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On Immigration and Change


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When we were 25 years old, my partner and I got married. Then we packed up and moved across the ocean. The company he was working for got acquired, and the new company wanted him to come work in their Ottawa office. So we mailed all of our books to the new office, got a big kennel for our 40-kilograms dog, and got on a plane.

When I started writing fiction, I read the fantastic book Story Genius. In it, author Lisa Cron argues that the one thing people try to avoid at all costs is change. People are willing to take all sorts of crap only to keep the status quo. I have heard this before, of course. But I never understood it. When something bothers me, I change it if I can. I usually can. What I've learned since that move across the ocean is that change is a part of life. You don't always control it. It's not always positive. But I don't understand ignoring the change that's happening around you just because you're scared.

Still, there were a lot of factors that made the change more comfortable for us. We moved with my partner's company, so they took care of a lot of things, including the visa. We didn't have to worry about that. And it felt like we knew people; that we weren't going to a completely foreign country in which we don't know anyone. Also, we both had a decent command of the English language. It wasn't perfect (still isn't), but we both find it relatively easy to communicate in English. That helped. Another thing that helped was that we were sure it was a temporary move. It was supposed to be one year, two tops. We ended up living in Ottawa for ten years.

When you decide to pack up your life, leave your home country, and move to a different continent where they speak a different language, you take a risk. The risk we took paid off. Sure, it was hard at first. I was utterly depressed during the first winter I lived in Canada. But I was home on my own with no job and no car, in Ottawa suburbs, at -30 degrees Celsius. I suspect even people with a sunnier disposition than myself would have suffered.

But I learned a ton since we moved to Canada. I learned things I didn't even know I didn't know. Like when to tell whether a Canadian means what he says or just being polite. I still get that wrong most of the times, but now I know that it can happen. Israelis seldom say things to be polite.

So, then, when my partner wanted to start his own company, I said, sure, go for it, if it makes you happy. And when he said let's take the kids and move to Paris, I said, sure, that sounds like fun. We ended up in London, which is also fun. I was more open to take risks and make changes because of the positive experience I had moving to Canada. This openness to change is what enabled me to decide to switch from writing about the experiments I ran to writing fiction. Sure, it was scary. It still is. But when you change you learn. And that's the whole point, isn't it?

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#Immigration #Fears #Change #Life #Writing

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