Welcome to our wonderful city of Victoria, BC! Whether you're studying here at Global Village Victoria, getting ready to take an IELTS exam, or just here to travel and have fun, you might want to try striking up a conversation with the locals. There's no time like the present, so let's get to it!
1. You're on "the island" not "the mainland"
Victoria is a small city. Most people here enjoy the small-town feel of Victoria and they're glad they're not stuck in long lines of traffic going into and out of Vancouver every day.
Victorians, (by which I mean people from Victoria) enjoy living on "the island". Vancouver and all of the cities and districts around Vancouver are called "the mainland" by the people in Victoria.
And when Victorians say "the mainland", they may even have a little sadness in their voice. It's as if it hurts them to say it. They feel bad for the poor "mainlanders" who are probably stuck in traffic right now. However, in Vancouver, nobody says "the mainland". It's just Vancouver.
2. Friendly Victorians
Victorians have a reputation for being friendly people. When Victorians get on the bus, they say "hello" to the driver, and when they get off the bus, they say "thank you". That's just how the people are here.
I was born and raised in Victoria, and when I was backpacking around the world, I always thanked the bus driver. Of course, not every Victorian is friendly, but overall, it's a very friendly place. So try starting a conversation!
3. Victorians can be cliquey
When people are cliquey, they tend to stay in the groups that they have already made and aren't welcoming to new people. Is Victoria a cliquey place? Some people say so. I've heard this from friends who moved to Victoria from other parts of Canada. They complain that while Victorians are nice, it's hard to make friends here.
Remember that Victoria is a small town, so people who were born here often have close friends who they've known since high school. I've known one of my best friends since I was eight years old! So Victorians are friendly, but sometimes they don't seem to have space for new friends in their lives.
If you're out talking with Victorians, and you find it hard to really make new friendships, it might be because of the cliquey nature of Victorians. But if you want to make friends with Victorians, just keep trying! It's a great way to practice your English skills.
4. Get involved!
Want to meet more people in Victoria? It can feel strange to just walk up to people on the street and start a conversation. So what should you do? Get involved with something in Victoria.
The best way to do this is to think about what interests YOU! Do you play soccer? Join a soccer team, or find out where you can play drop-in soccer. Do you like photography? Find a photography club. Do you want to help people? Try volunteering! Or maybe there's something you want to try that you've never done before. Just try it!
If you get involved with Victorians, it will be much easier to make friends here!
5. Go hiking!
Speaking of activities, one of the most popular activities around Victoria is hiking. Victorians are crazy about hiking. If you see somebody in hiking clothes, why not ask them for some good hiking spots? It might be a good way to start up a conversation!
I always find that when I go hiking, the people I see are really friendly. They say hello when you pass each other on the trail. If they see you sweating and struggling to get up a big mountain, they often encourage you or tell you, "You're almost there!"
Not sure where you are? Feel free to ask for help or directions. Out in the forest, we all have to take care of each other! Victorian friendliness really shines on hiking trails. It's another great chance to chat with Victorians, and see some of our beautiful nature.
Don’t worry if don't have a car! You can reach quite a few hiking destinations on the bus. Mount Douglas, Mount Tolmie and Christmas Hill are all within a 30-minute bus ride from downtown. Gowland Todd park is just one bus stop away from Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay. And if you want to really get out into nature, you can take a bus to Goldstream park, or even go out to Sooke and hike around out there! It only costs $5 for a bus day pass.
So if you're interested, do a little research (or ask our knowledgeable activities coordinator here at Global Village Victoria!) and get out there and hike. Meet those friendly Victorians!
6. Develop your "English Persona"
Are you shy? Or maybe you just feel awkward speaking English with Victorians? Some of our students have developed an "English Persona" in their study of English.
What does that mean? It means that they develop a different personality in English than their native language. Even though they are usually shy in their native language, when they speak English, their shyness disappears!
Could it work for you? There's only one way to find out!
Some people say that the English persona doesn't really exist, but some of our students have experienced it. Find out for yourself. If you choose not to be shy, you can open up your world!
7. Ask questions
You might be wondering, "What should I talk about with Victorians!?" Luckily, there's an easy answer: don't just talk! Ask questions! Be curious about other people. You're in a new place, after all! How are Canadians, or Victorians, different? What kind of food do they like? What kind of customs do they have?
Also, don't just focus on Canadians. You need to develop an interest in the person you're talking to! What do you want to know? What do you find strange or interesting about them? Let your curiosity lead you.
People like to be listened to, and they love to feel interesting to others. If you ask questions, the Victorians you talk to will want to keep talking to you. Often, if you show interest, it will make them interested in you. After all, your life here is pretty interesting. Where are you from? Why are you living here or studying English in Victoria? What's it like in your country?
So when you're talking with Victorians, try to ask a lot of questions! It will make your conversations more interesting and fun!
Triangulation? That's a big word. What does it mean? Well, you know what a triangle is, right?
Like this: ▲.
Well, one point of the triangle is you, another point is the person you're talking to, and the last point? That's what you're talking about.
Confused? Here's how it works. Triangulation means that you can start a conversation by talking about something around you. The best chances to do this are when something strange is happening.
For example, you see five police cars parked outside of a restaurant. This is a good chance to start a conversation! If you see someone else looking at the police cars, why not talk to them? "Wow, that's a lot of police cars. Is something going on in there?" you might ask. This is a good way to open up a conversation. It doesn't have to be about anything strange, either. "Nice weather today, isn't it?" will do just fine!
9. People are just people!
Remember that Victorians are just human beings like you. They have families, dreams, hopes and lives just like everyone else you've ever met. There's nothing that special about them. Deep down, we're all the same. So don't be afraid to start a conversation with them. They're just like you!
10. Take the leap
If you want to talk with Victorians, the best way to do it is to just start! Go outside right now and say hi to someone! We're pretty friendly, and with the tips you've learned here, I hope you'll have a little more confidence to give it a try. If someone ignores you or doesn't understand you, don't worry! Just try again. Eventually you'll be a pro! Everything takes time. Talking to Victorians is no different.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this!
If you would like to meet some of the teachers at GV Victoria, please click here.