Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Moving From Canada to America: The O.C.

Imagine that you are fourteen years old, living in Toronto, Ontario and really excited to start high school with all of your childhood friends in the Fall. Your parent's sit you and your brother down to tell you that your family is going to be moving away. I thought to myself "OK we're moving neighborhoods again." And then the bomb was dropped. Your family is going to be moving countries. We assumed that it's going to take months to prepare a move like this. We were wrong. My family was moving from metropolitan city Toronto to beach town Newport Beach, California in the next month.

My brother and I knew that my parent's were having marital problems, but we had no idea that they would make the decision for all of us to move Countries. My father was working with his brother at the time on his accounting business software so my father was able to arrange a work visa for himself and try to open up an office in the States. Instead of my parent's separating again they decided that they would give it another try and move us away for a fresh start.

My brother and I were shocked. First we knew were going to miss our childhood friends. Second we couldn't imagine our new home as we had never been to Newport Beach before. We had been to Disneyland and had visited L.A. once, but I had never thought that we would move to California. Third we wondered if our parent's would stay together as they were having many problems. Of course we were willing to try, but we were very scared of the change. My mother told us at least we all have each other.

At the time there were no shows like Laguna Beach or The O.C for us to reference. (Everyone always asks me what was it like going to high school in Newport Beach. And yes it was similar to the shows. Crazy I know.)

After a lot of tearful goodbyes to our friends and family, we sold our house (within weeks), stored our furniture, took our dog and flew to California. Saying that the O.C. was a culture shock to us would be an understatement. We went from Maple Trees to Palm Trees. From boots to sandals and skiing to surfing. I wondered if we would ever fit in.

My family enjoyed a sun filled month on the beach while getting to know our new area. (I know it sounds horrible, but not to worry we managed :) Newport Beach seemed to make their women and teenagers very different to Toronto. They were perfect, with perfect hair and makeup and always wearing workout pants. My mother and I had also noticed that in the magazines there were a lot plastic surgery ads. And this was in 1990.

Our first day of school seemed to come very fast. On my first day of High School, I tried to wear my hippest California outfit which consistent of a Betty Boop top and matching cut off jeans. (Oh the horror!)

Together I remember my brother and I walking up the foreign steps to our new school. This school was completely different to any we had known as it had outside lockers and an Olympic pool for water polo. We took a deep breath and entered the sea of faces that we had never seen before.

I will never forget seeing sandals on the feet of almost all of the students and some of the teachers. To me they looked like Flinestone shoes and they were wearing them with socks. I stopped a student that was younger then me and asked her about the sandals. She told us that they were called Birkenstock's.We had never seen them before so I asked her why would they be worn with shorts and socks. She looked at me like I was crazy and responded " The socks are to keep their feet warm from the sandals. Duh!"

The new Canadians had officially arrived. What was it like when you moved to a new city or Country? Do you think it's harder to move as a child or as an adult? * I took the above photo of Laguna Beach in the midday sun. It's one of my favorites.

23 comments:

Le laquet said...

I think it's hard to move anywhere at that age BUT from Canada to Calafornia - wow! Talk about a fish out of water. Glad you eventually settled ;o)

The Panic Room said...

Oh this is going to be fun to read. I was laughing so hard when you got to the Birkenstock's in the 90's. I hated that trend. I have spent time in Newport Beach and could NEVER ever imagine living there. I just don't like surfing THAT much. this will be a fu series to read.

pj said...

Never really moved far, and I certainly can't imagine being a teen and with parents on a rocky road.

Warren said...

Great topic!!! I can relate!!!

It's bad enough being introduced as the new kid in school, but the new kid from Canada.....

One of the first question I was asked was, "Canada? Are you an eskimo?"

Do I look like an Eskimo???

:-)

Damn Birkenstock's!!!

Bella said...

This was an amazing post... and I can certainly relate to the amount of trepidation in such a sudden move. It's never easy, is it.
xxx

Laura said...

