Oneika was the very first person to kick-off my old Frequent Flyer series (see her feature here) and I’m really happy she was able to make the time to participate in this new series. You see, Oneika is one busy girl. Seriously, look at her summer travel schedule – it’s ridiculous (in the best possible way). I think she, along with Brenna, are the most traveled people I “know” and I put know in quotation marks because though I consider Oneika a friend – we’ve exchange countless emails etc. – we’ve actually never met. The funny world of blogging! She’s been an expat for 6 years now so when I started this column I knew I would ask her to participate – and here’s what she had to say…
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Currently call home: London, UK
Occupation: High school teacher
1. How long have been living in London?
I’ve been living in London since October of last year, which means that I’ve officially been a Londoner for nearly 7 months! Just wild how time flies!
2. What prompted the move?
I moved for love! Those who read my blog know the story: I was living and working in Hong Kong for two years prior to my move to the UK. While in Hong Kong, I met a lovely German man who was also working there. We fell in love, but his job relocated him to London, UK. We did long distance for over a year while I finished out my work contract in Hong Kong, and then when I was free to, I moved to London. Best decision ever!
With her love, Liebling, on a recent trip to Norway.
3. What was the most difficult part of leaving Toronto?
I definitely miss family and friends when I am away. However, to be honest, I haven’t lived in Toronto full time for a very long time! My expat life all started when I moved to France for a year to do a study abroad. I figured out that I was hooked to the expat lifestyle and subsequently went on to live for another year in France, then a year in Mexico, then for two years in Hong Kong (with random stints in Toronto for good measure). Now, after being an expat for 6 years, I’m convinced that I probably won’t move back to Canada permanently. The longer I’m away from home, the easier it gets to stay away- is that bad? It’s just that so much of my adult life and identity is tied up in living in a foreign land… As a result, Toronto feels less and less like “home” and more like “a place I visit to see all the folks I care about.”
4. What do you miss most about Toronto?
Apart from friends and family, I really miss the food and the shopping! Is that very shallow of me? I miss my favourite restaurants and fast food joints (Charley’s Steakery, Jack Astor’s, East Side Mario’s, Harvey’s) and clothing stores (Dynamite, Chado, Bedo). I can’t seem to find any good replacements for these places abroad!
5. What was the hardest thing to adapt to in London?
Funnily enough, after living in France, Mexico, and Hong Kong, which I feel are diametric opposites to Toronto, London feels a lot like home. A lot of the infrastructure here reminds me of Canada, and of course, there is no language barrier to complicate things. In that way, I feel like London doesn’t shock me at all! Just like Toronto, it’s very cosmopolitan, it’s large, and it’s bustling!
6. How did you find your job?
I’m a high school teacher and cold-called/cold-emailed a lot of schools and schools boards before moving to London in the hopes of securing a job. In the end, I found out about the job I have now thanks to another teacher friend of mine who put me in touch with the school’s director. That being said, there are a lot of teaching jobs both in public and private schools here in London, and it’s quite easy to sign up with agencies that can help you secure a teaching job.
7. What do you love most about living in London?
Definitely the travel possibilities! Living in London means that I am a stone’s throw away from some of the coolest places in Europe, and the flights are dirt cheap! I actually find that I spend more time exploring Europe than I do discovering London!
8. What lessons, if any, have you learned from living abroad?
Be open and be bold. Living abroad forces you to be tolerant and an organizational whiz. It teaches you to be open to new experiences, learning new things, and meeting new people.
Getting ready to run with the bulls (along with fellow travel bloggers) in Spain – just last week!
9. Is expat life for you or do you one day think you’ll move back Toronto?
As I said above, I don’t forsee myself moving back to Toronto, especially since I’m in a long-term relationship with someone who has no tie to Canada. Expat life is definitely for me!
10. Any advice to others considering moving to a new city or country?
Research, research, research, and be realistic! Know what you’re getting into (i.e. educate yourself with regards to what to expect from your newly adopted country) and be realistic about what kind of life (both emotionally and financially) you will be able to make for yourself there!
Oneika writes the very popular travel blog Oneika the Traveller where she posts frequently about her (envy inducing) travels as well as useful tips, suggestions, and thought provoking questions (this one really made me think). Definitely bookmark her or follow her blog – it’s one of my favourites.