Chilliwack BC – The First 100 Days

personal | travel | writing
purple pink tulips as far as the eye can see

Last Saturday was my 100th day in Canada.

I thought that was worth mentioning and perhaps sharing some of my experiences from these first few months.

First off, I cannot believe it is already May, that this year is a third of the way done already. I know I say this a lot but really, this first third has flown by, especially when I start to think about everything that has happened and that I have achieved.

Secondly, I know a lot of my friends and colleagues back home read this blog and I promised regular updates. Well, I completely failed on that score so for that I’m really sorry. Hopefully, this post will make up for some of that!

So, where do we begin?

passport and visa

Let’s see – the first week, and the second half of January was all about those initial pieces of official paperwork and the mother of all colds. The journey from the UK was something in itself. I wrote down a few facts and figures about my travels…

  • I travelled 4691 miles
  • I was travelling for a total of 26.5 hours, door to door
  • Plane meals eaten – 3 (all bad)
  • Inflight movies not watched – 3 (turns out Air Transat don’t make it easy to watch an inflight movie!)

I learned some things about that journey and myself too…

  • It is impossible to wheel 3 wheelie cases all at the same time.
  • People do not cover their mouths when they cough on planes.
  • Immigration is a slow and painful but necessary process.
  • It is a fact of life that my ankles swell after being on my feet for that long.

I seem to remember, when I moved to Malta, that the process was not simple. I recall many visits to many government offices filling out forms and going through lots of red tape. So I half-expected the same reception here – perhaps even worse since we were moving to a whole new continent.

Well, hey, immigration was a long, slow and painful process in a baking hot building after an 8-hour flight so that was pretty tough. But it got a lot easier from there, in fact probably the easiest process I could ever have imagined. I spent a morning getting my social insurance number and driving license sorted and, in the afternoon, I got a new phone number. And that was it, easy as that!

I did have all these big plans to keep a journal for the first 100 days and I’m afraid I failed miserably at that too. But from what I did fill in, and filling in the blanks from my calendar and Facebook feed, I can tell you there have been multiple trips to Ikea, putting together a fair amount of flat-pack furniture. There were also many MANY phone calls and emails to solicitors and estate agents when the sale of our house took a lot longer than anticipated, many trips to a variety of superstores trying to figure out what foodstuffs we can buy and where (still figuring that one out!) and all manner of weather experiences – living on the side of a mountain, we frequently experience heavy fog, snow, hail, wind, rain, and the bluest skies and hot, hot sunshine – sometimes we’ll get several extremes in one day!

What else?

Well, I’ve figured out how to drive on the wrong side of the road. And driving an automatic has become a very easy part of life! I still occasionally head to the wrong side of the car. I still reach the wrong way for my seatbelt or for the handbrake. Turning right on a red light has become easier. Turning left is still not the easiest thing to do.

Chilliwack Lake Bridge

Playing with snow

Granville Island

Great Blue Heron Reserve

My business is officially up and running!

I now introduce myself as Sarah, Photographer and Copywriter. My Paramedic background is still firmly within me though – I’m not sure that will ever leave me. As much as I felt I couldn’t do that job anymore, the Ambulance Service is firmly wedged under my skin. It’s like a callus I can’t pumice out. And so it stays. I’m learning to live with that. But being a freelancer is everything I dreamed it would be, and maybe more besides. It has its tough days, like any job. I am still very much figuring out a routine and keeping motivated when it is just you day in and day out is really bloody hard. But I’ve been networking and meeting some wonderful people, as well as keeping in touch with wonderful inspiring friends from back home and that all helps.

Hands tapping on keyboard

After 9 weeks our home arrived from England which arrived at just the right moment. It was so lovely to open up the boxes and find all our personal effects and start making the house we’ve been living in like home. It also made a huge difference in getting my office looking more like my space – it’s amazing how inspiring a space can become when it is full of things that you love and that motivate you. Having our stuff here has made me look at this house in a new light too – or, rather, look at the amazing light we get here.

Beautiful evening light in dining room

It’s not always light and wonderful, living here. I don’t regret the move at all but I don’t want to give the impression that everything is perfect. There are days I miss my friends and family painfully. There are days I would love nothing more than to eat some good English fare or go to a place that looks familiar with people I know. And I still find the time difference more than a little bit difficult to handle at times.

But I know it is just a matter of dealing with things day to day, that some days will be amazing – like walking through the Tulip Festival in the hot sunshine, or seeing the incredible mountains that surround our city – literally whatever direction you look in, and other days will be much harder.

Cultus Lake

Vancouver on a grey day with colourful houseboats

Vancouver 10K Sun Run

Chilliwack Tulip Festival couple shoot

Couple standing in tulip field

Tulip Festival in Chilliwack

It is still really early days. But I’m excited about the next 100 days, and the next 100 after that. And I’ll do my best to share them all with you.