Goodbye Toronto

The fact that I’m leaving Toronto for good hadn’t quite sunk until today. May has finally arrived. By the end of this month, I will be returning to Singapore, after spending 4 years out of my 22-year life here.

I came to Toronto to pursue a Bachelor’s after I graduated from high school in Asia. I had originally picked UBC in Vancouver, but after I hearing that the campus wasn’t downtown and that they suffer from 6 months of rain, I promptly accepted the University of Toronto’s offer instead.

The moment I stepped into the city, I fell in love. It truly is a cosmopolitan city. I have never lived anywhere in the world where you could step out and see authentic Ethiopian, Japanese, ‘Canadian’, Thai restaurants all lined up next to each other. A city so metropolitan where subway chatters and whispers consist of hundreds languages, dialects and accents. A city where there is no real majority of colors. Everywhere you go there will be Yellows, Whites, Blacks, Reds and Browns. It’s a city where strangers are not just strangers but potential friends. The friendliness of Canadians is such an amazing experience. Back in Asia, people are nowhere as friendly toward each other. This is the truly perfect city for a global nomad like me.

Recently, I’ve been given the chance to stay, after the Canadian government abruptly announced that international students can work in Canada for up to 3 years and without a job offer. Strangely, even after hearing about the decision, I’ve decided to leave.

Toronto is the perfect city for me. In fact, it’s too perfect. People tend to stop evolving when their environments are too well-suited to them. If I get too comfortable here, I fear that I will lose the fighting spirit to achieve my ambitions. I may end up stagnating and my potential stunted. Furthermore, as a ‘visible minority’ and a female, I will have to face a very low glass ceiling. My ambition is to be on top of the world. A place where the glass ceiling may potentially be low will only hinder my ambitions. I am not saying Canadians are racists and misogynists, but it is a fact of life that women and minorities will find it harder to rise on top no matter where they are in the world.

So, the obvious solution is to return to a place where I will at least be consider the majority. I will have one less thing to worry about. As for my gender, I will just have to work 10x harder than men and prove that I am stronger, smarter and better than my male counterparts.

Another reason is my interest in Asia. Now that I have experienced the West, it is time to experience the East. As an Asian person who attended British elementary school, American middle and high school and a Canadian university, I’m extremely Westernized. But after living in the West, I realized I’m not as white-washed as I’ve always perceived myself to be. A lot of my core values have roots in Confucianism, and I honestly cannot live 2 weeks without rice. Being here has only deepened my curiosity about my Asian heritage. I just have the feeling that I will understand myself better if I go back. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Singapore, any Confucius-influenced country will do: China, Korea, Japan.

My last reason is to learn to trust my instinct/intuition. I’ve based most of my life decisions on reason and a few reckless ones on overwhelming emotions. But I have never once trusted my gut instincts or my womanly intuitions. I’ve always chastised them to be too risky because there are no real grounds for those feelings. For once in my life, I will give in to this instinct and urge to leave.

Somehow, another part of me cannot help but feel that I might be making a mistake by leaving the opportunity of acquiring a permanent residency in a wonderful city such as Toronto. But at the same time, my urge to leave now is strong because I’m all fired up about climbing my way up on the social ladder. I am afraid I will get too comfortable and end up living here forever as a mediocre white-collared worker. I intend to lead a life of ambition. And I will need challenges to rise to the top. I will also need to experience more of the world, in order to affect the world. Life is short. I cannot afford to waste 3 years of my youth planning for my retirement.

With my decision to leave, I have chosen the thorny path of life. I hope I have made the right decision. So farewell, perfect city. You simply are too perfect for me.

Chinese version of the post found here.

Which path of life have you chosen? The safer and easier path? Or the challenging path?

Nanyate?! Network Update: Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. It’s partially because I haven’t felt the spark to write, but mainly because I’ve been having a headache registering a new domain with a new domain registrar. Everything from ordering to support to changing DNS servers has been a nightmare. It’s all done now.

The new domain will be home to a blogcast authored by ID of and me. Our blogcast project will be kickstarted when ID graduates and when I return to Singapore. That’ll be sometime in June.

The domain is located at (nothing there, just a temporary under construction page I made with a background stolen from ID’s old layout). Strange name, yes. History behind the name is long and we’ll save it for a blogcast. We don’t know what we will blogcast about yet. But we’ll figure something out.

After all, ID and I were high school best friends. *gasp* Bet most of you didn’t know that. That’s right folks, juicy internet gossip from ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • your life is so much cooler than mine. I wish I coulda gone to school in different places all over the world, but I get homesick now and I’m only 45 minutes away from my parents.

