Top six things you should know before falling in love with a Canadian!

By: Holly Nelson

If you have been reading my blog you will, by now, know something of the crazy, Disney romance that has lead me to this point in time. Finally I am sitting here, on a beaten up old sofa, dog nestled at my feet, next to the man of my dreams, feeling just as in love with him as I was when I was 16.

If you are unaware of our story, here it is again in brief. My boyfriend was born in Ontario, Canada, before moving to England for his formative years.

This is where I met him.

He was this insanely hot Edward-Cullen-pale-skinned-black-haired-blue-eyed-man-boy and I was the geeky girl next door with bad skin and glasses. We fell in love at fifteen and remained together until we were eighteen, when he moved back to Canada.

Luke and I at sweet 16
Luke and I at sweet 16

Ten years later, I was shopping in my local town and met his Mum. She kindly gave me his contact details and now, by the magic of t'interweb, here I am in Canada, just as in love as ever with this wonderful man.

Luke and I ten years later!
Luke and I ten years later!

It’s not all been moonlight and roses exchanging a settled existence in the UK for an adventure into the unknown in Canada, so here are my top six things that I think you should know before falling in love with a Canadian man!

  1. Long distance relationships suck.

    We were in a long distance relationship for a year before we could be together properly. Despite common belief, long distance relationships have the same break up rates as a normal relationship, but the degree of difficulty was greater when we were apart than now we are together. The hardest part (and he would agree) was leaving each other at the airport. It is agony not knowing when you will see teach other again.

    Once we were safely ensconced within the normality of our pre-relationship lives, the routine of coping with not being together became the norm. The wonders of
    FaceTime and whatsapp on our iPhones really did carry us through those times. It was still painful and difficult though. One day, I received a message to say that my beloved had been rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack and I had no one I could contact in Canada to find out what was happening. As it turned out, he had a heart infection which, in bygone years, might have been fatal, but is now easily treated. That's not to say that it felt any less dramatic or devastating at the time.

    All of this was made up for by the total bliss of romantic airport reunions, when I would be met with a bunch of flowers, a kiss and would then be swung round and round, scattering luggage left, right and centre!

    Sometimes all you want to do is reach out and hold hands or touch feet in the night! Then you remember you are 4000 miles apart.
    Sometimes all you want to do is reach out and hold hands or touch feet in the night! Then you remember you are 4000 miles apart.

  2. Immigration is difficult.

    Where do I start with the mess that has been my immigration process?! When Luke told me he loved me last Christmas I told him I had loved him before I had even seen him again. He said, 'Well, what do we do now?' To this, I replied 'well, obviously I will move here'. Oh the idealism! At the time we assumed that because we loved each other so much, things would just work out automatically. Well, they didn't.

    We contacted a lawyer who assured me that I would be living in Canada by that summer. Accordingly, I handed in my job as a teacher in advance of the end of the summer term and began preparations for the International Experience Canada (IEC) program.

    There are two problems associated with my visa application in the long term. Firstly, to apply for spousal sponsorship from my partner, I have to be either his wife or his common-law partner (A common-law partner is someone with whom one has lived for a year). I am neither of these things and I didn't much fancy marrying for a reason such as a visa, no matter how in love I feel. When I do get married it will be for the right reasons.

    This left me as Luke's conjugal partner. It is almost impossible to sponsor a conjugal partner. The only way you can achieve a valid immigration status is by proving that you have been refused entry into the country and that is the reason why you have been unable to live together for a year. I have not been refused entry so this route was not valid..

    The second problem is that Canada does not need teachers. There are already too many teachers here. Therefore I don't qualify as a skilled worker and to get a job with a company or school that would sponsor me to move here would be impossible as they have to prove there are no Canadians fit for the job which, in the case of teaching, is not the case.

    The IEC has been a nightmare. They had run out of application spaces by the time my application was ready so my time had come and gone. I was up a brown creek without a paddle. I had tendered my resignation at my UK school and was unable to be with my man, forced to face more months of the ‘www’ relationship. I was distraught.

