This month marks my one year Canniversary. I moved to Edmonton in June of 2014 and it will be my home for the foreseeable future. Although, as mentioned in this blog (maybe once or twice?), I lived in Japan prior to here, I always knew that would be short term in the grand scheme of things. That subtle variance in long term plans has made a huge difference in my mind set and affected me in ways I certainly didn’t expect. I don’t want to imply I have the authority on ‘how one feels when emigrating’ but this is my experience, one year in.
Even though I have no idea what will happen further down the line, I’m here for the long run. We may decide to move back to the UK at some point, but it isn’t on the radar for now. I hope to practice law here which is pretty geographically limiting – ironically, it would be harder for me to move back home and find the job I want than my Canadian boyfriend. That will change as I get more experience but is the reality for now. Knowing that has been tough emotionally. Japan was tough in a different way but I very much (and forgive the cliché) lived in the moment. I knew I’d eventually be back in the UK (oh, lolz) and I can honestly say I didn’t miss home at all (sorry Mum and Dad). I often wished my parents or friends could see what I was seeing or join me there, but I didn’t have those pangs for BBC iplayer or Waitrose Red Onion Caramelised Chutney. I embraced the nomihoudai and sushi and made the best of it. Living in Canada, I have more pangs than I care to admit when I see my friends in Hyde Park or my Mum, Dad and brother at an ad hoc family BBQ. Ad hoc doesn’t happen when you over 4200 miles away. And it’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that it won’t happen for a long while to come, unless I uproot my life once more. As one my friends here aptly put it – I wasn’t running away from anything to come here. I love my family, I love my friends and I like England well enough – I left for one reason only – a boy. That’s hard to get my heard around.
This year has been so much harder than I thought and a big reason is probably due to the fact that I didn’t think about it much at all. Moving here was the best thing for both myself and my partner, so that’s what I did. I didn’t really consider the long term implications and in hindsight, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference. I’m always going to miss my family and friends – I’m lucky enough that we have skype/whatsapp/facetime in the first place. I have a lovely aunt and uncle (hi Malcolm and Christine!) who send me postcards from around the UK – it’s so lovely to know you are being thought of when it’s easy to feel forgotten.
I’ve been lucky enough to make some lovely, super-supportive Canadian friends here who put up with my random bouts of homesickness and made me feel incredibly welcome (including those gorgeous fellow ‘Canucks) – that has also made a huge difference. My company also happens to have 3 other lovely ladies from the UK who have all had differing experiences moving over to Canada – it is clichéd to make friends with those you are most familiar with but I can’t tell you how nice it is to have someone know what you are chatting about without the explanation.
I have no doubt that things will get easier as the years go by but it’s a funny feeling to stop travelling yet still be living in a foreign country. It can be isolating to not always have the same frame of reference or shared childhood memories. I’m never sure whether it’s a ‘Canadian thing’ that just I don’t know or a ‘thing’ that no one knows. Luckily I have Ariel and Kait around at work for me to bug, without them poking fun at me (too much). Ariel patiently taught me what a dime and nickel are recently!
Part of travelling includes the new experiences, sharing of cultures and learning about somewhere new. But it’s definitely different when the travelling stops and that place becomes your new home. The differences can feel quite pronounced and depending on what kind of day you are having, sometimes quite lonely.
Despite the weird mixture of emotions that has come with this move, I’m incredibly grateful. I have a super supportive partner who deals with my emotional, sometimes irrational, crazy. I have lovely friends who are understanding about the rollercoaster I sometimes feel that I am on, and importantly, my family and friends in the UK and around the globe that still make the effort to arrange Skype at awkward hours, share a link they’ll think I’d like, or let me know they are thinking of me. And when I reflect on it like that, I think I’m probably luckier than most.