I have been a terrible hostess. Were this a dinner party, you probably would have made an excuse ages ago about why you have to leave early. Maybe something about having an early morning meeting or needing to feed your dog. The real reason would be that you felt completely abandoned by your hostess. She offered you appetisers, but the main dish, not to mention dessert, never came. You managed to get her to give you a glass of water, but you’re still waiting for the wine she offered.
I’ve promised to fill you in on certain parts of my story, and I haven’t kept my word. Not only that, it’s been nearly a year since my last post. Someone asked me recently when I posted last and my answer was “about six months ago.” Clearly, I’m living in some sort of a time warp. Actually, that does rather accurately describe the way I feel about the life limbo I’ve experienced these last couple of years.
So, I invite you back to the dinner party in which we search for a short response for me to use when someone asks, “Where are you from?” I’ll make it up to you. The main dish is ready, and dessert is in the oven. The wine is poured.
So, why did one year in Canada become seven?
London, Canada is a black hole for me. Seriously. That’s really the best explanation I can come up with. It sucked me in, and each time I was close to leaving, it enveloped me again. I guess it had more to teach me. I contemplated trying out a different city – one less conservative and larger, which is what I’m used to – but the whole reason for moving to London was to reconnect with friends and family. Travel from city to city or province to province in Canada takes hours or days and it’s very expensive. Case in point, I have wonderful friends in Vancouver, but it was cheaper to fly to Warsaw when they visited there than it was to fly to Vancouver to see them. So, I chose to stay in London.
A word of advice. Maybe don’t turn down buying a company in a country whose economy grew by 1.9% during the economic hardships of 2008/2009 and move to a city whose economy suffered greatly. (Mind you, I think everything happens for a reason, so this isn’t a real regret.)
It took me 6 months to find a job in London. This was a great lesson in patience and ego for me. Until this point in my life, I had been very lucky when it came to work. Job offers found me. For example, the theatre company that I worked for in Edinburgh was owned by a Polish actor whose best friend from Warsaw, ED (who has the best moustache ever), would come to Edinburgh each summer to work with us. When a Warsaw company was looking for someone, ED suggested me. They offered. I said yes. Next up, a colleague (and dear friend) from Warsaw moved back to London, England. His friend was looking to fill a position, and MH recommended me. They offered. I said yes. This cycle continued. Until I went to Canada.
I had left Canada as a teenager, and I didn’t have many contacts there. In addition, at 30 years old, I finally had to learn how to job search. I had been recruiting staff and voraciously throwing terrible CVs in the bin for years, but now that I was on the other side of the table AND the ocean…I wasn’t sure where to begin. I’ll be completely honest here. It was a huge hit to my ego. I was used to having a reputation (a good one, I hope) in my industries, and I had gotten used to being the boss. I found myself starting over, and it didn’t feel great. However, there are valuable lessons to be learned in difficult times, and I think mine was to let ego go. And I really did. A programme for job seekers in London was recommended to me, and I was sent to WIL: Women Immigrants of London. Yep. Here I was in the country I was born in and have a passport for, and I was considered an immigrant. Yes, okay, in all fairness I did feel like one. I also sounded like one with my British/Euro accented English, and to top it all off I had no idea what EI, CPP, or WHMIS were. (It turns out they are government services and regulations that I only comprehended once I figured out their British or Polish counterpart.) Nevertheless, I learned what I needed to know about Canadian CVs and I learned something about conservative London: Organisations there prefer to hire people with Canadian degrees and work experience. My quality UK degree and my international work experience were frowned upon…in a country that is renowned for being multi-cultural. Hmm. Open-minded is not a word I was associating with my experiences in London at this point. Fortunately, I found (the) one organisation that was looking for someone with my international qualities and skill set. I said goodbye to management and went back to teaching. I took a position teaching international students who were beginning their studies at Western University.
Wonderful. Now the saving and planning to move back to Warsaw the following year could begin, right? Nope, not quite…