Canada didn't work out for me, but I'm glad I tried
Homesickness was overwhelming and my nursing degree was ‘non comparable’, but Vancouver has been fun
‘I was allowing homesickness to ruin my experience in Vancouver, and I worried it was also ruining my boyfriend’s experience. So I decided to put my feelings for home aside.’
This time last year, at 24 years of age, I was living in my family home in a little village in Co Meath. I had a nursing degree, and had fallen into a great job after university. I had little to spend my money on but myself. I had my mother’s car at my convenience. I was in a steady relationship. I was just back from my second trip to Florida in three years and I was looking forward to a girls’ holiday in Greece. Surrounded by wonderful family and friends, I was happy and healthy.
But something was missing. I had never lived away from home. Many of my peers embarked on summers in America or semesters in France and Spain during university. At the time, none of this appealed to me. I was a home bird. I didn’t want to spend a summer away from my family, or leave my boyfriend for months.
But at 24, my feet were getting itchy. My friends were moving to England to nurse, or to Australia. For me, England seemed too close to home to make a big move, and Australia was too far away.
I spoke to my boyfriend and to my surprise, he wanted to travel too. Suddenly, we were applying for Canadian work visas.
We chose Vancouver, where I imagined my life would be full of adventure. I imagined groups of new Canadian friends. I imagined working in a hospital where I would meet different types of patients and build my career experience as a nurse.
Our visas were granted and we booked our flights. I handed in my notice to work, and on September 25th 2015 we left our life in Ireland behind and moved to Vancouver, BC.
When we first arrived everything was so exciting. After five years of living two hours apart, my boyfriend and I were searching for our own apartment. My nursing registration was still in process, so I got a job in retail, which I thought I would need to keep for two months max.
Work got busy as Christmas approached. The days were cold and the nights were long and dark, and homesickness started to creep in. I was so torn between longing for my family and friends, and wanting to stay in Vancouver and give my new life there a proper go.
Being away from home was even harder when my cousin passed away at the end of November. All I wanted was to be at home, but I also knew she would have been so annoyed with me if I left my Vancouver adventure behind too soon.
We spent Christmas in America with my boyfriend’s brother. It was the closest to home we could get, and we ended up having a great time.
January came, and I was now working full time in retail. My nursing registration was taking longer than expected.
Myself and my boyfriend dealt with missing home in very different ways. My way was certainly the more emotional one. While talking about how we found living together, he told me he hadn’t thought I cried as much as I do. That struck me hard. I hadn’t noticed how much my homesickness had upset me, but I was crying at least three times a week. In Ireland I barely cried at all.
It was then I told myself to cop on. I was allowing homesickness to ruin my experience in Vancouver, and I worried it was also ruining my boyfriend’s experience. So I decided to put my feelings for home aside.
With my retail job, my schedule was all over the place. I was sleeping in late most days and I was going to bed late most nights, which meant I was spending a lot of time by myself, which I knew wasn’t good for me. So I changed my schedule to correspond with my boyfriend’s. I began to work out, and eat healthier.
By the time March came I was really happy. I was having incredible experiences in Vancouver and my relationship was the best it has ever been. We had new friends, and were having the time of our lives.
But at the back of my mind, I longed to get back to working as a nurse. This time last year, although nursing was my dream job, I was finding it really tough and I doubted if it was the career for me. But by March I had enough of a break and wanted to be nursing again. I longed for it.
Then I got the news that my Irish nursing degree was “non comparable” to the Canadian nursing qualification. I was heartbroken. My university had sent incomplete documents to the registry board here and I would have to spend a lot of money and time to start the process all over again. By the time I got registered, did the exam and the extra courses required, the time left on my visa would almost be up.
I was also going to have to save all the money for the process again, which essentially meant no Vancouver adventures. I decided to give it some time to think.
Homesickness hit me hard after my best friend left after a visit, but I managed to pull myself out of it. Vancouver is especially beautiful during summer. It’s getting really hot now and we are starting to make exciting plans for the summer.
I have decided not to reapply to work as a nurse in Canada. It obviously wasn’t meant to be. I’m ok with that, but it does make me sad to think of all the opportunities I could have had for my nursing career here.
For the first time in my life I don’t know what my next step is going to be, but I intend to get back to work as a nurse as soon as I can. I’ve come to realise that being a nurse is part of who I am.
I came to Canada with expectations which didn’t transpire. But now I am more ready for adventure than ever before. I am 25. I am happier and healthier than I have ever been. I feel great about life.
Come at me world.