In a week I'll be celebrating 2 years in Canada.
It's hard to believe that time has flown by so quickly and I am already on to my second visa. I remember getting off the plane after my 14 hour flight, to get into my cab on the wrong side (because the driver sits on the opposite side in Canada). The cabbie thought I was trying to steal the taxi and I deliriously told him "I'm from Australia!! I'm sorry forgot!".
Once I got to the apartment I was supposed to be staying in (thank you again Brendan!), the cabbie dropped me off, drove away and I couldn't find the actual apartment number. I stood in the middle of the parking lot, with my suitcase in one hand and my phone in the other (which didn't work in Canada) and just started crying because I had no idea where to go or what to do.
I felt completely alone in a new country.
I lived alone in that apartment for three months, and boy did I get to see some darker sides of myself! As with any of life's journey's I have had my up's and my down's but overall I wouldn't change it for the world. Here's what I have learnt about myself and this beautiful country...
**Aussie to Canadian translations will be provided ;)
1. I can survive the cold and rain for more than six months straight!
As I child I hated the cold! And that's an understatement. You would catch me wearing shorts, a singlet (tank top) and thongs (flip flops) even as winter approached. I was stubborn. I would get bored being inside and wanted to be out in the sun. Since moving to Vancouver, I have realised that one must learn to occupy their time when it rains for such a long time continuously. I have taken to playing my ukulele a lot more and can gladly say my skill has increased. The grey clouds can definitely be a little soul sucking but the upside is there are three local ski/snowboarding hills in the area which are easy to access. Not to mention "Little Australia" (Whistler) is just up the road. And when the sun does come, boy does Vancouver change! It's like everyone is energised by the sun and the city becomes alive again! It really is beautiful in the Summer.
2. I realise more than ever the importance of family and friends.
Again, as a child, I never thought I could live so far away from my family. In the beginning I enjoyed the freedom of being here completely alone. I had no ties to anyone, didn't have to report to anybody, but now as time goes on I realise how much I miss my family and friends back home. Even simple things like driving up the coast to stay in Maleny where it truly feels like home. I must admit that with distance the heart does grow fonder. I now realise and appreciate how much they support me and my career choices and the sacrifices I make by being away. I miss out on birthdays, Christmases, engagements and gatherings all in the knowing that in the future it will all be worth it. I can't wait to see them all again person.
3. Seeing the world is eyeopening and really makes you appreciate what you have.
I haven't had to learn another language to live in Canada but there have been some other significant differences in comparison to home. Living here has made me realise how lucky we are in Australia. The minimum wage is a lot higher and getting by is not as expensive back home and saving money was a lot easier! Living abroad has also made me want to travel Australia. Growing up there I took for granted the beautiful landscapes, the outback and essence of what Australia truly is. But now that I've been away I can't wait to go back and see it all again from a new perspective.
4. I am strong.
I have really come to realise my own strength as a person and woman over the last two years. I don't feel like a girl anymore. The initial homesickness made me stronger and wiser and I feel I have more to share with the world now that I have travelled outside of my comfort zone. Whether it's from being away for so long or not, I feel I have developed more of an independence and I definitely feel stronger within my core. It's a nice feeling to know that I will be okay no matter where my career takes me in the world. You begin to get used to moving and enjoy overcoming the challenges when they arise. Now I find myself getting itchy feet and wanting to travel more.
5. Canada is stunning and the people are just as friendly as they are in the movies.
Even the signs on the buses apologise for when they have too many passengers on board "Sorrrrry! Bus is Full." Everyone even says thank you to the driver when getting off the bus. All round friendly people.
I have made a lot of friends here and have really felt at home because of it. My living situation couldn't have worked out more perfectly and I have made a lot of good friends through my work and acting class. And Canada really is a beautiful country. I went to Jasper National Park last year and snowboarded the Rocky Mountains. I will never forget looking back from the ski lift, to see this amazing expanse of snowy, rocky mountains for as far as I could see. It was truly breathtaking and an experience I will never forget. I have travelled through Alberta, up to Calgary, to Jasper, Banff, Hope, Whistler, Squamish, The Island, Tofino and earlier this year ducked down to the States and checked out Seattle and Portland. All places beautiful and unique.
So all in all it's been a wholesome 2 years in Canada and I am grateful for every minute of it. We are blessed to have the freedom to travel and I recommend it to anybody. Pack up your bag, get rid of your things and see the world for all it's beauty.