Preparing for Winter 2021

Yes, I know it’s September, but the leaves started to turn in mid-August! Word is that it has to do with the drought and heatwaves that we had this summer. So, this year I’m not going to be caught off guard when it comes to winter. I’m already thinking through things I need to buy and do before the snow starts to fall. Plus, I’m wearing warmer clothes now!

I’ll tell you this though. At least I don’t need to worry about when to get winter tires! I have no idea when I will drive again, but someday, I will experience this funny part of Canadian culture that involves putting on winter tires!

Example of Winter Tires Culture:

Before we moved here, we asked our friends in Canada about driving. The FIRST THING they said to us is your insurance is void in the winter if you don’t have proper snow tires! Since then, I have noticed it’s a common piece of conversation. One of my favourite films to watch is called Being Canadian. It features Rob Cohen who is travelling across Canada with a goal to find out what it means to be Canadian. He ends his journey in Vancouver on Canada Day. When he’s in Ottawa, it’s snowing. One person he attempts to interview for the movie is Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But when he arrives at 24 Sussex, the PM’s security detail says that Harper is out buying snow tires! That says more than any interview with the Prime Minister ever could! Since then, I have heard some funny anecdotes about winter tires!

Okay, no winter tires this year, but it’s still funny!

What AM I Doing to Prepare for Winter Though?

I learned last winter that I have to keep my cold-weather items in good condition and monitor them. I’m checking to make sure all my winter items are okay and going to replace certain items. Additionally, winter requires A LOT of skincare, especially in a dry climate! I will do a separate post about that. Bottom line: you need to take care of your skin more than you think you do. I’m glad I know how to take care of my feet after being in ballet for years and I can help my Mum with it too. After I left ballet, I didn’t care about my feet because frankly, I HATE feet! It has been very good for me to live in Canada because I can get into the habit of taking care of my feet again and enjoy it.

Beautiful Autumn Leaves:

Since August, I have been on standby to take photos of the foliage. Here are some pics I took last week! I know the first day of Autumn is on the 22nd. Um, not here it isn’t!

Additionally, I was walking by this certain church last week. As a bit of a backstory, discoveries of mass graves at former residential schools were being reported last summer. Indigenous people were throwing red paint on church doors, sometimes with the words, “We were children”. This particular church said they weren’t going to remove the paint nor press charges. And they have been good to their word. One time, I walked by there and noticed people left flowers by the door and tied orange ribbons to the railings. Someday, nature is going to leave her contribution by dropping orange leaves on the church. I didn’t take a photo because I want to be respectful.

September 30 is the first Truth and Reconciliation Day. I like how it’s happening at a time when leaves are turning orange. For those of you wondering why orange, it’s a symbol of Indigenous children who had their culture and identities stripped away from them. You can read more here. Some provinces aren’t observing Truth and Reconciliation Day, which just shows you how some people in charge need to be more woke!

Books:

I’m planning what I’m going to read this winter. Reading is non-negotiable during a long winter! It stops you from going crazy or at least delays it a bit longer. When I moved here, I only brought two books with me. One was The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson and the other was Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran. I didn’t want to read either of them while I was dealing with culture shock, but I’m fine to read them now.

I didn’t read during the summer because I was spending more time out of doors. Also, I didn’t want to admit it, but I got separation anxiety from the books I left behind. It doesn’t matter how much I move overseas, books are VERY hard to donate, leave behind, ship separately or put in storage. Yes, I have done all four. When I get separation anxiety, I can’t read for a while because I feel like I’m being unfaithful to the books that have gone with me from country to country. Here are the books I just got at the library

Books!

I let myself have separation anxiety this summer and then I went to my local library and realized, “I’m over it! Now I want to get off this toxic internet!”

I am going to do a post about a summer recap because I stopped doing my X-Month Theme posts. I didn’t have a lot of time to do the monthly recap posts as well as my parks posts and apply for PR at the same time. My Eighth Month Theme post was the last one.

It’s also been 20 years since 9/11 and I’m working on a post about that. I had more revelations this year, especially from living in Canada that I wish to share.

One Last Thing:

As many of you know, Canada is having a federal election next week. I haven’t said much about it, or other things affecting Canada right now because I’m not a citizen. Please don’t ask me about it because I’m not in a position to talk about it! I am having conversations with people I trust, but I keep it on the down-low. Additionally, since 2016, elections make me sick! I know I throw shade at the US and UK, but they are my passport countries, so I can just go there with them! I’m still a guest in Canada, but I am encouraging others to talk about it. Sometimes I say, “Say it louder for the people in the back!” I feel like I’m walking a double-edged sword right now because I can’t vote, but it matters just as much to me as it does to citizens.

