Nunavut Newbie v.2.0: Iqaluit Newbie

A journal that will hopefully help out anyone who is thinking about moving to Nunavut or anywhere in Northern Canada.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Back "Home" Part 2: Adjusting

I called this entry "Adjusting" because the last 3 days of consisted of basically that. I'm living with my dad until January or February and it is a big change to go from living alone in Iqaluit to living with my dad in Sarnia.

Fortunately, my dad and I are alike in ways that I think will make it easy to live together. We're both pretty laid-back and spend our time just hanging out, napping, watching TV, or surfing the Internet.

It is a bit of a bummer to go from having a 900+ square foot apartment all to myself to a single bedroom with one of my parents, an ad hoc internet connection (no wi-fi yet) and sharing everything else. My dad's apartment does have 2 bathrooms which is definitely a good thing.

Anyway, I've had a lot of time to think about the differences between northern and southern living and I'm eager to write about them before I fail to notice them anymore.

#1. Driving

Driving up north is a laid back and slow affair. There are no street lights, only stop signs. The speed limit is 40kmh and most roads are unpaved or paved but needing repairs. In Iqaluit, you get used to where stop signs are and only limited attention is required for driving. Most of the time you're watching out for pedestrians or just have your eyes focused on the road in front of you.

Down south, driving is substantially more difficult. I find that I have to remember to look at street lights. I'm not used to waiting for something to tell me I can drive, so I'm usually staring at something other than the light.

I also find it hard to judge how fast other people are driving and tend to be a little on the overly patient side when it comes to making turns on busy streets. It's hard to be a good judge of others' speed and I'm scared I'm going to get into an accident. I get nervous near bicyclists but down here, you rarely see small children playing by the road like you do in Nunavut. My worst fear up north was hitting a child with my car.

Also, as I said, the limit in Nunavut is 40kmh unless otherwise posted. Most of the time you're driving between 25-45kmh. Here, I often look down and see I'm only driving 45-50kmh because I'm used to driving that speed. I have to tell myself each time I drive to step on the gas.

The best thing about driving down south? Paved roads. I can't believe I'm in a spot in my life where I am grateful for paved roads, but here we are.

#2. The Weather

After hearing years of "Wow, you live in Nunavut? Isn't it cold there?" I'm now back in the heat. I have to tell you...I don't know what's wrong with people, because a well-dressed person in -30C is A LOT more comfortable than a seasonally dressed person in +35C + humidity. It's disgusting here, I don't even want to go outside. It's too hot to do anything except hang out in air conditioned buildings. I've sweat more in the last 3 days than I have in the last 3 years.

#3. Distractions

Now that I'm back here, I'm interested in everything and anything going on around me. When I drive, I stare at all the advertisements around, and when I'm in stores, I stare at everything. I swear I must look like a confused and lost child in Wal-Mart. I'm so busy looking at all the products around me that I nearly bump into people. Everything is so different from what I'm accustomed to, I can't help but to try and take it all in. I am sure this will stop at some point but until I do, please watch out for the space cadet in aisle 4.

#4. "How was that?"

I got my first one of these today. My parents are selling the house I grew up in and I met the new homeowners today. The wife said, "Oh, you're the one who just came from Nunavut. How was that experience?" I wanted to reply, "Are you asking me how the last 4 years of my life went?"

For starters, I don't even know how to answer this question. It was my life. It was complicated and different but great and always a learning experience. When graduates finish 4 years of university or college, people don't ask them, "How was it?" There isn't an answer. I know this question is going to pop up a lot (for the rest of my life!) so I'd be wise to just come up with a dazzling and amusing response. I replied today with, "Um... life changing." I think I will probably just start saying, "Cold." I'll go for the cheap laugh, it always works.

#5. My Little Secret?

I don't know if every northerner who leaves feels the same way, but I so totally embraced being a northerner that I feel like a different species than southerners here. It's no lie, northerners are different. We've learned to live a different life from the majority of Canadians, away from popular culture and everything else. I feel distant from other people here, like I can't relate with anybody. Basically, I feel like I just came back from living on the moon for 4 years and I'm totally out of touch with everything. My life has been radically different from the typical Sarnia life, almost of the point of being crippling. I don't really understand a lot about basic living down here. It's so hard to exemplify but I feel constantly confused by how things have changed since I left. If you've ever seen Shawshank Redemption, I'm sure I feel a lot like Red and Brooks did when they finally left Shawshank. To go from living in what's basically a bubble for 4 years and then re-injecting yourself back into normal culture is overwhelming.

#6. Small World

It's really strange to sit here and think I am not going anywhere anymore. I'm not on holidays, I'm here for good and I feel like my world just got smaller. When I first moved to Rankin Inlet, the isolation hit me within about an hour. I realized how far away from everything I was and that I couldn't even afford to leave. I felt separated from everything I had ever known and was living in a strange new place. I know it's the just the shock of leaving, but I feel somewhat trapped here. It's the same feeling I had when I moved to Rankin. I feel so far away from everything, even though I'm back in my hometown, back where I lived for 20 years. It's discomforting but I'm sure when I get more settled I'll feel better.

Those are the main things, I might think of more, might not.

This upcoming week is going to be a busy one. Just today I started the paperwork to take over a lease on a 2007 Ford Fusion and on Monday I have to sort out changing my driver's license and getting insurance. I am really sad I have to give up my Nunavut license, it's been a great source of entertainment from other people. "Whoaaa there's a dog sled on your license!" I will miss that so, so much.

I'm also going to sign up for a YMCA membership to give myself something to do for the next few months.

That said, if you're in Sarnia area, look me up. I'm unemployed and kinda bored!