Karin and Kieran: K&K Adventures
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Canada, etc.
We are two Brits who met while Karin was at University in the UK. On our first date it was discovered we both had aspirations of moving to Canada, and after a year or so of dating we started looking into how we would do it. 3 years later we moved, and have now spent a year in Ontario, traveling around and eventually settled in Toronto in February 2012.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Originally we had an incredibly basic blog about our travels just for keeping in touch with our families back home. The blog evolved into a website, and inspired us to travel more, and do things we probably wouldn’t have considered before. Blogging gave us an outlet, a hobby we could both enjoy and the excuse to travel and explore our new surroundings.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Canada differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
There wasn’t too much culture shock to be honest, we both have some family here who have been a massive help. 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!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Canada? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
We probably weren’t prepared for looking for work. We came here each with a job for 6 months, we then went traveling and when we got back to Toronto it took Kieran a while to find work. He’s been temping but is still finding it hard to find something permanent. I (Karin) got lucky but I wouldn’t say it’s been easy. We should have been applying long in advance and had more savings to keep us afloat.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
One of the challenges of moving to a city like Toronto is finding a good apartment, and we were lucky that we didn’t have to look for long; a friend we met here introduced us to her building. In turn, we’ve introduced it to several other expats we’ve met. There are always rooms going, so I expect to have the building filled by expats before the year is out!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Canada?
Make sure you have enough money saved up, you don’t know how long it will take to find a job, and you want to be bang in the center of the city in order to get to interviews. Don’t just stay in the city, explore the country because it really is nothing like you’ll have experienced before. Canadian’s are massively into their sport and craft beer: it might be a new scene but give it a chance, you’ll meet awesome people and find some favorites.
How is the expat community in Canada? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Not at all. We attend the Brit Meetup in Toronto once a month which has well over 1000 Brits. Not to mention Toronto is more international than anywhere else in the world, we meet expats on a daily basis. The further outside of the big cities you go there are less expats, but Canadians are very accepting, and the country is so young that most people have non-Canadian parents or grandparents.
How would you summarize your expat life in Canada in a single, catchy sentence?
Moving to Canada wasn’t as much of a challenge as we thought, but we have learnt and repeat this mantra: “The elevator’s broken, so I’m taking the stairs” – this applies to the difficulties we’ve had finding work, places to stay etc, and it just means that the simple way might not be available, but we know we’ll get there in the end.