Do You Want To Live In Canada . . . Seriously?

It was like any other chore. I was packing my seemingly new clothes and other things I valued that wouldn’t take much space and add weight to my luggage.

I wasn’t thinking much of what lies ahead. All I knew was that I can’t go back.

I made a decision. I kept things in order just like I always do. I still had a vivid memory of the shiny wooden floor. “You’ll never be as cleaned as you are right now because I’m leaving.”
I’ve heard of runaway brides or postponed trip. I can neither runaway or postpone a one-way flight. Much has been spent: money, energy, and time. Much was expected — from me.

All was set and good to go.

That was me when I left to live in Canada almost four years ago. I still sometimes think of what ifs. What if I didn’t leave, then there will be no Lost In The Leaf City. I’ll be blogging about dog or crab hermit (which is not a bad idea at all).

I’m a blogger fortunate enough to learn the stories of immigrants.

I’m here to share stories on what it’s like to live in Canada for all the newcomers wondering and dreaming a life in the winter wonderland.

The comfort zone ends here. Beyond this sentence lies the truth.

The Purpose Deep Within

Let’s get this straight. WHY do you really want to live in Canada? Is there an opportunity to work or study overseas or was it something else?

Whatever the reason is, it has to be clear and decisive.

Are you just leaving because you want to move somewhere else? Are you tired of seeing the same street signs that nobody wants to follow or store names that you stop wondering how the owner came up with?

You don’t want to be part of the hustle and bustle of public transportation anymore? Everyone sounds like bees. Then one day you wake up with a grim on your face thinking of the waving flag of Canada. Snap out of it. Stop daydreaming.

But when you start to think more often and already planning on how to go to Canada for months (maybe years) then it’s a different matter.

You’re up to something serious but don’t over analyze things that doing a crossword puzzle or Sudoku will do you more good than thinking too much of what lies ahead.

You will never ever figure out everything. Yes you can prepare.

You can find out where to stay, work, or study and how to come in Canada. (Now you can picture the waving flag while you are enjoying nanaimo bars. There’s nobody to share it with.)

So what is holding you back?

The job you want to resign since the first day of work. The tons of paperwork about immigration. Of course how can we forget about the friendly cozy feeling of familiarity. Everything is the same.

Except that you are longing for MORE. Can the desire sustain and mobilize you to start anew . . . somewhere?

The Life on the Other Side

Although I used to hide and scare my siblings then later our dogs, I wouldn’t scare you; in fact, I’d like to add something in your Canadian dreamland.

It wouldn’t cause any nightmare. We’ll put more color. Good and bad experiences are unavoidable. Here are the few things almost every newcomer has gone through:

  1. Endure the weather. In some places in Canada, you can experience four weathers in a day. Freezing in the morning. Sunny in the afternoon. Raining or snowing at night. Moodiness is the most unpredictable weather. It may come from you. So prepare your jacket or raincoat and patience.
  2. Expect the culture shock. You will meet people from various cultural backgrounds; open mindedness helps in adapting and integrating in the community early on.
  3. Workout even if you don’t want to. At some point, you will have to commute and walk (a lot) if you don’t have license yet. Nourish your body with healthy food and mind with positive thoughts. Others like meditation while I prefer biking, walking, and running (to catch the bus).
  4. Work your way out of the job market maze. This one is the toughest for some. You may not work in a field related to your job back home at first. It may or not take a long time. Some embrace a different field; others seek “Canadian Experience” or take a survival job.

Caveat: underemployment is one of the reasons why immigrants ended up going back home. It’s a harsh reality that even with years of experience some settle for work that helps in paying the bills. Whatever your job is, take pride and know that it is only temporary.

Don’t settle. Step up on the ladder.

Once I heard a woman said the saddest words in a bus, “I missed my family. I wished I hadn’t come to Canada.”

It’s not my habit to eavesdrop. I should have slept (this one is my habit) so that I wouldn’t hear the conversation. I was shocked. It was as if I heard myself saying the same words except the last sentence.

