6 months feels like a bit of a milestone for me. Before I arrived, and in those moments where I was really struggling at the beginning of my Toronto journey, I was frequently told:
“Give it six months”
“The first six months are the hardest.”
Only I was resistant to accept this piece of advice. I am only in Canada for two years, and felt if I spent the first six months just ‘settling in’ then I was essentially wasting a quarter of my time here.
I didn’t want to spend the first six months feeling like I was on some kind of old, rusty rollercoaster full of ups and downs – where your harness doesn’t fit so well and consequently you fear you might fall off every time you twirl around a particularly risky loop-the-loop.
However, in hindsight it seems everyone’s words held an element of truth. 6 months does feel a little bit like taking that leap off that wobbly stepping stone, onto that slightly firmer and more stable rock.
This post is actually a take-two. I started writing this entry a few weeks ago, but didn’t quite get around to finishing it. Returning to it a couple of days ago, I found the glasses I am viewing my expat experience through have changed once again.
That’s one thing I have found since moving abroad, my opinions, thoughts, emotions can change hour to hour, day to day.
So these are my (current!) reflections at the 6 month mark:
- Emotions and F.O.M.O (fear of missing out)
Generally emotions feel a million times more powerful here.
When I started writing this post a few weeks ago, I was feeling down about missing out on events with friends at home.
One of my oldest friends recently got engaged – and whilst I am over the moon for her, I can’t help but to feel kind of sad I am not there to take part in the celebrations.
I am a severe sufferer of FOMO. And I think that has been one of the big battles since moving abroad.
I always say living overseas would be so amazing if you could just pop home for the weekend. Keeping frequent contact with people can be difficult, what with the time difference and how busy everyone’s lives are. It has made me worry I am drifting, unwillingly, away from the people that really matter to me. There is an internal struggle that whilst my immediate day to day efforts are being put into making friends in Toronto and feeling settled here, I do not want that to be at the expense of valuable relationships and ambitions across the pond.
Last weekend however, was a bit of a booster. We had a couple of friends from the UK visiting. It was so nice to be able to show them Toronto’s highlights and spend some quality time catching up. They also flew us over a few home treats, like custard creams and gravy granules!
It made me realise how ‘normal’ everything felt, despite not seeing them for 6 months. And consequently, it helped me to not panic so much when it comes to drifting.
2. Time moves at a weird speed
I like to think back to what I was doing one year ago, two years ago… and so on. It always shocks me things that were years ago don’t seem very long ago at all in my mind.
I have no doubts that the next two years will absolutely whizz by, and I will be sat back in Bristol before I know it, wondering what on earth happened to my time in Toronto.
My partner and I are both feeling more settled now – which means we can put energy into doing fun things at the weekends and planning tips – before just navigating day to day life could, at times, feel exhausting!
I know once we hit the year mark, the tables are going to turn. I’m expecting time will speed up even more – and then the panic will be trying to fit in everything we want to do in Canada before its home time. I’ve already come to the realisation it’s going to be next to impossible to fit in everything we want to do – an excuse for a holiday back I suppose!
3. It’s OK to step back re-think your goals slightly
I am one of the worst people when it comes to comparing myself to others. Social media is the absolute worst for this!!
Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin keeps me informed how amazing everyone else seems to be doing. Buying houses, getting promotions etc. It can be so easy to feel like you are falling behind sometimes.
I was once told, “just because you are not following the conventional route, and just because your success is different to other people’s success, it doesn’t make you any less successful than anyone else”.
And it’s true. I am not going to look back when I am old and wrinkly and regret not going down that grad-scheme route. But I will regret not doing things I am passionate about and enjoy.
I feel content with work here now. I have a guaranteed position until Christmas, and I can see how the work I am doing will benefit my CV upon my return to the UK.
But I don’t want to make my Toronto experience purely about work and career. I want my goals in Toronto to expand beyond that. I hope to:
- Get fitter and healthier.
- To be open minded to new experiences
- See new places and experience new things
- Learn not to worry so much
- To be more creative again and spend time on old hobbies, such as reading and writing.
If I manage to achieve all of these things, I will have gained so much more than two years in any job could give me.
Are you living abroad? How long did it take you to feel settled?
How did you feel about your new home at the six month mark?