Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured blogger in Canada:
We left the place and got on the car. There was a strange silence. No comments regarding what happened a few moments ago. Like everyone was trying to avoid the thing. After a couple minutes drive I saw a quick food place. I just pulled in and said “I don’t know about you but I’m so hungry!” The acclaim was unanimous: “Oh Yeah! Please. I’m starving” We all laughed.
So next time someone invites you for a food you don’t know, just ask what are they talking about. You may want to be ready and eat something before!
Not having a credit history is quite a bit issue in Canada, as you don’t qualify for a credit card or a loan. The only way we could get a credit card was by getting a secured card that required a deposit to guarantee the credit limit. A recommendation for expat is to go with an international bank such as HSBC who offer expat packages that we only found out later.
Anyone from the U.S. will probably appreciate that when I first went to a walk-in clinic for some minor medical attention, I gave the receptionist my health card and credit card. She picked up the credit card and looked at it and asked, "What's this for?
Finding like -minded people has been a bit of a challenge, most people here moved here by choice and are Canadian, so they are a little more accepting of the limitations. That said, I have made wonderful friends and we bond over our children and due to personalities more than our living situation.
The unfamiliar brands, names and social cues all contributed to a feeling of being afloat and untethered – at once liberating but also unsettling, like a prisoner who has earned their freedom but is completely lost on “the outside”. I think being an expat is the closest you can come to seeing things with the fresh, uninformed eyes of a baby.
The biggest shock for us will probably be this winter, because we spent the majority of last winter in South East Asia. We find the stories people tell of us a typical Canadian winter very daunting. However, we plan to enjoy it and are in the process of planning several trips during the colder months to experience Canadian winter sports such as ice fishing, dog sledding, cross country skiing and more!
My life in Canada is defined by change—in great numbers—at a fast pace. I have to adapt as fast as I can before other circumstances come along, uninvited or not. Like other newcomers, I too had a culture shock. Every time I go out, I get to meet people of various races since Canada is a multicultural country. The best antidote for culture shock is having an open mind and respect. And don’t dwell on it. Snap out of it and move along.
My new life is different from my old in many ways. I walked across a beautiful park to get to work instead of driving. I fell in love with grocery shopping, stopping by stores and markets several times a week instead of going on my once-a-week grocery run. Instead of communicating in English and the occasional Spanish, I found myself surrounded by at least four different languages per day. My coffee intake also soared; I couldn’t resist the cafes.
Expat life in Canada has brought me to my knees, and taught me to stand upright, stripped me of my identity and simultaneously reminded me of my identity – it has been an emotional rollercoaster that has been coupled with the most amazing travel experiences I have ever had.