How to emigrate.

Me leaving my hometown for good. June 1 2008

It's exactly two years ago today that we emigrated to Montreal from Newcastle in England. Well, I emigrated, my husband just came home after popping out for 15 years. (I think he forgot the milk). A friend once told me it took her two and half years to get used to living abroad. At the time I thought this was a ridiculous statistic, but now I am revising this estimate upwards. I'm expecting it to take another year for me to feel settled. But here are a few tips if you are thinking of starting a new life in Montreal.

1. Don't emigrate during a world recession. Not unless you want to wait 18 months before you can sell your house in England.
2. Save money and don't ship all your stuff. You can furnish a house here with what people put out on the street. There is a great tradition of garage sales all summer, some of them involving the whole street. Also if people have no more use for something they put it out on their lawn and by morning it is gone (usually to our house).
3. If you want free French lessons and lots of them - move to Quebec. Also if you're got O level French and you're in your 40s it might be time to brush up before moving here. I'm about to finish my 33rd week of French (12 hours a week). For me it's the English words they use which throw me. Shop assistants are forever asking me about herr-marls. (I could not work out what strange French word this was until I realised they were asking me if I had air miles on my credit card.)
Actually it's the English words AND the French words which throw me unless.....they.......speak......very .......slowly.
4. Develop strong neck muscles. You are going to be kissing everyone twice. Even complete strangers.
5. Work on your jazz appreciation. Howard Moon would love it here.
6. Learn to drink out of bags of milk.
7. Throw yourself into winter activities. Buy second-hand ice skates and cross-country skis and make like a Canadian. Then ask yourself why a lot of Montrealers are in Florida for the entire winter.
8. Don't ever admit you cannot see the puck on the ice. Just listen for the pounding rock music - this means someone has scored.
9. Find out what sugaring-off is and then go and do it.


  1. Done and done. Though I may be a true naturalized Canadian, as I now have aspirations to Florida winters...


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