Nov 10, 2017 - Tim Oldenburg for SoGerman
The way I ended up in Canada isn’t particularly the way you’d imagine. What was supposed to be my plan B turned out to be the best experience of my life.
When I graduated from high school in 2016, I’d been dreaming for years of going to the United States, experiencing American culture and exploring the American wilderness. I now know that I was lucky when this plan didn’t work out immediately and I decided to go to Vancouver instead. Except for the visa, which I had already received beforehand – having my plan B in mind – I organized my first weeks of accommodation, my insurance, and my flight in three weeks before I left Germany.
I landed in Vancouver in mid-August 2016, not knowing anybody but myself. I’ve honestly never been as fearful of the future as I had been when I was flying to Vancouver. I was scared that the money I had brought with me wasn’t enough and that my very little knowledge of the English language wasn’t sufficient. The many negative opinions I’d read online discomforted me even more. As soon as I arrived, my emotions turned to excitement enjoying the strong North American sun and everything new that I’ve never seen before.
After some days of exploring the usual tourist attractions, the downtown area, and the typical North American shopping malls, I got bored and started to look for a job online. I sent my CV to supermarkets to work as a cashier, but this turned out to be paid very badly and so I chose a job as a line cook at The Flying Pig Gastown. It was a hard job, but I had lots of fun with those amazing coworkers, cleaning the kitchen after ten hours of work laughing while listening to music. On the days I didn’t work, I went hiking in the mountains with my friends and roommates or photographed just by myself. I even visited Seattle.
In November 2016, three months after my arrival in Vancouver, I left Canada to follow my dreams and went to the United States as an Au pair. What was supposed to be my dream job and life for a year turned out to be a little bit of a nightmare at some point.
I left my host family in April 2017 on bad conditions. The only thing that had kept me there that long were the amazing other Au pairs on whom I could always count on. Nonetheless, I had to decide where to go and so I went to Montréal, as my Canadian visa was still valid. A friend of mine from the United States went there as well.
I don’t speak any French, but in Montréal almost everyone is bilingual. I didn’t know that before, but I wanted to try myself under harder conditions.
I loved this city from the first day on. The people I met impressed me very much with their tolerance and their energy throughout the warm summer. They were not as shallow as some of the Americans I had met. They were not as unsatisfied as many Germans I’ve known.
There were plenty of vibrant festivals downtown which I visited. I traveled to different cities, including a trip to Ottawa with my friends. We explored the vibrant market area, the impressive Parliament Hill and I even found an exhibition about the German-Canadian collaboration, which impressed me a lot and made me feel a bit of the place where I come from.
I started working as a line cook again in one of the best restaurants in Montréal, Jellyfish Crudo + Charbon. As an unlearned guy, this job brought me to my limits. The pressure was huge and the expectations not a bit lower, but I fought, because I wanted to become better in what I liked.
I wanted to become a better me. And after some time, after spending sometimes more than half a day there, it worked out for me. I earned respect for how I had improved and far more importantly, I started to respect myself for what I had achieved.
I learned so much about life through my time in Vancouver, the United States, and Montréal, something I couldn’t have learned before. Nobody can ever take this experience from me again. Canada turned out to be the place where I wanted to be and needed to be to see how much of an amazing country it is. It certainly wasn’t easy at all, but I truly learned to live and I’m so glad that I didn’t go directly from high school into university.
And there is nobody I wouldn’t want to make the same experience.
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