Look around you; you are never alone. Do what you need to do. I am sure you will survive. ;p
Halloween party, Daniel’s birthday party… and it all began. Exactly 1 year ago, I landed in Montréal –Trudeau with one huge trolley luggage, a fully-stuffed bag pack and a laptop bag. Exiting the arrival hall, I jumped into the arms of my then boyfriend with a sense of relief. Travelling 27 hours alone, around the globe is not for the faint-hearted.
I am proud to have finally experienced the four seasons – autumn, winter, spring, summer and now back to autumn again. Before I decided to drop everything back home and made a leap to Montreal, I gave myself a lot of mental preparation on how tough the situation might be. The truth? Reality was much harder than the perceived thoughts. From personal experience, as an intended immigrant on a tourist visa, the 6th and 12th month have been the hardest part of the cycle. These were the times where I was engulfed in dark and depressing thoughts. The emotions kept swirling downwards and the rock-bottom did not seem to exist. Fortunately, with the nature of a cycle, the tough times passed and I resurfaced.
Taking a step back to observe what I have gone through, the hardest challenge had not been the situation itself. Instead, dealing with oneself had been the main challenge. The competitive and proud girl seemed to have taken a back seat, giving a chance to other parts of her to surface. Previously, the ego was hurt when people around me shared about their achievements, their frequent visits to restaurants, their newly acquired goods, their constant holidays etc. Today, the ego is able to accept that my situation is different and I have other blessings in life.
Coming from a highly strung and peer-pressured society, your achievements usually have to revolve around power, money and status. No one will actually give credit to you because you learned how to cook, learned how to take care of your own place or learned the basics of survival. Today, I have nothing to boast around worldly gains but I am thankful for a wonderful husband, supportive family and friends who assure me time and again that I am not alone. My bag of experiences and achievements all boils down to basic survival skills.
The list starts with:
- Getting to know Dan’s family and friends
- Adapting to my new environment (living with Dan’s parents)
- Understanding the transport system
- Familiarising with some practical and touristic places (since Dan was working and I had to do my own exploration)
- Searching for a school to study French (almost 0 knowledge in French then)
- Searching and moving out to our own apartment (not forgetting we had to paint the place and fill the place in with all the furniture and household appliances)
- Taking care of the house and the boy
- Learning how to cook a good variety of dishes and learning how to most efficiently prepare all the meals i.e. cooking 1 big pot of spaghetti sauce which can last for a few meals! ;p
- Finding out where I can get quality and cheap groceries (that means running to various supermarkets just to get what I need)
- Searching for alternative French classes which are more affordable
- Making new friends and building my own network of people (doesn’t help that most of my friends are not locals and hence some of them return to their countries at some point in time)
- Finding volunteer opportunities
And the list goes on.
Hence when people ask me what have I been doing, it is hard for me to put my finger on it because I don’t exactly have a static life. Things change. I always have to create new opportunities for myself. Life has not been the easiest but as the saying goes, ‘what doesn’t break you makes you stronger’. Since I am still able to blog with sanity, I guess I can be considered an evolved survival. The adventure has still a long way to go.
My 3 biggest takeaways to sum up my year in Montreal:
a) Making the best out of the current situation – No point whining about things that I cannot do anything about. There is also no fair ground in comparison of how it is in Montreal and how it would have been in Singapore. It is what it is. Suck it up!
b) Be proactive – Can’t wait for the apples to fall from the tree. Worse still, there are no apple trees to begin with. I have to start the planting process and be patient to bear the fruits of my labour.
c) Having a strong pillar of support – This would consist of the new and the old. Family and friends back in Singapore are always a source of comfort. However, they are not with me. I do need a circle of friends who are physically near me. It helps too to know that there people who are in similar situations like me. It is fun to go bargain hunting together and get creative with the activities which we do!
Well, who I am today?
Signing off with love as your young, energetic and creative housewife,