A few months ago I took a massive leap. With my contract ending at work, a vague dream of working overseas, a love of mountains and autumnal colours, I packed up and moved to Canada. There was a little bit more to it, like diversifying my professional experience, countering conscious and unconscious cultural bias (as much as you can in Australia’s winter cousin) and potentially giving any future children dual citizenship guaranteeing a lifetime of winter ski vacations. In a world where we seek security and security in work, it was a balance of fear and freedom. In a life which I surround myself with people who challenge and encourage, it was diving headfirst into a season of loneliness. In a faith based on trust in God’s providence, it was and remains terrifying. And it was finally June and then July. I had an amazing time travelling around Canada. Life is easy when lived in hotels, hiking trails and home cooked meals cease to exist. And then August arrived. The job hunt became real. I applied for 20 jobs in about 2 weeks. I got half a dozen screening calls from various HR departments. I had a couple of interviews. I was offered a job I didn’t really want, but it gave me confidence to hold out hope for one I really wanted. September came. I moved into my new place. I had made a few friends. I thought I had found a new church. But days became weeks, and a little bit of unease became sheer terror and anxiety. I haven’t really experienced anxiety before but being you’re on the other side of world with a job you don’t want but they need an answer for, and a job you do want but getting a code of silence from. I found out what anxiety was. I also ate a lot of triple chocolate cookies (thankfully I’d also joined a gym and bought a bike by then). I’m thankful for my family and many friends who reached out during August and September and FaceTimed through my joy at progressing in various recruitment processes and the agony of waiting. “How are you?” could vary dramatically based on emails, phone calls and whether it was sunny and I’d been outdoors or rainy and stuck inside. I had my family here, my family at home, my new church family, my church family, new friends and old friends, and at one stage the Garden Island Naval Base praying for me. I was not alone and I was comforted by all of them. In the months that led up to leaving, I held onto it all with an open hand. If it wasn’t meant to be, I’d be disappointed but accepting. But time and time again, God provided. Visas came quickly, temporary housing, work connections given. And now more than 100 days on, I can proclaim God’s kindness and generosity once again. I still tread unknowingly around ‘God’s favour’ because it is far from what this inherently selfish girl wants to believe it is. The Spirit of God was with me when I leapt in the form of a business flight and a house deposit of savings to the land of the maple leaf. And it remains with me now. Praise God. And if you’ve made it here, and was pretty much just wanting an update when you clicked to read another monologue on my corner of the interwebs: – The EXTENDED edition. – The HIGHLIGHTS reel: I have a place. It’s in Kitsilano. It’s lovely. I have found a church. It’s St Pete’s Fireside. I 110% struggle with the liturgy but praying God changes my heart because I love everything else. I am making friends, although many of them are Australians – a cultural enclave in the making. I broke my fifth metatarsal (aka my little toe). It sucked and I have not rested so it’ll probably take a while to heal. BUT…I landed a job at the company I dreamed of since deciding I was moving to Canada. I start next week and I’m equal parts stoked and terrified at being the new girl again. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
A couple of weeks ago I was cycling around Vancouver when I pulled over at the entrance to a regional park info board to decide if I’d keep going or turn back. While pulled over a man wandered over and asked where we were on the map and how far you could walk. Having just looked at the map, and me being me, I gave him to full run down of the path system and, when asked, included estimated distances. “You must live around here then,” he said. “Yes, I suppose I do.” And then another day I was standing on a street corner downtown and a lady approached me looking for some directions. I didn’t know the answer immediately and although I could have pulled out my phone and worked it out for her, I responded: “Sorry, I’m not from around here.” It’s been 100 days since I’ve been back in Vancouver (YVR). It doesn’t feel quite like home yet but I also don’t know what the alternative is. So ‘home’ it has become. HOME After housesitting (and getting to know my some now very dear to me family) in North Vancouver, they helped me move into an apartment in the suburb of Kitsilano at the beginning of September. After warnings of bed bugs, the gloom of basement suites and reality of a <0.5% vacancy rate, I ended up in the first and only apartment I looked at. I prayed God would make it clear where I should live, and I’m thankful for this little abode until the end of January. (On a side note, I’m pretty certain my born and raised BC-housemate is the only Canadian around. The cafes and beach are full of Australians, Irish and Brits with a scattering of Kiwis and South American’s for good measure. We’re the only ones stupid enough to pay the exorbitant rent.) CHURCH You may remember I did a very strenuous search for churches when moving to Brisbane. I took those learnings and renewed prayers for wisdom and discernment into my new search. The process was made a little faster in YVR because of the sad truth that it’s a very dark city. Spiritual, yes. Christian, no. Despite my passive aversion for the denomination, I found a new-ish Anglican church St Pete’s Fireside meeting in the University of British Columbia’s downtown campus. The liturgy takes me back to my childhood church memories, but the teaching, community, music, evangelistic approach and strategy is right up my alley. Although the liturgy is a shock, I’m praying God changes my heart to see its beauty. I’m coming around. FRIENDS It’s often joked making friends was easier when we were Kindergarteners in the school playground. You walked straight up to someone or a group and started playing. 