by Farhana Safa
Our Share Your Story Series highlights individual’s stories in the Redefining Traditional community – and aims to bring in different perspectives by student parents and supporters. If you have a story you would like to share you can submit your story here!: Share Your Story Submission Form
My journey in Canada began on 14th July, 2018, and since then it’s been a roller coaster experience for me. By roller coaster I mean it has been kind of frightening, challenging, and at the same time super exciting journey. I came here with my husband and with my 1.5 years old daughter, leaving my well-built career and loving parents back home in Bangladesh. I was not intended to leave my country anyway, however, my admission in the MScCH program in the prestigious DLSPH (The Dalla Lana School of Public Health) at the University of Toronto made me end up with the tough decision of settling in Canada. Moving to a new country with a toddler seemed to be extremely challenging, but I didn’t recognized the actual depth of this challenge until I arrived in Canada for the first time!
Although I applied for the University Family Housing six months before, I got it in August. Fortunately, my uncle has been living in Toronto for long and we were able to stay in his house for those 16 days transition period. My academic year at U of T started in September, so I had some time to accommodate myself within the new house and surroundings. However, that was not enough for me to overcome my baffled state.
As a first timer in abroad, I was engulfed by the new culture, not so used to language, and a substantial amount of uncertainties. One uncertainty, for example, we were not able to arrange our toddler daughter’s daycare during that minimal period. I felt like I was about about to completely shatter that time, and then my husband came to the rescue. He also registered in the Masters program at the University of Waterloo for Fall 2018, however, he dropped his semester just to look after our daughter.
We both were juggling to settle down in a new country, to adapt ourselves with the new life without any support system, and most importantly, to adjust with the weather! I am not a fan of cold weather and snowing made my life even more difficult. My daughter and I were constantly having cough and cold and frequently visiting the doctors.
Another major piece in this transition were my courses. Although I had extraordinary academic background back in my country, I was struggling to grab a hold to the comparatively new international curriculum. On one hand – I had the thrive to excel in my courses as I did always, and on the other hand – I had to look after my toddler, to manage the household chores, to do the groceries, and what not! Oh, how many sleepless nights there were! No one would believe that I didn’t enjoy the first snowfall, I didn’t enjoy Christmas, I didn’t even enjoy the ice skating at Nathan Phillips square!! I believe, I was reluctant to enjoy anything because my negative thoughts always grappled me over that time. But every coin has two sides and we just need to flip the coin. When I realized this fact, life and these new things started getting a little bit easier. I started enjoying the challenges I faced every day and rewarded myself with small things when I overcame those challenges.
With the flow of time, I am now in the verge of finishing my degree. I have some small but significant accomplishments. In professional level, I achieved high distinction in all of my courses; on a part-time basis I work at Canada’s largest addictions and mental health institute; I work at two non-profits; I involve in a few volunteer activities; my papers published in peer-reviewed journals; I advocate for mental health; and I participate in panel discussions. But these accomplishments are nothing when I compare these with my relationship to my daughter and my husband. We have developed such strong bonding over the past two years, which I believe could not be possible if we did not encounter the challenges together. Now, when I walk with my daughter to her school, play with her, doing home party with our near and dear ones, and talking to my husband about life over a cup of tea, my life seems successful and complete. So, yes, I would say, life is not easy always, but the perspective towards life could bring a positive change.