Why is Canada making me so miserable?

I’ve been living in Canada for just under six months and from bad it’s been gradually getting worse. I moved to this country at the beginning of March when the weather was freezing cold. The day I arrived I took a walk, a walk in what felt like a ghost town. A ghost big city town with not a single person around! That day was one of the saddest days in a long time. What was I thinking when I decided to move to Canada?!

Work was mediocre when I started and from mediocre it became terrible. Today I had another “I almost resigned” and “I can’t take it any longer” day. The team is led by middle aged women who don’t inspire or empower. There is no open communication and you have to watch your back as you never know who may come and stab you from behind.

Bars and restaurants in Toronto have no atmosphere or personality and the city itself is full of ugly glass skyscraper boxes. Food is average and people seem too absorbed in work and paying off student debts and mortgages.

It’s currently summer here and I am already dreading winter. As winter is when everyone in Canada (at least on the east coast) hibernates. It’s already dreadful; can it get any worse than this?

The nature in Canada is beautiful, however from where I live, in order to get to the nature, you need a car. And most beautiful places are 3-5 hours’ drive away.

My best friend in Sydney keeps nagging how concerned she is about me being so miserable. She finds it discombobulating how miserable I’ve been ever since I moved. I mean we all have good days and bad days. I have days that are better than others. Sometimes even a week or two go by and I feel ok. And then the reality kicks…

I wish I could just leave but I have at least another seven months of this painful life. It will be a year then. A very depressing year indeed…

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Canada from a different perspective

Whenever I would read articles about Canada, they would always be positive and colourful. So I created an amazing perception on this country. And then I moved to Canada (with the aim to call this country my home – yes) and my perception changed. Canada is not bad but there is somehow a lot of hypocrisy and contrast in this country. Here are a few examples:

Political correctness aka impaired freedom of speech
The Canadians say they are politically correct. Due to the sensitivity of most Canadians, there is a 99.9% chance that if you have an opinion on something, someone will find it offensive, racist or undesirable. The Canadians call it political correctness. For other westerners, it would be no freedom of speech.

Country of friendliness but not inclusiveness
Canadians are friendly and smiley. However, they are not particularly inclusive or actually interested in other people’s stories. Given such a great diversity in this country, there is a lack of cultural awareness and authentic foreign food (at least in Toronto).

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Advanced country with not so advanced life
If you are from another western country and you move to Canada, it feels like you’ve moved 20 years back in the past. Lack of infrastructure, backward banking system and dated technology are things you’ll be dealing with on a day to day basis.

Country of new life with no job
Canada constantly welcomes new skilled immigrants yet the country somehow doesn’t provide any jobs for them. There is already a shortage of jobs for Canadians. It’s pretty common for an university educated Canadian to work in a coffee shop or restaurant.
I’ve met a lot of immigrants since my move to Canada who were engineers, doctors or lawyers in their home countries. They came to Canada and became admin clerks and taxi drivers. Canadian immigration says “we need skilled workers”, Canadian employers say “we need workers with experience and skills gained in Canada”.

Working culture that preaches innovation and practises red tape and rigidness
Canadian companies say they want innovation and efficient processes, yet they are risk averse and usually just watch what the US or the UK do and 10 years later they copy what these countries have done. The working culture in Canada is a a culture where employee loyalty (but not necessarily contribution) gets celebrated and promoted over employee capabilities. It’s a working culture with rigid rules and red tape, a culture in which good and young junior people have no career growth or prospects and so they silently stay and complain about their jobs as they have nowhere else to go while the not so good and old senior people stick around and wait for retirement.

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Low paid jobs and high mortgages
The salaries in Canada are shockingly low when compared to the cost of living. A good salary in Toronto is considered to be anything in excess of C$100k. On a salary of C$100k (which is apparently a top 10% salary in Canada), you spend C$33k+ on taxes (not including RRSP pension contributions), C$24k on accommodation unless you are willing to share or spend 3 hours commuting to/from work, C$2,000 on utilities and bills and C$6,000 on bad food. If you want good food because you refuse to feed your body with bread with 25 ingredients or coconut water with added “natural” flavours, GMO or other north-American specialty food, then be prepared to spend three times more on your grocery shopping trips. A shoe-box condo in Downtown Toronto goes for C$450k. In order to buy such a condo, you need a deposit of at least 20%. The motto of Torontonians is “work for nothing, pay for everything”.

Work, work…and…work
I appreciate that my last comment relates mostly to Torontonians. But here goes. Whenever you meet someone new in Toronto, be prepared to have a very fruitful conversation about their work, your work and work in general. You see, work defines Torontonians, work is what makes Torontonians more interesting. Work normally tends to be the main (and usually the only topic) of your discussion with Torontonians. I’ve warned ya!

Why I left Asia only to realise I want to go back (aka your home is where your heart is)

I guess I left Asia for the same reasons I now miss that part of the world. While living in Vietnam and then Taiwan, at times I felt like I was living in a bubble – all the popularity and privileges of a blonde petite girl and the fun that came with it. I understand now what all the fuss is about, why a lot of Westerners come to Asia and never leave. The life in Asia seems a lot easier, colourful even than that in the West. However, in order to realise this, one has to leave first.  

I am now based in Toronto, Canada. They say Asians are materialistic. I say Torontonians are slaves to the rat race. It seems that Torontonians just work and when they don’t work, then they talk about work and when they don’t talk about work, they talk about their MBAs or schools they went to (and which no one else in the world has ever heard of). It’s almost like they think that work (or their degree) defines them; makes them complete, more interesting, more entertaining. I guess that if I had three cups of coffee, I’d stay awake.

I always say there isn’t much to do in Ho Chi Minh. However, Ho Chi Minh seems like such a colourful, vibrant and eventful city compared to the non-happening sleeping city of Toronto. While living in Ho Chi Minh, I’d go for an amazing cup of Vietnamese coffee or hang out at a pool party, out of boredom. Here, I spend money on clothes, shoes and nice furniture that I really don’t need, out of boredom.

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Towards the end of last year, I was given the option to freelance, which would essentially give me the opportunity to continue my nomad lifestyle and travel more while having Asia as my base. In the end I decided to choose stability and routine in the city of Toronto… I thought that maybe the stability and routine would help me settle down and eventually call Toronto my home. However, when making the decision, which I thought was probably one of the hardest decisions in my life, I completely ignored what my heart was saying to me – that it has chosen Asia as its home.

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I just finished a few week romance with a boy I really liked but just wasn’t into. He sensed it and I didn’t fight it. He thought I had issues and I let him believe it. I didn’t tell him that I didn’t bring my heart to Canada, I didn’t tell him that my heart stayed in Asia. He wouldn’t understand.