Expat resource websites are a lifeline for those new to the expatriate game and a "tried and tested" aid to those who've been global nomads for longer than they can remember.
In this month's column over at Expat Focus I'm covering the tears, tantrums, f-bombs and frustrations involved in finding affordable car insurance in Canada...
You know you're in Canada when... - Your snowblower has more miles on the clock than your car
So many things exist here as polar opposites: the freezing winters and hot summers, the high quality of fresh fruit and veg and the omnipotence of junk food, the friendly polite people who turn into savages when they get behind the wheel... The same can be said of Canada's attitude to the environment...
You could be forgiven for thinking moving to Canada doesn't entail the same consideration journeying to a third world country might. After all, it has a stable economy, an established infrastructure and an accepting attitude, right? But it’s always the small, innocuous things that lurk below our radar that can make life miserable with their irksomeness if overlooked.
Before we'd even flown the kids over to Canada, we were growing familiar with the concept of "the Cottage". Canadians LOVE their cottages! Give them a long weekend and above freezing temperatures and they'll be off, up north, chillin' by the lake or hiking in the forest.
They have them here too! I've only ever seen spelling bees in the movies so it's another piece of Americana coming to life before my very eyes! It reminds me of our inappropriate joy at spotting fire hydrants - I am of course referring to the children here, I'd just like to make that clear...
Moving to another country with children can be a stressful experience. The tearful confession, “I want to go home,” is the last thing any parent wants to hear. Adults will be going through their own period of adjustment and this, coupled with the logistical matters that lay claim to their time in the early days, can leave them ill-equipped to give their children the help they need to cope with the transition. The good news is that, when properly prepared and supported, children often adjust more quickly than adults.
Canada is officially a bi-lingual country. English and French are both enshrined in its constitution - although strangely, learning French is not compulsory in the education system. All federal services, policies and laws must be enacted and available in both languages. All MP’s, including the Prime Minister, need to be fluent in them. Canada's premier, Stephen Harper, routinely fields queries in both French and English at Prime Minister’s Questions.
It's not all suntans and smiles, but if you don't mind being different, it might work for you. An insightful article about the challenges faced by "trailing spouses".