Kim: Almost Arctic - A Canadian Adventure
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Canada, etc.
I am a stay at home mother of 3 wonderful children. I grew up in a military family, so we moved a lot and my husband’s job keeps us moving as well, so I am from everywhere USA, but I would say our last stop Houston, Texas is home. Our family moved to Canada in April of 2012, so it has only been a few months since we left home.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to start blogging about my experiences shortly after my husband told me we were being transferred to Canada. I wanted a way to keep our family and friends involved in our life. It is also a wonderful tool to help us remember our time here, it’s a journal of our experiences. The blog is also a great emotional outlet for me, it’s very therapeutic after a particularly frustrating event to be able to tell the world why expat life isn’t quite as romantic as it sounds!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I think my post May-The Long and Short is my favorite. It was the first post after we had really started to live real life. I think it highlights the good and the bad as well as some of the roadblocks you run into as an expat.
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?
Yes, yes, yes!!! The circumstances have been very hard to get used to, I am not sure that I am used to them or ever will be. We live in a remote location, roughly 4 hours from the nearest city (Edmonton, AB), so if it cannot be bought at Walmart or the grocery store it is a journey to get it or you order it online. I am accustomed to having everything in the world 30 minutes outside my door. The limitations are quite frustrating on multiple levels as the remoteness affects every aspect of your life down to your children’s activities. As for culture shock, I wouldn’t say I was shocked at the differences, just more surprised. There is a misconception that Canada is just like the US, when in fact it is quite different.
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 were so unprepared! My husband was offered the position on a Monday and we had to make a decision by Friday, it was a whirlwind…. If we could do it over, I think we would lean more heavily on Human Resources and take more time to research the area.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I don’t know that our experiences have been so much funny as dramatic…my mom likes to say my life here is like a train wreck, hard to look away!!! There always seems to be an issue that we hadn’t yet considered that sends me running and on the phone for several hours! I am well known by the electric company as the American lady you DON’T want to talk to….did you know that you can’t pay your electric bill with a Credit Card issued by an American bank? Now you do! So be prepared and learn from me!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Canada?
- Do your research! There are many things that get overlooked, medical care, school curriculum, etc. because you are so focused on the physical move.
- Be prepared to spend a lot of money!!! Canada is quite expensive! Things are easily double what they are in the States.
- The 3 E’s: Embrace, Enjoy and Experience! Approach everything with the thought of adventure, it goes a lot easier…this is sometimes VERY hard to do, so cut yourself some slack!
How is the expat community in Canada? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I cannot comment on Canada as a whole, but here in Ft. McMurray, there is not a large, close knit expat community like you would find in Dubai or other places. We live among the locals, there is no International or American school, our kids go to the public schools, etc. The community is made up of people from all over Canada who come here to work, so there are many without their families and there is always someone new coming in.
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.
How would you summarize your expat life in Canada in a single, catchy sentence?
My life in Canada is… a never dull adventure into everyday life!