I Moved To Canada 1 Year Ago & Here's What I Think Are The Best & Worst Things About It
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Where does the time go? It's been around one year since I moved to Canada from Dubai, and during that time I've had my fair share of new experiences.
From trying out Canadian snacks for the first time to learning exactly how much to tip, it's been a wild ride, and I've been left with so many incredible life lessons.
A year later, there are some things about Canada that still blow my mind, in the best way. And, of course, since no country is perfect, there are also some things that I'm still getting used to.
So, here are some of my favourite — and not-so-favourite — things about my new life in Canada.
Things I absolutely love about Canada
I'll be honest and say that one of my favourite things is how diverse the population in Canada is.
In that regard, it's a bit similar to Dubai, where I spent the last eight years of my life, and I love being able to meet so many people from different cultures on a daily basis.
One of my all-time favourite things is seeing how people from different cultures interact and remembering that we're honestly not so different from one another after all.
The fact that increased diversity also leads to a pretty incredible food scene — and loads of delicious fusion concepts — is just icing on the cake!
The four seasons
Janice Rodrigues experiencing Canadian winter for the first time.
Before moving to Canada, I was pretty sure that the weather was going to be on my list of least-favourite things about the country!
I was wrong, though. The truth is that, even though I'm not a fan of the cold, seeing the four seasons come to life in front of my eyes has been nothing short of magical.
In the UAE, we usually had two seasons — summer and not summer — at best. But there's something incredibly beautiful about having four full seasons that are so distinct from one another.
It's also impossible to get bored of the weather when it's changing by the week.
The Canadian people
Another of my favourite things about Canada is its people.
I'm not going to reinforce the stereotype that all Canadians are super nice. But, for the most part, people — even strangers — help each other out, even if they don't have any reason for doing so.
Queuing up politely, saying "thank you" and "sorry," are just considered the norm here, and it really isn't in many other parts of the world. And, sometimes, it really is about the little things.
It's also great to see how welcoming a lot of Canadians are toward newcomers. Because moving to a new country can be very overwhelming, and a little kindness goes a long way.
The natural beauty
If there's another thing that I can't get enough of here, it's Canada's natural beauty.
Sure, I live in Toronto, which I admit is a bit of an urban jungle. But all you have to do is drive for a few hours and you'll be surrounded by the most breathtaking landscapes.
That doesn't even begin to cover the natural beauty I haven't explored yet, from provincial parks to snow-capped mountains.
Things I don't love so much about Canada
Okay I'll be honest, the tax system in Canada took a while for me to get used to.
I had a rough idea about the tax brackets here before moving, and thought I was well-prepared for it.
But somehow I hadn't anticipated how every aspect of life is taxed, and how those amounts quickly add up and cut into your disposable income.
This felt especially weird since I've moved from a Middle Eastern country which famously doesn't have income tax. Understandably, it's been a hard pill to swallow!
Grocery store shelves in Canada.
One of the biggest culture shocks I experienced after moving from the Middle East has been Canada's sky-high grocery prices.
To put it into context, according to cost of living comparison website Numbeo, the difference in grocery prices in Dubai and Toronto is almost 40%.
Other things that continue to surprise me about grocery shopping in Canada are the high cost of fresh fruit and herbs, and finding canned and frozen goods cheaper than fresh produce.
I know tipping in Canada is widely debated upon, and I've embraced it since I've been here.
But even so, I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of Canada's tipping culture.
While I'm all for helping service sector employees earn a living wage, I also feel like the tipping culture in Canada helps business owners get away with underpaying their employees.
It also turns what's supposed to be a gesture of appreciation for good service into a mandatory burden on consumers.
Canada is full of so much natural beauty, and it's been a goal of mine to experience as much of it as I can.
However, Canada is also… big. And getting around is a lot harder (or should I say more expensive?) than I had initially anticipated.
Domestic flights can cost as much as international flights and I really wish they would be slightly cheaper so I could experience more of this beautiful country.
For now, all I can do is save up!
At the end of the day though, no country is perfect, and I love everything Canada has to offer.
It's been such a privilege to explore and experience the country, and I can't wait to see what comes over the next year, too!