So why did you learn Mandarin but not Cantonese?
I'd be curious if there are data about which places in North America are still Cantonese speaking, and which Mandarin speaking.
I have friends from Hebei who emigrated to Canada (don't know which city) and live in a predominantly Cantonese speaking Chinese community, so even though they are from Northern China they picked up Cantonese by living there.
In a similar way, I feel nostalgic about China in the early 2000s, where the local dialects were still the main languages spoken in the streets. In a way, it made my travelling to China during summer holidays more interesting, letting me see more diversity when going to other cities and letting me feel more at home when I went back to my hometown.
One argument is that the predominance of dialects makes the cities "排外" (discriminatory to outsiders). But I don't think so. When I had been in many cities in Southern coastal China, most people were more than happy to switch to Mandarin when speaking to tourists and people passing in town.
So I don't believe in the ‘discrimination’ argument. If anything, the predominance of Mandarin has deprived the newcomers to the city of a tool to assimilate better in the city and be considered more like a ‘local’.
In the past generation, when my mom's cousin emigrated to Shanghai, she learned to speak fluent Shanghainese, and so all the people around and her social circle don't consider her an outsider.
So yes, it has made the life of students, tourists and newcomers easier, but it has also created a situation where migrants don't learn the local vernacular, cause even if they wish, it's difficult to learn a tongue that even the locals don't speak daily anymore. And so migrants will always remain ‘outsiders’, unlike ten years ago, when as long as they learnt the local dialect, they wouldn't be considered as such anymore.
Oh yay, now we get to talk all about Qingtianese!
Another Mandarin-speaking place nowadays…