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An Expat’s Partner: 3 lessons learnt during my first month across the ocean

My partner was recently re-located to Canada from the UK with work and I tagged along with him. It is fair to say I have found the first month a struggle. In hindsight, these are some of the errors I made.

  1. Spending too much time thinking about what I was leaving behind, and not enough thinking about what I was going to.

 

In the weeks before I moved to Toronto with my partner, I never knew how to answer the question ‘Are you excited?’ I suppose my response was yes, a little, but also a little nervous. But to be honest, it was a question I hadn’t even given much thought to.

The whole process of moving half way across the globe was thrown upon us so quickly everything felt entirely consumed by the stress of the leaving process. Would we be able to end our tenancy? What about my phone contract? What about my job? Do we have enough savings? What should we sell? What should we store? Where? The question list was enormous – as was the list of things to do!

In all of the chaos, I don’t think I gave myself enough time to think about what I wanted to do once I got to Toronto. I didn’t properly consider what kind of job I would look for – whether I wanted to jump into any job that would take me – or whether I was prepared to be unemployed for a few months and hunt for something more fulfilling. Did I want to take the opportunity to start something completely new? Go back to studying?

It’s a lesson learnt that I should have given myself more space to research how I wanted my first few months in Toronto to be, whilst still on familiar soil.

 

  1. Expecting everything to be OK, straight away.

On our first day in Toronto we took the subway from our temporary condo towards the centre. As soon as we got out of the station onto the street I burst into tears. It was as if all the things I had feared most were true. Toronto, at that moment, was an extremely busy, noisy concrete jungle with little green spaces and high rises everywhere you looked. Of course, there are green spaces in Toronto and beautiful streets comprising entirely of the most gorgeous houses – but at that time I felt devastated I did not immediately fall in love with Toronto.

The rest of the day consisted of my boyfriend guiding us around the city trying to find green spots and interesting places to steer me away from the verge of a breakdown. I was so overwhelmed at the time that I struggled to absorb much of the positivity around me.

My error here was expecting too much too soon. I expected to get to Toronto and instantly love it. But in reality these things take time. Adjusting to a new city and a new way of life isn’t an instant process.

 

  1. Thinking I was immune to home sickness

I have never been homesick. Not even when I was a young child going away on those adventure weeks in Wales with the school. Not when I went to University or spent three months living in Slovakia. Never. Well, until now anyway.

I can honestly say I miss home a lot.

It’s the little things. Friends and family of course. But my main niggles are the everyday things. Food shopping, for example, it now a bit of a confusing blur. Prices – I have got into a bad habit of trying to convert all the prices in a shop into UK pounds. It is not helpful.

Taxes. I still can’t get my head around not having tax included in prices and it tricks me every time. I am constantly thinking ‘Oh that’s pretty reasonable’ then getting to the till and finding the final price substantially more expensive. Restaurants are a double whammy with taxes and tips. You might as well just mentally double the price on the menu.

Of course, these are all pretty small grumbles in the wider picture of things. My main error I suppose was not expecting that much to be different. Canada and the UK are similar in many ways. It has the same language for starters. But I think you do have to expect some level of homesickness. I never thought I would say I miss ASDA’s Saturday morning madness, but I really do.

After six weeks, I am starting to feel much more settled and that original feeling of being completely overwhelmed is slowly disappearing. Life is falling back into a routine. I definitely do not regret moving abroad and think it is something everyone should do at some point in their lives. The positives – in particular for me, exploring a new country – far outweigh the negatives.

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13 thoughts on “An Expat’s Partner: 3 lessons learnt during my first month across the ocean

  1. Hi! I’ve been reading your site for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead
    and give you a shout out from Huffman Texas!
    Just wanted to mention keep up the great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to
    be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or tips.
    Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I desire to read even more things about it!

    Like

    1. Thank you for getting in touch. You may be interested to know I have another couple of posts about my first few months overseas. You can find them at the top of the page under the ‘Expat Stories’ link

      Like

  3. I know all too well about the feelings of being an expat partner… and they are all coming up to the surface with our most recent move (the second one). I’m from Mississauga originally… it’s great discovering Toronto through your eyes. Best of luck!

    Like

  4. Super helpful post. You’re right, I think I need to spend some time adjusting my expectations, as I can be disappointed too if things aren’t ‘just right’ or how I imagined them. Also the tax thing sounds like a complete nightmare! I’m rubbish at mental maths!

    Liked by 1 person

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