I am an international student living in Canada. I originally hail from India and like a lot of Indian kids, I always dreamt of living and working in the USA when I grew older. And I have to say that this was the case until I actually came for higher studies in Canada two years ago.
I started to code when I was still in grade 4 and I always thought of ending up in the Silicon Valley to work for a multi-billion dollar tech behemoth. Yes, I mean Google, Microsoft and, believe it or not, even Yahoo! since it was still pretty big in India back then. Heck, I even created my first ever email address with Yahoo! Mail. Fast forward 6 years and I landed on the American soil for the first time in my life in 2013. I was invited by Google to visit the Googleplex, along with 19 other pre-university students. I still remember how I became teary-eyed when I first set foot inside the San Francisco International Airport. My Dad accompanied me since I was still a minor, and I hugged him and cried out loud that “Dad! I am finally here! I am in the US!”. We visited the San Francisco Bay Area, Mountain View and Sunnyvale and the more I explored the Valley, the more I promised myself to make a living here. I took my grade 10 exams and I had just started to look into universities. And it was obvious, I had to apply to US schools to pursue an undergrad in Computer Science. I made a list of the top 50 Computer Science universities around the globe but my first choice was the US.
After many considerations, financially and family-consent-wise, I ended up at the University of Waterloo in Canada but somewhere inside a part of me was not very happy with this decision of mine. I had already visited the US twice in the past 2–3 years but Canada? I had no idea about this country, and skepticism clouded my senses. However, 2 years since then and I cannot be happier for the decision I made. You see, the Canadian province of Ontario is already considered to be the Silicon Valley of the North and very rightly so. Ontario is the most populated province in Canada with a share of a whopping 38% of the total population. Also, most of the population lives very near to the Canada-US border. When I first landed in Canada, I thought to myself, “This looks exactly the same as the US!”. And this is true, Canada is almost a carbon copy of the US in terms of architecture (let’s forget the miles-kilometres debate for the moment).
I know what you’re thinking, that I have just linked to one news article that says that Ontario is like Silicon Valley. But try Googling about this and you’ll be surprised by the number of results you might see. Also, the Toronto-Waterloo region is in rich supplies of tech talent, thanks to universities like the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto. Some people even call the University of Waterloo as Silicon Valley’s “Feeder School”. Want a more recent statistic about Canada? A recent report by the CBRE Group states that Toronto has added the most technology jobs in the past five years and has the fourth best technology talent market in Canada and the US. And companies cannot stop opening their offices here! Microsoft just announced their plans of opening their Canadian HQ in Toronto.
I feel I catered more to the tech industry in this post. But, I love the lifestyle here too! I have started to say “Please”, “Thank you” and “Sorry” a lot of times throughout my day. Yes, the memes are true indeed. Canadians are as sweet as their Maple syrup. The healthcare is outstanding. People care about each other, and diversity is seen everywhere. Gun-laws are good enough to prevent violence by a huge degree, and people generally feel safe here.
So yes, I am living The American Dream but in Canada. And I love it!