Le laquet: I know it's amazing we survived! We all seem to settle in don't we? Thank you for your comment Ll.

Laura said...

Panic Room: You and me both. It's hard to see trends that look so foreign to you. Listen my brother and I were use to safety pinning our pants at that time and saying eh! I can body board?

Laura said...

pj: Well I survived I promise :) Plus now I get to write down my experiences and share them with you. It was all worth it.

Laura said...

Warren: My bro....how did we make it? :) Remember we were also asked if we had ever worn snow shoes? Thank you for your comment eh!

Laura said...

Ah Bella: sigh and a little blush...you are too kind. I am glad you liked this post. Change is never easy but it changes us to who we are today. xoxo

Debbie said...

Isn't it just so amazing how every little area (not even just countries) has their own customs and traditions. And I think some areas are easier to fit into than others. I cannot imagine your horror and fear at that move. I bet you ended up much stronger.

Bon Don said...

Aww birkenstocks, I wore them like everyday in Junior High & Highschool!! I love stories like this :)

Kyla said...

Thanks for sharing your story! I loved reading it, and I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you guys to settle in. I've been in the same small town in AR my entire life, so I can't even comprehend moving COUNTRIES!

My boyfriend is from CA and I'm dying to go :) It's tough that you guys had to endure a whole month of sun and beach while getting used to everything! Ha!

Georgie B said...

The few times that I moved was as an adult (with and without kids), and it wasn't too difficult.

I think the most serious problem that I had was changing all my addresses at work et. al.

My kids really didn't have any problems with the one time that they moved, simply because they didn't have any friends at the trailer park that we lived at.

Alexander said...

Your life is such an amazing story. On top of all of the changes you had to face as a teenager moving country, I know you also had the unenviable job of trying to keeping everything together at home as well.

Truly remarkable.

I wonder how you would have turned out if you had had a regular suburban life in Toronto and never left...

As much as you've had to go through, there is a much higher purpose for it all and all these experiences have made you the incredible woman you are today.

And we are all extremely grateful.

Poshhh said...

Anything like that is really heartwrenching...my parents moved me from Connecticut to Australia when I was fifteen..I hated it at the time but now I'm so glad they did it..the experience and the different culture really helps one grow.
cute blog
xxx

Laura said...

Debbie: I think people change so fast and while we are in the transition we can't see the change. It takes others sometimes to point it out.

Bon Don: No way and that's awesome! Tell me you still have a pair?

Kyla: I am so glad that you can truly feel my pain of bummin' around while trying to tan my very Canadian pasty skin.

Laura said...

Georgie B: I know change of address can be such a hassle. It is a huge pain when you have to try and remember a new zip code and not a postal code. So glad your kids had an easy transition.

Alex: Your comments always touch me and thank you for always seeing my soul. Wait, thank you for also writing about my soul. Take care of yourself.

Poshhh: Welcome to my blog and thank you for your sweet comment. Wow Connecticut to Australia now you must have some amazing stories.

Mary-Laure said...

Thanks for sharing these memories. Changing environments can be so challenging, yet very educational. I moved every few years when I was a kid so I can relate!

George said...

I lost so many friends and the girl friends when I was young that I still think of to this day, was torn away due to geographic.

But the experience of new, couldn't of happened without the dramatic changes...

Laura said...

Mary-Laure: Isn't if funny to go back. I hope I made you smile.

George: So sorry to hear that. And I agree with you that every change makes you stronger.

Rebecca L. said...

Thank goodness we snagged you guys! Where would I be without these Astons??? And Birkenstocks were COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mady will type now: klhnlhnl,nhl,nhl,hnkjh

Fancy Schmancy said...

Wow, of all the places for them to choose - dumping you in OC almost seems cruel. How did you survive? Were all the girls mean to you? I moved around a LOT when I was a kid, being the new girl sucked.

Great picture, by the way!