It’s 8 p.m. and music is blasting as Vanessa and her friends get dressed for the night. They dance to songs from dance hall artists, like Vybz Kartel and Movado, while doing their hair and make-up and drinking. They head to the club around 11 p.m. in the outfits they’d planned from days before, dressed to impress and ready for a fun night out.
For an international student, coming to New Brunswick is a huge change. They pack up and have to adjust to the climate, culture and their new-found independence. But has being in a new environment caused us to adapt to the relaxed and easy style of the way people in New Brunswick dress?
“Simple and comfortable” is how Maite Cristina politely described how Canadians dress. “Not creative, unique or fashionable to me.”
She says back in her native Costa Rica, they wear a lot of bright colours. Here, she finds wardrobes mostly “very basic, colourless and not very appealing to the eye.”
In their home countries, international students were taught to have pride in their appearance. Leaving home in pajama pants and a hoodie is not an option.
Vanessa Michel, a fourth-year student from the Bahamas, says people at home take pride in what they wear and how they look because “you don’t know who you’re going to run into.”
“Appearance and how you carry yourself is key. Even how you act and walk, it’s all a part of it.”
Michel has relaxed her fashion sense living in Fredericton, because here, nobody cares, she said. But the moment she goes back home her style changes.
“When I’m leaving here and heading home I’m already dressed to impress. Because when I land in that airport I don’t know who is going to be there, so I have to be ready,” Michel said.
Another reason international students take pride in the way they dress is because they don’t know who among us (on campus) will be in control of our future later on in life.
Guatemalan student Sebastian Morales believes that how you dress in university could impact what you’re going to do after. Students dress nicely when they are on campus because they want to make a good impression.
“Who you see on campus will probably be in the area that you are going to work in.
“You’re never, ever going to see anyone going to campus [in Guatemala] in their pj’s or with just a hoodie,” he said.
“I have to keep being consistent with the image I give to people. How I see myself, that’s how I want them to see me.”
Peruvian student Tabitha Palacios, in her fourth year at STU, says when she first came to Fredericton and saw the way students dressed, she tried to change her style because she didn’t want to stand out.
“It was hard at the beginning because I didn’t want to feel different.”
But eventually she decided to stick to what was true to her.
“I started wearing the sweaters and jeans, just really laid back, but I didn’t like it and I was like, ‘No, I should just try my own style.’”
First-year student, Luz Lima says learning how to wear winter clothing from Canadians, yet remain fashionable, is an issue.
“I don’t feel comfortable wearing socks with sandals and wearing big, big pants, with a very lazy appearance.”
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