It’s hard moving to a different country. You leave literally everything and everyone you know and love behind and throw yourself in to the unknown. It’s scary, but also very exhilarating. It gives you a chance to evaluate your life and really find out what’s important to you.
We moved five years ago from the UK, to Canada. With hindsight, we were completely unprepared, totally naive, and I was also four months pregnant. I thought it would be a breeze having a baby, carrying on working, finding and furnishing a home, just my husband and me. I was wrong. Luckily, our amazing parents and friends hauled themselves over on a regular basis, enduring the long flight with not one complaint. Without them, I think the outcome would have been very different.
But back to the love hate thing. I have struggled, quite openly, with the issue of whether it’s better to bring up our little one in one of the most beautiful places on earth, with wonderful opportunities, great skiing, brilliant schools, and a lovely cottage to live in, or if it’s better to have your family around you. Should my daughter be growing up in a tight-knit, loving, big, noisy family, or do we give her the best start in life that we possibly can?
No one tells you that it’s lonely at times, trying to carve out a new space for yourself in the world. It doesn’t matter how many Skype calls you make, you are still acutely aware of the fact that you are 4,000 miles away from everyone. It’s only after five years that I’ve stopped crying at least once a day, for the things I miss the most, some of which are;
1. Popping round to my mum and dads for coffee on a Saturday morning. Just sitting and talking about our week.
2. Our family, especially my brother and sister-in-law, and their children. We are so close, and I know it sounds corny, but literally so far away
3. Shopping. I miss Waitrose, Marks and Spencer’s, and Sainsburys! Most of all, I miss cheese. It’s just not the same here.
4. Sunday lunch and reading the papers. Nuff said.
5. A pint of bitter in a country pub.
6. Watching a rugby match. Especially if it’s raining.
7. Getting all of my friends round a table for dinner and laughing until it hurts. You can only properly do this with the friends that you have known for most of your life.
8. Christmas at home. Luckily, we have managed to make it home for a couple of Christmases and the feeling of being exactly in the right place at the right time is priceless.
9. London. When I was working there I hated it. But now I see it through rose-tinted glasses, especially when watching programs like “Love Actually” or “Sherlock”. I don’t remember it being dirty and crowded, I just remember the great meals we had, the interesting places we went to, and the diversity and history of the city.
10. The feeling of smallness. Everything here is big! The food, drinks, cars, roads, buildings. Nothing is on a small scales, and sometimes that’s a good thing.
So, on the flip side, some of the things I absolutely love about our new home;
1. The fact that in the same city, you can ski or board in the morning and go to the beach in the afternoon. The list of outdoor pursuits is vast.
2. It’s so clean here! Apart from one small part of the city, its immaculate.
3. The healthy lifestyle. It’s almost a crime to drink coca cola here. And this is giving our little one the right attitude towards food. The city is very multicultural, so the dining options are endless, and the chance to try new food. Our daughter now thinks it completely normal to juice fruit and veg for a drink instead of reaching for something sugary. She snacks on watermelon, granola bars, and roasted kale instead of crisps and chocolate. It’s also completely normal for her to do a yoga class at school and go skiing on a Sunday. That’s got to be good right?
4. The opportunity to do really well in your career if you put the time and effort in. If you have a good work ethic in this city, people are willing to give you that chance. And because it’s a relatively young city, a lot of the companies are new and still growing, They listen to ideas and are willing to change if it’s the right thing to do. And this makes you feel as though you are making a difference.
So, what do you think? Opportunity or family? I still don’t know.