20+ years on I think the only difference is an increased sense of self-awareness. It’s walking across a room, it’s asking for someone’s number, it’s texting them and asking if they want to catch up. It’s actually a lot like dating… I boldly invited myself on a whale watching adventure which gifted me a friend soon to live 3 blocks from me. I’ve great times eating ice cream, hiking, paddling and even suffered through a few Saturday morning headaches. I’ve made several others and starting to get a little crew together. I’m hoping work will help soon. And my plans to join the local netball team were hindered from a certain broken metatarsal. WORK While I could financially continue this lady of leisure life into 2019, I started to long for structure, routine and a sense of productivity. It’s been a privilege to enjoy this season. It’s also been a lesson in patience. It’s been pretty anxiety-ridden but really it’s been 8 weeks. Job hunting (and apparently dating too…) is about the numbers. From 20 applications I had 6 phone interviews which progressed to 3 in-person interviews (I withdrew from one) and 2 job offers – a pretty good conversion rate. I accepted a job a my dream company in this past week and now I’ve had all the necessary ‘dodgy foreigner’ checks, I start this coming week! DATING Because why not do everything at once…I decided to throw in some casual (?) dating into the mix. I’m in awe of anyone who can manage multiple dates in a week, (KBH I’m looking at you!), I have managed 4 in 3 months with another lined up for next week. Write me direct and I’ll share the fun bits. These first 100 days have been characterised by a deepened love of mountains, the pain of a stupidly broken toe and the rollercoaster ride of finding work. I said before I left, life is best lived on the edge of our comfort zone. And that’s exactly what life in Vancouver has become. It has little structure and even less certainty. But throughout I’ve found myself drawing closer to God, or when I haven’t, running back when I realise I was relying on my own strengths. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Someone at some point in time gave me some travelling advice to ease the transition back to reality. If it was you, thank you. Never go back to work for a full week after a holiday Within your budget, treat yourself on the final night. And so I write this from a cute Italian restaurant on Halifax’s waterfront. I’ve got a glass of French Rose, a bottle of sparkling water (because I ain’t fancy, but gosh I prefer it over tap) and I’ve got spaghetti ai frutti di mare on its way.   Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
I may have only told you in recent weeks or perhaps you’ve known for a few months, but I’ve known I’d be ‘leaving’ for about 9 months.  My visa was approved waaayy faster than I ever anticipated and since then I’ve been making intentional decisions that enabled me to leave. I signed a short lease, I chose to stick out the time in a challenging work environment, I stopped seeking any significant relationships and I stopped buying stuff (okay, perhaps that last one happened a little later than it should have). I was leaving. But most of those were just decisions for convenience sake. Leaving has been about more than that and more than about just me. Yes, I am going off on an adventure. But life is about relationships and my leaving for a grandiose adventure means leaving people behind – for better or for worse. I am surrounded by people who love me, who challenge me, who inspire me and who laugh with me. And I (hopefully) reciprocate that for those around me. And so, 9 months ago I decided I was going to try and leave well. I had no idea what that would look like, but for more than 8 months now I’ve been trying. Pretty early on it got exhausting keeping this exciting (and terrifying) impending adventure to myself. Life is supposed to be shared. So leaving well meant telling people early, particularly those I see most often: my close friends, the girls at work, and then later my managers, my pastor and then later my church family.  I gave them months of notice. To me it felt like ages, but for others the 3 (and even up to 6) months’ notice was not enough. I hate to think my leaving impacts others, it suggests I have a self-inflated sense of self. Perhaps so, but I think back to when a friend left Brisbane 12 months ago and the sense of loneliness I had following. Change is hard and loss hurts. Knowing it’s coming and preparing for it can only ease that challenge. (Or perhaps not, they’re like “Mel, get going already!” Perhaps I should have gone for the bandaid approach. Rip it off, mic drop and leave. Alas. Sorry if that was you!) I think leaving well for me has been about closure. Reflecting on this Brisbane chapter of my life, my mid-20s and the learnings I had and then moving forward again. A couple of weeks ago I wandered along a Sunshine Coast beach just reflecting and being thankful for blessings + learnings from it. I’ve spent time scrolling through Instagram, reminscing on Queensland adventures I’ve had. I know I’m the strongest physically I’ve been (despite 12 months of on and off