I decided to move to Canada in 2011 with a few of my colleagues when we all agreed Nigeria wasn’t going to get better anytime soon. The decision was based on a few factors. Some of which were; ease of obtaining residency and eventually citizenship, the quality of life, access and proximity to the United States and the professional opportunities that abound.
I was not new to living in a foreign land but the extreme cold weather gave me a lot of concerns. I came to visit Toronto in December of 2011 to experience the cold before making my final decision. Let me say this, No one can describe the harsh weather conditions, however bad you’ve imagined it, it’s ten times worse. I flew back to Lagos with mixed feelings only to arrive to the Enough is Enough strike. That pretty much made my mind up for me. I didn’t get to leave Nigeria for another 3 years for personal reasons, but that gave me enough time to plan for my inevitable move.
I had lived in the United Kingdom for 6 years when I was younger and albeit it has some similarities to Canada, it’s significantly different. For me, living in London is akin to living in Lagos where the job market is cutthroat and an air of survival-of-the-fittest is the norm of the day. If i had to make comparisons, Canada to London is like Ghana to Nigeria. I was tired of the Lagos madness so the calm and slowness was a welcome attraction for me. More about the ‘slowness’ in a different post.
If I were to go back in time, would I still pick Canada? Yes but for different reasons. In Canada, I have been able to progress in my career at tremendous speed. In any other country, I may need to resort to corporate politics or zero work-life balance just to get 10% of the things I’ve been able to accomplish here. Being a big fish in a small pond has its perks and I enjoy it daily as I learn and grow. I will also still choose Canada because unlike it’s North American counterparts, Canadians are largely loved by the rest of the world.
Safety and healthcare were also things that were very important to me and I haven’t feared for my life (knocks on wood) since the day I arrived. After being robbed at gunpoint in Lagos, it feels great to be able to drive at any time of the day without thinking about my safety. The only safety i think about on the road are other drivers. For some reason, Canada has very bad drivers. It’s no surprise the 401 highway has the highest number of accidents in the world.
Canada is not nirvana, far from it. If you’re looking for a land flowing with milk and honey, this is not it. If you’re looking for safety, good healthcare, a system that works, satisfying jobs where you are rewarded based on merit not who you know, then Canada may be for you. As a new immigrant, landing the first job is always a difficult task but once you do, it’s easy to rise to the top if you invest in yourself and deliver value.
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