It has been 315 days since I packed my life into two suitcases and made the move to Toronto.
315 days…that’s equivalent to 7,560 hours or 453,600 minutes. It should feel like a really long time ago, but truth be told – it feels like just yesterday.
I remember sitting at Heathrow airport, on that cold and frosty February morning, with feelings of intense excitement, a little anxiety and – as strange as it may sound – a little sadness (after all I was leaving my entire world behind). I had high expectations for my “Canadian Adventure” with some very clear things that I wanted to experience and achieve. I’m not sure I can say that I got the year I wanted or the year I had hoped for, but I’ve definitely had an amazing year. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I am writing this as I sit at the airport, waiting to board a flight back to London. I’ve got a couple of hours to kill (having already spent far too much on duty-free) and I’ve been lucky enough to get myself into the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, so I’m kicking back on comfy seats, sipping coffee (although I must admit, the wine looks WAY more tempting) and eating cookies. Airline food isn’t always the best so I’m going to make the most of the food in here while I can.
I’m heading home for Christmas to spend time with my family and my friends in the UK. I cannot wait to see my Mum & Dad at the airport. I. Am. Very. Excited – I have really missed them.
I am also very interested to see what kind of a welcome I will get from these two (who haven’t quite figured out the whole FaceTime thing yet) – they can hear me, but can’t seem to see me.
It will be great to see everyone again, catch up and hear about how 2012 has treated them. Some have new jobs; some have got married; some have gone back to school; some have become parents again and some will do soon. It’s a very, very strange feeling, to see the lives of people you care for (lives that you were once a part of) move on, and to not feel part of that – I think that’s been one of the biggest adjustments for me (the other has been remembering the difference in time zones).
Since I arrived, I have met some truly incredible people – people that I am lucky enough to call friends, so I think it’s fair to say that I have a lot to be thankful for. It has also made me realise how lucky I already was. I have awesome friends on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean – I’m not sure how many people can say that!
These 315 days that have helped me realise that it’s ok to chase my dreams (even if it feels selfish); it’s ok to want more (or something different) out of life and it’s equally ok to be totally scared of what those things may bring.
I’ve learned to take the good with the bad; Canada is great, and I love being here but it also has it’s challenges.
Without rambling on and on, here’s a quick summary of key learnings for this year:
- The grass isn’t greener here, but it IS different – and different can be a great thing.
- The job market is especially tough; sometimes, I’ve felt that I am a lot more “disposable” (as an employee) than I’ve been used to in the UK, and almost everyone I know here in Canada has found themselves looking for a new job at some point in the year. Some on more than one occasion.
- Work-life balance takes on a totally different dimension; Torontonians work long hours, and take few holidays.
- Toronto is probably the most culturally diverse city in the world. I’m not sure that there are many places in the world where you can potentially meet someone from each corner of the world in one day. In my first week I met people from over 20 countries.
- I’m not a huge fan of the banking system here, or the fact that my iPhone contract costs me three times as much as my UK one does, but all things considered – it could be worse.
- I’m gradually getting used to the fact that the price I see at the shelf is not the price I’ll pay (gotta add tax) and I’ve tried to stop converting every price I see back to sterling or making constant comparisons but it’s a slow process.
- Real-estate (whether you’re renting or buying) is seriously expensive in Toronto. Expect London prices and you won’t be in for too much of a shock.
- Cadbury’s chocolate (no matter how good it might look) is not as good as the Cadbury’s from home. The same can be said for tea and baked beans.
- You get what you earn. Plain and simple.
All in all, it’s been a great year and I’m so glad I decided to take the plunge.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Here’s to an awesome 2013, wherever you may be.