My family dreamed of coming to Canada for so long that when the day finally arrived, I could not quite believe it had really happened. I grew up in a small town in Northern United Kingdom. We didn't live in a great area, but we had a great life. My sister and I were both happy, my parents had good jobs, but the opportunities there were limited. As we grew older, my parents knew we had to leave in order to have access to the opportunities that were increasingly scarce where we were. Choosing a new home for our family was not easy. Our initial plan was to move to New Zealand because there were ample opportunities for my dad to find a job in construction. However, we soon realized there were so many construction jobs due to the damage caused by earthquakes, and we did not feel comfortable moving to a location that had such a safety risk. Our next thought was to move to Australia, but it just didn't seem like the right fit. That's when we started considering Canada. We decided to visit in order to get a better idea of what life in Canada would be like. The second we touched down at the Calgary airport, we fell in love with the country. The first thing I noticed was the sky here was so much bigger, and the world felt like my oyster; it was a strange sensation to feel both infinitely small and that the world was mine for the taking.
As we drove around the city, I looked out the window and admired one of the beautiful universities. I thought to myself: one day I'll return here as a student. Our trip went by so quickly and after a few days we returned back to the UK, longing to return to Canada again one day. A few years went by, and we decided we would visit Canada one more time. The feeling of being back is almost impossible to describe. The best way I can explain it would be to say that it was like Alice returning to Wonderland: simply magical.
When we arrived in Canada as immigrants, I didn't expect to face the challenges that I did; I expected to relive our dreamy first visit here. One of the biggest adjustments that I had to make was language. Although I came from an English-speaking country, there are many differences in the way that Canadians spoke in comparison with how I spoke. One of the toughest challenges was that I had to change the way I spoke in order for people to understand me. My accent proved to be too thick for many of my new friends so I had to learn quickly to adjust my intonation and pronunciation. It was hard to give up part of my accent as I felt like I was changing myself and losing a piece of who I was. My sister, being so young, was able to adapt much quicker than I was. With that being said, moving to Canada changed my life for the better, especially academically. At school in the UK, the rules were very restrictive. For example, we were told what to write instead of taking notes ourselves. When I came to Canada, school became a place where I could think freely. The education system here allowed me to learn in a much more positive environment than I had ever been in.
Moving to Canada seemed perfect in theory, but once our plans came to fruition, the process was extremely long and taxing. It took us around six years to be able to finally call ourselves Canadians. From hours of paperwork to the COVID-19 pandemic postponing our ceremony, the journey was not an easy one, but getting our citizenship was the best day of my life. Even though the ceremony was on zoom, my mom decorated our living room with Canadian memorabilia, and I will never forget the moment I hugged my family in celebration as we all cried tears of joy.
Despite it being a long journey with many adjustments I wouldn't change my experience for the world. Canada has truly exceeded every expectation and gave me opportunities that I never would have had if we stayed in the UK. Coming to Canada has been a dream come true and I am happy to call it my forever home: the country under the biggest sky with the brightest horizons.
Please note that certain facts have been altered for anonymity
This story is a collaborative effort between Hadley Gunther and Benjamin Wright