Six Months In
Yesterday marked six months in Canada, half of my yearlong work visa. I can’t believe how fast this has gone by, how many fantastic people I have met and how many exciting things I have crammed into this time. Before coming out here I was a little worried that I would get lonely or homesick and kept in the back of my mind that I could always return to the UK early. I am happy to report that none of these things have happened yet and while there has been the normal ups and downs, overall I am having a blast!
Toy bears being thrown into the ice during a hockey game. Donations for underprivileged children at Christmas
A big part of coming out here was to take some time to reflect on what I want from life and what direction to take next. Almost exactly two years ago I was leaving the security of a salary and becoming self employed full time. I worked really hard to get myself into that position, but working towards being self employed (something I had wanted for a long time) felt more than worth it. I was excited and remember going to bed being looking forward to waking up and getting back to it the next day. Within a year I had to admit that while I enjoyed being self employed, freelance web development wasn’t for me. I was stressed and unhappy. Reluctantly I had to admit to myself that it was time for me to stop.
Since then I have felt lost and without purpose, which has been hard for me. I guess I could have sucked it up or got some other job in the UK but I didn’t want to compromise. This is my life and I want to enjoy it, I also want to once again find that drive and excitement in working towards something meaningful for me. So in search of new experiences here I am in Canada! I feel very fortunate that I was able to uproot like this and despite being a little scared, I knew that if I didn’t do it I would regret it later in life. Tim Travis, who has been cycling around the world for the past 10 years wrote this on his ten year anniversary letter which sums up pretty well how I feel:
I imagine that thirty years from now, sitting in some hard luck bar, I’ll listen to other old men talk about life’s lost dreams, the years wasted on chasing careers and money. I think I’ll just smile and keep my mouth shut. I will always treasure my memories of vagabonding around. I’ll never feel like I wasted my life.
So where am I after six months – having had these amazing experiences, meeting these fantastic people and all of the laughs? Well I am still uncertain what things down the road will look like. And that’s OK. It’s both exciting and scary for me. I never expected things to happen overnight, but I am getting out there and most importantly I am having fun and experiencing, which is what my time here is all about. Actually, it’s probably what “life” is all about.
Watching the salmon run
I have some plans and a few goals for the next six months which include: buying a van, a huge road trip across Canada, running some big runs including the Juan de Fuca coastal path, improve my French (I have been lazy with this one so far), more woofing and to spend some time in Montreal during the summer. I’m pretty excited – so watch this space!
You can see how I have spent the last six months by reading back over previous posts, but here are some bits and pieces not included in those…
I have been welcomed with kindness and generosity by everyone I have met in Canada, I have also noticed that most Canadians are very polite, respectful and patient people. They do however seem to have a hard time understanding me, so I often have to repeat myself – I think mainly because they are taken by surprise at my funny accent. How I pronounce my name causes a lot of confusion and nearly every time I say my name Canadians hear either “Jay” or “Gerry” and switch between which they hear as I try to correct them. This happens so often I am considering adopting Jay as my Canadian name!
Great views found everywhere!
There are subtle differences in English words an terms used like trash/garbage, toilet/washroom, spanners/wrenches that can slow down a conversation or even make it grind to a halt so I have started adopting the North Americanisms for my own sanity. But more often then not these act as a nice ice breaker or topic of debate.
Some random observations:
- The road markings and signs here can be really hard to see in the dark… which can be scary
- The banks here all charge for their services and seem to be quite far behind the UK
- Many British sayings are unheard of over here (“cheap as chips” for example) so I am constantly confusing people
- Mobile phone contracts costs LOADS
- If nature calls don’t ask for “the toilet”, ask for “the washroom”
- Internet shopping doesn’t seem to have caught on as much over here
- Post isn’t delivered on Saturdays. And it’s called mail
- After a while people making fun of your accent can get tiring. This doesn’t happen too often thankfully!
- Cheese is very expensive
Me and Richard jucing apples – soon to be cider
I have had many firsts during my time here, which include (some big, some silly):
- Driving on the right (not being a car owner in the UK after only 3 months I had driven more on the right than I ever had on the left!)
- Joined a running club
- Watched an ice hockey game
- Watched the salmon run
- Tried skimboarding
- Drank (and enjoyed) Eggnog
- Experienced Canadian Thanksgiving and Christmas
- Went to Tim Hortons (lots)
- Present at a wedding engagement (after having met the couple that evening!)
- Picked someone up from the airport
- Learning to snowboard
- Saying “eh” at the end of sentences without thinking (it just works!)
- Running whilst it was snowing
- Encountered a bear
- Drove a pickup truck
- Used a chainsaw
- Drove an automatic car (the very first time trying to work out how to start it. Answer: apply the brakes)
- Canoe/camping trip
- Trail running race
- Making cider
- Growing a beard
Running in the Cumberland hills – and then there was snow!
So there you have it. Bring on the next 6!