Dan Howard moved to Ladysmith, Canada from the UK, with his parents when he was 16. He moved with his parents and 14-year-old brother.
So, you’ve picked the country you want to move to, you’ve secured employment, you know you can speak the local language, you’ve even saved up a little money in the bank….everything is in place to make your once-in-a-lifetime move, to a dream destination, reality. There’s only one problem — how are you going to convince your surly teenager it’s a good idea? Especially when they usually begrudge walking to the local shop with you, let alone, moving to a completely new country or even continent.
Unfortunately, this will be a familiar problem to many people considering emigration. Because once you have decided it’s the right thing to do all that is left is to convince your loved ones.
Most people who visit or are members of the Expatforum are already considering taking the leap and moving to another country. Amongst the concerns of these people are finances, prospective employment and the change in culture. However, one of the most common worry’s for people wanting to emigrate is the affect it will have on their children — whether taking them or leaving them behind. Wondering what changes such a move can have on loved ones can even prevent some people from emigrating at all. So, Dan Howard can help any prospective immigrants understand how it feels when the decision to move is taken out of your hands….
‘My Mum and Dad moved from England in August 2007,’ he explains. At just 16 years old it was more Dan’s parents decision than his own but looking back he seems able to understand why they decided to make the move. ‘We moved for several reasons, most notably because of the growing population, and escalating crime rates in England, which bothered Mum and Dad’.
Problems with your hometown’s culture and crime levels are often issues of complaint that lead to people wanting to seek a better life. However, parents may worry that their children won’t understand why they have uprooted them, especially if they are in their eenage years and have a large group of friends. However, whether it’s the benefit of spending two years enjoying the country or not, Dan, seems to have a completely positive outlook on his move to Canada. ‘I was really excited about coming over here,’ he explains. ‘It was hard saying goodbye to a life that was the only thing you’d ever known,’ Dan admits. ‘Moving from everyone you’d ever been friends with, as well as family and colleagues’. It’s understandable that the most challenging thing about moving to a new area, for young teenagers, is losing a tight-knit social group. Being something that most parents feel themselves, it seems the most important thing is to stress the excitement and new opportunity of moving to a new place. But to make sure Dan didn’t miss home too much, the family decided to bring along their pet. ‘We said goodbye to our cat about a week before the move, she went into quarantine and then flew with us — which ended up costing more than an adults plane ticket!’ Taking important things from home can often help ease the transition, making teens like Dan feel that they have some familiarity in their lives.
Rather than see the negative aspects about this challenging chapter in his life, Dan, quite cunningly, decided to use his upcoming migration to his benefit. ‘So you’ve basically just got to think of it as a big holiday – which it was for us’. He explains about the period just before they moved to Canada. ‘Having no more school (summer holidays) and having quit my job, it was basically a time to hangout with friends. There wasn’t really a “curfew” because of the old line, “but mum we’re moving to Canada I’ve got to say bye to everyone”‘. He says, confessing his secrets. ‘That line usually, in my case anyway, made them think twice about telling me to be home at a certain time’.
Another factor that helped Dan feel involved and excited about the move was the regular visits his family made to Canada. They viewed areas in Canada as a family before taking a group decision on where would be best to move to. Doing this meant Dan got an opportunity to view the culture and country he would be adopting, first hand and he got a chance to be involved in their decision of which city to move to. It’s details like this that made Dan feel like he was part of the choice to move rather than it being out of his hands.
Dan wasn’t the only one who was facing a big change, unlike a lot of people, who move to a new country with ready made friends or family, Dan Howard and his family moved to Canada ‘knowing no-one or anywhere’. Which meant they had to make a lot of effort to make friends and that it wasn’t till they got to Canada that they could work out the best place for them.
‘After checking out Calgary and Banff, my parents made a private voyage over here, and discovered Ladysmith, Vancouver Island’ Dan recalls. ‘They decided that this would be the perfect spot to begin our new Canadian life.’
As far as the rest of the move went Dan only seems to have positive memories. ‘We sold our house quite quickly and the move went seamlessly, without any major hitches. We said goodbye to all of our belongings 6 weeks before our move’.
