Monthly Archives: August 2016

HOW I MOVED TO A DIFFERENT COUNTRY IN 3 WEEKS

August 17, 2016 // - - - - - - - - -

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I don’t even know where to begin, really.

I haven’t published anything on here in a couple weeks, which at first glance probably looks lazy. But considering I’ve packed up my life and moved to a different country on a whim, it’s not that bad.

I moved to Los Angeles at the beginning of August. I accepted a job offer, gave two weeks notice at my office, trained my replacement, got out of my lease, sold/tossed/Bunz traded most of my belongings, moved out of my apartment, prepared a *lot* of paperwork, booked a one-way plane ticket, threw a going away party, got my visa and then moved to the United States. This all happened in the second half of July. Things haven’t entirely hit me yet, so maybe that’s why I’ve been putting off talking about it in detail.

A lot of friends and followers have been asking questions about the move — both out of genuine support and for personal gain — understandably, since Canadians are often looking to move across the border and vice versa. So I thought the best way to address it would be to write out an in-depth explanation that doubles as a blog post. Get your body ready, because this is a long one!

HOW DID I MOVE?

I got a job offer. There’s no way around it, so if you’re reading this hoping I’ve found some sort of loophole in the American immigration system…sorry! You need to have a job offer, be married to a citizen or attend school here.

I have a TN-1 visa, which coincides with NAFTA and is what I’d recommend looking into if you’re Canadian and have gotten a job offer in the states. It’s a temporary work visa which means I won’t be here forever. But it’s made Los Angeles home, at least for the time being.

WHAT AM I DOING HERE?

I’m working for FHY INC, doing all things digital for Ferrecci USA! It’s a men’s formal wear line, so not *exactly* my forte but I’m already acclimating well. They have some killer accessories that I’ve been incorporating into my wardrobe and embracing an androgynous look with, like the black ranger hat I’m sporting in Silver Lake below. I’ll also be getting back to my freelance hustle as soon as I possibly can — more on that later.

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WHY DID I MOVE? 

I could say I moved solely for my career, but that wouldn’t be honest.

Around this time last summer, I was working my first “real” job after graduating from university. After 3 months I had grown accustomed to my day-to-day routine. Then I found out a week before my contract was due for renew that it wasn’t being extended, and suddenly my future looked unsure. Responsibility-free, I impulsively booked a trip to tour the west coast by myself and left a few days later. I climbed a mountain in Vancouver, failed to find Frasier Crane in Seattle and got chased by gutter punks at sunset in Portland. My trip ended in Los Angeles, where I fell for somebody after 5 days. He and I have been together ever since.

Yuck! Gross! Cut to a vomit-inducing scene from a rom-com featuring a couple crying at an airport, but that’s what happened. We stayed together despite the distance, while he looked into moving to Canada. He ran into some visa issues on his end, so that plan fizzled out. Things were left up in the air for a long time, and then I started considering making the move on my end instead. I initially didn’t want to even think about leaving my friends, my family and everything I’d ever associated with the feeling of “home”. 

But then I started really looking into it and weighing my options. I work full-time in social media and digital marketing, and that field has so many more opportunities in Los Angeles compared to Toronto. Out of curiosity, I applied for a few positions in Los Angeles — and I heard back from multiple, despite living 4000 miles further than most applicants. From a career perspective, it makes sense for me to be here. I’ve heard Los Angeles equally referred to as “the land of broken dreams” and “the land of opportunity”, but I’m going to stay positive and believe solely in the latter. 

As a going away present to myself, I got a little tattoo on my arm that my friend Brian drew. It feels symbolic for this next phase of my life, exploring foreign territory and all. 

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WHAT’S GOING TO CHANGE?

  • Less materialism. I moved here with two suitcases and ditched the rest. I’m no packrat, but that whole process sucked way more than I thought it would. Anything I really need, I can always replace as I go.
  • More self-care. The sunshine has already persuaded me into getting back into running, and I’m going to figure out what the heck Bikram yoga is.
  • Less of a ballin’ lifestyle and more packed lunches. Los Angeles is pretty expensive, which I low key knew but apparently was in denial about.
  • My blog Vegan Girlfriend will keep on keepin’ on, but is now being coordinated internationally. Aine and Alex will be holding down the fort in Toronto, while I build our footprint in Los Angeles’ vegan community.
  • Less illustrations, including both personal and freelance pieces. It’s a temporary hiatus, I swear! I don’t have a desk or a scanner right now, and I’m already going stir crazy without having that outlet. I tried to switch fully to digital overnight and drew some very sad looking tacos, so I’m hoping to figure out a solution ASAP.

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IMMIGRATION TIPS:

1. Get an immigration lawyer. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people try to do it on their own. You can set up an initial call or meeting with them to discuss your options, and usually won’t have to commit to a fee until you’re ready to proceed with your visa application. Additionally, having a job offer might not be good enough, which a lawyer will help you determine. The visa I have only covers certain job types, and you need to be able to prove that you’re qualified for it. You want to work alongside an immigration lawyer so they can make sure your paperwork is in order. The last thing you want is to have your visa rejected last minute due to a minor wording issue, which happened to a friend of mine.

2. Budget. Make sure you can afford to make this kind of move before committing. Consider factors like hiring movers, shipping existing furniture vs. buying new furniture, rental deposits, a plane ticket, health insurance, transportation and taxes. The exchange rate is something to keep in mind, too.

3. Take everything into consideration. If you haven’t visited the city that you’re moving to in person, do some extensive research. For example, I’d been to LA before so I knew that not being able to drive would be problematic (a non-issue in Toronto). I prepared accordingly by checking bus routes and comparing Uber rates.

4. Figure out what you can’t do in advance, and what you’ll need to do right when you land. In the 48 hours following my move I set up a new phone plan, applied for a social security number and sorted out health insurance.

5. Exercise and get lots of sleep. It may sound silly but trust me, this process is insanely stressful and you need to look after your body so you don’t spontaneously combust. I had so many panic attacks that I felt like I was 17 again.

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I’m settled in, for the most part. Things feel strange…in a good way? I’ve felt very homesick (Miss you, Mum) but it has only been two weeks so I’m sure it’ll get easier. I’m sad but at the same time very content. I wrote a good chunk of this nestled next to my boyfriend, two roommates and two dogs while watching John Oliver and eating tortilla chips. It’s crazy how quickly things can change. For comparison: I have a piece drafted with the title “A Room Of One’s Own” à la Virginia Woolf from two months ago all about how much I loved having an entire apartment to myself. That will likely never get posted now, but that’s okay. Because like I said…I’m content.