five years in canada
Last week my husband and I celebrated five years living in Canada. To say that time flew by is an understatement considering that we originally planned to only move here for a quick 5-month working holiday. I thought it would be great to reflect on the past five years and share my own personal journey with any of you who are thinking about making a big move.
Bye Bye Melbourne
Let's take it back to the start. Why did we move to Vancouver? I wish I could say the weather, but unfortunately not. My husbands work is the prime reason we moved to, and continue to stay in Vancouver. He's an Animator and Vancouver is one of the best cities in the world for continuous work. Av & I had discussed a few years back how we'd like to go on a working holiday. As I came towards the end of my Merchandising degree we thought the timing was perfect. Through talks with a major studio in Vancouver, he was offered a job that included working visas for both of us (pro tip #1 - if you can find a company to take care of visas, go for it!). So that was it, we decided we were moving to Vancouver, Canada.
Let me add at this point that neither of us had ever visited Vancouver, let alone Canada - but from all the research we had done, it looked pretty great. Within two and a half weeks we had arranged for someone to take over our lease, packed up our lives and condensed them down into two large suitcases. I feel like this was a real learning curve to not have such an emotional attachment to objects or possessions. When you have to condense your life down to such a small package, it really helps you to evaluate what's important and what's not so important. Objects are just that, objects - what's more important are the people in your life and the kind of experiences you live.
So off we headed to the airport and after an emotional goodbye to our family and friends, we set off for Vancouver.
Getting our bearings
"IT'S SO COLD", pretty much summed up my initial reaction to a Vancouver winter. Coming from a 35+ degree Summer to near zero temperatures was a definite shock to the system, but now I laugh to think how silly we were - that's nothing that a good parka can't fix! We went about renting an Airbnb for the first 10 days before we found an apartment in the Downtown area. I really have to hand credit to my husband for how we got so organised in that first week. Within a few days, we had SIN numbers, healthcare, ID's etc. Pro-tip #2 - be proactive and get all those bureaucratic things out the way ASAP, it doesn't get easier as time goes on.
Putting yourself out there
When it came to starting fresh in a city, I have to say that I loved the newness of it all. Finding a new cafe or juice bar or making new friends. You definitely have to be willing to put yourself out there (pro-tip #3) which can be both exciting and a little scary, when starting your life fresh in a new country. I feel like I've told this story before but I literally Googled 'Vancouver fashion bloggers' and came across Leonie from Noa Noir, who then introduced me to Randa and the rest is history they say. The same thing goes for my first job - I literally walked off the street into Aritzia on Robson street and asked if they were hiring. The manager gave me a job on the spot and within a few months, I was fast-tracked to head office (after proving my work ethic and displaying my Merchandising degree of course). What I'm trying to say is that it takes guts to put yourself out there but that's the only way you're going to gain some serious ground.
Things aren't always so easy
It doesn't get easier being away from home. The thing is, life back home doesn't stop when you move abroad. All your friends are living their lives and it can be hard sometimes when you feel like you're missing out. Now that Lily is starting to grow up it gets even harder to see how much my family miss her and all those little everyday moments.
Holidays or special occasions like weddings & Christmas are always the hardest to miss. We try to make sure that we carry on with those celebrations here which helps us feel included in some way.
Have I changed?
I wouldn't say my style has changed too much since moving to Canada. Australian's and Melbournian's are actually pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to fashion trends. I didn't realise that until I left Australia and saw trends that Aussies were wearing seasons before suddenly become 'in'. I've become a little out of the loop now when it comes to all the cool brands, trendy restaurants and bars in Melbourne.
But my lifestyle is something that definitely shifted. Not that I was a fast-food eating, non-exercising slob back home - but Vancouver has a super strong culture of eating well (kale much?) and looking after your body (Grouse Grind anyone?). It's all about fresh greens, seasonal produce, hiking, yoga and getting active. It's had a great impact on my life and it's something I would like to take with me wherever life goes.
I feel like I've become a bit more resilient and have lost a bit of my naivety. Being "let go" from my first proper fashion job made an impact on me that was pretty hard to shake off. I've also had some new friendships turn sour and a few other negative situations which have made me the person I am today. I stand up for myself and my friends much more than what I used to. Naturally, moving overseas brings out a lot of strengths and I've shown how self-driven, independent and motivated I can be when I want something.
What would I say to those thinking about moving abroad but don't know where to start? Go for it and make it happen. Create yourself a tangible goal i.e. I want to move to London by July 2019. Start sharing your goal with friends and family to make yourself accountable. Work backwards from that goal by figuring out how much money you'll need to save, where you can work and live, and also try to start making connections ahead of time.
Where to now?
So five years in and I can't see us moving anytime soon, which is so hard to write (my Mum is probably reading this and shaking her head). Life is really great for us here in Vancouver. We've built a group of close-knit friends, we have amazing jobs, Lily has a seriously awesome childhood and we live in a beautiful area in our own apartment. It's hard to say where I would be at in my life if we never moved overseas but there's one thing I can say for sure - Vancouver is where I live but Australia will always be my home.
Photography: Jeremy Wong