Van, I'm from London, England and I am currently living in Toronto.
1. Why did you move abroad?
Originally in search of a different lifestyle with better work-life balance.
2. How do you make a living?
I work in Education. In previous countries I have worked in international schools. In Canada, I haven't found work as a teacher but in a related field. It's always an adjustment working in a new country. Employment practices don't always match up with what you are used to back home. I've always enjoyed getting to know the families I have worked with and the children have just been amazing. Children are children no matter where they are in the world.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I communicate quite frequently with friends and family across the globe. Usually via whatsapp, viber or facebook.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Canada?
Fresh air and blue skies. Toronto is one of the driest climates I have lived in which means I don't have to deal with dreary rainy days as often. My hair is amazing in this country! Especially compared the mess it was in humid Singapore. I also like having access to certain American brands being here in Canada. Hello Kate Spade and Sephora!
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Canada?
It's lonely. There isn't an expat scene here and the layout of neighbourhoods and cities doesn't offer much exposure and opportunity to foster a community. Most of the time I don't even see people as everyone gets around in a car. And there isn't a work social scene here. People just go to work and then go home. They don't really socialise with colleagues.
6. What do you miss most?
Following from the above- community, friends- the pub! I miss people talking to you because they are being chatty and not because they are working on commission or getting a tip. I also miss being able to walk places.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I knew a few people out here before but I also joined expat groups. I made the effort to drag myself downtown and make that hour long journey so I could meet like-minded people. It's important to say yes as often as you can to social engagements.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
hahaha... hmmm... I would say the obsession with owning a home. And a large home at that. Everyone is obsessed with having a mortgage. And they seem to feel rather inadequate about not being thousands of dollars in debt?! I dunno... personally I think it's madness.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
Canada is known to be 'multicultural' and all accepting for every and any difference. While this is true, I wouldn't say it is 'multicultural' in the way people would imagine. To expand, it is 'multi' cultural as in there are multiple cultures, but they don't interact and blend together. The cities are segregated into little ethnic communities and there isn't much in the way of diverse neighbourhoods like we see in the UK.
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?
This is a tough one because technically Toronto is supposed to be cheaper than Singapore. However there are a number of things that are more expensive here. In fact, I was so surprised about it that I wrote a blog post about it. Some things are cheaper, eg booze! and groceries. I can't say it's made a huge difference on my lifestyle but it's nice to enjoy a bottle of wine guilt free.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Make sure you have a job lined up before you come here. It takes a really long time to get a job here and as start up costs are expensive you'll either want to make sure you have a job in place or a nice savings pot to fall back on until you are on your feet. Also, make sure you find your connections with back home. It can be really lonely here, especially being so far away from home, when nobody around you understands your home culture.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in 2016 when I was living in Qatar. I started it to contribute to information on life in Qatar and expat life and also to share my travel experiences.
Van's Blog, I Spy Pretty Places
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