Moving Abroad : 5 Things I wish I knew

No matter how much I emphasize on the fact that I didn’t want to leave, I guess there was a part of me that always wanted to emigrate overseas and live independently. Hence-why, I am where I am today.


On August 31st, 2018 I will be celebrating my third anniversary of having moved to Toronto. This special month has left me with mixed emotions along with numerous thoughts and questions running through my mind. Which is why, I have decided to write a little series of things I have experienced since I moved to the winter wonderland 3 years ago. First off, I’d like to share about a few things I wish I’d known before I moved:

Making Friends Will

Not Be Easy

If you’re moving by yourself, you will need a social life. Now, if you’re someone like me i.e socially awkward and an over thinker, making friends will not come easily. Not that it’s any easier for people who are not shy and awkward. From experience with all sorts of personalities, I can say that it’s tough to make real friends.
If you’re a teenager, enrolling yourself in a university for a 3-4 years degree, you’ll have plenty of time to make friends I suppose. But if you’re taking on this task after you completion of your Bachelors and are about to start a fast-track course, finding people to hangout with gets tough. The only people you’ll be spending time with is your group that help you with the assignments. If you’re lucky, you end up becoming friends with one or two but you lose contact with most of them.

You don’t make friends in a classroom.

On the other hand, if you’re relocating for work or taking up on a job after school, the only people you’ll know are your colleagues. Let’s be honest, how many of us actually open up to our workmates? We tend to show our colleagues a pretty side of ourselves and probably agree to do what the majority wants.
I am not saying you won’t make friends. You do. Just be prepared that it takes a lot of arguments, loosing people and loneliness to find those few who you will resonate with as friends.

TIPS : Enroll yourself in classes of your choice for example dancing, pottery, sports and/or whatever it is that you like to do. This will help you cross pathways with people who share common interests as you. Definitely the best way to find alike minded peeps. Secondly,  don’t be scared about going up to someone and making plans. Tell your schoolmates and coworkers that you’d like to explore. This can totally help you in forming personal connections outside of your professional life. Lastly, volunteer for various events taking place in your area to meet people from different backgrounds.

You Will Be Forced To Leave Your Comfort Zone

Coming from a city with a slow pace and remember making all the excuses for not wanting to do something? Well, it’s time to forget those excuses. There will be endless occasions where you’ll find yourself sweating or crying about having to experience things you didn’t want to. Furthermore, there will be instances making you feel like an odd foreigner. New timezone, new rules, new system, new society, new culture and everything else that’s new will have you question your own zone of comfort. It’s different when you visit a place as a tourist and the beauty of everything touristy is mesmerizing but relocating to start a new life means having to run errands and completing your day-to-day tasks whilst taking on unexplored streets. You might not like the food, the transportation system and the task deadlines that you are deemed to abide by. Feel a little overwhelmed? Oh well! I haven’t even reached at the most troubling part of moving yet: The Financial Crunch.

In my opinion, there is only one way of helping yourself: Go with the flow. Take one step at a time and don’t try to fight the changes that the emigration phase demands of you to make. For example, don’t be embarrassed about taking a job that you wouldn’t have done back home, missing your bus in the rain, taking a wrong street or not knowing the accent properly. It’s all about the learning. Furthermore, don’t be scared to explore by yourself and/or take help from strangers if you’re stuck somewhere. Helps a lot in building confidence.

Official procedures can still

be a hassle

Moving out of a third world country and expect becoming a part of first world means not struggling with the bureaucracy. Well, that’s not realistic

Depending on what permit you have, the procedures are gonna line up for you. Getting a driver’s license, health card, work benefits, travel visa, auto insurance will not be that straightforward after all. For example, if you’re a student in Ontario the chances of you getting a loan towards a car are probably very slim. Once you start working, it takes about 3 months i.e the probation period for your health card to become effective. It can take longer than the estimated time to get your work visa, temporary resident visa and any other visa you’re looking to get. Also, you could face some discrepancies for example when I went to take my driver’s license my driving experience back home was taken into consideration and I was allowed to take the test right away without any driver’s course. However, when I moved on to get my insurance, I was told that the experience doesn’t count and that I had to pay approx CAD 500 per month as insurance. I see why the driver’s course is necessary but it’s still a hassle to find out such information after getting the license.

This is probably the least worrisome part about moving but knowing them beforehand would’ve definitely been beneficial. You can balance your expectations accordingly.

You’re in for a

complete transformation

For better or worse, you are going to see significant changes in your personality. New culture, communities and etiquette are going to challenge your ways of looking at things. You think that you are still yourself but give it a couple of months and you start noticing the difference in your perspective about almost everything. It can be very emotional and stressful. Not being able to maintain a work-life balance, not finding a job when most needed, failing a course and loosing touch with reality are some examples of emotional pressure the process can put you through. Your opinions about politics, social systems, diversity, acceptance will broaden for good. Personally speaking, I have for sure become calmer and have mastered the skill of not being harsh on myself.

In my honest opinion, the changes that you go through are mostly positive. The transformation teaches you to be patient, understanding, compassionate and most importantly self-sufficient.

Keeping up with former relationships will be a challenge

Building a new life comes with a lot of sacrifices. Remember, you’re going to lose touch with a lot of your friends back home. You will miss out on some important weddings, functions, birthdays, anniversaries and other functions. Usually, the excitement of making something good out of yourself can lead you into ignoring your friends and family. Don’t get so self-absorbed that you stop asking others about their lives because they could be going through a lot as well and just to save you the disappointment, they may never say or talk until asked. Try not to be haughty about your accomplishments and make your family feel like them having stayed at one place was a weak thing.

You made your choice and they made theirs. Don’t compare your life with others. They could be suffering more and achieving more whilst staying in their hometown.

Always make time to speak with them. Set up times for Skype or FaceTime if work deadlines or overwhelming transition in your life is preventing you from taking calls of your friends and family. Moreover, instead of getting annoyed and irritated, make an effort in being patient and sincere towards others. Most importantly, tell those who matter that you miss them
Note: All the above opinions are from personal confrontations with life and someone unlike me could have had a complete opposite experience. If you read this, and would like to share an experience, feel free to contact me
Fun Fact: I always thought of myself as an extrovert while growing up. It was not until the 12th grade that I realized how small I like to keep my circle.


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