I’m a little over due with this post, make that a lot over due but I wanted to wait until I had enough time to accurately share my experiences (changes and challenges) that I’ve faced as I adjust to my new life in Canada.
As I write this, I have been in Toronto for a little over eighteen months.
Eighteen months that have confirmed without a doubt that my decision to move here (to Canada; to Toronto) was the right one for me; and even though these eighteen months have seen me embark on the most exhilarating roller-coaster ride of change in my life – I am happy, grateful and glad to be here.
Life as an expat, can sometimes feel like you’re riding the “big dipper”.
After eighteen months of incredible change, I’ve found myself craving stability, consistency, and routine – which is ironic because these are were key factors in decision to move here in the first place. I’m going to file this particular learning point under the category of “Be careful what you wish for” and focus on what comes next.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been a number of occasions when I have found myself wishing for something “familiar” – familiar friends, faces, and places. In Toronto, some things have now become more familiar, but for the most part – they are still “new”.
Even now, I am still “new”.
Here’s a list of some of the changes I’ve faced since I arrived.
#1: Moving from “Greektown” to “Midtown”:
It took me a while (read: 6 months), but I finally found my very own place to live in Toronto; (not that big an achievement for many) but for me, it was not the easiest task.
I was new to the country, new to the city and I had limited references, proof of income and credit history. I was really unsure of the process (which differs greatly from what I knew in the UK) or where would be a good place to live, let alone where I wanted to live. Add to this, the utterly overwhelming speed (and price) at which properties come onto and off of the market and it’s easy to get caught in a vicious cycle of viewings, offers and disappointment.
I’d been in no rush to find my own place in large part because I loved living with my incredible room-mate and was still establishing myself in the city. I had no furniture, appliances or much of anything to turn my house into a home. I arrived in Toronto with two suitcases and not much else having left my whole life back in the UK – what the hell was I thinking?!
Finally though, I found a great little place, close to restaurants and shops, banks and movie theatres with just a five minute walk from the Subway. So I moved the 8km from GreekTown to MidTown. More importantly though, I had room for visitors (Mum, Dad, you can come and stay now! Please bring me chocolate!)
Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 3.21.02 AM
Big Change #2: New Job (x2) and Registering my own business (Life as a Freelancer).
I probably had the quickest ever introduction to working life in Toronto, and for that I do consider myself to be very, very lucky.
Here’s the timeline:
Friday February 10th (Evening): Arrived in Toronto, spent 2 hours in line at immigration, work permit issued – RESULT!
Monday February 13th (Morning): Face to Face Interview & Job Offer (I’d already interviewed via Skype from the UK) – OMG, OMG, OMG!
Wednesday February 15th: Started job
Not quite the start I had envisioned, but not a bad start by any counts. I also really liked my job, so that was a definite bonus!
Sadly, I left that job at the end of September after just over 8 months (client restructure = budgets cuts) = this feels very familiar.
I took 2 weeks off to spend with my Mum & Dad who finally came to visit (and bought me a ton of chocolate and other treats) and doing the usual “touristy stuff”.
When my parents left, my job hunt began – but lady luck was looking after me and a little over a week later, I was offered a great job at a start-up agency (broader remit, more responsibilities and steep learning curve) and was in seventh heaven.
I left that role in February this year when my work permit expired. You’re not allowed to work in Canada without proper work authorisation (PR Visa or Work Permit), so I had to learn to be creative with how I spent my time (and money) – Toronto is an expensive city, there isn’t much you can do for free.
It was, without a doubt – the longest eight weeks of my life!
Anyway, April arrived and with it news that my second work permit had been approved. Time to get back to living my adventure rather than fearing it!