10 years ago on the exact same day, on August 25th, I landed from Paris to Montreal for the first time. It was my first time in Canada, my first experience abroad for more than two weeks. When I look back I can see how far I have come but my love for Canada never stopped since.
When I landed here in 2009, I had no idea that I would love Montreal so much that I would want to stay and live there. I was always so sure that I would end up living in San Francisco that Canada was a “side” in my mind. I always knew though that I was meant to live elsewhere than France, something was calling me on the other side of the Atlantic. Well, if you listen to my mom, when I was little I kept saying that I would live in my hometown for ever – yeah, that changed.
My interest for Canada was there though. When I was in high school I was part of an association that modeled the United Nations and at some point we represented Canada. After that I wanted to go to a film school in Toronto after I graduated (which I never did). So yes, I knew Canada was an option, I just didn’t know (yet) it would be my first choice.
When I took the plane for Montreal with my friends from engineering school, I wasn’t scared. I was exited. We were going for an adventure on our owns. We were going to have to explore and find our marks in this country none of us ever lived before. Find new grocery stores, new movie theatre, new pharmacy for when we get sick, new phone plans… New life.
That first exchange that lasted six months was a revelation for me. I discovered that I loved Canada and that I loved Montreal. I even thought that Montreal looked a bit like San Francisco downtown with the hills – but again, I had never been to SF then. I remember that that time we didn’t really explore. We stayed a lot between us, going to movies, playing games at home (we were living 3 girls and 3 boys in two flats in front of each other). The only times we went outside were to go to New York City the week we got there and to Niagara Falls, three days before living. We didn’t even go out that much in bars or else.
The second exchange was something else, two years after. I discovered a new side of the city. The nightlife style. We went out way more, I remember we used to go to a rooftop dance club called the 747 that now does not exist anymore. Now it is the famous restaurant “Les Enfants Terrible”. We used to dance on the terrasse, under thunderstorms where you could see the sky lighten up by thunder. We got outside the city to visit forests (Mont Tremblant) and Toronto. The classes I had were the one I chose so way more interesting too. And that’s when I knew I wanted to stay. I couldn’t because at the time visas were not that explained and I couldn’t find the informations I wanted to get an internship but it didn’t stop me.
Two years later, I came back again. With a working holiday visa of one year. It was the first year the visas were requested online and it was “first come first served”. I got the visa on the third round (out of three). And I left with no intention of coming back to France. I lived my life to the fullest that time. Travelling a lot around Canada and the US, meeting tons of people, making a new family of friends here. I even lived in Toronto for three months!! But you know how plans change right? I met someone, I applied to a more permanent visa but was denied (because I was self employed, I didn’t get enough “points”)… I had to get to the idea that I would have to go back to France. And I did…. For almost a year… That’s when I went to New Zealand.
But after my working holiday visa in New Zealand expired, I had to go back to France but I refused to stay and I found a way to come back to Canada three years later, last year in 2018. It has been one year and a half now since I moved back here and I could apply for a more permanent residency (fingers crossed, it takes about 21 months…!) but I know I want it more than anything else.
Canada is my home now and if I had to go back to France, I know I would be unhappy somehow. I met so many people here struggling with their visa and fearing the same fear I had and still have. It breaks my heart to see people have to go back to France when they don’t want to. It happened to my closest friend here and she is still trying to find her way back here. They say it is easy to immigrate to Canada, but truth is, it is not that easy. When you are a developper maybe but for the rest, if you are not too good with papers, or if you just take life as it comes with no planning, it will be harder.
Canada is my home and I intend to stay. I can’t wait to be a permanent resident and even a citizen of this beautiful country. It is worth all the trouble. I am glad I had the opportunity to study here when I did and discover that another country than France could be my home. I miss my family and close friends of course but I wish they would be here with me instead of me with them there.
So here is to my 10th anniversary of me in Canada and here is to the potential 10th to come.