Expat Interview With Emily - Australian Expat In Canada

Published: 25 Oct at 1 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Canada
Emily O'Hara is the author of Skippy or Bullwinkle (see listing here), a blog about moving from Australia to Canada. She lives with her husband in Kamloops BC where they both work at a gold mine. She enjoys travelling around her new country and overseas, translating from Australian to Canadian, reading and Canadian outdoor activities. Emily followed in her parents footsteps, as they also lived in Canada working at a ski hill before she was born. Her blog is used to communicate stories back home as well as hopefully provide some insight for people wanting to move to Canada and travel ideas.

Skippy or Bullwinkle

Here's the interview with Emily...

Where are you originally from?
I grew up in Tasmania, spent 6 years studying in Sydney and then moved to the NSW Outback (Cobar) for work. All Australia!

In which country and city are you living now?
Kamloops, in British Columbia Canada.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We've been here nearly 7 months. My Visa is for 3 years but will see how it all goes. No plans to leave yet!

Why did you move and what do you do?
I work as an Environmental Engineer at a gold mine. The company I worked for in Australia is Canadian owned and has a mine in Kamloops. They sent us here!

Did you bring family with you?
I came with my husband who works for the same company.

Skippy or BullwinkleHow did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Canada isn't hugely different to Australia, the worst culture shock was probably dealing with huge grocery stores! Driving on the other side of the road was also terrifying. We had a few teething problems with cars, phones banks etc but it all worked out in the end. We also had the advantage of doing a company move, so a lot of the hard logistics were worked out by them.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We were lucky enough to have a random friend of a friend connection who I had met in Sydney, as well as some friends through work. Canadians are really nice and are easy to be friends with, especially in the smaller towns (I've heard Vancouver can be hard). The majority of our friends here are Canadians, which is especially great for planning trips and holidays! Bringing baked goods to work, especially if it's a recipe from your home country is a great way to make friends!

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Ski/Snowboard. There is a great hill 45min from Kamloops. Kamloops also has a great summer climate , so boat and lake activities, wine tours, camping, hiking etc.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love that there is so much to do within a 3 hour drive! It's also great being close to the States and South America and Europe. Australia is really isolated in comparison.

Skippy or Bullwinkle How does the cost of living compare to home?
This is tricky. Canadians would claim that Australia is more expensive and it is in some instances. I've found higher end cosmetics and skin care is substantially cheaper here. About half price. Clothes are similar (maybe slightly cheaper in
Canada) but there's the option to drive to the States and stock up for cheap. Petrol is cheaper in Canada too. Mobile/cell bills are way more expensive in Canada. You pay when people call you!! Bizarre! Banking is more expensive and groceries are more expensive in Canada as well I think.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
We struggle with having no credit rating. In Canada without a credit history it's worse than being bankrupt. It's hugely frustrating!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Don't plan your interstate wedding a week before you leave... Really. Get involved with everything you can. Most people love hosting expats in their country and appreciate when you get into things that are special to them. In Canada, winter sports, ice hockey and Clamato Juice are big favourites. Read up on the actual taxes you'll pay so you can budget for buying a car and rent. We we're a bit shocked when we got our first pay check as we hadn't accounted for the additional taxes such as Canadian Pension Plan and Employment Insurance.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I miss friends and family. I'm usually very outgoing and silly. It's sometimes hard to get to the same comfort level with new people. I also find driving on the right hand side, and driving in snow stressful. Kamloops doesn't get a lot of snow, but to drive to Vancouver you take a treacherous mountain highway. There's a reality TV show on that road called "Highway Thru Hell".

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I can't imagine it will be hard, so long as we have a job to go back to. We've made some really good friends here, so it will be sad to leave them. I've moved around a lot in the last 6 years so it's hard to start again each time.

Skippy or BullwinkleWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
1. Love what the locals love
2. If you're shipping a lot of stuff, take a stash of goodies from
home. People love trying new food!
3. Research and ask advice. While you can't prepare for everything,
having an idea about which bank, mobile company, car etc you want is
handy. Especially if you're starting work right away.
4. Be open minded and non judgemental. It'll always be different to
what you expect
5. Don't turn down social invitations. Friends make everything better.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I'm not a great writer so it was never planned. After reading a friends expat blog religiously I realised a lot of friends and family would like to hear about my trip. It also saves writing a bunch of emails with the same info! It follows our travels and funny things we come across while living in Canada.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Through my blog is perfect, or leave a comment under this interview!

Emily has her expat blog called Skippy or Bullwinkle http://skippyorbullwinkle.blogspot.ca which is very worthy of a visit. Emily can be found on Twitter @emilyincanada. Emily's blog has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here which would love a nice review if you can spare a quick moment! If you liked this interview with Emily, please also drop her a quick note below.
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