An Expat’s Experience in Canada – Part I

by Dr. Denise O'Neil Green | September 10, 2013 10:00 AM

Expat-in-Canada-1About a year ago I moved from the United States to Canada and became an expatriate (expat for short).  When growing up in the United States, I primarily lived in the MidwestIllinois, Michigan and Nebraska; with short stents in New Jersey, New York, and Mississippi, but I never imagined living in another country until a few years ago.

Before 9/11, my family took road trips to Canada, Toronto, Ontario to be exact, and all we needed were our birth certificates to travel across the border and return home.  I even attended a few professional conferences in Toronto and Montreal.  These days, however, a passport is expected for travel to another countryExpat-in-Canada-2More importantly, a passport is a necessary form of ID to visit, live, or work in another country.  Canada, even though it is just north of the U.S. border, is no exception.

Since I always lived in my home country or country of origin, the thought of being an immigrant or expat in Canada did make me think about what would be different about living there.  Like many people in the U.S., my characterization of Canada was based on what I had seen on TV or in the movies.  A place that’s Artic cold, where people don’t lock their doors and its citizens are primarily white Europeans descendants.  I also thought of Canada as the country where Blacks escaped to through the Underground Railroad to reclaim their freedom.  These notions of Canada were shattered very quickly when I visited for my first round job interviews.

When I arrived in Toronto for my interview, I was pleasantly surprised to see a diversity of people that you would expect to see in Manhattan or Los Angeles.  The climate was no different than Ann Arbor, Michigan but the horrible midday traffic reminded me of Chicago, where I was born and raised.  Expat-in-Canada-3Many tall skyscrapers bordered the Gardiner Expressway and Toronto’s waterfront along Lake Ontario, which is one of the five freshwater lakes.  To my amazement, I felt as though I was back in my hometown of Chicago, seeing many new hotels, restaurants, shops, and attractions, and familiar places like a Starbucks within walking distance.

After interviewing with great people from Ryerson University, I thought to myself: “I can do this…let’s go for it and take a chance”.  What followed was the beginning of my immigration odyssey

In my next three posts I will share my experiences from the past year as a new immigrant, Diversity Professional, and American in Canada.  Be sure to come back and stay tuned for more…

Here’s a question for you:

Would you consider moving to a new country? Why or Why not?

Join the conversation by adding your comments below*.  I'd love your input.

Check out "An Expat’s Experience in Canada – Part II".

Check out "An Expat’s Experience in Canada – Part III".

*Note: You will need to register for an Institutional Diversity Blog account in order to comment, but you can get started right away by clicking here, or visiting our FAQ page for more help.  Also, check out this video on "Registering for an Account on The Institutional Diversity Blog".

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