15 Things I Learned From Moving Across An Ocean In My Thirties

Five years ago tomorrow, wildly in love and ready to leave London, I picked up my stuffed suitcase, and got on a plane, to move to Toronto.

While the romance didn’t last forever, we managed to spin our love into a best friendship (thank you, two years of couples therapy – worth every penny) and, as well as that, I’m left with profound, parental love for my ex’s kid, and unbridled devotion to this city, which feels absolutely like my home. I can’t imagine EVER wanting to leave.

So, in honour of my FIVE YEAR CANADAVERSARY, here are 15 things I learned:

(1) It’s hard. Like, really, really hard

When I was moving, so many people I told said, “You’re so brave!” and I would reply, “No I’m not! If I don’t like it, I’ll just come back!”. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would be really hard and I would still want to stay. About six months in, once the honeymoon period (“Wow! I really did leave all my problems in London!!!!”) wore off, I suddenly realised, “Oh. THIS is what they were talking about….”

(2) The hardness last about a total of two years, tapering at the end

From talking to a lot of other people, it seems this length of time is mostly universal. Putting this out there in case you’re thinking of moving somewhere.

(3) The things that you find hard aren’t the ones you’d expect to

Yes, I missed my mum and my friends, and change can be difficult. But what was hardest were the little things. Like knowing…

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What I Learned From Trying To Make Friends In A New City

They were perfect. Both of them. Exactly what I was looking for.

I sat, pretending to work on my computer. Listening to what they were saying. Trying not to laugh out loud at their jokes. Stealing glances when I could.

The two girls seemed to have known each other a while. As far as I could gather, one was some sort of designer or artist. The other worked for a non-profit. They were lefties, like me. They both dressed really well.

Picking up my mug to sip, I daydreamed. Imagine if I was brave enough to do what I really wanted to? I’d get up from my rustic chair, stroll across the cafe to their table, and stand above them.

“Excuse me”, I’d smile. “Sorry to interupt. I’ve been over there, listening to bits of your conversation. You both seem great. I love your clothes and you’re both really funny. Would either of you like to hang out sometime? I don’t mind which one. I’m new in town and looking for friends. Do you fancy being one of mine?”.

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