There are no Bakkies in Canada

 Leigh  New home: Barrhead, Canada           Home city & country: Cape Town, South Africa  Move date: November 2015

Leigh

New home: Barrhead, Canada         

Home city & country: Cape Town, South Africa

Move date: November 2015

Why did you decide to move abroad?

My husband is a doctor and a few of his colleagues had been discussing the option of moving to Canada to work, as it is generally quite easy for South African doctors to get jobs there. We hadn't really thought of moving until friends of ours started the process and we decided to do it too. There are many reasons why we decided that moving was the best decision for us -- we wanted to travel more, and we wanted a different citizenship -- all things that we would be able to do in Canada. We hadn't ever moved abroad before, even though we had traveled lots so it was definitely a new experience.

Snowy trees.jpg

How did you spend your First Month Abroad?

My first month abroad was still exciting. We explored our new city and even traveled nearby to the mountains and got engaged over Christmas time! For me, the first month was the easiest!

What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?

There are so many things! I actually wrote a very honest blog post all about what I realised since moving but mostly: I was surprised that I still experienced culture shock even though there wasn't a language barrier. I struggled to 'gel' with locals. I was also surprised at how I started glorifying home when I missed it. Forgetting all the problems we left behind and sometimes forgetting how blessed we were in our new country. But these are so normal. Moving is a huge adjustment and you always go through moments of missing your home country -- family & friends especially!

 First Month Abroad, Expats, Expat, Canada, South Africa, travel

Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?

My accent and pronunciation of certain words means that I often have to repeat myself! But we all laugh about it. There are also loads of South African slang words that I forget aren't internationally known so when I say things like "Bakkie" or "Braai" or "Robots" people usually look at me funny and then I have to quickly think of an alternative word for it.

 First Month Abroad, Expats, Canada, Move, Travel, South Africa

What are your favorite activities in your new town?

Because I live in a really small town, after moving from a really big, cosmopolitan city, it's tough to adjust into activities here so we usually drive into Edmonton just a few minutes away to try coffee shops, explore new shops and areas. We also enjoy going for walks along the river valley or hiking in the mountains nearby. I started my blog initially to document all our activities locally and encourage more people to explore their cities and find little hidden gems!

What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?

For tourists visiting Edmonton, I would advise them to come in the summer unless they're used to the cold! You would only need a few days to explore the city -- we have some amazing restaurants, an indoor water park; lots of outdoor activities; the Muttart Conservatory and some amazing art galleries -- it's quite a quirky, artsy city!

 First Month Abroad, Expats, Canada, Move, Travel, South Africa

What is the one MUST SEE?

Not sure I can decide on one must see in the city -- there's just too much! I personally love markets so I would suggest getting out and trying the outdoor market on 104th street Downtown in Edmonton. And once you've visited Edmonton, definitely head towards the mountains, to Banff!

 First Month Abroad, Expats, Canada, Move, Travel, South Africa

What do you miss most about home?

So much! Friends and family, definitely. But also the familiarity and being surrounded by like-minded people in terms of culture. They know how you speak and think. They know how to relate to you. And South Africans are extremely friendly and down to earth. It's always nice going home to our culture and friendly vibe.

What's next?

We will probably stay on for a while in Canada. No set plans to do anything as we know things change, and we can feel differently in a matter of a year. But for now, it's nice settling into normalcy. We will still continue to travel non-stop and who knows, we might find another city we would love to live in too! My husband, Craig, is obsessed with the English countryside so one day we might consider retiring there. We're open to anything! I think you learn that life can always surprise you.

 First Month Abroad, Expats, Canada, Move, Travel, South Africa

Space of infinite possibilities

I hope that people who move abroad realise that it is one of the hardest things to do and that at the same time, it can be one of the best blessings. If you can get through the hard times, you can come out stronger and happier!

To read more about Leigh's life in Canada, check out her blog The Globe Diary.

 First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats, Canada, South Africa