Canadian Lifestyles - Just Like On TV?

DEFINITION: Pothole (n) a deep, circular hole in the surface of a road

You know you’re in Canada when… you drive over the potholes they don’t show on TV.

Not that I thought there were no potholes in Canada. As a matter of fact, I did not really think about potholes at all. TV, magazines and the internet always show breathtaking pictures of Canadian treasures like Lake Louise, Algonquin Park or the Bay of Fundy - rightly so, because Canada is breathtaking. But one cannot just admire the landscape all the time. Canada, like any other country, has its realities, too. You will find potholes along the way in Canada – physical and figurative ones.

After taking the first hurdle of applying for immigration and mastering the actual move to Canada it is important to keep in mind that your adventure is just starting. Yes, an adventure – that is exactly how my family and I approached our journey. Of course you need to be prepared and informed. But all the preparation and information aside – it is still an adventure, filled with hopes and dreams and expectations. And potholes. Some of our expectations were met and even surpassed, while others were replaced with a harsher reality.

It is always a very personal journey, because no set of expectations is like another. Some people come to Canada to offer their children a better education and future. Some people come because they have lost their homes and livelihoods, others because they want to experience life in the vast wilderness.

Our biggest expectation was probably to be able to increase our quality of life. For us, life in Germany - in a space one quarter the size of British Columbia yet with 88 million people living there - was just too crowded. Shallow? Maybe, but I believe that if you are unhappy with your life it will reflect on your work, your family and effectively on what you can contribute to the community you live in.

For us, quality of life means freedom, being responsible for ourselves – and space. Being able to go out and enjoy what nature has to offer, without needing a club membership to be allowed to go fishing. Simply (and respectfully) enjoying what nature has to offer, in order to unwind after a week of hard work. Those expectations have been met – we live in a small town in southern BC, surrounded by mountains, lakes and open range.

However, there were other expectations. German ingenuity and reliability are known all over the world, right? So naturally I expected that reputation to be a bit of a door-opener when it came to applying for jobs. Well-educated and competitive – but as it turns out it was not the ticket to anything. In fact, most places where I applied (and still apply) were rather unimpressed. After my initial disappointment I learned to focus on expectations that turned out better than we had ever hoped for. And there are a few!

Home ownership is one of those things I did not even dare hope for – yet here we are, living in a house we call our own. We were also embraced by the community we live in, and that is something we strove for, but there are certainly no guarantees that it will happen. To top it all off, we bought our very own motorhome last year – old, but ours – and we get to enjoy nature and camping with our little house on wheels.

All in all, one could say that I am one happy camper (pun intended). The reality of daily life is certainly not as flawless as on TV, but would I say that our quality of life has improved. And we are happy here in Canada? You betcha!