Today’s interview is with Kathrin, a German expat who is living in Canada. Kathrin is a freelance writer and social media expert living and working in Vancouver, BC. She currently writes for the German online magazine ligastudios.com and her personal expat blog. Prior to moving to Canada she was living in Vienna for six years after working and travelling in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia for a year. Kathrin’s expat blog is called The Curious Pretzel.
Where are you originally from?
I am originally from a small town just south of Munich, Germany.
In which country and city are you living now?
I live in beautiful Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.
How long have you lived in Canada and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been living in Vancouver for a year and a half now. This city has become my home. My husband is a born-and-raised Vancouverite and we both love life here. So no plans to leave anytime soon…
Why did you move to Canada and what do you do?
I moved here to live with my husband. We had been dating long distance for a while and after finishing my masters I made the big move out here. The best decision of my life.
Did you bring family with you?
No, but I instantly had a Canadian family here – which makes living abroad a lot easier.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It is a challenge to move your mindset from “visiting” and travelling to staying and building a life in a new country. The little things that will make you eventually feel at home take some time and your daily routine is far from boring. Which I love about being an expat. Everything is exciting, challenging or at least a bit different than home.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I actually wrote a blog post about this topic because it is something that was crucial to me right from the the beginning. Through my husband I met a lot of Canadian friends, I go to Meetup and Couchsurfing events and join sport groups and volunteering events. That is a fun way to meet interesting people! Read my blog post about finding friends in your new city here: thecuriouspretzel.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/5-ways-to-find-friends-in-a-new-city/
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Hiking in the local mountains, surfing in Tofino, biking along the seawall and taking the ferry to the gulf islands…the list of things to do is endless when you live in such a beautiful part of the world.
What do you enjoy most about living in Canada?
The ideal balance of being close to the city and close to nature. Canada has such an amazing wild beauty and is full of surprises. Moving here, I had little to no idea how amazing the summer nights at the beach are going to be or how much wildlife is surrounding the city. There are cougars, bears, orcas…when I go running I watch bald eagles hunting and seals swimming in False Creek. Being able to experience these things on a daily basis, while also enjoying the variety of events and locations a city has to offer, is very unique and I love it.
How does the cost of living in Canada compare to home?
Housing is more expensive I would say, although Munich is pretty bad now too. Vienna and Munich are definitely significantly cheaper when it comes to wine, beer and cheese.
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Canada?
The Canadian immigration processes take very long depending on your scenario. Becoming a permanent resident now takes up to 25months, a long period where a lot of people are forced to wait in limbo.
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Canada, what would it be?
Be patient, especially with immigration processes. Plan ahead and don’t get discouraged by wrong information in forums etc.- the application processes are very complex and change all the time. I highly recommend talking to a lawyer to save nerves and anxiety when things get too confusing to manage! Don’t agree on sketchy meeting with self-proclaimed “immigration consultants”.
We had really bad experiences, even with government approved consultants charging us for wrong information.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The immigration process has been the biggest challenge so far – there is no service centre or direct helpline that can give you clear instructions.
When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation?
We don’t plan on moving to Germany anytime soon. Coming back home for the holidays mostly results in eating tons of pretzels and trying to catch up with everyone in a limited timeframe. Thankfully my family is coming out to Canada this year again, I miss them a lot.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
- Be patient with yourself and your expectations. Feeling at home and building a home takes time.
- Don’t be afraid to network and find people that have been in your shoes before. It helps to exchange advice and stories!
- Enjoy the exciting phase of feeling like a “foreigner”. The daily grind will get to you soon enough so try to enjoy the feeling of being a newbie.
- Keep close contact with your family and friends and learn to balance your old and new life. Shutting your past out doesn’t make it easier to arrive in a new place.
- Try new things! Food, activities, classes, locations…stay curious and get to know your new home inside and out. Read the local paper, watch cheesy breakfast TV, check out popular city blogs, indulge in the local media to find out more about your new home.
Published by ” Expats Blog”