    So, in January I moved to Canada as a tourist and applied for the IEC once more. Luckily I am still under thirty and therefore within the age range required to comply with IEC age restrictions. Over 30’s romantics beware! More complications ensued - the applications didn't come out until very late, I missed the first batch of applications in February because of technical problems, so here I am, having applied late, living in Canada, waiting, waiting and waiting for a visa to come through!

  3. Cultural differences apply.

    When dealing with men, there are the usual men are from mars, women are from Venus issues. In our case, not only is my partner from Mars but he is also from Canada and not only am I from Venus, but I am also from England!

    When I first started talking to my partner after ten years apart, it was like talking to a stranger initially. We communicated via incessant e-mailing. Initially, at the end of every e mail, I would add a tentative x at the end. That little kiss at the end of messages that can mean nothing, or everything. He never put kisses at the end of his correspondence, so for a long time I assumed he wasn't interested, until one day we spoke about it and he said no one in his circle of friends add kisses to the end of messages, as opposed to in my circle where everyone does!

    This is just one example of how cultural differences, however subtle, can cause tension! Other examples might be that Canadians are tougher about the weather and so they don't ever complain about it, whereas complaining about the weather is the preferred English pastime! Drinking in bars is more expensive here than in England, so we seem to spend Friday nights drinking beer at home (Canadians like beer way more than we do!). Language differences are subtle, but real. I don't always understand the words Luke uses, the popular culture references he makes, the idioms. These small differences are reciprocated. For my part, as I struggle to keep up, my brain shifts into overtime mode, which can leave me feeling drained, tired and even a little depressed.

    One huge benefit is that, at last, my music requirements in a man have been fulfilled. Back home the boys are still listening to dance, trance and other such rubbish. Here in the home of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, I have finally met my match! He has taught me so much about music, I have fallen in love with Canada for its music as much as I have fallen for my partner. I can even forgive them Celine Dion!

  4. You say goodbye to everything you know and love.

    Fall in love with a Canadian and at some point you will have to say goodbye to England. Why would we reside in England, where it is overcrowded, has high levels of unemployment and homelessness and suffers from all of the other after effects of that blooming recession.

    Onto pastures new! Here the wide open space invites you to run free with your arms open in the fresh air! The Great Lakes want you to leap head first into them and spend the day there. Oh the warm summers, the colours of fall, the snow in winter, the promise in spring. Yes, indeed, onto pastures new!

    Waterfalls in my new city with inukshuks in the foreground. Sometimes I have to pinch myself!
    Waterfalls in my new city with inukshuks in the foreground. Sometimes I have to pinch myself!

    This doesn't stop me from missing my family desperately, but it is definitely a bonus! Here, multiculturalism is one of the country’s greatest assets! People reside peacefully side by side from many different nations. Canadians welcome us and our differences are celebrated, in England, the welcome is ‘polite’ and the ‘differences’ often create division bordering on hostility. I have observed one exception in Canada; don't tell anyone if you're from the USA! The friendly rivalry between Canada and the States is not something I had expected, but is certainly ever- present!

    It is tough adapting to new words, money, politics, celebrity, shops, social interactions. Where is the dry sarcasm I came to understand, if not love. It has been replaced by politeness! What a nightmare! Ha-ha, I jest of course. That last is a trade I would make most willingly!

  5. You will have to carve your own life separately from him.

    When you first move to this new land, all that you may know is this one creature, whom you may love more than anything in the whole world. You may wish to create a little bubble with him, and just enjoy the fact that you are together at last.

