Christmas away from home…..

I moved to Canada in May 2013 with my boyfriend, now fiancé and much trepidation about whether or not I would stay. Come Christmas I knew that if I went home, there was no coming back, I still hadn’t landed my dream job and the place was bloody freezing, so the decision was made. Family would come visit and we would spend our first Christmas away from home. 

Happy with our decision we threw ourselves in to making Christmas in Toronto the best yet. We decided in order to feel close to our family and friends at home we would keep traditions going as well as start some new ones. With that said the tree was decorated presents bought and wrapped and the Christmas movies chosen, we were determined! However despite the fact that Christmas decorations seemed to be on steroids and Christmas music boomed from every store the whole place just lacked Christmas Cheer. I felt odd upon hearing “Happy Holidays” and missed the usual frantic preparations and celebrations of home. 
December 2013 brought the ice storm which turned Toronto into the most Magical Christmassy looking place on earth, but it also meant spending time outside was miserable. None the less we prevailed taking in as much of the festive activities Toronto had to offer, and there was loads to do…..way more that what we could hope to do at home.  

Despite my grumbling, we enjoyed our First Christmas away from home, we got to experience a very Canadian Christmas, hockey on Boxing Day, Tobogganing after dinner, walks in the park, and visiting a frozen Niagara Falls. Having my boyfriends’ family over definitely took the sting out of missing my family at home. That didn’t stop me from bawling like a baby on Christmas Eve though when I realised it was Christmas morning in Ireland and the excitement that was now engulfing my family. 

Advice to anyone away from home over the holidays, don’t compare every experience to home, remember the grass is always greener! Luckily we are living in an era where Home is only a Skype or FaceTime away, You can experience something really special here and bring your family on the journey with you. I called to hear all about Santa’s visit and to chat with family before they sat down to dinner. 
Now in my fourth year in Toronto, I’ve alternated between Home and Toronto for Christmas celebrations, and I can honestly see pros and cons for both, I am heading home in 4 weeks for this years Christmas celebrations and I can say with great excitement that there’s nothing like that journey home for Christmas….I can’t wait.
This article was written for Openmind to bring awareness committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. Contact aheeley@cmhaww.ca. For local mental health resources/information, visit http://www.mdsgg.ca

Sinéad x

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Paddy Box….Yes please?! 

One of the things that often comes up when a group of Irish expats get together is the chat of what we miss from home. Obviously there’s the big ones like family and friends but inevitably food will come up….for me it’s a Curley Wurley and Pickled Onion Monster Munch. 

Care Packages are always one of the best things to receive in the post, especially if your spending Christmas away from home. Your mam has definitely sent you a care package or two, and we know that serious effort goes into each item chosen. These items are sourced from all over and not only does she spend a fortune, but then posting the bloody thing would near break the bank!! 

Cue one of the best ideas I’ve seen in a long time, The Paddy Box….. these lads had the brainwave after seeing friends and family emigrating over the years! 

Each care package comes with 10 different goodies from home! You can also include a personal note which is then shipped ‘with Grá’ to anywhere on the world. 

Boxes start at €49.95 or CA$75.2 – €59.95 or CA$90.2 

If you want a Paddy Box in time for Christmas,( tell your ma) it needs to be ordered by 11th of December or for express delivery 20th of December

There’s a choice of classic Irish favourites like Barry’s tea, Tayto crisps, McDonnell’s Curry sauce and Cadbury’s chocolate, and more! 

Drop some major hints to your ma, by tagging her in this post and sure if she doesn’t get it, go’on order one for yourself       S xx

Ireland is……

“Ireland is…”, a collaborative poem performed by people in Ireland and around the world in aid of Focus Ireland.

On December 5th, Members of a popular Irish Facebook forum (omgwaca) were asked to submit lines about what Ireland means to them, and the most popular submissions were collated into a poem by Aidan Strangeman. Other members (and some of the original writers) from around the world, and in Ireland, sent videos of themselves saying selected lines.

