Canada, with its icy embrace, welcomed me on January 15 2022, two weeks after the start of my first co-op role as an International Relations Analyst with Waterloo International. And two years into my degree at the University of Waterloo. Since then it has been an incredible journey with numerous lessons and wins along the way.
While this written blog could have been about the achievements over the last two years living in Canada, I decided to write about the lessons I have learnt being in a completely different country from the one I call home – Uganda.
High Standard of Living
What I did not know coming into Canada is that it is renowned for its vibrant cities – Toronto in particular and fast-paced lifestyle. The rhythm of life here can be very demanding because of how much is happening coupled with a high standard of living that reflects the country’s economic changes. The hustle and bustle may initially seem overwhelming, but adapting to the pace becomes easier with time. How do you adapt? You just have to get with the program! – get out, learn things, connect with people and do things that make you happy.
The Cost of Living
While the standard of living can be high, so is the cost of living. It goes without saying that rent in Canada is insanely high, and this only continues to grow. Managing finances effectively is crucial, and careful planning is the key when it comes to staying on top of things. From housing to groceries, understanding the local market and budgeting wisely will help ensure a comfortable lifestyle.
Family and Friends
Life in the “Great White North” has been made warmer with people that genuinely want to help you and see you succeed. Building a network of friends, family, and support systems is truthfully just weaving a safety net. It is this safety net that has helped me feel at home despite being thousands of miles away. It is through this that I have been able to visit over ten different cities across Ontario – simply because of the presence of family and friends.
The importance of building a network of friends, family, and support systems cannot be overstated. Being away from home can be challenging, and having a strong support system in Canada is essential. Connecting with other international students and fostering relationships not only enriched my social life but also provided me with a crucial support system in the countless difficult times.
Staying Connected to Home
It’s not uncommon to feel a sense of isolation even despite the fact that you have this huge network. That’s simply because there is no place like home. Staying connected to your roots and people back home becomes a lifeline during these times. The frequent calls with my mama!, dad and siblings have been pivotal in helping me through this. The updates of life, what is happening back home, I look forward to those calls and cherish them whenever I get a moment or chance to have them. Cannot take that for granted!
The Canadian culture is a puzzle, I still do not truly understand what it is or what to pinpoint as the culture. One of the most intriguing aspects of living in Canada is the diverse cultural landscape. It’s not just about the politeness and maple syrup I talked about in my 6 Things I wish I knew Before Coming to Canada; it’s about a unique blend of traditions, customs, and perspectives. Understanding and embracing this cultural maze is definitely going to take time.
I am still trying to understand the love for hockey – maybe that is part of the culture, haha.
Entrepreneurial Spirit in Waterloo
For those living in or considering a move to Waterloo, the entrepreneurial spirit is palpable. The region has become a thriving hub for innovation and business. The ecosystem here provides opportunities for growth and learning. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or simply looking to be part of a dynamic community, Waterloo offers an environment that fosters creativity and ambition.
Living in Canada is an adventure filled with challenges and growth. The fast-paced lifestyle, high standard of living, and cultural differences are aspects that may take time to navigate, but they also provide opportunities for personal and professional development. Building a strong network, staying connected to your roots, and embracing the unique culture are essential elements of your journey.