November 12 2015

On Becoming a Canadian Citizen

As many of you already know, we landed in Canada a few years ago. I remember the very first steps I took in Toronto Pearson International Airport. They were shaky, unsteady steps, driven by curiosity, worry,  excitement and a mixture of ambition and fear.

Before coming here, we heard lots of mixed reviews of the country and its lifestyle. So we decided to learn from the experiences of others, without letting these experiences shape our own expectations or decisions. In short, we decided to live our own adventure with all its details, all its twists and turns, being prepared for the best as well as the worst case scenarios.

In Canada, and no matter where you’re coming from, you’ll suffer from what I like to call: ‘The Canada Shock’. Everywhere you go, you’ll experience this “we’re all different and the same” sensation.
Canada is where you hear a 100 languages you don’t speak, feel like a complete stranger,  then out of nowhere, and like music to your tired ears, someone passes you by, and you hear your mother tongue … you smile, they smile back at you (most of the time) and all of a sudden, you feel you’re home.
Canada is where you feel overwhelmed by the vast majority that is nothing like you; everyone looks different than you do, everyone dresses different than you do, but then you take a closer look and realize they’re, in fact, all like you: they reflect the mixed feelings inside them just as well as you do, they shop for clothes exactly where you do, and they all come from a different place on the map, like you, they struggle to build a new life, like you, and worry about mostly the same things you worry about… you feel at ease, you feel you’re all the same, you feel at home.
Canada is where people eat things like Poutine, Nanaimo Bar, and Maple-glazed everything 😀 , and then you crave hummus & falafel, a hot shawarma, or a steamy biryani, sushi, souvlaki, burgers, steaks, pad thai, or any weird thing you desire, and you’ll mostly find it… and feel at home.

In Canada you can be one of two groups of people. Those who insist on spotting the differences, letting them get in their way, and those who insist on spotting the similarities, overcoming the differences and going their own way. As long as you belong to the second group, you’ll lead a happy peaceful and successful life in Canada. Canada is not a perfect country, but it’s a very unique one.
I’m glad we didn’t let anything influence our journey. It was for sure a bit rough in the beginning, like many immigrants I guess, but with time we learned that you just can’t compare life in Canada to anywhere else in the world. It is indeed, a very unique place, like nowhere else. It has its own system, its own beauty, its own difficulties, and you can’t just get along if you keep comparing it to other places you’ve been, whether those places were better or worse in your own opinion.

This is my first blog post as an officially Canadian citizen, and if there’s anything I love about this country it’s the fact that becoming a Canadian citizen does not require you to hide your origins or forget your roots. And although some people are embarrassed of their origins and do “forget” where they come from, many Canadians don’t. They celebrate where they’re from, revive their cultures, and embrace their roots while beautifully assimilating to their new society. And this makes Canada the wonderful, one of a kind place it is. And this is what I’m gonna pass to my two boys Adam and Arkan: be proud of every drop of blood running through your veins, celebrate who you are, belong to here and there, love here and there, be loyal to here and there.
You might confuse your longing and nostalgia with the feeling of not belonging, you might feel lost and torn at times, but with time you’ll learn how blessed you are, how unique you are, and will learn to appreciate your life, enjoy your life, and love your life.

As for me, today I’m a proud Palestinian (by blood), proud Jordanian (by nationality),  proud Tunisian (by experience) and a proud Canadian (by nationality too).  And although I’ve been to many other places I loved so much and felt at home, but I feel these four countries have shaped who I am today the most, and hope to always represent a good example of all of them. As for being Canadian, well, so far I’m very proud of the outcome of the last elections, and can’t wait for the next elections to practice my right to vote 🙂 … and now, off to the kitchen where a very delicious maple pecan pie awaits me. 😀



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Posted November 12, 2015 by Eman in category "Canada", "Just Personal

6 COMMENTS :

  1. By Haitham on

    1st things 1st… sa7tain @ the maple pie 🙂
    ok, I am joking of course. Very good news Wallah, I can feel your positive attitude, glad for you :).

    I liked how u put it.. accepting the views of others but not letting them define your own lenses. That is how to do it, from the smallest things in life (trying new food?) to living in a new environment.

    I have two cousins who went to Canada; one still there with family and just settling in nicely and the other survived for 6 months only and could not stay, eventually came back, he was also with his family. It is a very “tailored” experience. No telling how it will lead or direct you. It all depends!