    I’ve found that you can never make the wrong decision when you go with your gut instinct. Our subconscious takes more into account than we realize. I’ve always trusted my intuition and so far, it’s served me well. I turned down a better paying job for this one, 15 minutes from my parents’ house so I would have saved money on rent each month too. I turned it down mostly because it just didn’t feel right. And I’m glad I did because I love my job now ๐Ÿ˜€

    I’m sure you’ll do fine, whatever you choose to do. You’re intelligent, strong and ooze of ambition ๐Ÿ˜€

  • charles

    i am also a “wordpresser”,but a beginner.
    i would like to obtain exprience with blogging with you if you dont mind.
    I am chinese and you are highly welcomed to visit my hometown
    have a good day

  • Well I hope everything goes well!

    I hate leaving a place where I just finally gotten used to.

  • You should’ve came to Vancouver! You would’ve loved it more than Toronto. Our air here is cleaner plus we have the mountains and the ocean surrounding us; you can drive for 15 minutes and you’ll be in a completely wild area with no trace of urban development. + Snowboarding and kayaking on the same day?! The diversity and friendliness here is awesome too! But i have to admit, our nightlife is not even close to Toronto though! And the rain! I can totally understand how that can drive you away but most of us Vancouverites are use to it by now… sometimes I feel like the weather is effed up when I see sun for weeks straight. LOL.

    But anyway, good luck in Singapore!! I want to live in Asia for at least a couple of years as well because I’ve never experienced living in the east. You’re lucky to have experienced so much already.

  • Id

    I’m sorry that it’s hitting hard for you. Well, just picture me holding out a large plate of char kway teow when you arrive in Changi Airport. And how retarded that’ll look. LOL!

    You can do it! =D I know you! And I do.. high school best friends/soul sisters after all. =P

  • I think because we’re young like this, it’s perfectly okay to go with gut instinct. If you decide later to come back to Canada, it’s not impossible, especially for a woman with your abilities!

    I imagine my future life in the GTA, although I would love to teach English for a couple years abroad. But then again, my family and friends are all here.

    P.S. you dropped Juuni Kokuki?! The first twenty-ish episodes are really annoying, but the end definitely makes up for it. Amazing character development, if you can get there. Though another bad thing is that it’s not complete. They started a story arc and never ended it. I was very disappointed. But I’m glad you liked Seirei no Moribito. I almost watched it straight too, except I had to study in between episodes.

  • It’s painful to leave a place where you’ve grown very comfortable with. I’ve been studying in Singapore for 6 years, and when I was told that I can opt for a non-Singapore based university to continue my studies (like in Australia, Canada, Germany and etc), I was immediately feeling reluctant to leave Singapore behind. I’ve got too attached to it. In the end I opted for Singapore for my university studies.

    Canada is a truly amazing country. I’ve heard so much about Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton, I told myself that I will definitely pick one of them to spend the second half of my life in ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s sad that women have to work so much harder in a male-dominated world. Although many countries advocate for gender equality, it is hardly ever achieved. All the best in your future endeavours Ivy!

    p/s: that’s some really JUICY gossip! Thanks!

  • Well Ivy, I’m totally agree with you. You need to follow your dreams/ambitions, and if you think you can reach them by leaving Toronto, just go ahead!

    Good luck!

  • You are completely right regarding environment and inspiration. When the going gets tough the tough gets going, right?

    When I’m too satisfied (“the cushion life”) I don’t get anything done. I procrastinate and deteriorate. But when I’m under stress of sorts I get focused, creative and persistent. A friend of mine chose voluntary poverty for 10+ years only to inspire his writing genius:)
    Good luck in Singapore!

  • Ooh, that was a brave decision you made there =) I hope it all turns out for the better =)

    I agree about how a person stops improving when they arrive at the perfect place. Still, I think, if it were me, I would have just stayed in Toronto, because I’m not one of those “challenging” people xD

  • I never knew you were in T-O this whole time! Lol, I thought you were residing in the west already! I’m glad that you enjoyed Canada, for those who are not in Canada (besides the States) is that Canada is a wonderful place to be in because people are just so friendly. I’m in Alberta, and it’s not that bad of a place to be. It’s not as hectic, perfect or busy as Toronto or Vancouver but still nice enough. I hope you will be able to come back one day!!

    Following one’s own intuition or instinct could possibly one of the hardest things, because the journey is filled with constant doubt, constant struggles in one’s decisions, regrets, triumphs, and doubts. But I wish for the best for you in your future endeavors, and always believe in yourself! Hope you will achieve all that you dreamed of to do!

  • You live only once anyway, so you gotta follow your dreams. As for me, I’m not an ambitious person, but I did get my BBA despite my disability when most of the people in my circumstance would have given up.

