Monday, October 10, 2011

Oh... Canada

Note: This is a personal post. If you’re interested in reading about a white dude making post-hoc rationalisations about why he left his homeland, you might get some enjoyment out of the following.

Dear reader, I have joined the growing number of recent Irish-graduates who have emigrated fled from the homeland in search of greener pastures abroad. Eleven days ago I arrived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with no job, no friends, and no idea of where I was going to live. The days that followed were a blitz of e-mails, phonecalls, apartment viewings, and disappointments. It was quite an adventure.

So when people ask me “Why Toronto?”, that’s the short, polite answer – it’s an adventure. I’ve been asked to elaborate a few times since I arrived, but my answer varies every time, so I’m sitting down now to try and tease out the motivations. Here are the first few to come to mind:

It’s closer to the USA 

This is such a stupid reason, but I’m awfully fond of that girlfriend of mine in the States.

I’d move there if I could, but for a dude with no ‘soft’ skills like mine, I’m not an attractive prospect for employers in the US of A, who must prove that the dirty foreigners they hire are so uniquely talented that they’re not stealing jobs from the natural-borns.

Taking time off to see the missus can be awkward when it requires a transatlantic flight, so hopefully moving to the same continent will facilitate some more face-time.

It’s not Ireland

That title might be needlessly broad. Specifically, it’s not Limerick, which is where I’ve been keeping busy for the past few years. Since my work didn’t feel like it was building towards something, I decided it was time to try something else.

With the ladyfriend committed to another 2 years of school and work in the States, it doesn’t seem like there’s a point in starting some new endeavour in Ireland, when the plan is to leave eventually anyhow.

Furthermore, living in Limerick feels post-apocalyptic. People are obsessed with the diminishing supply of jobs. Permanently angry inbred-tribes maraud around in horses and traps, pilfering as they wish from the remaining businesses while the local authorities shrug their shoulders in languid indifference.

Guilt for a privileged existence 

Life was too easy. I had plenty of disposable income (which I'll choose attribute to not-drinking, and not being grossly overpaid), good friends that were consistently great company, and a stereotypical Irish mother who would browbeat me into doing my laundry and cooking for me as often as possible, despite my efforts to live independently (paradoxically, she would then complain about how I never did these things for myself).

When I had settled into a routine of family, friends and work, the only things that would stand out from my day were the frustrations. It’s my hope that by scrapping the infrastructure I had in place, I’ll be happier with my lot in life. Allow me to elaborate on that one:

To be a Self-Made Man

I’m not terribly good at making friends. Not necessarily because of my odious personality, but because of a lack of willingness. The friends I had in college were the same friends I had in secondary school. As the social circle grew through the outreach of these childhood friends, I was along for the ride, but didn’t contribute to the friend-tally.

Part of this is because I’m not terribly sentimental (which is why it tears me up admitting to a fondness for another human being), and my self-esteem isn’t based on how many people come to my birthday parties. The friends I made on my college-course amounted to a mere handful of intellectually stimulating sons-a-bitches, and they were kept separate from my other group. When I went to Pittsburgh Billy-no-mates, I made a few dear friends that I still try to see as often as possible.

Of course, in college, there’s a structure in place that lends itself to meeting people. Wiping the slate clean and trying to build a support network in a foreign city is a whole new challenge, one that should get me excited about just one stranger asking me if I want to meet up again sometime.

On this note, I should note that I already felt a spike of elation when I secured a place to live starting in November, and the few successful social interactions I’ve had so far are all the more gratifying, since it feels like the foundations of a new support-network.

All the cool kids are doing it

It’s somewhat disingenuous of me to say that I’ve left all my friends behind, since they’ve been leaving me behind in growing numbers for the past few years; relocating to various parts of the world in gainful employment, or on a world-tour of the pubs and dives of planet Earth.

If they can do it, why can’t I? And if not now, when?

That’s all the introspection I’m going to allow for now. The tone of this is rather final, considering that I’m over here on a one-year work permit, but my current hope is that - whatever my relationship with Canada over the coming years - this is the beginning of the end of me calling Ireland home.

Don’t be surprised if this blog gets a little travelogue-y as I come to grips with my new city. I might also post some advice and resources for anyone about to follow in my footsteps, so that they can avoid all the social pitfalls I'll be hurling myself into over the coming weeks and months.

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