Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward- Erika Taylor
The boxes have been packed and shipped and we’ve only got two more weeks to go until we leave sunny Singapore. This has been in the cards since the beginning of the year but it has taken me this long to come to terms with our move. Many of you who have followed my journey will know that our expat adventures have been self-spurred in a search for a place to call home. Sadly, due to poor economies and other factors, Singapore has not panned out for a place for us to settle down.
And so it is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to Singapore and set our sights on Canada, a place I have called home before.
Our move to Canada was always in the cards. However, it was probably closer to the final card we wanted to play in our expat adventures. We knew that a life in Canada ticks the boxes in terms of what we were looking for in a country to call home. It’s safe, has a great education system, clean air, good healthcare, opportunities for work and currently has the only sensible world leader out there it seems!
However, despite knowing all that, there is a part of us that holds reservation about this move. One reason for this is that we would be both be returning with no jobs in hand. This is something that frightens me, despite secretly wanting a career break. I know I’ll get bored but also I’ve never not worked. There’s also the added layer that teaching is a hard profession to get into. It was why I left the first time. No jobs for new grads. So I’ll be at a crossroads, figuring out what my next move is career wise. Which I suppose is exciting but also a bit nerve wrecking.
We’ll also be living with my father when we return. This is something I am very much looking forward to, but he lives in what I like to call ‘The sticks’. The sticks is what I call full-on North American suburbia where you can’t walk to anywhere useful. Being a city girl, who likes having amenities on her doorstep, this is definitely going to be a change.
And so, as we know we will be arriving in Canada unemployed and homeless- it feels a little bit like we are going backwards.
A Change in Lifestyle
Added to our reservations comes the understanding that living in Canada will be a huge change in lifestyle for us. You may be thinking, but you’ve lived in the Middle East and Asia? Surely there was more of a lifestyle change there than in Canada? But truthfully we didn’t experience any major changes.
We were still able to walk to the shops, the places we lived were still compact enough that we could go to dinner, have a drink and get home, without it taking hours or costing a fortune with taxis. In Canada, the eating and drinking culture is different to the UK as well. People go out later and there are no ‘after work’ drinks to unwind. The drinking culture is also different. Casual drinking isn’t really a thing but rather binge drinking whilst watching a sporting event. The pub doesn’t exist. And being British, the pub is a necessity for sanity!
There are other things that will be changing for us. Due to Canada’s location, travel will be slightly different. Flights to Europe and Asia will be expensive. And although the States and South America are nearby, tickets are still expensive. In fact, tickets are expensive to travel within country as well. This obviously saddens me greatly as I know we are going to have to be smart and possibly plan when it comes to our travel. I’ll miss short 4-5 day trips to new lands, because in Canada, it will be impossible.
So if all of the above holds true, and this move may possibly be more of a culture shock to us than living in Asia and the Middle East, why on earth are we going?
Well as the title suggests, sometimes you have go back to go forwards. And while all the above with lifestyle changes holds true, the benefits of the country will allow us to live the life we want to live.
In Canada, there are ample opportunities to stay fit and healthy. To breathe fresh air and get outdoors. I don’t know what that’s like after smog in London, sand storms in Doha, and haze and humidity in Singapore. And this is something we are both looking forward to. We are also looking forward to eating fresh produce. After living in two countries that rely heavily on imports, eating food that is ‘in season’ will be a treat. Oh yeah, and there is that too. To experience seasons again! Because as much as I am a sun worshipper, when you’ve grown up with seasons, the year seems to go much, much slower when you only experience one season. We are also looking forward to stability. To see what happens when we actually stay and put some roots down somewhere. Something that is a little novel for both of us!
An Expat Approach
I am nervous to return to Canada given my past experiences as a young person there (click here for more on that). It has taken me the past 6 months to fully get on board with this plan. Which is one of the reasons I wasn’t ready to share this next step. To be honest, I actually started to experience a lot of anxiety over the move. I had sleepless nights, chest pain and was easily reduced to tears if the smallest of things didn’t go to plan. Sounds silly really.That I could get that worked up about a move to a country like Canada, but not give a second thought to moving to the Middle East.
However, over the past few months I worked through those feelings (with help) and feel more positive about the move. I am also taking what I have learned as an expat adult and putting it into practice the way I couldn’t as a child.
