Graced by Grace

Graced by Grace

With the five to ten per cent rise in international students coming to study in Canada each year, many families have been sharing their homes to these students. You could host an international student at your home, anywhere from one week to four years, opening up your world to another culture without leaving your home.

During my involvement in the Canada Homestay Network, my family and I have hosted six

Celebrating Canada Day
(Sister, Grace, Mom, Me)

students from Spain, Columbia, Japan, and China, and are currently welcoming two students from Thailand looking to experience Canadian culture for two weeks. One of the greatest experiences was the time I spent with a young student from China named Grace. Grace had come to us when she was 15 and made a home with us for three years before going to university in Kingston.

Having spent four years in Panama, I experienced a major culture shock, which took a long time to adjust to. That is why I found I could quickly relate to what Grace was experiencing,

Me and Grace out for a walk

not knowing the language or culture, and became more patient with our cultural differences.Through this experience I learned just as much about the Chinese culture without ever being there, as Grace did living in Canada. It was a huge adjustment on both our parts, but we both ended up with a new sister.

For those families that are thinking of taking in an international student, they must know it is not just a room they are renting, but are entrusted by the parents and the organization, to raise this student. You not only have to teach them the language and culture, but you are also nurture them. It’s a huge commitment of time, however, you will definitely love being able to share your home with someone who has fresh eyes.

Here’s more information of me and my family’s time with Grace from a article (page 76) written for Windsor Life Magazine.

A Part of Your Apartment

A Part of Your Apartment

School is almost over. Some of you are deciding where you’re going for post secondary, others may have internships ready to jump into, and the rest are coming out of school eager to apply that extremely expensive academic knowledge to getting your dream job. For me, if I’m blessed by the apartment gods, I will be moving into my very first apartment.

The state of being free

Deciding on moving out is a difficult choice. Leaving the safe and familiar oasis of your parent’s home into your own space is a huge step. Approximately 34.7 per cent of young adults live with their parents, for most this is the cheapest option.

However, it is still a great opportunity to try and take that next step towards independence by taking a chance on moving out. In my search for the ideal place I have thought of a couple things to help prepare anyone in their journey for a temporary or longterm home.

One thing you have to keep in mind when you’re sifting through the various posts of available places is your budget. Not only do you have to consider cheap rent, but possible utilities, Internet, and hydro. Remember, calculate your finances accordingly and never forget to account for unexpected expenditures. Make the decision on what you can realistically afford not the ideal apartment with all the amenities.

Once you found that ‘not so great, but it’s mine’ apartment, you have to fill it. This will take time. Don’t expect to go to the nearest furniture store and purchase the perfect sectional couch. Find a few simple pieces, maybe from your parent’s basement or gently used items on kijiji. As for everything else like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, dish clothes, or even tupperware, always remember the dollar store is your best friend. Basic living expenses always add up, so make that first shopping trip to the nearest dollar store so you can save your money for that couch.

The Doubts and Depression

The Doubts and Depression

With a new place comes excitement and adventure. You’re sharing your journey with all your friends and family on social media and it appears that you give little thought to the life you left for your new one.

In reality, many experience depression, isolation, and anxiety at some point in their relocation. With one in four Canadians suffering from depression requiring treatment, it is important to recognize the symptoms, whether you’re lacking motivation and feeling especially down. Moving to a new country is in no way ‘easy’ in which many go through a transition period as they figure out where they fit in. Whether you moved for a job, school, for your partner, or yourself, in every instance there will be stressors that will cause a feeling of anxiety greatly impacting your experience in your new home.

From the multiple relocations, and my most recent to St. Catharines, I have had to cope with the overwhelming unhappiness and stress that comes with a new move. I was on the brink of packing my bags and heading home

My first time snowboarding. (Sister on the left)

to find a different direction, but I knew that if I gave it a bit more time and complete my college program I could then decide whether leaving would be best. This encouraged me to focus on myself and my mental health. I concentrated on not putting too much pressure on myself despite the expectations others had of me

One thing to remember is take your own time in the transition, you know yourself best and even if it doesn’t workout at least you know you did everything you could to make the most of the experience. Here are some tips that I found useful to bring myself out of the funk and back to the loving and active person I see myself as and eventually see the beauty of my new home.

