Six months has flown by. I still feel like I’m brand new to Canada at times and considering I’m here for two years so not even halfway through yet, that’s probably about right.
In a nutshell, this is my overall feeling:
Hear me out. I like Toronto: there’s a lot to do (I can’t even begin to count the number of restaurants, bars and brunch spots I want to go to) and it’s full of street art and residents who are so, so loyal. The individual characters of each neighbourhood are fascinating. I’ve had a lot of fun on the Islands. The Distillery District is gorgeous. I smile every time I go out in the area I live in.
I love it when people love their city. Living abroad twice, I’ve always been pleasantly surprised as to how much I protect and show my love for London/Britain without having felt all that patriotic whilst actually living within it. I’ve also realised that a mild disdain or antipathy towards everything isn’t the way I want to live life. To see people excited (but y’know, not unbearably…) and united is a truly wonderful thing.
So why am I not 100% convinced by Toronto yet?
Continued on from when I wrote about the things that confuse me about Canada when I first moved, some of those are still true, and there are new ones too.
I’ve got used to bagged milk and Canada’s strange aversion to debit cards. I’ve even got used to not having access to British bacon (I know, I know, what have I become?).
You see, there’s a stereotype about Canadians: they’re super friendly. However, I’ve not noticed this especially apply to the majority of Toronto. For example, I’ve still found that – at least compared to London – people don’t hold doors open for those behind them, and I’m a big believer in these little gestures.
I also have a real dislike for drivers in Toronto that I think bothers me more than it should, and isn’t understood to the same extent by my American boyfriend (so maybe this is just a British thing?). Here, the ‘walk’ sign for pedestrians can be on, but for some reason you still have to fear for your life. Drivers are allowed to turn into that road you’re trying to safely cross and seem to think they have priority to do so, too. It’s left me intentionally walking slower to piss drivers off. It’s the most stressed and frustrated I’ve ever felt while crossing a road.
A major challenge has also been meeting people. A combination of moving here together with someone else (meaning you put yourself out there less), finding reliable ways to meet people we click with and working in small offices has meant it’s been pretty difficult to make friends, but it’s getting better.
It has made me realise what I look for in a friend and how much I love my friends back home (or wherever they may be). Friendships were my main worry when moving to Canada, as I’ve had bad experiences with me living abroad and friends back home before.
There’s no place like home
But I don’t want to complain the whole blog post and in the grand scheme of things, nothing’s really catastrophic. Canada has free health care. People can (mostly) understand me, and I them. As with anywhere, there are things that are harder to adjust to and just like when I was in London, things can really annoy you. The difference is that London was my first home which I grew up in; I’m fond and fiercely protective of it. There’s more attachment there than there is for Toronto.
Another aspect is that it’s not as lively as when I lived and studied abroad in Melbourne. That was an incredible time for me, definitely the best of my life, and that’s hard to match. There are huge differences between living abroad to work and living abroad to study – something I’m working on for a blog post. Even though I’m now living in Toronto longer than Melbourne, it’s the Australian city that still has my heart.
The boy & the apartment
What I have greatly enjoyed and am very grateful for is sharing a home with my boyfriend – after about three years of long distance between USA and England, we’re finally in the same country, in the same city, in the same apartment.
I joked before we moved that we’d find out that we actually hate each other and that our relationship only worked because we were so far apart, but it’s pretty safe to say that’s not the case. Living together has obviously come with a couple of challenges, but nothing major. We like spending time in similar ways, cooking and cleaning is a joint effort and he’s probably more tidy than I am.
I’ve also grown fond of our apartment and putting my (ahem… our) mark on it. And we somehow fast forwarded about a year or two down the line and adopted two kittens – they’re amazing though.
Living abroad means considering new destinations, which has been really fun while living in Toronto. As well as exploring the city and beyond, I’ve managed to go to Montreal, Los Angeles, Boston, New York and Vermont. We’ve got the Caribbean and more US and Canada travels planned for this year. The only thing that sucks is the state of the Canadian dollar right now!
I luckily moved to Toronto with a job secured – with the company I was working for back in London. However, it’s not the career path I want to be on and as I’ve got a visa which allows me to work anywhere, I’ll soon be leaving. So, you may see a lot more posts from me in the future as I’ll have a lot more time on my hands!
So, to sum up, I love Canada and I like Toronto, but I don’t think I’ve fallen in love with the city yet. Maybe when spring and summer rolls around I’ll feel differently, which is definitely possible as winter always puts me in a bit of a lull; I become way happier and alive when the sun starts shining. Bring it, Toronto!