Meet a Member: Chantal Hatton

May 20, 2019By

As people prepare to leave Riga for new adventures, we decided to catch-up with a departing member to ask her about her experiences in Riga!

Name: Chantal Hatton

Nationality: Canadian

How long have you been in Latvia?  10 months in May and unfortunately, I will be leaving this summer and returning to Canada.

What did you do in your home country?  I am a policy analyst for one of Canada’s government departments.

Your were your first impressions of Latvia?  It reminded me of Canada! Lots of forests with small towns and a relatively small population compared to the country size.

What are the two or three biggest differences between your home country and Latvia? The languages you hear on the street. In Lavia, I hear primarily, Latvian and Russian. In Canada, you will hear English and depending on which city you live in, you will hear French … or Mandarin, Punjabi, Greek, Italian, Portuguese … Canadians come from a very multi-cultural background.

What do you like about Latvia in particular? The people!

What will you miss when you leave Latvia? The people! My interactions with Latvians have been very positive and maybe because I usually smile at strangers (I hope that it is a Canadian trait!), I have been met with friendly and welcome faces back. Not only are the locals interesting and sharing, the ladies that I have met through the International Womens’ Club of Riga, have been amazing! I am always astounded by the life stories and experiences that people are willing to share.

Do you have any tips for other expats? As soon as you settle into your new home in Riga, or even before then, get involved in the community. Two examples of what you can do:

  • I sincerely regret not signing up for Latvian language classes as soon as I arrived last Fall. In my opinion, it is a great way to learn about Latvian culture, meet new people sharing common experiences as you, and there is ample opportunity to try out your new skill with locals. I have seen Latvians open up like flowers, when being spoken to in their language.
  • Sign up to the International Womens’ Club of Riga! The women you meet are amazing. They are intelligent, kind, social and caring. They are also “away from home” so they can understand the challenges that you may face settling into a new place. Charity work is amazing for the soul and provides a way to give back to your host country. And if that isn’t a motivator enough, of course, I have loved all the social activities: the Christmas bazaar, attending lunches and learning workshops, making homemade items, and even cross-country skiing. Even the charity work provides a chance to be social!We combined helping children living at an orphanage with an impromptu guided tour of a beautiful church in Lestene. There are a lot of laughs to be had and I have so many wonderful memories.

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