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Two and a half years ago our family did a whirlwind mission to Canada where we visited Montreal, Ontario, and BC.
Canada is a beautiful country. But Canadians surely know that already. BC is majestic, imposing even.
Yet, despite the opportunities we knew Canada would bring, we weren’t ready to make a final emigration decision back then.
Why? Well, because I’m from Durban, South Africa and the idea of emigrating was both intimidating and complicated.
And the idea of it was also sad. We would be leaving behind our roots, history, friends, family, and local shops where everyone knows our names.
However, we made the decision to officially emigrate from South Africa to Canada in 2020.
We landed in Kelowna on November 12, 2020. That was the first time I had experienced snow in my life. Back home in South Africa the average annual temperature is 25°C.
Emigrating amidst a pandemic exacerbated our sense of isolation. Not only did we not know anyone in Kelowna, but the COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible to change that.
It was hard, I felt overwhelmed and panicked. What was I thinking uprooting our family and heading to a land we barely knew?
It’s six months later and now I leap out of bed with zest. There is so much space to breathe here, so many new adventures awaiting us and a new found feeling of elation.
So, here are the top 10 things I have come to love about Kelowna:
1. Opportunity was the key factor in our decision to emigrate. Our children are working part-time jobs and now have the option to go to world-class universities. My husband and I have also found fantastic jobs.
2. The lack of crime in Kelowna is very different from back home. We feel safe to go on walks, recline in the parks and linger on the beaches in the evenings.
3. We've just welcomed a 9-week Dane. There are so many dog-related things to do in Kelowna. Not only is Toby meeting new friends, we are too!
4. Seeing people pulling over for ambulances gives me goosebumps each and every time. It’s selfless and respectful.
5. There is acceptance, kindness and encouragement of self-expression everywhere in Kelowna.
6. Hanging flower baskets are such a quaint pop of colour that energizes my soul and brings an instant smile to my face.
7. So many people have tattoos here, and there are many tattoo shops. I do love a tattoo … or two, or three. So do Canadians. Ah, we are kindred spirits.
8. There are a plethora of cycle lanes that allow for safe exploration of the city. I find the varied modes of transport delightful! Seeing everybody out and about on the streets is so up-lifting.
9. Distinct seasons means we went snowboarding for the first time in our lives at Big White! Now we're tanning on the beaches and swimming in the lake. I also have the excuse to shop for both a winter and summer wardrobe.
10. There are so many sports cars. Wow! We also stare in awe at the lake dotted with boats and yachts with their impressive sound systems.
One thing I don’t like about Canada: There is no biltong. It is a South African delicacy similar to jerky but it differs in regard to ingredients, flavour and texture, and the production process. We miss it a lot!
Thank you Kelowna, again, for your welcome, the opportunities and for allowing my family to begin our new adventure to thrive here in beautiful Canada.
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