Written by the members of OMGWACA
Collated by Aidan Strangeman
Video produced by Bob Murphy
Music by Hugh Rodgers
“Ireland Is…”
This is a poem about how important home is to all of us. It is disgraceful that so many will be without a home this Christmas. We would ask you to give as generously as you can to this campaign at http://www.tinyurl.com/irelandis, and if you aren’t in a position to donate, please share the video so it can be seen by people who are.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this project.

Don’t forget Donate here 

As if I’m not homesick enough at this time of year! 

P.s If your not a member of OMGWACA join, pure craic! SXx

From The Coolest to Most Hipster…

Calling all Donegal folk here in Canada…

Nat Geo Traveller recently came out with The Cool List: 17 for 2017, which ranked countries based on “culture capitals, hipster hotspots, wild escapes and places generally keeping it cool in 2017.”

gary-reddin-print-donegal-ireland-720x1018

Deadly print of the world’s coolest place by Gary Reddin

 

 

Donegal came in 1st place!!Described as “a weather-nibbled coast spotted with sea stacks, Blue Flag beaches and offshore islands, Donegal is a land that feels undiscovered.” Star Wars: Episode VIII  was recently filmed on the Inishowen Peninsula. This area of Ireland is also expecting 2017 to be a big year, reasons to visit, include surfing beaches in Magheraroarty and Ballyhiernan Bay to Horn Head — a driving, walking or cycling loop that squeezes the 1,600-mile Wild Atlantic Way into a 4.5-mile nutshell.

Canada landed in the 7th spot overall. Heres what they had to say about Canada-  2017 is going to be a hugely symbolic year for Canada — it’s the 150th anniversary of the Confederation, with celebrations including a tall ships fleet sailing along the coast in July, and summer-long events in Charlottetown, where the movement started. This is a year of openings as well as commemoration — from the zip-line along the gorge edge at Niagara Falls to a ‘seafood trail’ launching in Nova Scotia, and a new UNESCO World Heritage Site in Labrador, Mistaken Point. Add in free national park entry all year, Montréal’s 375th anniversary and the Invictus Games taking place in Toronto in September and it’s clear there’s never been a better time to be here.

 

The Cool List: 17 for 2017

  1. Donegal
  2. Santiago
  3. Helsinki
  4. Greenland
  5. Peru
  6. Aarhus
  7. Canada
  8. Portland, Oregon
  9. India
  10. South Africa
  11. Iran
  12. New Zealand
  13. Seoul
  14. Sudan
  15. Dusseldorf
  16. Sicily
  17. USA

Donegal folk in Canada you must be feeling pretty cool right now. S xx

The Late Late Toy Show, Explain that to your Canadian Friends?!

Last night it dawned upon a table of Irish 20-30 years olds, that this week is the week, it officially becomes Christmas in Ireland.

The Late Late Toy Show marks the start of the festive season in most Irish homes, with everyone from your granny tuning in! So why do we love the Late Late Toy Show? And how do we explain it to anyone who didn’t grow up in Ireland?zzzthelatelatetoyshowtrailer2014_large

Firstly and most importantly, the show will be available on the RTE Player, for any of you who want to continue the tradition, or for those of you who want to play the now famous Toy Show drinking game.

 
What normally goes down in the RTE studios on Toy show night.

1. The big act.

Did we not all nearly die with sheer joy when Boyzone came on to see Gay Byrne, Even with those dodgy outfits Last year, One Direction were the star attraction, But we all know Niall Horan has nothing on these lot. Check out Shane Lynch’s moves.

Great moves Lynch

Great moves Lynch


2. A bunch of exceptionally talented children will make you question your life.

Like. Let’s be honest, did we not all want to be a Billie Barry kid?!

late-late-toy-show-kids

3. At least one toy will malfunction.

The host inevitably, will get wild flustered and repeat “it will have worked earlier in the evening”.

Run Gay, Run

Run Gay, Run


4. You will spend the entire show waiting for Zig, Zag and Dustin to turn up.

5. One kid who will become a legend.

There’s always one really quirky/intelligent/stylish child. Who didn’t love John Joe the horologist??

