Day 22: Expectations

When I moved north, I had not really thought about the expectations I had. At the time of our move, my hands were full with a two and three year old. I expected things would be a little challenging as I would not have the support of my mom; nor the help of the maid who came twice a week to help with housekeeping. I knew we would no longer be living in a house in the suburbs but in an apartment in the city. I expected that it would take time to find work as I had heard stories from my family members who had left South Africa.

The reality of the move, though, was far harder than I had expected. Searching for a job not only took a long time, but became extremely frustrating. Work experience in South Africa was disregarded as the same question was asked: “What Canadian experience do you have?”. Walking to the supermarket and library became a challenge during the winter months when my young toddlers did not want to go out into the icy cold winds. My expectations of living in a safer environment, though, were realised as I have often walked the streets with no fear of being mugged. We feel secure in our apartment and know, if we were to move into a house, we would still experience that sense of security. 

We have experienced things that we did not expect in our move to Toronto. However, we have adapted and have come to accept many of the idiosyncrasies of this city.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s guest prompt is: expect)

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Day 21: A Taste of Tim’s

The second time I tasted a Tim Hortons coffee, I was hooked.

Before arriving in Canada, I had not been a regular coffee drinker: my hot beverage of choice was rooibos tea – unsweetened and without milk. However, whenever my mom had percolated coffee on her stove, I would take a cup. But never at any other time. My coffee-drinking habit changed with a visit to Tim Hortons, a Canadian brand coffee shop. On a previous visit with my husband, I had had a regular coffee and it was a drink I did not think I would repeat.

When drinking coffee with a colleague, she suggested I try the vanilla coffee – and I loved it! I enjoyed its flavour, the touch of sweetness and the fact that the coffee taste is not too strong. When drinking this flavoured coffee, I find no need to nibble on a biscuit or eat one of the coffee shop’s timbits or doughnuts. Instead I find the drink satisfying on its own and have discovered it keeps me going for a while longer until my next meal.

Now every time I meet someone for coffee, I suggest Tim Hortons so that I can taste once more the second flavour I tried there.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: second)

Day 20: Fear

It was fear that brought us to this place so far away from home.
Fear of crime,
Fear of injury,
Fear of death.
It was fear that drove us to move away,
Far away,
From the imbalances that affect our country’s security.
It was fear for our children’s lives,
Fear for their future,
That drove us to fly across the world.
It was fear for our children that motivated us,
Each and every day,
To not give up.
To struggle.
To strive for that moment when
All we feel is hope.
Hope for the future.
Hope for the children.
And hope that it is not all in vain.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: fear)

Day 19: Canadian Citizenship

The day we became Canadian citizens dawned like ever other day. The sun was shining outside and the breeze was a little cool. Many years had passed before this day; days that had been filled with hope, despair, and plenty of determination. On this particular morning, my family and I took our time dressing in our best clothes. We believed the ceremony to be a milestone of our stay in Toronto and wished to honour it well dressed.

The building in which the ceremony took place is like any other in Toronto: tall and faceless. We entered it and took the elevator up to the designated floor where we found the room easily. People were milling around the corridors waiting for the event to begin. Some were alone while others were chatting quietly with family members. When it was time, we all took our seats and listened to the judge that addressed us. He stressed the honour that was being given to us; and shared with us his own experience of becoming Canadian. I remember the ceremony ending with us all swearing allegiance to the Queen and then singing “O Canada” for the first time as Canadian citizens. We pinned the small Canadian flag we received onto our jackets and went to celebrate this milestone in an adjoining room with our new fellow Canadians.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: honour)

Day 18: Tastes and Flavours of Home

I did not realize when I left home that I would miss the tastes and flavours of South Africa. I took for granted the salty taste of biltong, the sweetness of a mango, the creamy sweetness of the Eat Sum More shortbread I could easily buy at the supermarket. I never thought there would be a time when I wouldn’t be able to eat a slice of wholewheat Albany bread spread with Koo apricot jam, or a slice of hot toast slathered with butter and anchovy paste. Packets of Simba chips were taken for granted as well as glasses of Liqui Fruit – with no sugar and preservatives added. I did not realize that I would be unable to buy guavas when they are in season, or sip a cup of pure rooibos tea while eating a sticky koeksuster.

Moving North I have had to forgo the tastes and flavours of my childhood and adapt to new ones. I have tried many (such as pumpkin pie) and found that I do not enjoy it. Turkey I eat when offered, but it is not a meat that I shop for. I have enjoyed blueberries and often sweeten my porridge with maple syrup. Dried cranberries have become a delightful addition to salads. My experience of Canadian tastes, though, is that they are much sweeter than what I am used to. Biscuits (cookies), cakes and muffins are sweeter as are soft serve ice-creams and juices. Sugars seem to be hidden everywhere and, if not vigilant, one can unexpectedly bite into something that has been heavily sweetened.

I have adjusted to the Canadian tastes and no longer wish for South African tastes everyday. However, whenever we visit home I make sure that I enjoy some of the tastes of my past.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: taste)

Day 17: Longing for Home

As I have adjusted to life in a large North American city, days are lived as in any other part of the world. We go to work, eat together, watch television, and go out as we would if we were living in South Africa. There are times, though, that I long for home and the family we have who still resides there.

