We often discuss many practical and interesting topics about migration, but not about the mixed emotions when living in the great white North! And, those mixed emotions come with migrating to Canada.
As we approach another change in season, and with it a lot of mixed emotions, I would like to share my personal experience when I first landed in Canada two Fall/Winters ago.You’re almost packed with your landing date in sight. And, buried deep with all the stress and excitement of your new life, a job, a home, a car, etc. But, have you thought of how your body and mind will react to the extreme change in climate when you first land in the great white North?!
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We are into the Fall season and soon heading into the harsh and white winters. Just like everybody else, I too did not give this much thought when I planned my trip in the fall/winter months. Most pictures I researched online about my destination city had nice warm sunshine, plenty of people walking the streets, shops and activities galore. And, that painted a very beautiful yet deceptive picture in my mind. Not here to demotivate anyone but a series of emotions and feelings that I went through after I first landed in the freezing cold months, aka The Canadian Winters!!
Dealing with Canadian winters
Migrating to Canada, I had never before experienced such cold weather for months! Leave alone snow falling from the sky non-stop for 3-4 days on end. I had heard of it, but took it in my stride, like I was going on a holiday and would easily cope with it. Though, the first fall of snow for someone like me was like a blessing from the sky. And, I played in the snow for a good few hours.
But, I soon realized it’s not that easy to take it in for days! And mind you, I am not referring to the cold weather here. What I am really getting to is the dark and gloomy skies, poor visibility, and shorter days (less and less sunlight) during the winter months.
I landed in Vancouver, British Columbia (the mild west). And, the winters are mild compared to some of the other provinces. The rain, and the layers of clothing are no different for someone who had moved from a hot and humid tropical country. But, soon I noticed a sudden change in my behaviour, mood, and thoughts.
I was new to the city, sans friends or family and had migrated by myself. So, I often found myself lost in a lot of soul searching and sometimes doubtful questions:
- Have I made the right move?
- Why did I leave everything behind?
- I was such an extrovert back home but, why can’t I talk to anyone freely here?
- Why is everything so expensive here?
Trust me, a few months down the line when you’re settled in and things seem to have moved along well, you will laugh at yourself. And, with the warmer summer months and long days coming about you’ll find life comes full circle as we approach this season again next year. So, I felt it important to discuss this and termed it as mixed emotions. as it’s often mixed with excitement, yet some soul searching.
This is my third fall/winter in Canada, and I again find myself in that zone I was the first time around. This prompted me to write about it and maybe help those who are about to land, or are on the brink of their first experience with the change of season. Let me tell you, it’s completely natural to feel that way! Don’t add to your stress.
Tips to deal with the mixed emotions of life in the great white North!
We are so used to the sunshine, having loads of people around, and being up and about until the wee hours of the night. So, it’s a very strange situation when suddenly everything looks so glum. This is a cold country! We all know that. So, that’s something none of us can control. But, what we can do is:
- Smile. Most important! It’s ok to cry out once in a while so that you can smile later 😊 It’s about balance.
- Stay away from people who spread any negative thoughts around you.
- Exercise 4-5 days a week in a gym or an outdoor location (if possible). Trust me. you will meet people there in that similar exercise/workout environment. And, you might just make a friend or two sharing some valuable health tips. Side benefit, your mind will remain active, healthy, and trigger positive thoughts too.
- Find an outdoor winter activity; and make snow your friend! Try skiing, snowboarding, snow skating, small and moderate winter hikes or maybe develop an interest in Canada’s very own winter sport, ice hockey. I don’t know if that will really capture your attention upfront but trust me, Canadians love their sports teams. And. watching a game live in a sports arena, sports bar, etc can help build a happy tempo within you too.
- If you have a job and work colleagues, plan to meet for a house party once a month. Or, just go grab a drink after work on TGIF. It helps to bond outside of your professional environment. And, you’ll have a good time.
- Stay less connected to people back home! Yes, I know some of you would disagree with me here. But, I personally realized that every emotion attached with a small audio/video call, chat messages brings back memories that dampen your loneliness even more. You could probably increase contact once you have settled in well in your new home.
- Travel! Canada is a huge country and if time and budget permits make sure to witness the winter from different perspectives and provinces. You will be blown away how diverse this country truly is. I did Quebec and Ontario in peak winters and felt so fortunate I was living in BC! Lol!! It just brought a smile to my face that’s it. Also remember winter fares on airlines and hotels are usually cheaper so, why not!
- Try this app called Couchsurfing. It changed my world completely! I made a lot of friends through that and unknowingly got my first full time job thanks to a reference I made while having a BEER! Seriously! You never know when, who and what can get you where. Don’t stop attending your professional networking events though! This is just a fun add-on not a resume distribution centre. Go to make friends, if something more happens consider it destiny!
- Live life everyday, make daily plans, don’t think too far ahead. Even the weather forecasts are not completely accurate so any cancellations can dampen your spirits totally. This might sound easier said than done. But, believe me you’ve got to instill this in yourself every single day until you start doing it.
- Indulge in volunteer activities. You won’t get paid, but you will be out there doing something constructive, meeting new people, and building some much-needed Canadian work experience. And, most importantly giving back to the society which you never had time for back home. This is your new home, so no harm in making a new beginning, right!?
There are many more interactive things you can do to kill the negativity or uncertainty that the winter season brings. I have only listed a few activities that I did do personally or learned along the way looking at others like me. And, it has kept me in good shape and spirits through the changing seasons in Canada.
It is very easy to feel lost or overwhelmed. So, we need to find love (in the small things in life), and a reason to smile each day. Because, you can’t just think about making money, paying bills, buying a car, a home, etc, (even though those are vitals thorns in the shoe that we need to consider. You need to sit back, relax, and absorb every day you live through these seasons.
So, the mixed emotions are not as bad as it may sound…it’s just a phase and remember, Summer is just around the corner! 😊😊😊
So this is me, Rohan Lakhotia. I live life on the edge. Plan small, live big!
I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. In 2016 I secured my double Masters; one from Singapore and the other from UK.
Wife and I moved to Vancouver on the 23rd of January, 2018 for a simple reason; better quality of life and a fresh change from a busy city life and that’s exactly what I got and what I love.
My Mother always said “SMILE, however bad things get it’ll only be a phase. Slowly everything will be fine.”.