Why did you move here? Bi-national relationship advice – Jemima’s story.
This week I interviewed the lovely, fun and inspiring Jemima who is orginally from Australia. She lives in British Columbia here in Canada now with her little family. I met her last spring at a craft show in Edmonton, I don’t remember anymore who asked whom about their accent first but we quickly started talking about our immigration experience. It was so encouraging for me to meet a fellow indiepreneur who has established a beautiful, successful life in her new country. Talking about indiepreneuring – her business is called Sparky Jones Accessories and she makes the most wonderful hats and bags from vintage fabrics. You can’t even imagine how smitten I am with her creations!
But let’s hear her story:
- Tell me a bit about yourself! Hello hello…. I’m Jemima :: I live in the beautiful Okanagan BC Canada with my Mr, our 2 yr old daughter Beatrix Betsy (soon to be more!) + our fuzzy husky Indie. And what do I do…well I’m a full time mumma, and the head honcho of Sparky Jones Accessories, a quaint lil boutique that specializes in unique vintage inspired millinery + accessories! And the crazy story is…my lil dream career all began during my immigration process back in 2003!
- Have you always lived where you live now? Nope, I grew up in Canberra Australia, where I became a qualified Landscape Horticulturalist. After that I cruised around Australia for a bit, lived in Queensland, Perth + then in 2000 I set off on a work visa to Canada (my best friend was in Canada at the time on a work visa, + she convinced me to come over!). Well as luck would have it, she went back to Australia 2 weeks before I arrived…ekkks! But being 23 at the time..not much seems stressful, i just thought I’d try + experience the real Canada + culture, go to all the not so touristy places. My adventures started in dreamy slow paced Nelson BC, then to the Okanagan a few months after that.
- How & when did you meet your (ex-)partner? Well I managed to get a job at the local ski hill (in the ski rental department, which was kinda funny as I hadn’t even skied in my life!) in Penticton, BC for the winter…and that’s when I saw him! I fell deeply + insanely in love…he was tall, confident, totally out there + super hilarious!! He was a telemarker,(kinda like skiing) a rock climber + always wore a puffy jacket…all in all a complete Canadian mountain man + I was, to say the least besotted!! Well it just so happened I was hitch hiking to get home + he was the one that picked me up! That was probably the longest tongue-tied 45 minutes of my life!!! Awkward!!!! Anyways i must have done alright + I guess he didn’t notice my sweat patches, as he asked me out for a drink the next night 🙂
- When and how did you know it was serious? We dated over the winter, but I didn’t particularly want to get serious as I had just come out of a long term relationship when I left Australia + was really enjoying being by myself (which I think makes you doubly attractive to those around you of course!) , so I headed off to Halifax for a few months…but we both couldn’t seem to handle being apart, so after the 3 months, I caught I bus from Nova Scotia to Ontario, sight seeing along the way. He met me in Toronto, where I met his family + then we cruised back to Penticton to spend our last few months together before I had to go back to Australia.
- Did you have to spend time apart? We spent a couple of years of me going to Aus , living with my folks, working 3 jobs, 7 days a week until I had enough money to support myself for 6 months in on a visitor visa in Canada. I think the longest time we spent apart was about 5 months (this was in the era of internet cafes, hotmail + expensive phone calls!). He had also come over to Aus to meet my family too, but I think after such a crazy hard lifestyle , we both decided something needed to change!
- How did you decide where to live? Well I was in my early 20’s + hadn’t really decided what I wanted to do with my life, + he was hell bent on becoming a Ski Guide with an outdoor adventure company, so I just seemed appropriate that we live in Canada!! We both liked what the Okanagan had to offer, so Penticton seemed like a good place to start our adventure together!! Though we were much in love, marriage wasn’t really high on the agenda for either of us, so he sponsored me on a Common Law visa application, as I came to the conclusion that if a country wouldn’t take me on , just because I wasn’t a firm believer in the institution of marriage, then….. then it certainly didn’t deserve to have me :: giggle!!! Ultimately this meant I would have to have one topnotch, well put together application tho!
- What’s most challenging about immigrating into another country? So i packed my bags, said goodbye to my country, family + friends, + headed off to live in Canada….and my life WAS going to be dreamy because I had planned it to be!!! Unfortunately this was NOT the outcome!!!!The immigration process is crazy hard, there is a lot of going around in circles, waiting, waiting waiting, going around in more circles, more waiting, $ at every stop + down right sanity splitting!!! And honestly I think as soon as my appliciation was in…the grieving process started. I had a hard time dealing with leaving my family, my bestest friends (many of which I’d had since primary school) a decent paying job, long hot summers + the beach…oh the warm sand in my toes + smell of the ocean!! All of these things for my whole life had been my safety nets…+ now I had nothing to fall back on except for one person! And to make matters worse, my Canadian best friend had tragically passed away just before I made the official move, which had made life even harder. I became really depressed, but we always thought things would get better after the next hurdle/corner…but they didn’t. He became distant + went away a lot… that’s when I decided I needed a hobby to pull myself out of it….so I taught myself to sew, with a $20 vintage machine + scraps of fabric!! I didn’t seem to feel as lonely anymore + the addiction started :-)My application was approved…but I didn’t really – not until I woke up one day + realized that I wasn’t even myself anymore, so with $200 in my pocket, I packed my bags + left, lets just say…he didn’t stop me either!!! I kinda believe that in life everyone goes thru that thing – that break up , that loss or health issue etc…. that completely F*#@ you up, strips you down to nothing, as it’s the only way to realize what you really want out of life + ultimately …what you are made of!!! This was mine for sure!I decided to stay in Canada as it was like restarting life with a clean slate. It took me a few years to rebuild myself, but I have no regrets, I found out what really drives me, my happiness, my passions in life + as luck would have it – my Mr Right! We have a pretty cool lil family + life together, not one that I ever expected, but its way better than I ever imagined!!!
- What do you love about your bi-national relationship experience? Well the best part of having a bi national relationship is…you get totally spoilt by being able to be a part of 2 amazing countries , which also means you have twice as many opportunities!! As a couple you face more challenges for sure, but if you are with the right person…you gain impeccable communication skills because you have too + therefore be a pretty strong team of 2. My Mr has also introduced me to things that I wouldn’t have had the chance to in Australia…I like that!!
- What advice could you give other people in similar situations? My advice would be ::
– you have one life to live…make it awesome!
– Be a bulldog – don’t give up!!
– Focus on making your application better than the best
– Keep yourself sane by volunteering (something I should have done it think!)
-And lastly, have a first name that is also the same as a yummy household product that your new country loves (Aunt Jemima!!!)
PS :: even tho I’m still not married….marry your bestfriend!!! They are the ones that are going to love you through the good, the bad + the ugly – wink!!!
- What are your 3 favourite words? Sparky, coffee + advantageous!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Jemima!
With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,