    I envy you, though, that you can live following your dreams.

  • Welcome back to Singapore! (A little early for that, but Singapore will always welcome you back with open arms!)

    I’ve taken a mixture of both easy and challenging paths, although a little more of the challenging ones. I’ve entered a degree which many people didn’t agree with – having to receive public scorn from others who felt that IT had no future, and that technology is ‘dying’ and whatsoever. However, having my parents’ support was what pulled me through.

    Entered SMU, a new school, despite its unestablished (back then) reputation, and the uncertainty with regard to its class structure and all – while all my friends went to NUS and NTU. Was basically all alone in SMU, having to craft a new life from scratch all by myself.

    The areas where I took the easy path out was … not going on exchange. Foreign places and being all by my lonesome self don’t exactly go very well together. I’d try, someday. But not yet. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • *hugs* Good luck with the move. I don’t know what else to say because I’ve never moved houses in my 22 years of life before, so.. But wow, going to ALL of those schools?! Wow, I really don’t know how you do it, Ivy, but wow, no wonder all of those changes have made you a well-rounded and educated person. Hehe.

    But anyways, as for me, none of the paths are easy. Whichever one I pick will be hard for me either way, so yeah, I have to tough it out… =/

  • That’s wonderful. I can’t wait to see what the both of you will be coming up with. I’ve always admired both of your work, and I’m sure that it’ll be a smash. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Toni

    awww…I think Toronto is going to miss you! and so will I of course, but I will continue to read your blog as long as you keep one. I guess you could always come back if you wanted, it’s a good place to retire. :p

    I can’t believe 4 years have gone by so quickly! It just feels like yesterday that I got to meet you in first year at the poster sale @ SS! haha.

    So what are your plans for next year? Will you be working in Singapore or another asian country?

  • I think you made the right choice in leaving a city where you can see yourself getting comfortable and settling. Life should never be about settling, but for going for what you really want in your life and making it happen. Good luck.

  • I am sure that whatever path you take, you will be successful no matter what, as long as you have the incentive and will to succeed =] Congrats on almost finishing school!

  • i actually heard that it’s worse for women in asia…regardling glass ceilings and all.

    i’ll be working in toronto but i am considering working in the US…but not anywhere else out of north america lol

    toronto is a great city…it’s just so cold lol

  • I have never been to Toronto, but I keep hearing how nice it is from friends who go there to visit. I think I can agree with you on getting too comfortable in places, especially when you have goals to still overcome. I get really edgy and bitchy when I start feeling complacent. I actually am starting to get that way around here and I am hoping my resume catches someone’s eye whether it be Chicago or San Antonio, or New York City or even somewhere in California.

    I think you will do fine with the change. Considering you sound positive in your blog about the challenge of returning and surviving in Singapore.

  • You’re welcome =)

    How’re things going?

  • It all sounds so…nice and intimidating and I’m actually envious of your passion and drive. This entry makes me feel inadequate, mainly because I like comfort zones and I’ll be damned if I ever step out of mine. Well, I did and I’m…managing. Badly.

    And you have one thing I’ve always wanted! A Western education. Bah.

    Anyways, my family and I are waiting for our Canada papers. Two more years, two more years. This entry slightly made me look forward to moving there.

  • What are you interested in pursuing as a career? I’m curious (:

    For some reason I feel like I understand what you mean, even though I’m not in college yet and never experienced living away from home. But if you have this kind of drive and ambition, then I trust you will be successful wherever you go (:

  • Nel

    Hey Ivy, as a fellow nomad myself, I can understand your decision to move, you can get complacent being in one place for too long a time. I myself am moving to another city after 5 years of staying in the same place.

  • Wow, you really seem to know yourself very well – something I wish I did too. At least you know what you want, how your “system” works.. I think if you were to go anywhere in the world – with your current mindset you can make it despite your location.

    I don’t mind taking the more “challenging” path in life, but my mom isn’t. I wanted to enroll in a different college, but one of her main reasons is that it was too far, and she would not let me stay in the hostel -__-

    However, due to the current “standard” of my country’s level of education, if I want to pursue a degree I would have to go overseas. My mom opted for Singapore, just because it’s nearer -_-.

    But I’ve always wanted to go to a place I’ve never been to before, all alone. I won’t know anyone there, and no one would know me.

    It’ll exactly be like starting a new life, meeting new people – I want to experience the struggle of living alone, to taste just exactly how hard it is to survive on your own. To throw myself to total and complete independence. For some odd reason, the thought of …. expanding my horizons – if I can call it that – and just experiencing independence, excites me.

    Maybe that day would come, soon enough ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Your post made me feel like visiting & living in Toronto!