    However, this can only last for so long. At some point, you need to stand alone. Here in Hamilton, Ontario, my partner knows so much more than I about everything Canadian. He leads me on this adventure, showing me the jewels of what can, at first, seem a drab city. He has shown me nearly all of the 130 waterfalls that are hidden here. He held my hand as he led me along the boardwalk at the Royal Botanical Gardens. He covered my eyes before showing me Dundas Castle for the first time. He propped me up as I stumbled on ice over a frozen lake for the first time. Oh, this city has been the provider of many such firsts to me. I just adore it, but it took a while for me to have the confidence to walk through it alone, to catch a bus or even to visit the shops.

    His friends are my friends, but I know we cannot live in one another's pockets like this for much longer, no matter how nice it may feel now. At some point I shall need to find my own friends too and start to carve a life that has MY Canadian watermark through it, instead of US. It is rather a daunting prospect.

    Learning to wade alone in new waters. Here I am enjoying my new city. What a dream!
    Learning to wade alone in new waters. Here I am enjoying my new city. What a dream!

  6. Love is a winner.

    Nothing can prepare you for the feelings of love and gratitude you feel when you fall in love with a Canadian man and realise fairytales are real. You will feel so glad that you didn't just settle for a predictable life, because what you have found is more wonderful and more special than that which most people find.

    Now I just need to work on remembering to put the bins out on a Sunday night and our lives will be perfect!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingHolly Nelson is a British expat living in Canada. Blog description: This is a blog detailing my move to Canada from England for love...
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Contest Comments » There are 24 comments

Holly Nelson wrote 10 years ago:

Thank you everyone for commenting and helping to support my little blog :)

Heather Duncan wrote 10 years ago:

What a lovely, touching article that i can completely relate to! Just 7 months ago I made the move from Scotland, UK to Oman in the Middle East to be with my husband. This is the first time in our relationship that we have actually spent proper time together instead of muddling our way through our relationship on Skype and Whats App. It is too easy to create the little dream bubble where it is just you and him but then you isolate yourself, I am trying to carve my own life with friends and hobbies so I also have something to bring to the table and I don't lean on him as much as my heart tells me to. I need to be an independent women for this to work. Your story is lovely and I hope everything works out for you guys. Take care :)

Mia wrote 10 years ago:

A beautiful insight - romantic and practical in equal parts! Right, off to make you an amazing mix tape of dance and trance xx

Reema wrote 10 years ago:

Awww that is soo cute holly!! We do miss u here in exciting england :/ but its lovely to read and hear your adventures!!! It seems fairytales can very well happen then hmm still debating but i hope u and your prince luke have a happy life together!! An interesting but happy read u have written there!! Xxx

Amanda W wrote 10 years ago:

Great writing, Holly :) I've enjoyed all of your blogs very much xx

Laura wrote 10 years ago:

Lovely blog post - sad, funny and inspiring. It's so wonderful to hear that although you've had to overcome so many obstacles along the way, you have finally got your fairy tale ending.

Karen wrote 10 years ago:

Holly , your writing may give hope and encouragement to others to follow their dream, I hope yours is a success.X ( I even need it with a X!)

Cecille wrote 10 years ago:

Great article Holly! Indeed, love crosses border!

Roy wrote 10 years ago:

The immigration 'going' may get tough but true expats will tough it out doing it the 'right' way. The reward will be living without shadows from the fear of expulsion. Hang in there Holly!

Bennett wrote 10 years ago:

Agree with Roy's comment - nothing you want ever comes easy! Only slightly disappointed not to find any ice hockey references - though there would be mention of ice hockey "widowism!" ;)

Clare Coffey wrote 10 years ago:

Beautiful writing holly!! I was reading it through my tears!!! You really have found your fairy tale!! Good luck with it all!!! Lots of love clare xxxx

Holly Nelson wrote 10 years ago:

Ha ha re: ice hockey! I do have to sit through endless games, and was even made to watch an incredibly bloody film about ice hockey! I had no idea it was so violent! Luckily I like ice hockey. Baseball, however...that's another story!

Teresa wrote 10 years ago:

That was a great article Holly! I really enjoyed reading about what you like about Canada and learning more about you.

