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Photo Credit: Luke Stackpoole

How it All Started 

I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I had just ended a long-dead and toxic six year relationship, stopped working in an even more toxic job, and living in a country that I never really felt connected to. Worst of all, I was back at home with my parents just shy of my 30th birthday in the middle of a global pandemic. As most people have felt during this pandemic, I was stagnated, depressed, and directionless at an age that I was always led to believe was supposed to be a pivotal time in your life to start a family and advance in your career. The reality of it was, I was jobless, newly single and wearing pajamas day in and day out while spending countless hours on a video-based social media app favoured by teenagers. This was not exactly what I had pictured for myself when I thought of what my life would be like at almost 30-years-old. Aside from the curmudgeonly and empty existence very much in contrast to the glamourous and vibrant lifestyle I so craved, there is a silver lining to the pandemic and its very real tragedies (and for many, tragedies much worse than my own). The silver lining is, you can rise from the ashes and be whoever you want to be and reinvent yourself, because the rules and expectations are still being redefined and re-written by this new way of life in a post-pandemic world. The truth is, the loneliness and isolation we all experienced gave us the time to re-evaluate our lives and think about what really makes us happy. It was in the pandemic, that I realized I was stuck in a set of circumstances that made me very unhappy.

Moving to England from Canada

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to live “where things happened on a big scale”, as Fitzgerald so aptly put it. Canada has its benefits, but it wasn’t really a vessel or direct route to the big, grand adventure I always craved. I felt that I was always meant to be in one of the world’s biggest cities, but actually making that dream a reality felt like just that – a dream. Thanks to a timely combination of securing a visa that stipulates you must be under 30 to apply, and nothing left that was holding me back in Canada, I did what I always dreamed of. On the precipice of my 30th birthday and just before my ‘youth’ (as defined by the Youth Mobility Visa) ran out – I did the unthinkable and moved to London, England, during a global pandemic to start a new life. London, one of the most storied and renowned cities in the world, home to the Queen, illustrious museums and the magical Harry Potter franchise, was now my home too. The vibrancy of the city, the close proximity to other European countries as a travel lover, and the general beauty of it all was unparalleled in my mind, and frankly, it’s quite dazzling. But moving across the world is not all opulence and glamour, of course.

So, what’s it really like to move across the world amid a pandemic at 29?

It’s quite scary, simply put. Organizing an international move, the uncertainty of the pandemic, and the feeling that maybe I am too old to start again almost stopped me dead in my tracks. Each hurdle was scarier than the next, but what scared me more is the fear of a dream I wanted so badly falling through my fingers. I’m not here to tell you that moving across the world during a pandemic when you’re about to turn 30, is easy. It’s not; it’s one of the hardest, stressful and most expensive things I’ve ever done. I almost missed my flight due to a delayed PCR test, I only just barely had my first vaccination in the weeks leading up to my flight, and finding a flat in London in a good location for a reasonable price is, well, unreasonable. But, for the first time in years, I was finally living again and not just existing. It was absolutely worth it, and it’s made me the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

Living Abroad

Living in London has given me a fresh perspective and reinvigorated my appreciation for life. Rediscovering myself in a new country has helped me find my wings and escape a nearly two-year rut brought on by a global pandemic, job loss and major breakup. I can walk from my flat to my favourite café surrounded by bustling culture and grand architecture, visit world-famous galleries and museums and have dinner on a picturesque rooftop with views of the beautiful London skyline all in an afternoon. Passing through each neighbourhood feels like an experience in its own right – A stark change from the mundane and empty streets in my hometown. The streets of Soho are lively and vibrant with outdoor seating and music, the houses in Notting Hill luminate in happy pastels, and walking through the flower stands in Chelsea feel like a Pinterest daydream, and I still have dozens of neighbourhoods that I’ve yet to discover. Aesthetically, the beauty of London alone is a mood-booster, but there’s also the witty and sarcastic sense of humour, elevated fashion sense, and substantial social scene of like-minded creatives. Finally, I’ve traded in my pajamas for curated outfits, and my four bedroom walls in Canada for one of the biggest cities in the world to explore. Moving abroad allowed me to break my cycle, chase new experiences and rediscover myself in each one.

If I Can Do it, So Can You

 If you’re thinking about moving abroad at 30 or any age; do it. You won’t regret it. “You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream,” C.S. Lewis wisely said. There’s this cultural and social notion that your life “ends” at 30, especially as a woman. That you become irrelevant, cast away as a once-vibrant youth, doomed to a lifetime of eye serums and Botox, wasting away and contributing to your retirement fund. That doesn’t have to be so. The right time to make positive changes to your life is whatever time you want it to be. There is no expiry date on your happiness or ability to live the life you’ve always dreamed of. While it takes a savings account, undergoing a lot of initial stress, and guts, you will never regret moving abroad if it’s something you always dreamed of. Even if you decide it’s not for you, you will learn more about yourself than you ever thought you would, be proud of the strength it took to achieve your dream and continue in life without having the regret that you never tried to do something that was really dear to you. We can spend our whole lives wondering, “what if”. We only life once, after all – may as well take the plunge and live it to the fullest.

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