Moving to another country is not easy. You can have great hopes and expectations of starting a new life in another country, but leaving your family, your friends, your house or your work, I mean your life as you have known it, is the hardest part.
So, when it was my time to leave Peru to move to Ottawa, I had many concerns. I looked at the move as a big adventure, but I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to like it. (https://ottawaisnotboring.com/2020/06/15/how-i-ended-up-living-in-ottawa/
Moving to Canada was not entirely what I had wished to do. Actually, I had never really wanted to live in any country other than Peru.
I had four main worries or fears — big things that I wasn’t sure I was going to overcome living in Ottawa. Actually I was convinced that these fears were going to interfere in my adaptation to Canada and that after a year or so I was definitely going to want to come back.
And they were….
1. The cold
The cold was the big monster. That unknown and terrible thing I had heard about many times. And I was going to face it right from when we landed in Ottawa because we moved at the start of January, which is usually one of the coldest months in Canada.
How was I going to put up with temperatures below zero if in my hometown the minimum temperature in winter is 14 degrees above, celsius? I had never lived abroad in the northern hemisphere, and the only time I had seen snow, the soft snow that feels like powder, was in the movies.
I really felt like a tropical bird that was going to be taken to a frigid land. What were the odds of getting used to that? None! That was what I thought.
But what really happened, against all odds, was that my family and I got used to the extreme cold. We never stayed home, and we kept really active during that our first winter in Ottawa. We participated in many fun activities every single weekend.
We went ice skating on the skating rink that was built in front of Parliament Hill that year; we went ice skating on the Rideau Canal many times, and we went tobogganing in the Gatineau Park.
We also attended the different activities of the Winterlude festival, like seeing the ice sculptures, skating shows, skating at Rideau Hall, and visiting the Snowflake Kingdom, with its main attraction being the toboggans. We had so much fun!
At the end, after having experienced my first Canadian winter, I thought “this was not that bad”.
So, the first fear: overcome.
2. House chores 24/7
This might make some people laugh, but it was a big thing for me. I was not looking forward to coming to Ottawa and being obliged to do house chores every single day, including weekends. No rest. That really seemed like the worst of all nightmares to me!
And that is because in my home country one can afford to pay for domestic help. We always had helpers to cook our meals, to clean the house, to mow the lawn, and to look after our three children. (How spoiled we were!)
How was I going to tolerate going from a house free of chores to one in which I was supposed to do everything by myself? I couldn’t imagine that kind of life. I was sure that I was going to hate it, and that I’d never get used to it.
My Canadian husband always joked about me having cooked just two or three times during our whole marriage. And here I am cooking almost every day without complaints. It turns out that I’m a good cook. At least my husband and kids like the meals I prepare for them, and I feel proud that they enjoy my culinary skills.
I also do the laundry and clean the house on a daily basis, and my husband does the grocery shopping, takes out the garbage, and also cooks some days. That’s the way we adjusted to our new lives in Ottawa.
Second fear: overcome.
3. Missing Peruvian food
I come from a country that feels very proud of its cuisine and culinary arts. In the last decade, Peru has built a world-class reputation for having one of the best gastronomies in the world.
And we Peruvians are known for our love of food and dining. We love seasoned and spicy food, and our food has the influence of many other cuisines, from Japan and China to Italy and Spain. Peruvian food has a wide variety of flavors due to the number of crops and different products native to Peru, especially from the ocean.
So the fact that I was going to be deprived of my beloved Peruvian dishes made me really upset. Just remembering the times when I traveled abroad and missed my favorites made me think that it was going to be almost unbearable to live happily in Ottawa.
I didn’t imagine that I was would be able to find Peruvian products in Ottawa, almost everything! That was a big discovery and a big relief! So I’m always cooking Peruvian plates, and we don’t miss our favorite foods.
Even my husband would have badly missed Peruvian food if we hadn’t been able to find some in Ottawa. The other good thing is that there are two Peruvian restaurants where we can go, one is in Gatineau, Petit Perou, and the other in Aylmer, Amazonas.
So, third fear: overcome.
4. Missing family and friends
This is another thing that I worried about too. Living in Ottawa without a circle of relatives to lend support, or to help you when you need assistance, with it being just us, was a bit scary.
My husband is not originally from Ottawa, so he doesn’t have any relatives here. We were just ourselves. The funny thing was that after living 20 years of his life in Latin America, he was feeling kind of a cultural shock too.
I miss my parents and family gatherings. I also miss the active social life that people usually have back home. The only thing we can do about that is to rely on the technology and make the distances shorter. Luckily we have Whatsapp, Zoom, and Skype, and I communicate with them very frequently.
So, in the end, it’s not a thing that would interfere with my life in Ottawa, which I love very much. I think we have been enjoying a better quality of life and we are giving our kids a chance of widening their perspectives and having a better future.
Four fear: overcome.
Now when I think of my past fears, I feel like I was a bit foolish. Was it worth worrying so much? This proves to me that destiny or the universe usually surprises a person in ways you cannot imagine.
The lesson I learned was that instead of worrying, we’d better keep our minds open and get ready to ride the big adventure of life. That’s it.
How about you? Did you have any concerns before moving to Canada, or to another country? Do you feel that your process of adaptation has been smooth or hard? I’d love to know your experiences. Take care.