I did watch the French and English debates and I actually enjoyed the French debate. Yeah, there was some catfighting, but, well it sounds better in French. This year, I have been trying to understand Québécois French so the debate was a great way to work on it. I’ll do another post on what I have learned about Québécois French this past year. Anyway, I’m trying not to be American and talk about politics all the time.

What are you doing to prepare for winter? What is autumn like for you?

Tips on Self-care For Expats While Moving Abroad

Self-care has become a buzzword of our time. You can find advice on self-care from a simple Google search. I’m not going to give you advice on how to do your own self-care. However, I can’t emphasize this enough: You need to take care of yourself when you’re doing an international move. If you need Me Time, whatever that involves, take it. Want to eat a certain food? Do it! If you can’t bear to pack your books before reading some of them, go for it! Need to sleep 12 hours a night? That’s okay! You’re exhausted and your body is telling you how much sleep it needs. 

Problems I have had:

I exhausted myself when I was preparing to repatriate to the US from London. I would spend a long day packing and dealing with logistics. Then I would pig out on Chinese food watching House M.D. and then sleep for 12-14 hours. That wasn’t the way to handle the move. I had two months to get ready to move, but I could still have made time to take care of myself. By the time the move was complete, I was burned out. That experience made me indecisive about moving to another country again. 

What I do now:

It’s not about the amount of the things you have to do before you do an international move. It’s about how you plan to do those things and taking care of yourself along the way. When I was moving to the US, I was not good at taking care of myself. If anything, working myself to death was a badge of honor. Now, I know how to take care of myself, so I’m more consistent about planning relaxation into my day. I take regular breaks and treat myself now. So far, that has helped me immensely in coping with any unpredictabilities about moving abroad.

To be honest, writing this blog is a good self-care thing for me. It’s a common thing for me to need to sleep a lot when I’m moving. Making time to chill during the day doesn’t completely alleviate my fatigue. That can be scary because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been staying at home, but I still worry if my fatigue is normal preparation fatigue, or if I’m sick! So far, it’s been my paranoia talking. I love listening to an audiobook or music while I’m packing. 

Nature is a great stress reliever as well. Sometimes I forget to go outside and get some fresh air regularly, so I keep some photos on hand to enjoy. I have included them in this post for you to enjoy as well.

Pet Peeves:

The hardest things for me to deal with during an international move are a sudden change in plans. Normally, I am adaptable, but being fatigued about moving tries my patience and adaptability. Sometimes I need to vent, cry, or express any feelings about notifying another company that I’m moving overseas because it was unexpected! I let myself do it though. Sometimes, certain unexpected things aren’t emergencies, so I can watch a movie, take a nap, or read until I feel better and then take care of the problem. If it’s a high priority item, I can grit my teeth, sort out the problem, and treat myself afterward.

When I am packing I set small goals for a day and remember to treat myself. If I don’t know the next step with packing, I take a break until I know what I want to pack next. I don’t spend a whole day packing anymore because there will always be time to take care of it.

A Word About Unsupportive People:

One thing I would suggest as a self-care move to anyone moving internationally is to reach out to other expats or have someone you can talk to. International moves create their own set of problems and pet peeves that only people who have been through the process can understand.

Sometimes, people can be unsupportive or ignorant, even if they don’t realize it. When I moved to London when I was 10, the people I told usually responded with, “You’ll hate it!” but they would never say why I would hate it. It can be hard to tell people why you want to move to a new country. There is always someone else who finds a reason to disagree with you. It’s hard to express your hopes and desires for what you want to achieve in your new country, because those same people tell you something along the lines of, “You can do that here!”

On behalf of expats, I would just like to say to those people’s faces, “I’m glad you think so”. I also want to say, please don’t do this. It’s unsupportive because our feelings and reasons for moving are not up for debate. It’s starting to become common knowledge to use language to listen and not dismiss people’s feelings and experiences, so please apply what you know about that. You don’t have to understand why people want to move to another country. You just have to be supportive of people’s reasons and listen so they feel heard.

To my fellow expats past, present and future, hang in there! I know it’s stressful to deal with this stuff from people who don’t understand, even if they are your closest friends.

