No place like home

*This is a post I first put up over at Shop Wanderlust

Back in September of 2013, I moved from Montreal to Toronto. I had been accepted into graduate school in the big bad city, and at the tender age of 22 I packed my bags and left a city I’d called home my entire life.

It was a terrifying experience.

Montreal is a relatively small city in the grand scheme of well-known Canadian cities. You can travel around pretty easily, and most of the action happens in the same area. If you live close to “downtown”, you’re golden, kid. You can walk around, bike around, or skateboard around if you’re so inclined. All this to say, you won’t have to go too far to see your friends, family, or that spot where you consistently run into someone famous. Beyond that, Montreal is the city I grew up in. It’s where I met my closest pals, it’s where my parents and siblings dwell, and it’s where I found myself.

Moving to Toronto meant a few things. It meant adapting to a much bigger city where it feels like everyone lives in their own smaller city. It meant being on my own in a place I didn’t recognize. It meant having to navigate areas I’d never been to. It meant having to start over.

I’m more settled in now than I was in those first couple of months. But here’s the thing about change; it’s as enlightening as it is debilitating. Change will change you; Moving in particular will force you to re-examine what kind of person you are and who you like to surround yourself with. You will romanticize everything about your hometown when you leave it, and going back here and there will be undeniably fulfilling. And yet, your new city will make you better. It will force you to mature in the right direction. The days or nights where you feel disoriented are the ones in which you will grow the most.

There’s no place like home, but there’s much to learn when you leave it.


Stages of homesickness

  1. Move away. Immediately idealize your new city. It is unexplored, untouched, and generally rife with possibility. You’ve seen movies. You know how great this is going to be. Nod to yourself approvingly because OH MY GOD how brave are you to start over in a new place?
  2. Get settled in your new apartment. Learn the ins and outs of your new neighborhood. THERE IS SO MUCH TO SEE! WHO EVEN HAS THE TIME? LIFE IS FULL OF PRECIOUS BLESSINGS.
  3. Cry.
  4. See, you have come to the sudden realization that leaving the city your parents grew you in is both strange and unsettling. Maybe you’ll just take a nap today.
  5. Romanticize your hometown. It is perfect. You know it like the back of your unsteady hand. Your friends and family are there, and they GET YOU. Maybe you’ll just go back for a teensy visit and then oh holy stunted adulthood please don’t make me go back to new city.
  6. You know what? New city isn’t so bad. You are meeting people here, going out, and socializing. It’s going to be a process before this really feels like home but you’re totally starting to get the hang of it. YOU ARE NAILING THIS. CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU.
  7. Cry.
  8. You really are going out a lot though. You are having “the FUN”.  New city is a shiny treasure map and by golly you are one gung-ho pirate.
  9. Cry.
  10. Have a moment of clarity, wherein you understand that just because this isn’t easy doesn’t mean it’s not right.  You moved here for a reason, be it for your graduate degree, a job, or whatever else, and that wasn’t a decision you took lightly. You’ve made friends in new city, and you’re starting to understand how things work here. Change is twisted, after all. You’ll have dark nights where you call Status Quo up, begging it to take you back into its familiar arms. Ultimately, you and new city will get along like gangbusters. It just takes time, the right attitude, and some breathing exercises.