couples

The reality of moving your family half way across the world.

Katherine’s first challenge for her move from sub-tropical Northern NSW to Montreal was finding her three-year-old something to wear.

Her first day was spent shopping at the local charity shop for something that could keep her toddler and 7-month-old warm in a city that averages around -2 degrees Celsius in winter.

“I couldn’t find anything in Australia that was remotely suitable for this climate,” she said.

“I got the baby some woollen pants and a woollen jumper but I couldn’t find anything in size 3 in December that was suitable so for the first day I layered her up and then we got some stuff at the Salvation Army.”

Katherine's children Lucius and Akira rugged-up in Canada. Image supplied.

Just over a month ago, Katherine sold everything except a few keepsakes, clothes and toys to board a flight to Canada.

She checked-in 11 bags and waited for a stand-by seat along with four family members that were also travelling with her two children and her partner.

They filled up three airport-trolleys with luggage and the bags couldn’t go down the chute until there were seven free seats  - along with seven more for a connecting flight from Vancouver.

“It was a bit stressful,” she said. “There were just so many of us.”

Katherine’s father, Greg, said he “barely had a chance to say goodbye” because as soon as the seats were confirmed there was a mad rush. The luggage was thrown down three chutes and they all ran to the departure gate just in time for the first leg.

“Changing flights in Vancouver was a nightmare,” said Katherine. “We all had to get our bags and go through immigration together. So not only was I trying to organise my children but I had to keep up with the rest of them.”

The travel logistics, visas and jet lag was just the start. Katherine is trying out life in a new country.

“It’s huge. When you have got kids, you like a routine, then, you get thrown way out of your routine. You go across the world and everything is different.”

Katherine and her two children on the streets of Montreal. Image supplied.

“I was thinking ‘a couple of weeks we’ll be right’ - but we are a month in and we still have a growing to do list. It doesn’t seem to be shrinking.”

Katherine has made a good start - she has opened bank accounts, got a mobile phone, sorted out the kids’ healthcare and been to French story time but it can sometimes feel overwhelming.

“It’s not a simple process,” she said. “I can’t just go around the corner to my Medicare or Centrelink – I don’t even know what it’s called over here.

“Then they sent us the Medicare forms in French. My French is ok…I can order in a café and understand what the bus driver is saying to me but to fill out a complex Medicare form. I sometimes struggle.”

Katherine's daughter all set for a rainy day. Image supplied.

Despite the challenges and the weather Katherine says she find it help to go out and about.

“I am starting to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel and I am thinking once it’s all settled and we don’t have any chores to do we can just enjoy the city.”

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