Hi there! My name is Holly Nelson, I am originally from sunny England! I
moved to Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) permanently in January 2013. I am
delighted to have been given the opportunity to write about my experiences for BlogExpat!
1. Why did you move abroad?
I moved abroad for my high school sweetheart. He moved to Canada at the age of nineteen and we lost contact until we were twenty-seven, it took a matter of days to decide we were still in love and I was clearly going to
have to move to Canada!
2. How do you make a living?
In England, I was a teacher. To be a teacher here, I have to transfer my qualifications and become registered with the Ontario College of Teachers. This is a lengthy and costly procedure that I have so far been unable to complete. As such I am working in a before and after school care setting. It is one of the saddest things about expat life here in Canada - I meet so many expats who are unable to fulfil their dreams here due to bureaucracy. I actually work with two other teachers who are expats and can't teach here either. I got onto a bus the other day and the English bus driver was a
qualified pharmacist. I meet many people with stories like this.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I write letters as often as I can. I much prefer letters to a quickly scrawled message on Facebook - they allow more thought and care to be put into them and likewise allow you to feel closer to people back home. I also use FaceTime on my iPad every single day to ring my family, which is a real lifeline. I am not sure I would still be here without that comfort.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Ontario?
I love exploring new places. Waterfalls, huge lakes, big American malls, Native American reserves. I love exploring new seasons - the warm, colourful springs, the extreme temperatures of summer, the colours of fall and the huge winter freeze! I love meeting new people and learning new customs.
5. What's the worst thing about being an expat in Ontario?
I have not yet in a year felt that real sense of belonging and feeling of comfort that comes with belonging. I still use the wrong words, wear the wrong clothes, get lost in the city easily. I can't join in very easily with conversations about TV or politics or history because I am still learning. When I went to England for a visit recently, I instantly felt so safe and at ease. Not so here in Ontario.
6. What do you miss most?
I miss my family and friends. I had no idea before I came here just how hard it is to be without one's friends and family. It is something that is difficult to explain and more difficult to experience. In terms of things that are English, I miss my local pub a lot!
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I got a job! I have made so many wonderful friends through work and have learnt so much through them and through my work. Getting a job definitely helped me to find my feet in this strange new World!
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Canadian people don't put kisses on the end of their text messages! That definitely took me by surprise. They are also so nice. In England we 'take the mickey' out of each other all the time. It's what we do. Here, if people do take the mick, they instantly felt the need to explain why they weren't being serious to the other person. These are, obviously, generalization at though!
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That Canadians say 'eh'! I very rarely hear that word anymore! Some people think it is cold all year round here, yet the summers in Ontario are so hot that you have to spend all your time with your feet in a bowl of water and a wet towel covering your body. That last bit may just be me though!
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
It really goes in swings and roundabouts. They don't pay car tax, or for expensive petrol in Canada, but car insurance is way more expensive than in Britain. Certain foods and alcohol can be more expensive, but some foods and definitely clothing is much cheaper. Rent is approximately the same, but you can get more of a house for your money when buying.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
To take nothing for granted and to start preparation for immigration and visas and other such items immediately. If you procrastinate then you might find yourself running out of time to get pieces of paperwork completed - when your visa falls through it really does feel like the end of the World.
That said, never despair either! It is a waste of energy and you can always find other avenues to go down!
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog so that my friends and family back home would be able to keep up with me. I wanted as many communication lines with home as possible. However, as my blog began to mature and started to find readers, it became a source of information to me, as well as a source of comfort and support through the hard times faced by all expats - homesickness, money worries, red tape etc.
Holly's blog, Full of Beans (and Sausage)
To find out more about living in Canda, refer to our
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