No regret in general or in the future. Why is that? Because I see faces of courage, faith, hope, and love.

Master of Fate

So be honest with yourself now. Do you really want to live in Canada? If you do, make it about YOU.

Do you want to explore the Canadian Rocky Mountains? Do you want to discover yourself: nurture your strengths and acknowledge weaknesses?

Do you want to meet and learn from people? (I have met people of varying cultural backgrounds through commuting, attending events, and taking classes which are mostly free.)
It’s all about YOU. No you are not suffering from hyper-selfishness syndrome.

Because if you want to roam Canada where the sun shines but you start backpacking to Cancun the moment everything is covered with snow then it’s just the travel bug that bite your skin.

But if you want to learn how to sound like a Canadian and eat foods from around the world and experience everything that comes with living in Canada then welcome aboard.

Don’t feel guilty by abiding to the wishes of the royal highness in charge — you.

Others have migrated to other country where they didn’t know anybody and don’t have much or worst nothing at all. Their stories are an inspiration to everyone: watch Cesar Millan: The Real Story and read Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.

For dog lovers you probably heard of Cesar Millan as the “Dog Whisperer.” Literally he went from a safe zone to the illegal zone when he crossed the border from Mexico to USA.

While Frank McCourt, an immigrant from Ireland, wrote his autobiography “Angela’s Ashes.” (There is also a movie version.) Driven by poverty and dream, he boarded a ship to the USA where he seized opportunities and endured more hardships.

They made it. But they have to trade a lot of things in life: first is the safety in familiarity, second is someone dear to them. The OLD self who doesn’t want to change.

Bad habit has to go and replace it with a good one. It’s going to hurt struggling against yourself every single day.

At the end of the day yourself is the most trusted and loyal ally. So please befriend yourself. Are you ready to take RISK?

The Royal Treatment

It’s a good thing I love movies and dogs and books. Sometimes dogs outnumbered the number of people in the park. A person can walk with six furry creatures walking and stopping to look at the view. Life is indeed beautiful from a pawful perspective.

I smiled when a new friend noticed how I am fond of books and said the words of wisdom I’ll never forget. “You have a companion for life.”

She was right. Living in Canada has allowed me to read more books in a year in spite of work and other random things I preoccupied myself with.

How about you? What are the activities and things that energize you? Do you like photography or cook new recipe? Maybe you like to visit museums or parks. Whatever your hobby is make sure to find time for it wherever you are.

Keep on learning new things and make new friends but don’t forget about the inner self — the true you. Keep on doing what you LOVE to do.

Bottomless Pit of Doubt

If you still have doubts on why you should live in Canada then maybe it’s time to ask yourself the toughest question that I overlooked as a newcomer in Canada.

“What will become of me?”

I was able to prepare as much as I can for the job that awaits me. I psyched up. I thought of the opportunities and trials. That was all I can do at that time. Think, hope, and pray.

Years later, I realized that I’m a work in progress. By living a life in a land I am befriending every single day, I have witnessed the worst and the best part of me. It is terrifying and at the same time amazing to know that you are in control of who you will turn out to be.

We can’t control the circumstances or the action of others. But you get to choose on how to respond. Choose the lesson from experience. Choose to press on.

The endless possibilities of what we can do terrifies us. Each day you have the chance to create, become a better person .

We spent time thinking of what career to choose, car to drive, house to live in but have you thought about of who you want to be?

A person who loves to love. Someone who strive to keep on learning and sharing. Find the time to put a smile on everyone’s face. A person who appreciate whatever the weather outside and indulge in a favourite treat without guilt.

We can never guess what it’s like to meet our future self. I’m sure he/she will be unique and extraordinary. You’ll see. You might not recognize yourself.


Whether you decide to live in Canada or somewhere else or stay in your homeland, never stop dreaming.

It all started in a dream isn’t it? Or a sign of a waving Canadian flag? Sleep on the idea of moving to Canada for now. You heart can tell when it is time.

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