It’s been a year and a half since I moved to London (the big one across the pond, not the one down the 401 from Waterloo). But really, I’m counting it as three years in Europe, save a six-month stint in Toronto in between visas.
I first ended up in Europe during my last semester at Laurier on exchange at the University of Amsterdam. When I finished, I cancelled my plane ticket home and spent the next seven months working odd-jobs in Amsterdam.
After briefly returning to Toronto, I moved back overseas to London and now work at Collider, an accelerator dedicated to marketing and advertising for startups, where I manage communications and community.
To most people back home, my life must seem like a European holiday. Life must always be amazing — having high tea in the Queen’s gardens in Regent’s Park, going to West End shows all the time, travelling to European cities every other weekend. But what Facebook and Instagram don’t show you are the 12-hour work days, the hour-and-a-half daily commute from a tiny apartment that eats up half my net pay, and the down time I spend with myself because everyone else is 6,000 kilometres away.
Not to mention the cultural differences (there’s nothing more frustrating than speaking the same language as someone else and only understanding 40 per cent of what they say).
Is this something I anticipated as being an expat? Definitely not. Does it get better? You learn how to manage, or you go home. Do I regret it? Not for a second.
I was willing to trade comfort and familiarity for the unknown, solidarity and the eventual dream of a ‘global network’. I’ve met people from all over the world, in all stages of life.
At work, I am the youngest employee by eight years in a team of five. So, I spend my free time hanging out with other expats (the Portuguese, Brazilians and I get along well) or other Canadians living in London — there’s hundreds.
Being okay with being one in 10 million is tough — but if you’re resilient enough, the payoff will be worth it.
Are you a Laurier alumna/us living abroad and interested in sharing your story? Email email@example.com.