Author Archives: Kelly Lee


APA Convention Toronto- Cultural Considerations

Toronto3So you’re traveling to Canada? The Great White North? The True North Strong and Free? As you venture across the 49th parallel into this foreign land, what will you learn about its people? Well, we’ll give you a little primer on Canadian culture to help you in your foreign travels.

First things first, Canada has been an independent nation now for almost 150 years (since July 1, 1867) and has developed alongside the United States as its top trading partner. In turn, there are a lot of overlaps between American and Canadian culture!

What comes to mind when you think of Canada?

Is it the iconic Mounties (i.e., the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) that bear the famous red uniform of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Dudley Do-Right?

Is it the beautiful artwork of Canada’s First Nation communities (i.e., the Canadian term for Native American)?

Is it the Loonie or Toonie (i.e., Canada’s one and two dollar coins)?

If you look at some of the artwork sent out on the 2015 APA Convention materials, both hockey players and moose come to mind!

Canada has a rich history and culture. It’s a diverse nation and the second largest in the world. As our next door neighbor, Canadians and Americans have a lot of similarities, but in preparing for your trip to the APA Convention in Toronto, you should be aware of some cultural considerations of traveling to this vibrant city in a different country. The information provided below is a general overview of Canadian/Toronto culture, but does not necessarily generalize to every individual Canadian, as is the case in summarizing any culture.

Canadian culture

  • Overall, Canadians are more conservative and reserved than Americans; however, much of their interpersonal style is similar to that of Americans. In conversations, they do not touch the other person, maintain a certain amount of personal space, and value eye contact.
  • Canadians are known for their politeness, and are typically helpful should you need aid in directions or other cultural questions.
  • Canadians say “Sorry” a lot, so much that people have actually researched its use.
  • It is customary to tip around 15% gratuity before tax for restaurants, but is unnecessary for counter-service.
  • Canadian coins are magnetic, thus U.S. coin currency will not work in Canadian machines. It is also important to note that $1 and $2 are in coins, not paper money.
  • Canadians use Celsius to measure temperature, so just as a reference, 0 degrees Celsius is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, 10 degrees Celsius is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and 20 degrees Celsius is about 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Canada is actually a bilingual country and many Canadians speak both English and French. Quebec (a.k.a. French Canada) is a province bordering Ontario and you could run into a Francophone Canadian that only speaks French, although many Quebecers are bilingual and fluent in English.
  • Smoking in public places is generally frowned upon in Canada. If you do smoke, be aware of any city restrictions.

Toronto culture

  • The people of Toronto typically speak English, but due to its diversity, it hosts over 140 languages and dialects.
  • Toronto is heralded as one of the most diverse cities in the world! Neighborhoods, including Greektown, Chinatown, and Little India, are great ways to experience the diversity of the city.
  • The culture and arts scene is prominent in Toronto. Many well-known films, such as Good Will Hunting, Chicago, and X-Men were all filmed in this city.
  • The city is known as very safe and has great public transportation systems.
  • Jay walking is illegal in Ontario, and individuals can be fined for ignoring traffic signals. It is also important to note that pedestrians do not have “the right of way” in Ontario, so be cautious when crossing a busy street.


  • This year the Parapan American games are hosted in Toronto August 7-15th! These games typically bring in 10,000 athletes and officials from around the world.
  • Krinos Taste of the Danforth is a festival in Greektown with live music and authentic cuisine from local restaurants.
  • The Roger’s Cup in Toronto is a professional women’s tennis tournament hosted this year from August 8th– 16th.

Editors Note: This post written by Kelly Lee, APAGS incoming Convention Committee Chair and Justin Karr, APAGS Member-at-Large, Membership Recruitment and Retention Focus

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Untold Secrets of Navigating Convention

Cover BSo you’ve registered for the convention and booked your flights and hotels. You have tried to look at the monster programming book but are feeling overloaded and overwhelmed. What is a grad student to do? Have no fear! The APAGS Convention Committee has some untold secrets to navigating convention!


  • Although it seems daunting, the programming book and the APAGS How to Navigate Convention materials are your friends! Spend a few hours looking over things that are interesting. The APAGS materials are a great focus on what graduate students specifically may be interested in attending.