So what will I do differently this time?
Brits in Toronto
Well for starters I have looked up British Expat groups in Toronto. Toronto and most Canadian cities aren’t exactly ‘expat’ cities. As in there isn’t an expat scene. People are integrated into Canadian culture, and are expected to just join in with Canadian lifestyle. Having said that, I stumbled upon this handy webpage from Moving to Canada with tons of resources and places to help Brits can feel at home in Toronto. I also found the Brits in Toronto blog to get a slice of home comforts in the city. Along with using other familiar expat meet up sites like Internations and Meet Up, I’ll be sure to use them properly (as in not just go to one event) to find some like-minded Brits, who just plain get what life in Blighty is like.
Another thing I’m going to do is take a page out of Adventures of a Jersey Girl, who always has these cute but cool momentos of Jersey in her expat home (check out her instagram to see what I’m talking about). This time around I’ll be bringing my slice of London in the form of home decor to offset the homesickness.
Luckily thanks to modern technology and my clever husband, accessing British television is no longer a challenge. I can still get my giggles with Gogglebox and my fix of British period dramas like the BBC drama Victoria.
Countdown to Canada
We’re still awaiting the finalisation of my husband’s spousal visa giving him the right to live and work in Canada. I was hoping it would have all been sorted by now. That we would arrive, jobs in hand, when we touch ground on July 10th. But alas, that is not real life. And it certainly isn’t real expat life. But I am feeling hopeful, albeit slightly emotional.
With two more weeks left in the sun, I’ll be topping up that flip flop tan and finishing off my Singapore bucket list, and leaving with fondest of memories of the adventure we had in Asia.
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Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly for you hun! It wouldn’t be expat life without uncertainty and emotional days! I would definitely focus on the positives and things like experiencing seasons, fresh produce etc will make such a huge difference so I’m excited to see how the next chapter works out! xxx
Thank you! I’m expecting the roller coaster of emotions that’s for sure. Sometimes I feel like I have multiple personalities eg: I can’t wait to leave Singapore and the sweat, followed by ‘ I don’t wanna leeeave!’ Thinking with my grown up hat, it’s the right thing to do. And there are more positives than negatives. I’m just preparing for the culture shock! haha. Will definitely be documenting the adventure. Thanks for your encouraging words. It helps xx
wishing you all the best! i can understand how hard it is to leave Singapore and move somewhere you not sure if you want to be. we did a similar move (although not going back home but onward travel) from Singapore to US. the change was pretty huge. i miss easiness of travelling in Asia, clean streets of Singapore and amazing food! going back home can always be hard one as you’re back (probably!) as a whole different person, where the place you are going back to didn’t change that much..!
as for the career change, it can be great! i am also in a similar boat, just needed a change for a little bit and see where it can take me. i found that having some sort of routine everyday helps me, in all that uncertainty. but i still have my sad/ crazy moments of unemployment!!
good luck in Canada and let me know if you’re ever in NYC ðŸ™‚ x ags @www.nomad-diaries.com
Thanks Ags! It’s nice to hear the perspective of someone who not only has lived in Singapore and left, but also one that is moving from a place like Singapore to North America. I agree, I’m returning as a different person. And with that comes different perspectives and experiences. I’m sure it will be a good move or less I wouldn’t go. That being said I’m certainly grieving Singapore and probably will do for a few weeks to come. I’ll definitely look you up in NYC and likewise if you ever venture north to Toronto. Good luck with the career change. If you ever want to chat, moan, reflect etc you know where to find me ðŸ™‚ xx
I believe you are already in Toronto when read this comment, and I wish you enjoy your new life there. I agree that travel inside Canada can be insanely expensive, but if you can afford it, go for it. You can take VIA rail or off-season flight that are affordable to the east coast (PEI, NB and NS). For making new friends, have you tried couchsurfing meet up in Toronto? It happens every Wed night from 8:30 and you will sure meet few Brits.
Thanks Julie for your encouragement and advice. Yes you are correct, I am in Toronto now (or more like the GTA) and am allowing myself the time to get used to being here. I’m sure I will find ways to travel both within and outside of the country. The latter being more important as friends and family live out of Canada. Thank you for your tips. I’ll definitely look into your suggestions. Hope you are enjoying South America! x