John Joe

John Joe


6. Christmas Jumpers Everywhere!

Gay Byrne may have started the tradition, but Tubridy has taken it to a whole new level.

ryan-jumper-Collage-620x434

7. There will be “one for everyone in the audience”.

I would still sell my soul to sit in that audience.

toushow

8. We will all want to be five again

BOSCO

After every toy show who else starts the age old whine “when i was seven all i wanted was a (insert toy) and you wouldn’t get it for me!”

Now pour yourself a glass of wine, put on your Christmas jumper and get ready. S xx

Watch the trailer for this years show here!!! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Second a Day, For One Year In Canada

During my time here in Toronto, I have found comfort in meeting and chatting to people from “home”. These initial conversations I have with new faces are all the same (admit it, we all do it) “So how long have you been here?” “How do you find it?” You know the ol’ speel yourself. So imagine how delighted I was when I discovered this video whilst on my morning commute.

The video; which David gave us permission to use, charts his second year in Toronto.

He says of the video; “Before I turned 24, I was building up my career and working long hours, as well as exploring my new home in Toronto in my free time. I wanted to capture my time in Toronto and take on a fun project outside of work. I also wanted to show family and friends back home an updated view of my life, as I don’t get the chance to go home as often as I should.”

Taking inspiration from Kent Frost’s “Just A Second” video, David decided that this would be the best way to capture and share his new and exciting life.

Watching his video it’s amazing to see how much actually happens in a year. David’s Journey around Canada and the US, starting his YouTube channel and a Proposal! I’m definitely inspired to take on a similar project, what a great way to share your experiences with your family in Ireland.

Thanks for sharing David

S xx

So you’re applying for Permanent Residence

***Let me, start by pointing out that this article is absolutely not helpful to anyone applying for PR it’s merely the ramblings of a deranged woman in the process of applying.***

Applying for our Permanent residence status (PR) has been an all consuming process, one which I will happily see the end off. At this point I am in the pool of applicants all hoping to receive their ITA (thats “Invitation To Apply”, incase your wondering). For ourselves and most of the lads in the pool, its been a long process, most of us happily applied for our PR  in 2014, only to be told that the brains up in Immigration had taken a few too many applications. We were however reassured  that Express Entry was the answer to our collective prayers and we’d all be PR’D before we could say boo!

Well lads that was a lie! Being the first applicants in the new Express Entry system, I’m feeling well to put it mildly  p-ed off! Does any of this sound familiar?

comp1. Decision made; We’re staying in Canada! You’ve survived the winter you’ve enjoyed the summer and you aren’t ready to head back to the bosom of Ireland yet. You’ve looked into the necessaries and obviously Canada would be mad to turn down your application.

2. You log on to the CIC website and the memories of your last visit come flooding back. Yes the website is still awful, cleverly designed by a horrible bastard, who really wants you to work to find the particular section of the website you need.

3. Hopes and dreams start to dissipate when you realize that you and your (newly appointed commom law) partners, 30 years on earth earn you a measly 290 points in the eyes of the Canadian government…..FML

canada done

4. So much paperwork, so many hoops to jump through! Complete an online profile, join a job pool, even though you have a job, get your hard earned degree assessed and the mother of all kicks to the balls, Take an English test?! What I’ve a degree in English language, I’ve spoken it all my life, yet I have to go (hungover) and describe a fucking camping scene…..Go’on with yourself now Canada!

5. You look at houses to rent at home, because shur look it homes; home and shur couldn’t it be worse ( and all the other things you’ve been saying re going home)

i cant6. You are fully obsessed, everyone that knows you, knows you’re waiting for either the LMIA which will give you some much needed points/ a bridging visa/ the elusive ITA / your police check/ medical or the all important Permanent resident status reply

Some days it’s all you can talk about, telling anyone who’ll listen about the plight of yourself and all the poor craters applying for the PR. Others, well God bless the well meaning co worker who asks “any word of your PR?”

7. When waiting has just become to much for you, there are other things that might speed up the process, a novena to St Martha, reading the Secret (twice), visualizing yourself here, sending out positive vibes into the universe, buying tickets to a concert in September despite your visa being up in May!

Things that might actually help with the process

The Ican centre

The Irish and applying for PR Facebook page 

Good luck to all the people applying for PR, I hope this lightened your mood! Sxx