‘We flew on the 3rd of August and became Permanent Residents on the 4th. It was such and amazing feeling to get our permanent resident cards, that meant we were legal citizens.
The whole family had to try and build a life for themselves in Canada, starting from scratch and there were a lot of changes for them. New schools for Dan and his brother, a new job for his dad, changes in laws, culture and even weather, took some time to master but Dan, surprisingly, seemed to take it all in his stride.
‘I entered the Canadian High School system at the beginning of Grade 11 (Year 12). I didn’t really notice a great difference between the schooling in the two countries – same mathematics, science, geography and computers. The only large difference was things we learnt in history. Like we learnt about the World War’s from Canada’s point of view rather than Britain’s’.
Dan’s ease at the move will certainly be a relief to parents worried about uprooting their child’s schooling. In fact, it seems that in Dan’s case it may have even improved his education and set him up with better qualifications. ‘After completing the two High School Diploma years of High School and graduating from Ladysmith Elementary School, I enrolled at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology). I am currently in the first year of the International Trade & Transportation (INTT) program and am hoping to obtain a Diploma of Technology at the end of the two-year course’. So, it certainly seems that any parents worried about their children’s education being affected by emigration can breath a sigh of relief. Although it obviously is dependent upon which country you move to, teenagers and children are resilient and like Dan can not only get used to but can make the most of new circumstances.
In Dan’s case, he seems elated that he lives in Canada and wouldn’t have it any other way. ‘It’s hard to say what the best thing about emigrating is — there are just so many’ he confesses. The first thing I noticed was the accent. I love the Canadian accent and the girls seem to love mine!’ Dan jokes. So, rather than ruin Dan’s social circle, moving to a new country seems to have improved it. But it’s not just Dan’s love life that has improved since moving to Canada, it seems he feels his job prospects are much better now too. ‘My future is much brighter now than when I was in England. I am going to college in Vancouver and unlike a lot of my friends at home I know they’ll actually be a job for me when I come out of it’. In fact Dan seems to love everything about his new home, even the fact that he now gets to have two passports!
So what’s his overall take on Canada? ‘I love it!! I am so pleased that my parents took the time and effort to think about moving us to another country. They saw it was the right thing to do and we moved before it was too difficult,’ he explains. ‘We love it here so much that we have even tried to convince some of our family to move over with us, we want everyone to enjoy the life we now have’.
It’s pretty clear then what Dan’s thoughts on emigrating would be. ‘I would suggest moving to another country to anyone,’ he says. ‘Although this is a large task to undertake, it is something that I would recommend to anybody. Aside from the goodbyes, and some, as embarrassed as I am to say, tears, moving countries is the greatest decision my family have ever made’. ‘So,’ he goes on to say, ‘if you’re bored with your country, feel like you need a change or are just curious you should look into emigrating’.
Despite his positive attitude to emigration Dan does have some words of advice, ‘I would stress, however, that you must do the research, obviously. It is something that will change your life dramatically, usually for the good but potentially for the bad, depending on how much research you have done. Many people who have moved over here have had to leave due to financial restraints and that’s not a process anyone wants to go through’.
All in all, Dan has a completely positive outlook on his move to Canada two years ago and seems to feel completely at home in his new country. So much so, that Dan wants to help make the transition easier for any other people who are thinking of moving. Which is why he joined Expatforum — to give advice to people so they can benefit from the same way of life he has now. ‘I hope that I will be able to upload any stories, help and knowledge that I have picked up, along the way, since my move to Canada,’ he explains. ‘And that anyone who reads this interview, or any of my posts in the forum, will be able to benefit from the decisions and experiences I have had since moving to this wonderful country’.
And Dan seems to want to keep the doors open for plenty more people to come and join him in Canada. ‘If you are currently in the stage of moving, considering applying, preparing to move or even waiting on the application status, I wish you good luck and perhaps we can meet for a beer when you’re over here’.
Despite the magnanimous journey, the huge cultural differences and the massive upheaval Dan has experienced, he seems to only have positive things to say about him migration to Canada. In fact, Dan, at the moment, would not even consider moving back home. Which just goes to show, it doesn’t matter what age you are or what country you are moving to, emigrating can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Thankfully for Dan and his family, he decided to greet the opportunity with open arms.