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Have you ever wondered what surviving winter in Toronto as an expat is like? Our General Manager, Emma McConville, shares what her experience preparing for expat life in Toronto was like!
When you make the huge decision to immigrate to a different country, be it for work, for an adventure or because you had a crazy idea one evening (not that I’m speaking from experience on the last one), one of the hardest things is how to tell family and friends of your big move. I personally had only told a handful of people of my desire to move to Canada so when I announced I would be leaving Dublin for a new life in Canada, there were a lot of surprised faces and even more questions. The question I was asked most was how would I survive the harsh Canadian winter? I should explain why I was asked this so much. As my lovely mother has said my entire life “there’s ice in our Emma’s veins, that girl is never warm”, I hate the cold, I really really despise it and did everything to stay out of it! So I can completely understand everyone’s bewilderment that I chose Canada to live (and I can also forgive them all for placing bets on how long I would survive)
Now as I watch the UK and Ireland completely shutdown because of Storm Emma (I know, great name) and the worst snow they have had in nearly 40 years, I can only laugh at how different my outlook to harsh winters are now. As Ireland and the UK are closed for business with a couple of inches of snow I have decided I am a complete pro at the Canadian winter and maybe I should send them some pointers to help them through this difficult period. I should probably point out that if I was writing this last year it would certainly have a different tone, something more like panic and fear and I could very well have been pleading for help!
The winter of 2016 was a mild one for Toronto, or so I’m told by proper Canadians, but I struggled to make it through. Somewhere mid November my toes went numb from the cold and it wasn’t until mid April that they finally thawed out, I permanently looked like the Michelin Man thanks to my down filled winter jacket and my fingers were a strange blueish colour for most of the time. But I made it through and lived to tell the tale (and my sister lost 20 euro on the bet, which is another plus). It was definitely not a walk in the park in anyway, the coldest I had ever experienced before this was minus 6 or 7 degrees.
This winter is a completely different beast altogether but I was prepared this time. Layering has become part of the daily routine and I never leave the house without a scarf, gloves and a Tuk (can I have a Canadian passport now?). Over Christmas when the temperature plummeted into the minus thirty’s I did google flights to rainy mild Dublin but again I preserved. I’m going to have to be honest and say there were a couple of hairy moments, grocery shopping in -30 degrees is not fun or easy, falling on my butt every couple of days (with the grace of a Giselle, obviously) and the countless scary Uber trips. But even with the hairy moments and temperatures so cold your face hurts, I have loved this winter and have even managed to spend a good amount of time out and about. So even though the Canadian winter is harsh I will take it over the damp miserable Irish winter all day long!