again injuries). I’m also thankful I waited until I was mentally strong and not running away as I would had been 9 months ago. It’s also been saying goodbye to and acknowledging the significance of the people who I’ve done even just a short part of these 3 years with. Although I love a party, I have filled the past 6 weeks individually catching up with people + small groups. I’ve had meals with old managers and laughed with dear friends. I stopped by my old running group (despite the fact I had to break up with them 3 months ago because a girl who can’t run ain’t much good). I thanked the gym trainers who have taught the classes I’ve attended. I met with work suppliers and gave notice to others. Leaving well was about pouring into the relationships that I made in this chapter. Perhaps a favourite component of leaving well has involved stopping by old haunts, favourite cafes and finally getting to the places still left on the list. From Moreton Bay bug dumplings, to gingerbread pancakes, sweet potato waffles, a whole lotta tacos and plenty of vino + my tequila vice, leaving made its mark…for which I’m thankful I’ve had a trainer to motivate me to counter all the excess (but not at all regreted) sugar + fat + booze. I wrote a mental bucket list of the things I wanted to do before I left. This largely involved physical challenges – climbing mountains, exploring Brisbane on my bike, and in Saturday’s case, riding up Brisbane’s Mount Coot-tha. Sadly I didn’t make it out to Girraween NP, but perhaps it’s a reason to come back. I’m most thankful for the time a few key people made to help me leave well. To pray with me and for me, to check in on how I was doing, to challenge me to think about what the Canada chapter of my life could look like…and to offer North American-based family members and friends to call in case of emergency, even if it’s a jail bail out. Sunday was my last week at church where I have spent 2 years trying to help people connect with our community. And I was also moved by some of the newer people at church, many of whom I hardly know well, stopping by and saying goodbye. I was sad that I would have likely overlooked them in my leaving well process. I hope in taking time to try and leave well, I have provided an opportunity for a sense of closure. I don’t know if I’ll return. Many of those I’ve mentioned above have begged me to return or reminded me how quickly I acclimated to Brisbane’s very temperate conditions. It’s true. I have loved Brisbane. It has been very good for me. I have loved the outdoor lifestyle and how I settled into an even more active lifestyle I never expected for myself. I mean, padded Lycra pants and a road bike? A gym membership? I hardly recognise myself. I have also loved living life in a 3 kilometre radius and complaining about driving longer than 20 minutes into the suburbs. After years of commuting >2 hours a day, jumping in an Uber home from a night out, or the quick 8 minute bike ride to work, or a slow 40min meander home were so welcome. I have loved my river views apartment with a non-sarcastic pretty price tag. I might return. I might not. I don’t know what the future holds, but I could control how I left and how I move forward. I hope I’ve done it well. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
This has been the worst kept secret, largely on my part because you can’t get me there fast enough (and it wasn’t really a secret)…but I’m moving to Canada. Yay! It’s been a long time coming. I almost mic-dropped about 9 months ago after some job contract dramas and an unhappy+stressful living situation. But relationships have always mattered to me and jumping ship and moving another 12,000km from ‘home’ didn’t give me time to leave well. That is, not running away from problems, having others get used to the idea + time to say goodbye and making good decisions about boring stuff like insurance, housing, banking rather than just winging it. (Although there will still be a lot of that!) I’ve officially given notice to work and I have a schedule so it’s time to press ‘go’. Unlike the last time I moved away, I’ve given many more of a heads up. If we haven’t spent time together lately, grab yourself a sparkling H2O, Pinot Gris or Noir or a big fat scoop of Messina Gelato and settle in for the conversation we would of had together. Think of this as my FAQs – because it really is. Why Canada? As one friend pointed out, it’s essentially a cold Australia. And it’s true. But it has mountains – mountains I can climb in summer and ski down in winter. I want to experience seasons and a winter where i won’t sweat when it’s finally cool enough to wear my largely aesthetic coat collection. Aside, I’ve always wanted to live overseas for a while. I’ve been out of school for 10 years now and 30 is now not too far away on the horizon. The original thought was Denmark or Norway, before its interior design took over the world. The Scandinavian world has a permanent home on the best liveability scales: education, healthcare, gender equality. Though many faults also, I wanted to know why. But with a bit of research I realised my language skills, or lack thereof, would hold me back significantly. Perhaps a cop out, but I pretty much got through 2 years of German classes from songs and flicking the exam back and forth hoping to figure it out comparing the English-Deutsch and Deutsch-English. I’ve decided, as ethnocentric (and perhaps egocentric) as it is, I’m going to focus my efforts of nailing English only. So next on the list was Canada. Where in Canada? Vancouver. I’d have more job prospects in Toronto, but I spent 10 years living a 6 hour drive from snow, and another 2.5 where it was easier to fly to New Zealand than get to the snow covered