Nicola wrote 10 years ago:

I love how you write, amusing, interesting, quirky, relatable and honest. I feel like im sat with a cuppa next to you, just listening :) and Im seriously considering searching out my own Canadian prince charming!!

Teresa wrote 10 years ago:

What a great read! I'm sorry about the teaching situation in Canada. My two closest friends from high school went to teacher's college. One of them had to go abroad to England and China to teach and the other one is still in Ottawa, and still not teaching. The first one is back in Ottawa and has made it on the substitute list thanks to having taught abroad. Maybe you could stress that fact if you apply for teaching jobs? Yes, I think Canadians spend more time drinking at home than going to bars or pubs like in the UK. About being Canadian vs. being American: that's why we are so proud of Tim Horton's! It's what makes us Canadian and not American (in part). Yes, England is crowded. That's why I left England to live in Wales. Yes, I love Canadian politeness. Sometimes it may be fake, but most of the times it is sincere. And yes, I never sign off with x or kisses. Only my grandmother and aunt used to sign my birthday cards with xxx and kisses.

Charlie wrote 10 years ago:

What a beautiful, honest and inspiring piece of writing. You have definitely found your prince charming, but show that it wasn't an easy ride. I hope readers find courage to follow their hearts too, something us Brits don't do much of these days. Also, I definitely imagined you reading this with a Canadian twang. Though I'm not entirely sure what that would sound like! X

Deb wrote 10 years ago:

What a fairytale and a really inspiring story about moving a fair way around the world! I had no idea you were a teenage romance - it makes it even more romantic! Wishing you all the luck in the world x

Kim Dow wrote 10 years ago:

a disney romance? sounds perfect! forget teaching and become a writer! a great insight to real life, a big well done!xx

Wendy Walton wrote 10 years ago:

I LOVE your blog & hearing about your Canadian experiences! I miss home and I love reading little bits about it via your blog! Keep up the excellent blog & musings!

Darren Lees wrote 10 years ago:

Great Post! Love the insight.

French Girl wrote 10 years ago:

Hi! I met this awesome canadian guy while working in the gulf, we are in a relationship, and now communicate mostly through the net as he went back to canada. i would like to know him better to develop this relationship, and would like to be in the same geographical location, however since he just got accepted for his masters degree, it seems like he is staying there for the next couple of years.. :( what am i supposed to do?? I am 35 and french, and i know finding a job in canada is extremely difficult. any suggestions?

Franziska wrote 9 years ago:

Interesting article to read and to see how much has changed. I came to Canada in 1967 after meeting a Canadian soldier. When I went to the Immigration office in Germany the Canadian official asked me why I wanted to immigrate to Canada. I could not answer him as my English was very limited. As I was seven months pregnant it was easy to see why I wanted to get married and go there. He looked at me, smiled, and stamped the form. A week after that I was on a military flight to Canada. It was difficult at first but after three children I learned to love this country. The job opportunities I had in Canada I would have never had in Germany. Canada has been very GOOD to me. I started teaching ENGLISH in S-Korea 14 years ago, but I never regretted living in Canada for 30 years. Next month I will retire in Germany. Canada has changed a lot over the past 20 years.

Honey wrote 9 years ago:

I'm about to embark on a very similar adventure. Met my boyfriend whilst we were both working in Japan. I returned to the UK, he returned to Canada and now we are 7 months into long distance. My IEC has just been approved but I'm saving up some money before heading over to ease the pressure when I get there. It was interesting to hear about your experience, great article. Hope you are still getting on well!

Sandy wrote 9 years ago:

What a wonderful article! Enjoyed it so much. I hope to be able to write mine one day too! 6 years and still in it for love. Met my LDL on-line and 4 months later in person. I now visit New York every 3 - 6 months with the hopes that one day we'll get this worked out. Being in love with an Egyptian New Yorker has its challenges! All worth it though. Everytime we see one another, we just get stronger.

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