    Thanks for introducing us to some Canadian dishes/desserts 🙂

    I do not know if I can live outside of Jordan, I mean to actually live outside it! I don’t know but I never see myself having a nationality next to it. But I might be wrong, visiting other countries, even for prolonged times, is not the same as deciding to reside there and be a member. This makes the difference for me to say “might be wrong”

    Anyhow, and again, I am glad to hear this news because you are happy about it, it shows throughout your words which is what counts. Happy voting and what not 🙂

    *** I noticed that “weather” did not occupy a key element in your post. Maybe because it was not that much of an issue, not sure. But Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia all are very different in that to Canada (among many more factors surely). Just a thought, that is all (I cannot deal with the winter in Scotland, I cannot imagine something like Canada’s! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) 😀

    Reply
  2. By Eman (Post author) on

    Ok, 1st, 3ala albak 🙂 I love baked goodies so much more than anyone could imagine, and love to bake as much.

    Thanks for the congrats, and glad you enjoyed reading. And yes, I’m happy because it was not easy. Although I know many who were less fortunate than us, and compared to them our ride was a smooth one .

    You’re absolutely right, immigration, especially to a place so different like Canada, is a very personal experience. There are no rules, no guarantees, nothing to ensure everyone is successful, or better say, everyone is happy, because many I know were successful but couldn’t take it here and left. Starting from zero is not an easy thing, and the older you are, the harder it becomes for you to accept throwing everything behind and starting out from scratch.

    As for living outside Jordan, and speaking for myself here, I’ve always been very flexible with moving, I always had it hard at the start no matter where I was, but I always managed to adapt and belong. Maybe it was my upbringing, or what my goals were at that time, or the circumstances… maybe all, I don’t know. And yes, going on a business trip, or on vacation, or to study, is nothing like actually living in a place and knowing you’re there to stay. And again, it’s different from one person to another. So there’s no right or wrong, if you don’t see yourself outside a certain country, then you just don’t, it’s how you are, and there’s nothing wrong about it.

    And that’s why here in Canada, I feel so bad when I meet people who just didn’t see themselves outside their home-countries but were forced out of them for one reason or the other. 🙁 But unfortunately, many insensitive individuals who see these people struggling and complaining about not being able to adapt tell them to just: “go back to where you came from if you don’t like it”…

    Oh, and as for weather, I didn’t mention it because 1: it needs a separate posting 😉 2: although I never was a winter person growing up, but as a grownup I have turned into a winter freak, I love winter, and adore the harsh Canadian ones in specific, people I know here hate me for it, but I can’t help it, it’s an adventure by itself… and to be honest, when you have the adequate gear, you get to enjoy the weather… I used to hate how cold it was in London, LONDON, now I’m enjoying the -40s right next to the Arctic 😀

    but keep checking, will post about weather in Canada soon 😉

    Reply
  3. By Haitham on

    I am glad, again, you are in good “vibes” with Canada 🙂
    U mentioned a key word; belong/ing. It is all about that. My experience, as well as my family’s, in living outwith Jordan is not that extensive nor “deep”. Only 2 countries one of them a neighbouring Arab country. It has a lot to do with upbringing I suppose. Add to it some immediate circumstances that affect how you view what “home” is. Of course no judgmental value is attributed to any decision here, only speaking from my own lenses. Maybe being, sort to speak, an immigrant “to” Jordan has something to do with it. I don’t know!
    *** it needs a separate posting. It surely does! “-25 is the average around here” is a phrase that keeps buzzing in my mind now. I was “contemplating” to pursue my studies in Canada – Toronto or Vancouver but hearing that was the deal-breaker (for not applying :P)

    ———-
    Awaiting skiing,snow-fighting, etc post 😀

    Reply
  4. By Eman (Post author) on

    Thanks for your comment Haitham, may you always be where you wish to be 🙂

    And just to let you know, Vancouver has one of the mildest winters in all of Canada, it has beautiful summers and very gentle winters -compared to the rest of Canada- and again, trust me, once you have the right winter gear on, you’ll actually enjoy winter here. Why don’t you give it a visit and have a first hand experience, also kids usually LOVE snow, so your little girl will surely enjoy a nice winter vacation 🙂
    Anyways, stay tuned for a frosty wintry post 🙂

    Reply
  5. By Haitham Al-Sheeshany on

    “beautiful summers” = minus how much 😀

    I know for a fact that my family would love such environment/weather. This past weekend it snowed in Glasgow. Kids and Mum went out and built a snow-BEAR! I ,of course, stayed inside and watched them through the window (someone needed to stay with our youngest – perfect excuse) 🙂

    But even she had the chance to play with snow the day before (I was at work). They all went mental by the snow.
    ==========
    I was very close to accepting an offer from a university in Canada! (not in Vancouver though, Toronto). Who knows, maybe we can visit one day before returning home.

    Reply
  6. By Eman (Post author) on

    LOL! no seriously it’s very nice there, really.

    A snow bear? now that’s creative! and well, thanks to the little one, you got away with it this time 😉

    Sounds to me like your family is cut for Canada, they can make a whole forest out of snow 🙂

    Toronto is very nice, very busy, very cold 😉 but your best bet is visiting in person, you’re the only one who can make the call for whether you can take the cold here or not.

    Winter post pending 😉

    Reply

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