Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The upside of new

A fellow expat described the experience of moving abroad as similar to that of a seesaw: there are ups and downs and they keep coming and going. I'd been warned to expect a rollercoaster of mixed emotions.So I really should have seen it coming yesterday, when, just after the catharsis of venting all my sadness and confusion in a blog post, the fog seemed to lift for a while. Things began to fall into place.

I have some friends who happen to live very close to where we are staying, they are cousins of a close friend but we had met up several times both here and in Australia, they had been very hospitable the last time I was here (10 years ago now) and I had been in contact with one of them, Anita,on Facebook as my moving date approached. Anita had been extremely helpful and offered to do whatever she could to help us settle in. Initially I was waylaid by migraines and sick children, but two days after arriving I picked up the phone.Just hearing her warmth and enthusiasm and that strong Canadian accent lifted my spirits. She provided me with lots of useful information and promised to answer any other questions I might have, and that we would catch up soon. 

Then another Canadian friend Tina (who lives in Australia) put me in contact with a friend of hers who lives locally, via Facebook, and that friend sent me a lovely message offering help settling in too.It's amazing what the realisation that there are people around you can turn to if you need to can do to help you feel less alone. Even if you never actually call on them, it's good to know they're there.

Chris came home from his first afternoon at the office (although still officially on holidays, he'd agreed to go in for a handover) with useful information about setting up bank accounts, good areas to live, and we agreed that we should rent a car within the next couple of days to get out and explore some different areas.I started to think about taking the kids on some trips: Toronto Island, Canada's Wonderland, a baseball game.

Alex was still sick and I worried about being in a new country without a car, with a sick child who seemed ok but could potentially get worse overnight. I didn't want to drag him and Maya to a doctors only to pay a fortune and wait an eternity and be told to just keep an eye on him. A kind tweep whose wife is a doctor offered to ask her for advice when she got home from work, and sent me his phone number. I wondered whether to take him to the walk-in clinic across the road.  It was 5.45 and the clinic closed at 6. I didn't think we'd make it but Chris took him anyway. They arrived back half an hour later with anti-biotics. They'd walked in and been seen immediately. (Australians will understand how shocking that is!). It turned out he had an ear infection.

 As I hadn't left the apartment in 48 hours (basically since we had arrived) Chris suggested I take a walk to the shops to have a look around. It's amazing what a bit of fresh air can do for a person (my grandfather was right!). Sure there were still the luxury cars driving down the freeway to the mall. But on foot I noticed there was also a park across the road from the high rise, and even at 8pm there were people walking their dogs, children riding bikes and playing. The sun was still shining. 

I made my way across the highway and came to a sign: Pedestrians Diverted. The little diversion took me under a canopy of trees and over a little wooden bridge that lay across a creek. I would love to say there was a squirrel munching an acorn to complete this picturesque little Canadian scene but that would be too cliched surely? There was no squirrel.

At the shopping centre I found all the shops open until 9pm each weeknight (convenience!) and a giant bookstore/Starbucks. Heaven.

After a decidedly average first couple of days, things were looking up. I found an upside to the new.