    Anyway…I think your life would be good in either ways.
    Let me tell you my story. I had a Mexican boyfriend when I was in college in the US (I was only 1 year college student in the US). In the long run we separated because of the distance after I went back to Japan. After several years passing, I looked back to see if I was right. I was opposite to your case. I judged the matter by reason, and I killed my inspiration or emotion for that decision. What if I chose to stay in the US and married to him? My life could be so different. But it does not mean I’m disappointed to the one I have currently. I chose to leave the US, accepting the high possibilities that I might break up with him, because I needed to work. I regretted many times against my decision, after several years since I lost him, but as time passed and I found it was OK. I gained so many other stuff.
    So in your case, you may regret something in the near future against your decision, but at the same time you will gain something that you could never have done if you choose to stay now. Challenge your life, do not settle for easy & safe one!

  • I think it’s very brave of you to trust your instinct and go with the gut feeling. Only going to another country to study is brave! You’re doing the right thing I think. To stay where you are just because it’s convinient and “safe” is not a good idea.

    Personally I dream about a free life. I talk about living freely. I tell others to follow their dreams and not let fear hold them back. But the sad truth is that I don’t live as I preach. I’m stuck and not so brave right now.

  • So, when will I see your song here? Everybody leaving Toronto makes a song.. Come on, then. Put it on youtube! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  • I think that you should REALLY think things through before you make any final decisions. Sometimes we ignore our intuition because our brains force us to do so. If you feel like you would be happy in Toronto, then I think you should consider staying. Our world is crazy and constantly changing, we never know what will happen. My advice to you would be to follow your heart.

    I’ve heard great things about Canada and someday I would like to visit myself.

  • Everything you said about Toronto is so true! I am hoping to make it into Ryerson for something (I am still trying to decide which program I want to go into), mostly because Toronto is such an amazing city. I love the people there – I’ve had a conversation with a complete stranger from Guelph regarding army jackets when I was in Black Market on Queen St (you should totally go there if you haven’t yet! They’ve got a ton of neat stuff, haha) – and befriended a snowman wearing a bikini.

    When people say Toronto is vibrant and diverse, they’re dead serious. I love walking through the city at night and seeing how different it is- Toronto night life is amazing. And everything they say about the violence- it’s not all that bad. Going to the Beaches Jazz Festival and staying out until 2am, then taking the streetcar back is one of my fondest memories. It’s so true about how nice people are there, and how the strange is completely normal. No one cares if you look different or if you have an accent or anything.

    I love going to Kensington Market on the last Sunday of the month- one time, some people were working on Capoeira beside a car that had been ‘reclaimed’ by nature.

    Walking down the Danforth is amazing as well, spending a day in the Toronto Reference Library, spending hours in the ROM, and eating hot dogs from the street vendors, hoping you don’t die… it’s great fun. I have to say, Toronto is absoloutely amazing, and I cannot wait to somehow get there. I really want to work or live there at some point, take the TTC everywhere, and just experience Toronto. It would be amazing. (:

    And I can totally related to you wanting to leave because of your comfort. I’m exactly the same, and I really, really, want to ditch Canada and move to the United Arab Emirates if my dad gets a job there. It would be amazing if I could go to University there and learn Arabic. I know a tiny bit- a few phrases, the alphabet, how to write most of the letters, but not much. It would be an amazing experience, and something different!

    I actually blogged about this a little while ago. I need change, and it’s weird being so used to a routine now. I revel in new situations, so I can completely relate to your sentiments.

    In reply to your question, I think… I’ve always taken the hard way, haha. I have never been content with the ‘easy’ path (or what I instinctually perceive to be the easy path).

    I can easily relate this to my high school experience. I applied for two high schools and was accepted into both, one being an IB high school and the other one for arts and the like. I chose the IB school, and I loved it. I relished the challenge, the knowledge that what I was learning was a grade (or two, in some cases) ahead of everyone else. But Math got me, and I took remedial math in summer school. I started to understand it, and thought, ‘hey, I can do this!’ But by then, I had dropped out of IB.

    I reapplied to the art school, had to audition again, put a new portfolio together, and was accepted a second time. For my first year there, I missed IB. I hated how everyone was so lazy and thoughtless compared to my old friends, how people complained when they were assigned 30 questions of math. That would have been a blessing in IB, and I resented it a little.

    In the next summer, I took my grade 11 math and found that I loved it. Now, I’m considering going into math for University, and I had hated it, detested it in IB.

    Some things change a lot, and I think change is a very, very important part of ones life. Good luck to everything you’re doing, and I wish you well!

    I’ll try to follow you to your new domain to try and keep up with you, since I’ve been reading your blogs for a while, admiring your layouts, but never really commenting. I thought I might, for once! (: