“Move to Toronto, they said. It will be fun, they said”.
Not quite I’d say. The bubble burst within six months and reality kicked in. Here I am a year and a half later, grateful for the opportunities, the basic needs being met (contrary from where I come from) and building my future slowly yet surely. However, amiss of that “je ne sais quoi- cette joie de vivre” that only I felt in Beirut (despite its chaos and lack of future).
Back home, we all dream of leaving the Middle East in order to live in a western country. I am blessed as a holder of the Canadian passport to have fulfilled this dream. Am I happy? Yes but not quite. Here is why;
But first a quick background recap. I am not ashamed to admit that all my life I have been sheltered and enjoyed a privileged lifestyle, however with grounded limits. My peers and I have always had our backbone in the form of our parents that always covet us from the harsh realities of life. You know that you would be lost without your parents, your connections and that privileged circle/ status you mingle within. I love each and everyone of you and miss you loads (can’t wait to reunite with you all).
The Middle Eastern lifestyle is too different from the North American one. This clash of reality set me back yet did not despair me from my future endeavors.
Now let’s come back to what I have learnt from my Canadian experience. Basically it comes to this; only me falling head over heels with my soulmate (if he is here) will keep me from moving out again from Canadian territory. Why and how I came to this decision? Easy, read along.
I have been brought up in a strict and conservative household No not GOP-like. I mean a person with old fashioned values. A person who cannot easily accept a liberal way of life nor progressive out of mind values. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, right? Deep down, it all comes down to how well you cope with the changes. And in my case, I cannot vocalize acquiescence, however discreetly shun away from it. People, let’s not exaggerate with demands and apply far fetched laws, ok?
On a positive note, I have been blessed with professional opportunities ever since my landing on Canadian territory. I worked part-time in an official government bureau that led being my first Canadian experience (which is a must if you are applying for a job here- yes they ask you about Canadian experience here as if whatever it is you built up in the past does not matter really). Adding to that, I wholeheartedly will say this; my banking experience in Toronto was a 180 degrees shift from my past experience in Lebanon. The atmosphere is more serene and less hypocritical from where I came from. There is a genuine vibe between colleagues and for that I am grateful that the tone was set in the professional domain. I know it is difficult for you, my Lebanese friends to grasp and imagine, but my manager was an amazing person full of kind words and encouragements. (Thank you!). Once you get the hang of it, it is easy to navigate the Torontonian corporate world.
Social life. What social life? It is hard to get connected with people. In Lebanon, we used to finish work and go straight to the pub or meet up in cafes or set a dinner date among friends (even if we had met up a couple of days ago). There is no social life here. Everyone is busy with family, children, household chores. Friends know each other since high school, university days and a new comer is not easily accepted (<<a Canadian fellow’s word). What I am saying is that if you are used to having a bubbly social life in the past, forget building that up over here (it might take a couple of years and more..) If you are persistent, good luck to you my friend!
Love life? Ha! are you joking? I am surprised that everyone is already married from such a young age and has 2+ toddlers in tow. I guess it is the facility this country has to offer for young people to build up their future. Back where I come from, you are lucky if you are in a long term relationship already. However what I got sick and tired from is the balls married men have to flirt with you just because they think they can. I mean seriously? Take that bald head of yours to your wifey sir, I am not interested in your washed up bulging stature. I could not carless of your status (a soon to be blog post is solely going to be dedicated to this topic> patience!).
They say it is a safe country. I don’t feel safe! Do you? I lived wars since my early childhood and I never felt what I feel in this city. Walking down the streets or being in a crowded place gives me anxiety, especially after the shooting incident that occurred a month ago and at the mall not so long ago. I mean, how easy it is for someone to get hold of a gun and shoot another person for whatever reason is appalling. They blame it on gang related fights or the state of a mentally-ill person. This country has a serious mental health problem that needs to be resolved before any other thing. Yet till then I try not to eye contact anyone on the subway nor the street. One incident in particular scarred my sister and set out the path for us looking into alternative locations to settle in.
Am I happy in Toronto?
Not quite but I am content for now. However whoever knows me knows that I either get easily bored or one occurrence can tick me off (it is a Virgo thing). And last but not least, I cannot and will never settle for mediocrity. Don’t get me wrong you buffoon, I am not speaking literally about the city. I am merely mentioning the lifestyle mentioned above.
Peace Out TO.