Accelerating Culture

Canada, a Foreign Country

I first arrived in Calgary with one purpose: to study English as a second language at the University of Calgary. At only 19 years I abandoned my family, friends, pets and the ocean breeze of my hometown Mazatlan, Mexico, in order to pursue my dream career in Canada.

It had always been a plan of mine to study Journalism at SAIT because of Canada’s high-quality educational system, it was just a matter of following through with the plan. According to Article 19, a group that tracks crimes against journalists around the world, Mexico is one of the countries with the most missing journalists. As much as I wanted to pursue this career path, I also wanted to be safe.Knowing that my country was one of the most dangerous countries in America to practice Journalism was a frightening thought, but also made it easier to make the decision to move.

I’m aware that most people move out when they go to college, but the difference is that I was going to be 2,502 miles away from home, and I had never been that far. Ever. When it comes to life it is said that some sacrifices are worth making, and that day I decided to make one of my own.

Being so far away from the people you love and the things you’re used to, requires a lot of hard work. It’s definitely not easy to abandon the cozy and magical place that is your comfort zone, especially when you’re forced out of it.

Living in a foreign country has been an emotional roller coaster for me. Only getting to see my family and friends one month in the whole year is the most difficult thing. After 19 years of seeing my loved ones every day, it becomes really weird to see a picture of the whole family hanging out together without me on a Sunday. It’s the worst because it makes you realize how far away from them you are and how much you miss them. Thank god for technology because I’m able to call my parents almost every day and talk with them.

Another aspect which has been an interesting adjustment to make is the food. I’ve tried to cook the traditional food that I was used to but failed in the attempt. The ingredients are not the same, some aren’t even sold here so I had to replace them. Don’t try it, it’s not a good idea. It doesn’t taste the same. In addition to all that, I also don’t have my mother’s amazing cooking skills, so to say the food quality was lacking, would be an understatement.

Sometimes, whenever I’m craving Mexican food and decide to go out, I come to realize that it’s three times more expensive here than it was back home! I usually try to convince myself to just leave it, but if the craving is unstoppable, I’ll pay the $15 for three tacos, while mourning the fact that back home they’re only $4 (and usually taste way better than anything I can find here).

It may sound cheesy but whenever I listen to music that reminds me of my city, or country in general, I get chills. It usually depends on the music or the lyrics, but whenever I’m feeling homesick and listen to certain songs, a certain sense of nostalgia overtakes me and I’ve been known to shed a tear or two.

Sometimes you may experience several different things when you’re abroad, that you think you would’ve taken them easier if you were still at home.

One time I was walking to a friend’s house with the help of Google Maps when suddenly my phone ran out of battery. I got lost and it was snowing. Luckily it wasn’t too cold out and I was fully-layered, but it was scary. Not for the first time did I find myself questioning what I was doing here.

As luck would have it a good Samaritan (who was lost as well but in the comfort of a car) gave me a ride to my friend’s house. Now that I think about it, I could’ve been kidnapped or murdered, but at the time it was the best solution I had, and I find myself looking back at that memory fondly.

As time goes on you face various struggles along the way. People you’d never considered disappointing you who do, getting yelled at for silly reasons, failing at something you’ve put a lot of effort into, getting rejected…I could go on, but compiled together, all these things really make you question yourself; is this really worth it?

Many times over, you think about calling it quits and going back home; forget the silly dream that you had yourself convinced would be worth it. You think about how you could go back to your friends and family where everything is butterflies and rainbows and nothing bad ever happens, and life is great still.

I have thought of that, but then I ask myself, what’s the point of going back? What would I accomplish then? There’s no gain when there’s no pain. I shouldn’t be looking back, only forward.

Even though it’s only been a year since I’ve moved to Calgary, I’ve seen breathtaking sights, met amazing people, tried different dishes from all around the world, and discovered a lot of things about myself that I wouldn’t have noticed before.

Being away from home has helped me become more aware of the person that I truly am and figure out what I want in life. It has taught me to set goals and to not only believe but also depend on myself.

When it comes down to it, I don’t regret moving from Mazatlan’s incredible sunsets to Calgary’s crazy weather. Of course I miss home, my family, my friends, my pets, the patio weather every single day of the year, not to mention the food! However, every time I feel discouraged, I think about the goals that I have and the incredible people I’ve met here, and that keeps me going.

I know there’s going to be tons of people out there that understand what I’m saying. Living in a foreign country is a challenge and it has its difficulties, but it’s a challenge that’s worth overcoming nonetheless.

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