hills of NSW/VIC border. Toronto is too far away from mountains. But you never know, I may end up there for the second half of the adventure. I do like me some big cities. We’ll see. Have you been to Canada before? Yes. Twice. But not for long. I visited in 2008 for a weekend (from Seattle). We went to the aquarium to see the blubber whales. And again in 2012 for about 10 days split across Toronto (and Peterborough – hey Jen!) + Vancouver, on my 6 weeks travelling through North America. Do you have a job? Well that would make it less of an adventure! No. I have started to put out some feelers out but I’m likely going to need to wait until I get over there. I’m keen to stay in marketing within travel / tourism. But again, adventure. When do you leave? Short answer: June. Long answer: I finish work end of May, and start a month of annual leave…which will consist of moving majority of my stuff back to Sydney, a couple of weeks to say hello+goodbye and go to the dentist. I ship off 18 June for a couple of weeks of travel before settling down in Vancouver. For how long? I’m thinking ’til about 2020 at this stage – somewhere between 18months and 2 years. I have a 2 year working holiday VISA. Do you know anyone there? I’m from a large family and I’d struggle to find a corner of the world we don’t know someone. I have some family in BC and Toronto. But largely, no. I’ll be on friend hunt again. And after Canada? Sydney or Brisbane? I have a 2 year plan and about 2 x 15-20year plans. And the latter has more to do with world domination or making a big family really fat. Translation: I have no idea. I like Brisbane, particularly its laid back outdoor lifestyle, affordable living and 300 days of sunshine. But I don’t like to lock myself in. My goal in life is to love God with all my heart, with love invite others to experience the joy of a restored relationship with the Creator God + seek to serve him and his church. I tried to do that in Sydney, I have been trying to do that in Brisbane, I will seek to do so in Canada and what ever comes after that. How do your family feel? My parents have encouraged us to pursue everything we put our minds to. They’ve also moved a certain sister to 4 cities in 8 years. I’m sure they’d love to find out where their children will settle so they can start research retirement, alas. For the moment they’re more excited for a holiday to Canada under the guise of visiting me. Are you going to find Canadian man to marry? Look, i’m sure there are easier ways to find a husband than moving 12,000km away. I’d be lying if it didn’t cross my mind. But I also really like Australia. If I’ve learnt from friends, marriage across countries complicates things. Another aside…a treat indeed! I don’t talk about this often, or perhaps not in public pixels on the inter webs, but I have always hoped that my life involves sharing it with big fat family (I really love cooking!) I always thought my mum was an ‘older’ mum growing up — and she was 30 when she had me. I laugh at the thought of that now! 10 years on from school, I was going to have a house, a chubby baby and kicking butt in my career. But here I am – a 27 year old Christian lady – putting me at the upper end of the eligible Christian + unmarried spectrum with a strong attendance record at baby-faced Christian weddings. It is hard to not be swayed by the (let’s face it, counter-)culture that surrounds us. I had thought that maybe my near 3 years in Brisbane may have involved a significant relationship and put my back on my unrealistic perfect family + career goal. Alas, it hasn’t. And I’m absolutely okay with that – better than okay really. My time in Brisbane and my life is way more than seeking for a significant other. And Canada will be the same.  But if that happens in Canada, sure. We can look back at this musing and chuckle. Strong. Independent. Loves Jesus. I’m sure there are few of them across the Pacific. Do you want any contacts for people in Canada? Yes. If you have a friend / friend of friend in Vancouver, I’d like to have someone to have a drink with once I settle down. If you have a friend in marketing/professional services, I’m keen to understand the industry a little better. Applying to jobs is different in every city, particularly countries. Recruiter or not? CV formats etc. When can we see you before you go? April is a collection of friends + family visiting BNE. May is largely vacant at the moment and will likely involve packing up my awesome apartment + enjoying the last of my time in the Sunshine State. I plan to be in Sydney from 4-18 June. I’ll probably organise some kind of drop-in drinks thing. I’ll keep you informed. Beyond that, follow @DiscoverCanada @HelloBC or @VisitAlberta and I’ll see you where the sun shines a little less.   How was the Messina? The vino? I’m off both at the moment, so I would probably be giving you envy eyes if I were with you. Shoot any other Qs you have and I’ll answer them. One of the hardest things about moving away is losing touch with people I wish i could spend more time with. I hope this helps you feel a little more included in my life. Comment. Email. Facebook. I’m on all the channels. Tell me your news! BONUS Question not because of the number of people who have asked it, but rather the number of times a few people have asked it. What about bible college? It’s crossed my mind. If I were to study, Regent College is the kind of theological study I would do it at. I’m not saying no, but it would also be my entire house deposit…and I’m not quite ready to give that up yet. I need more convincing + vision for what women in the conservative church can do with a theological degree…mic drop and with that I’m out. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)