  • Interested in learning about the internal workings of the divisions? Div CoverConsider going to one of their business meetings. You can learn a lot about current topics and become more aware of potential opportunities for graduate students.


  • MPj04025130000[1]Free food is everywhere at convention! For example, graduate students can come to the APAGS suite for the Food for Thought breakfasts where they can enjoy breakfast while conversing with some of the field’s most influential psychologists. This year we have Dr. Robert Levine, Dr. Mitchell Prinstein, and Dr. Robert Sternberg. Students can also find free food at some of the presentations. Keep an eye out for large groups of people!


  • Speaking of free, if you go to the exhibit hall, you are sure to bring back many free pens, pads of paper, post-its, and other goodies.


  • If you only know a couple of presentations you are interested in, be sure to ask the audience members around you what other presentations they are attending. Better yet, ask the speakers of the presentation what other speakers they are looking forward to seeing. This will give you some good ideas for other presentations that might fit your interests.


  • Posters presentations at convention are often looked over and not attended well. Take advantage of the opportunity to talk with other graduate students and professionals at these poster sessions. The programming book lists the presentations according to topic. These presenters will be glad to talk with you and who knows, you may work in a great networking or collaborative opportunity!


  • If you are a presenter for a poster or paper, be sure to collect audience members’ information if they are interested in following up with you and your research. Again, do not waste this great potential for networking by not having a central location to keep people’s information.


  • The easiest way to relay your own information to others when networking is to bring your own business cards. This way you do not have to write down your long email and name each time; just give them your card!


  • Although you came to D.C. to work on your presentation sMP900441060[1]kills, networking, or just to see other professionals, make time to explore the city! This may be the only time where you can visit some of Washington D.C.’s historic sites and museums. Some of my favorites are the Lincoln Memorial, The Smithsonian, and The Crime and Punishment museum.

We hope this list helps you out in navigating convention. Please consider coming by the APAGS suite and the APAGS booth to say hi and introduce yourself while in D.C.!

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Convention Highlight- APAGS Food for Thought

One great part about Convention is the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the most famous psychologists of our time. APAGS is proud to present its Food For Thought breakfasts. Each morning of Convention (Thursday-Sunday, 7:30-8:50am) the APAGS suite hosts free breakfast for graduate students and the opportunity to hear from prestigious psychologists. Here is a look at the speakers this year:


Thursday, August 7: Dr. Robert Levine

Dr. Levine has written two best-seller books on topics of time and persuasion. The first one, A Geography of Time, examines our perceptions of time in different cultures. He observes the cultural rules of time in different countries and delineates differences between nature time, event time, and clock time. His second book, The Power of Persuasion: How We’re Bought and Sold, analyzes how individuals can be persuaded if in the right circumstances. Besides these book topics, he is also interested in research on helping and kindness towards strangers, happiness, and the self. Get more information on his research.


Friday, August 8: Dr. Robert Sternberg

Dr. Sternberg may be best known for his triarchic theories of love and intelligence, but he has over 1,500 publications and other topics of interest including creativity, wisdom, thinking styles, hate, ethics, and leadership. He is a past president of APA and has held positions in universities as a Dean, Provost, and President. Get more information on Dr. Sternberg.


Saturday, August 9: Dr. Mitchell Prinstein

Dr. Prinstein’s research examines interpersonal models of internalizing symptoms and health risk behaviors among adolescents, with a specific focus on the unique role of peer relationships in the developmental psychopathology of depression and self-injury. He has co-written and edited several professional development books, blogs, and websites, including the APAGS Workbook on the internship selection process, now in its third edition, and The Portable Mentor, now in its second edition.  Dr. Prinstein’s “uncensored advice” on the clinical psychology admissions process has been downloaded over 10,000 times.  For over 14 years, Dr. Prinstein has organized a professional development seminar for graduate students, offering practical career advice on topics not typically covered in doctoral curricula. Find out more about Dr. Prinstein!


IMG_6725Sunday, August 10: APAGS Leadership

The final Food for Thought breakfast will introduce the APAGS leadership and these individuals will discuss what opportunities allowed them to become leaders and what their focus is on currently.

Editor’s note: Kelly Lee is a current member of the APAGS Convention Committee. She is a doctoral student at the University of Houston in the Counseling Psychology Department.