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A Canadian International Finding Her Way in an Unfamiliar, Not-So-Much-Guaranteed Home — Part 1 of 3 > CULTURS — lifestyle media for cross-cultural identity

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In 2011, Lauren Gale came to the United States from Canada in hopes of adjusting to a new life with her family. Lauren had no idea the culture shock and cross-cultural kid (CCK) experience that she was in for.

Gale’s big move from Canada

On January 1, 2000 Lauren was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She spent half of her childhood growing up there, where the rest of her family is from. At the age of 11, her father was transferred to the United States. She and her family had to pick up their lives and move to a new country.

Lauren experienced a lot of cultural and environment changes transitioning from Canada to the U.S. scene. However, one thing that stayed the same for her was sports. Gale is a track and field athlete at Colorado State University.  

While competing for her university during the school year, Lauren goes back home every summer to compete for Team Canada. Some of her travels have included the Bahamas, Costa Rica and Finland where she has been awarded many national championship titles. In an interview with Lauren she says while she runs for a U.S. university, “during the summer it is no question that I represent Canada at all times.”

Lauren’s identity crisis

Although now it is clear who she represents on the track it has not always been that easy for Lauren. To identify what country she identifies with was difficult for her growing up.

In high school it was kind of hard for me to pick a side looking back now. I think that’s because I literally spent half of my life in both countries. I am 20 years old now and moved here at the age of 10 years old.

In moving to the U.S.A., Lauren experienced a lot of questions for herself regarding her identity. This is a result of students picking on for her accent and speaking French.

I would always get people coming up to me asking me to say certain words, like ‘bag.’ Or they would laugh at me for how I reference my grade. I would say grade eleven rather than saying the eleventh grade. Never really thought it was funny because this is just how I talk. It shouldn’t be something to make someone laugh. This has not stopped as I’m older.

Obstacles

Lauren started trying to hide her accent. She would even look up how to say certain words on the Internet and practice it. She took it even further to only speak French in her first period. “I’m fluent in French but in high school It was my first class. Not only did it give me a sense of home, but it was also a great way to start off my day.”

Gale shares that this contributed to making it very hard to make friends in school. Not being able to be herself was hard. Then came the reality that when classmates found out that she was from Canada she got a lot of jokes about Canada just being “a lesser version of the United States.”

Love for Gale’s home country

Through all of the culture shock and the shift of becoming a cross cultural kid, Lauren identifies home as her home country of Canada. However, there’s no question that she has love for her U.S. family as well. While living in the United States, Lauren demonstrates her Canadian roots and traditions. Lauren thinks that it is crucial for her to spread the love of her country while at the same time being a major addition to her U.S. university’s track and field team.

You know, it really hurt to hear people compare Canada to the United States in such a negative way. I feel like no matter where you are there’s going to be a culture difference. Growing up in different states even there are different cultures and different ways that people live their lives. And in Canada, where I’m from, it is a completely different culture. I just wish people would educate themselves on that and appreciate different cultures.



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