there’s lots of “foreign” right within our own borders. Neighbourhoods where there were large immigrant settlements bear the names of the country of origin. Little Italy. Polish Town. And the ubiquitous Chinatown. There are a good number of them in Canada and in the U. S. and even in many other non-Asian cities. Vancouver, B.C. has the largest Chinatown in Canada, seconded by the one in Toronto. There are also small Chinese/Asian neighbourhoods in Montreal and Victoria and maybe more I don’t know about.
I’ve been to all four as well as Chinatowns in London and Manchester and walking the streets you are surrounded by a culture that, for me at least, is most definitely foreign. Undecipherable signs, that may or may not have English translations. Markets with unidentifiable foods, spices and goods. Even the graffiti is in Chinese! The neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Toronto in particular are almost like being in a different country because they are peopled by Asian residents where the others I’ve been to in Canada are mainly shops and an arch type gateway.
I visit Manchester in the U.K. every year, staying in the sister city of Salford and there’s one area that we often drive through where there is a large Hasidic Jewish population. We often see men and boys in long black coats, tall hats and sporting the long curls at their sideburns walking together, with the conservatively dressed women behind them. It seems “foreign” to me since I rarely see that here where I live.
In the office tower that I work in, there is an English Second Language school and the elevators are often filled with young people, students, of various “foreign” cultures chatting to each other in their own languages. I always think they should be practicing their English even on their lunch break! And speaking of lunch, the food court in my building has a number of different kiosks, most of them are independent food sellers, not the usual chain type fast food you usually get, though there’s a few of those. We’ve also got Korean, Indian, Italian (well, pizza and kebabs), Lebanese, Japanese (sushi), Chinese and Turkish. That’s pretty cool!