It was like any other chore.
I was packing my seemingly new clothes and other things I valued that wouldn’t take much space and add weight to my luggage.
I wasn’t thinking much of what lies ahead.
All I knew was that I can’t go back.
I made a decision. I kept things in order just like I always do. I still had a vivid memory of the shiny wooden floor. “You’ll never be as cleaned as you are right now because I’m leaving.”
I’ve heard of runaway brides or postponed trip. I can neither runaway or postpone a one-way flight.
Much has been spent: money, energy, and time. Much was expected—from me.
All was set and good to go.
That was me when I left to live in Canada almost four years ago. I still sometimes think of what ifs. What if I didn’t leave then there will be no Lost In The Leaf City. I’ll be blogging about dog or crab hermit (which is not a bad idea at all).
I hardly write about my personal story. Occasionally, if I remember, I infuse some factoids in my writing about myself but that was it.
In between getting annoyed in fitting everything in my luggage and writing this blog post much has happened to me in Canada. And now it’s time to be more personal, the reason why I started to anonymously blog anyway.
So when I revealed my name other than the “blogger.” People started asking for advice and tips. Some even thought I could book an appointment for them or help them in finding clients who want to come to Canada.
I am NOT connected to any employment agencies in Canada.
I’m a blogger fortunate enough to learn the stories of immigrants.
And in this post, I’m going to be straightforward and a little bit harsh (just for now because I’m not by nature). I’m here to share stories on what it’s like to live in Canada for all the newcomers wondering and dreaming a life in the winter wonderland.
The comfort zone ends here. Beyond this sentence lies the truth.
The Purpose Deep Within
Let’s get this straight. WHY do you really want to live in Canada?
Is there an opportunity to work or study overseas or was it something else?
Whatever the reason is, it has to be clear and decisive.
Are you just leaving because you want to move somewhere else? Are you tired of seeing the same street signs that nobody wants to follow or store names that you stop wondering how the owner came up with?
You don’t want to be part of the hustle and bustle of public transportation anymore? Everyone sounds like bees. You only pay attention to the announcement of the station’s name.
Any delay or “mechanical failure” doesn’t annoy you as much as somebody stepping on your foot in rush hour. (OK it’s a stiletto heel. Nothing is broken. I hope. Have a nice day.)
Then one day you wake up with a grim on your face thinking of the waving flag of Canada.
Snap out of it. Eat a hearty three meal for the day. Stop daydreaming.
But when you start to think more often and already planning on how to go to Canada for months (maybe years) then it’s a different matter.
You’re up to something serious but don’t over analyze things that doing a crossword puzzle or Sudoku will do you more good than thinking too much of what lies ahead.
You will never ever figure out everything. Yes you can prepare.
You can find out where to stay, work, or study and how to come in Canada. (Now you can picture the waving flag while you are enjoying nanaimo bars. There’s nobody to share it with.)
I know you have figure things out already or at least familiarize yourself with the important Canadian government agencies for immigrants.
So what is holding you back?
The job you want to resign since the first day of work. The tons of paperwork about immigration. Of course how can we forget about the friendly cozy feeling of familiarity. Everything is the same.
Except that you are longing for MORE.
Can the desire sustain and mobilize you to start anew . . . somewhere?
The Life on the Other Side
Although I used to hide and scare my siblings then later our dogs, I wouldn’t scare you who decided to continue reading. (How about a little.)
In fact, I’d like to add something in your Canadian dreamland. It wouldn’t cause any nightmare. We’ll put more color. (Or let’s just say rainbow. ROYGBIV is the mnemonics for all the colors if you’re wondering.)
Good and bad experiences are unavoidable. Here are the few things almost every newcomer has gone through:
Endure the weather. In some places in Canada, you can experience four weathers in a day. Freezing in the morning. Sunny in the afternoon. Raining or snowing at night. Moodiness is the most unpredictable weather. It may come from you. So prepare your jacket or raincoat and patience. I once experienced a -38 degree Celsius which also means delay in public transportation. (I was too numb from cold to be moody. My nose was still attached though I can’t feel it.)
Expect the culture shock. You will meet people from various cultural backgrounds; open mindedness helps in adapting and integrating in the community early on. As time goes by you’ll feel that you have a new home that experiencing a reverse culture shock is typical for anyone visiting his homeland.
Workout even if you don’t want to. At some point, you will have to commute and walk (a lot) if you don’t have license yet. It’s a good exercise but will test your stamina and patience in winter. Nourish your body with healthy food and mind with positive thoughts. Others like meditation while I prefer biking, walking, and running (to catch the bus).
Work your way out of the job market maze. This one is the toughest for some. You may not work in a field related to your job back home at first. It may or not take a long time. Some embrace a different field; others seek “Canadian Experience” or take a survival job.
Caveat: underemployment is one of the reasons why immigrants ended up going back home. It’s a harsh reality that even with years of experience some settle for work that helps in paying the bills. Whatever your job is, take pride and know that it is only temporary. Don’t settle. Step up on the ladder.
So you’ve gained perspective of the experiences of newcomers you might not have heard of but there are still more that lack space in this post.
For us who have lived in Canada for years we rarely talk about the disadvantages except the weather which is a blessing in some days and always a perfect icebreaker.
Once I heard a woman said the saddest words in a bus, “I missed my family. I wished I hadn’t come to Canada.”
It’s not my habit to eavesdrop. I should have slept (this one is my habit) so that I wouldn’t hear the conversation.
I was shocked. It was as if I heard myself saying the same words except the last sentence.
I have NO regret in general or in the future. Why is that?
Because I see faces of courage, faith, hope, and love.
They possessed the ideal qualities of newcomers allowing them to surpass many trials.
No uncertainties can stand on their way. No dream is too far to reach for their loved ones and themselves.
Will you be one of them, an inspiration for everyone?
You are almost there. Head on to Do You Want To Live In Canada . . . Seriously? (Part 2)
Other Resources to Read if You Want to Live in Canada:
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada: Start A New Life In Canada
- Macleans: 99 Reasons Why It’s Better To Be Canadian
- Correr es mi destino: Five Reasons Why I Live In Canada