3 Tips When Moving to A New Country

3 Tips When Moving to A New Country

If you’ve never spent an extended period of time in a foreign country I would highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to truly experience all the world has to offer. Currently, four per cent of Canadians are living abroad, experiencing a country outside of their own. Living in Boquete, Panama was a huge culture shock from the moment I felt the humid air stepping off the plane. Coming from Northern Canada, and never being exposed to the tropics, it was an intense and unsettling feeling. However, I have come back with a few tips when experiencing a new country for the first time.

Complete Immersion

The best way to learn the language and culture is to completely immerse yourself in all the country has to offer. You don’t have to be fluent to talk to the locals; they will appreciate your attempts at connecting with them and using their language to bridge the cultural gap.

Be Respectful and Polite 

In many places the locals have preconceived notions about where you are coming from. No matter where you go you will always be seen as an outsider. Since you’re not only representing yourself but the country you’re coming from you should always be aware of your behaviour and how it is received. Until you’ve developed a relationship with locals and have an understanding of their culture and traditions, show patience and respect.

Making Friends Is Hard

It’s like the first day of school; you want someone to approach you so you don’t have to make the first move. This was the most difficult part for me, luckily I had three sisters who were always there to fill that friendless void and I was always able to crash their hangouts. However, if I could one thing about my experience would be to put myself out there and not be afraid to meet new people. Don’t stress. You will meet many people in time.


Finding Yourself When Finding Your Home

Finding Yourself When Finding Your Home

Moving is difficult and doesn’t always work out for you but I truly believe it is an experience everyone should have. Many associate happiness with the place they’re most comfortable with, not wanting to risk what they love. But the truth is you never lose this but learn to love more.

Over one third of young adults aged 20 to 34 live with their parents, which from personal experience isn’t as bad as it sounds. However, this year I made the big leap of moving out of my moms house, and at the age of 25 it felt overdue. I have now been in St. Catharines for six months and each day has become easier. Once I embraced the opportunities and challenged myself by going outside my comfort zone, I became confident in myself and realized that this new place isn’t so bad after all. Every time someone asks “How do you like St. Catharines?” my response becomes more sincere instead of the forced smile and the generic reply, “It’s an adjustment, but its nice.”

My first tip to arriving to your new home is make your room a cozy sanctuary that feels like home. Maybe its setting up your yoga area, lighting that eucalyptus menthol candle, or  finding a place for your favourite plants. Once you’ve established your own retreat you can begin easing into your new home by doing one thing that puts you out of your comfort zone. This could just be going to a new coffee shop for an hour, saying “hello” to a coworker or classmate, or driving around the city. It’s going to be awkward and at times painful, but you will learn something from it. Having a partner where you can support each other and explore your new home together makes the experience a lot easier and enjoyable. However, if you’re like me, alone, then don’t be afraid to explore your inner loner, its never a bad thing!

Beginning the Journey

Beginning the Journey

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but I’m a bit of a traveler. My inspiration for my blog came from the many times I have had to pack up my things and move towards new opportunities but also from my love of exploring. With 28 per cent of Canadians feeling the need to move every five years they find themselves dealing with the packing, unpacking, address change, and plenty of other things in order to establish a new home. In all of the places I’ve lived, I have experienced the in’s and out’s of moving to a new place and beginning a new life. In any situation, it is always an adjustment whether you’re moving to a new country, city, or just a few blocks down the street. Even students moving away for college and university are finding it more difficult to make connections, with 70% of them feeling lonely throughout the school year.

In the many times I have had to relocate I overcame the stress and isolation by being open to the new opportunity and having the support of friends and family. I’ve found that over the years I have become well versed in the difficulties of moving away from friends, family, and all things familiar. In each case it was a challenge, but by remaining positive and taking advantage of new opportunities anyone can find a home wherever they are.

Don’t be fooled by the confidence, having recently moved to St. Catharines, Ontario, I am facing a new challenge of learning how to survive living with my sister and her husband. Having multiple breakdowns and passive aggressive fights with the brother in-law, we’re finally finding a balance. Moving stories, tips, challenges and solutions are just some things I’ll be sharing in my following posts. Relocating brings many obstacles and barriers, and through my posts I hope to share advice, enlightenment, and some fun to all the readers who have been through or going through similar situations. Thanks for reading and enjoy.