Often these moments occur during times of celebration. Christmas has always been for me a time of family and, even though I spend a wonderful time with my husband and children, I do think of those that are living in Africa: siblings, parents, nephews and nieces. I think of everyone getting together and sometimes wish that we could join them. Even though Christmas brings out the fiercest longing, I do think of those back home when Easter comes around, when our birthdays are celebrated, and when the children graduate to the next stage of their schooling career. I think of my mom often and wish she could join us when the children participate in a concert, or when we celebrate an eventful occasion in our lives.

I realise that this longing will be something that I will always have within me. And, with this acceptance, I am able to enjoy the moment and to be content with the family that I do have around me in Toronto.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: long)

Day 16: Adjusting to the Cold

One of the hardest things to adjust to since my move north has been the temperatures. I grew up and lived most of my life on the South African highveld. Winters are short and relatively mild. I remember attending school wearing bobby socks and a skirt. Our legs were cold, but we managed. Winter nights were spent cuddled under blankets and wearing flannel pyjamas. We used to use heaters for a few weeks to keep us warm and, in a very short time, we used to do without any sort of heating.

Winters in Toronto are much longer. Cool days begin in October with the changing of the leaves. Our first year here, we felt that winter had already arrived and it was only October! We soon learned that those temperatures were only the beginning of the cold days ahead, discovering that temperatures below zero are commonplace during the winter. We quickly found out that they right type of clothing is needed in order to be comfortable. Our first winter here we went boot shopping and coat shopping – as well as shopping for gloves, hats and scarves.

My children adjusted quickly to the cold and I am now able to withstand colder temperatures better than I used to. I still do not enjoy the cold, however, and in the coldest winter months still long for the warm winter days I experienced as a child growing up in the Southern Hemisphere.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: adjust)

Day 15: Life Changes

My life changed even more than in the preceding years when I migrated north. There were times when I felt I was still adjusting to being a wife, a stepmother, and a mom. Changing countries added yet another dimension to the changes I was experiencing. I had accepted these changes when I agreed to marriage, and then to relocating. My acceptance of them, however, did not make them any easier to bear.

I have mentioned already that the move made me more self reliant and resilient. Becoming a mom without any outside support brought about changes as well. I slowly came to be more demonstrative (I certainly could not help hugging my children) and more creative with my time (cooking was often done on the fly while keeping an eye on two toddlers). I quickly learned to be less strict about the neatness of my home – the children seemed to bring with them a little chaos and I did not have a servant to help me clean up. I definitely learned to go with the flow as young children cannot be rushed to eat, to wake up, or even get ready to go out.

Moving north altered my marriage too. I believe the move made our marriage stronger. We learned to rely on another, to trust in one another, and to get comfort from one another. My husband and I have spent much time together talking together as friends. We have planned things together, steadied one another during rough patches, and laughed together.

My life did change when I migrated north. And it is a life, with all of its ups and downs, that has been lived for each moment.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: life)

Day 14: Returning for a Visit

We had been away from South Africa for about five years when we returned for the first time. What struck me as we entered Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg was not the alterations and additions that had been done to the building, but the friendliness of the people who greeted us. It was like a breath of fresh air in comparison to the often distant people we come into contact with at the Canadian airport and in Toronto.

We loved being back home after being away for so long. We fit right in and at moments it felt like we had not been away at all. We savoured the moments spent with family, snacked on South African treats such as Biltong and Nik Naks, enjoyed the warmth of the sun. And of course braaied boerewors.

We did notice some changes though. New buildings had gone up, the service at some places had improved while at others it had deteriorated. And even though changes had occurred, there were some things that stayed the same. A person still had to be vigilant when entering a property, cars still had to be locked when left in roads or parking lots. Pedestrians and shoppers still had to keep their handbags close to their bodies.

Leaving at the end of our vacation was difficult. The reasons we had left South Africa had not disappeared and yet our hearts still resonated with the country. As we were leaving and saying goodbye to our family, we looked forward to the time when we would visit again.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: away)

Day 13: Working

It has now been two and a half years since I have been working as a teacher in Toronto. Weekends are now spent doing things I used to do over the week while I was staying at home. Household chores are attended to, grocery shopping is done, time is spent helping my children with their homework, and lunch is eaten with my family.

Not much time is spent going out over the weekend as we used to. Often when Saturday arrives, I decide not to go to an event as I would rather spend the time resting. Sometimes the rest period is spent reading, watching an episode of my current TV show on Netflix, or spending time on Skype chatting to my mom.

There are times I bring my work home. Sunday afternoons are often spent planning my week’s lessons. I prepare activities for the children, or spend time writing out songs or creating posters on chart paper. The time of the year affects my weekends too. Report card time means that I am logged in onto the system inputting comments for each of my students.

There are times when I feel that the work never stops. But once deadlines have been achieved, I stop to take a breath and enjoy the moments spent not working.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: work)