Maple Milestone: The Six Month Mark
July 11th marked my six month anniversary in Vancouver, and also tipped me over the half way point of my first year living abroad in Canada. How time flies when you’re having fun, and fun I have most definitely had. Work, friends and travel have taken over my life to the extent that I can hardly remember what living in Southampton, England, was like, and definitely can’t imagine being back there.
The first thing to report at this major milestone is that my visa has now been approved for 2012, and my Letter of Introduction (the document I had to immigration on the way into the country) is sitting in my inbox waiting to be activated on January 11th2012, the day my current visa expires. I was pretty certain at the three month mark that I wanted to stay here for longer than my original year, and now I’m at the half way line there’s no going back. To England that is. I’m still not sure yet whether Vancouver could be a permanent home, but home it is for the time being.
On the flip side, a number of our original group from the BUNAC flight have now left Vancouver, with more and more ‘biting the dust’ the further into the year we get. Some have gone on to further travel, some to University, and others back home. Some have shortened their trip, and some have extended it. Many were only ever here in the short term whereas others, like me, have applied for their 2012 visas and are looking to stay past Christmas. Either way, January 5th 2011 seems like a lifetime ago.
One of the best things about moving to the other side of the world has been that, well, I’m not on the other side of the world. Whilst the Vancouver weather has a lot to live up to (this has been one of the wettest spring/summers in history), destinations such as Seattle, Whistler and Las Vegas that were once a distant dream (and a very expensive flight) are now only hours away. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited each of these places in the last six months, and am going on a two day trip to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, tomorrow morning. I’d like to see more of Canada, with Tofino, Kelowna and Banff sitting at the top of my to-do list, and I’ve heard great things about Portland, Oregon (and not just from watching The OC). I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I don’t have the time or money to visit all of these places in 2011, but there’s always next year.
My desire to travel is one of the reasons that I moved to Vancouver, along with my goal to further my career by working abroad. Although these two factors can definitely go hand in hand, after six months it’s time to point out that I am not on holiday. Really, I’m not. I know I’m living in another country, but I’m also working in another country. I have essentially transported my life 4,500 miles across the globe. It’s fantastic, exciting and novel, but it’s also tough, stressful and difficult. I had my first interview the day after I landed, and I started my first job just two weeks later. Outside of work it hasn’t been a breeze either. I’ve spent many a weekend by the beach and on the mountains, but also setting up a bank account, looking for free healthcare and finding my way around a new city. I haven’t had a break since Christmas, and even my time at home was filled with job applications, preparations and goodbyes. Living and working abroad has taken its toll and I can’t wait for a break. I’ve booked a week off work in November and am excited to go somewhere new, hot and relaxing.
I make this point not because I’m complaining about my lifestyle, in fact quite the opposite. I didn’t come to Vancouver for a holiday. As I already mentioned I came to further my career, experience life in another country, and test the waters for potential immigration. Six months down the line I’m so proud of everything that I’ve achieved so far, and so excited about what’s going to happen next. I can’t wait for my friends and family to visit this summer so I can show them my new home as well as all the sights. I love my job, I love Vancouver and I love my life – here’s to another successful six months.