Doing Your Research And Where to Gather Information

What is the most important tool that you need before you move? Information. I don’t mean just any information. I mean information from a variety of sources. You want to go to a country with an open mind. In order to achieve that, you need to explore all possible areas of knowledge. Here are the kinds of sources I suggest:

People:

Do you have friends who live in the country that you are moving to? Pick their brain about life there. I have friends who are open to answering my questions about life in Canada. Canadians are big on job networking, so I am establishing business contacts in Canada through LinkedIn. The alum network at my college has been useful too. Long-term expats from your home country can be especially helpful. I have often found them friendly and happy to answer questions. Also, read blogs of people who have lived overseas. It doesn’t matter if they are expats from your home country or not. Wisdom from people who are expats goes a long way!

News:

Follow news stories in the country you are moving to, if possible. I know some news links don’t work if you’re in another country. Keep trying though! Get recommendations on good news sites from people you trust. Sometimes, that’s not possible, so I find a general rule of thumb for figuring out a good news site is seeing if it appears in other sources. I found this especially helpful with moving back to the US from London. I admit I got into a negative spiral from reading news about the US. Then I repatriated and found out the news was overhyped. 

A Personal Story:

I remember a professor I had in college once met the French ambassador to the US. She asked him what surprised him most about the US when he first arrived. He said that he was surprised Americans don’t know much about world news. He traced it back to how news is presented in the US versus the world. In any other country they start their news programs with world news, then national news, and if there is time, local news. In the US, news programs start off with local news, then national news, and if there’s time, international news. I think the French ambassador had a point. I think the news programs show what they prioritize by the order of their news. 

What’s the point of me telling this story? If you are in the US and want to get quality world news, you have to actively search for it. I follow good news sources, but I am skeptical sometimes. It’s a struggle to get good international news in the US if you don’t know where to get it. I personally think it’s disgraceful that it’s a struggle to get quality world news in the US. People should be able to access quality world news no matter where they are. I have often run across the attitude in the US of world news saying, “What has this got to do with me?” Answer: Everything. Surely the pandemic should have shown that? We’re a globalized society and one country’s actions have global repercussions.

Websites on History and/or Culture:

I recommend reading about the history and culture of your future home before you leave. When I moved to London from the US, it was before the internet really took off, and I was a kid who just took life as it came to me. I was in for a big culture shock! Now that I’m an adult and the internet is readily available, I can explore information at my own leisure. I didn’t research anything about the US when I repatriated. I thought it wasn’t necessary because I was American. However, my point from above about finding news from the US being overhyped in London was an important lesson for me that news is not always trustworthy. Listening to that overhyped stuff made me crash emotionally when I was going through reverse culture shock and I discovered that it wasn’t true.

Books and Movies:

I recommend watching movies and reading books to whet your appetite for your new country. If the actors, film location, or stories are related to your new country, it can be your own guided tour. Beware of cultural stereotypes though! You don’t want to embarrass yourself for believing stereotypes. I’m currently listening to Canada by Mike Myers on audiobooks (since I’m packing my books). I definitely intend to watch Brokeback Mountain before I leave, which is set in Alberta. Fly Away Home was one of my favorite movies growing up! Amy is a Third Culture Kid and the movie shows her personal journey adjusting to another country. No wonder I related to it so strongly! I haven’t seen the movie in years, but I want to see it again soon!

Your Own Personal Experience:

I made the mistake of not visiting London before I moved there. I felt I would have got a lot more information before making a decision to move. A long time ago, I visited Montreal. I must have been about 8 years old at the time and I remember loving it! I haven’t visited Canada since then, but I am confident I am going to love it there.

I’ve been soaking up information like a sponge! Even though I have been through culture shock before and I know what to expect, I am hoping the information I get will lessen the blow. I can’t forget that I am moving at a time of political turmoil and social unrest in the US and it has adversely affected how Americans are perceived overseas. I have always said that there is nothing more humbling than moving away from your own country and seeing it through the eyes of the world.

When I was living in London, I was acutely aware of how the US was perceived abroad, and I don’t believe it has improved, to say the least. The fact that the EU has not included the US in the countries that are allowed to travel there speaks volumes. My hope is that if I show that I love Canada, I’m not a careless idiot, and I can adapt to their culture, that people will be accepting and understanding that I wanted to move to escape political, economic, and social turmoil.

Do you have any other sources future expats should utilize? Do you like the sources I came up with? Let me know in the comments! See you next time!

Previous Posts:

How to Organize the Timing of an International Move

I’m Moving To Canada! Read On To Find Out Why!