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So, You Want to Live Abroad…

Something a little bit different on this blog today! No, it’s nothing related to creativity or the Internet. But it is a special day. Today is 7 years since I moved from Canada to the UK!

I think with everything going on this year, and movement between countries grinding to a halt, more people will be seizing the day and following their dreams when a sense of normalcy resumes.

And living abroad is on the top of a lot of people’s lists.

I asked on social media for questions about moving abroad and got a few, so I thought I’d run through them!

Why the UK when most UK millennials want to move to Canada?

Well, firstly, I’d ask where you got your statistics from about UK millennials wanting to move to Canada! I have no idea if this is true or not.

For me, the decision came down to convenience. I was eligible for a UK Ancestry Visa, which is a scheme that allows Commonwealth citizens with at least one British grandparent a 5 year Visa to live and work in the UK. It’s a pretty fantastic Visa too, with very few restrictions. Most other Visas are much shorter terms (typically around 2 years) and restrict people by age or how many hours they can work per week.

And, let’s be real, in the UK they speak English. While I do speak English and French, English is my first language and moving to an English speaking country was always going to be my easiest option.

Also, career-wise, I had nearly maxed out my options in my Canadian city when I left– and I’d only been working for 2 years! I would have had to move to a bigger city anyway, and I’ve had so many opportunities in England that I wouldn’t have had in Canada.

How can I move to Canada?

Whenever there’s an election that people don’t agree with I always see posts about how So-and-so is moving to Canada! So firstly I want to point out that Canada is a country with its own issues, it is not a utopia. And, like most countries, its rules on immigration are quite strict.

If you’re under the age of 30, the International Experience Canada program is available to apply for. They usually allow you to work in Canada for up to 2 years, with some restrictions.

If you’re over the age of 30, unfortunately you need to go through one of the harder routes and prove to the government that you are a necessary worker or someone who will contribute to the Canadian economy.

How long did it take you to settle in?

You would think that moving from one Commonwealth country to the country that colonised my country would be super easy, and I’d settle in right away. But that wasn’t the case! I arrived in June, and I would say that it was well after Christmas until I started to feel at home.

There’s actually a huge cultural difference between Canada and the UK (and the UK and other Commonwealth countries). It took a long time to understand cultural references and the differences in English.

And then, on top of that, it just took a while to gather the belongings that would make my flat feel like home, and to make friends, and to not still feel like I had one foot in Canada. So I would say it was about 6 months until I started to settle in, and closer to the 1 year mark before I really found my stride.

Do you miss Tim Horton’s coffee?

I do! I did have a can of French vanilla mix until recently, but I do miss things like ice caps and a proper French vanilla. It’s such a cliché. I can’t eat any of the food there since they don’t really have anything gluten free, except the chilli which isn’t vegetarian! So I’d kill for a Tim’s doughnut in more ways than one!

What was the biggest surprise about moving abroad?

How quickly it all just becomes “normal” life. I’m at the point now where I barely even register the fact that I do live abroad, and that I’ve done something that a lot of people dream of.

For most of us, moving abroad isn’t just a longterm holiday. I live a “normal” life where I need to work a full-time job. So I guess the biggest surprise was that I can be living abroad but at the end of the day most of my time has been spent in a very ordinary office environment, just like everybody else.