Reflections on 2022 - My One Year Anniversary Away from Home.

Michelle Aniuchi
5 min readJan 24, 2023
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

On the 5th of November, 2021, I packed two suitcases, bade my family farewell and left the country that had been home for 25 years.

Now I am not going to claim I came to the land of Maple syrup without knowing anyone or any support because that would so not be true. However, just because the journey is different from the usual stories you see, it does not mean it didn’t come with its own unique challenges.

I got my visa at the tail end of my program just short of 3 months before I was set to finish. I arrived even later — approximately one month before. I had quite a number of things I was worried about. The primary of them being if I would be able to get a job soon enough after I graduated.

I had had to forego the opportunity of co-op because like I said, my application was approved just before my program ended. So I would not have gained any of the benefits of co-op my peers had.

Fortunately, I had taken a leap a month before I traveled and grabbed a potential opportunity that seemed to have landed on my laps. An alumni of my school had talked about this talent incubation program his firm was running and I interviewed and got in. My school supported me using the work done as my project for the year and by the my program ended in December, I was gearing up for interviews with their clients.

The fear of not getting a job in time still lingered. The program was mostly backend oriented — Java, SpringBoot. I am a JavaScript (specifically frontend) girly at heart. I also sucked at DS&A. I sucked even worse at interviews. However, with the help of the talent program, I didn’t dislike Java as much, my DS&A skills sucked a little less and my heart didn’t want to jump out of my mouth everytime I had to speak about my career to someone in a formal setting.

Then came a frontend opportunity out of the blue. It was like the stars were aligning for me. My resume was picked, the interview went well and an offer was drawn up. I am currently looking forward to my one year anniversary there.

Now at this point you might be saying 'it looks like you had a smooth ride though’. It might seem like it was straightforward but there were bumps on the road. I had to navigate feelings of self-doubt, imposter syndrome constantly while dealing with the challenges of living far away from home.

Although I had lived away from home for more than one year before then, it was not the same. Then, I was still with family. Even if I wanted to see my immediate family, I could take a ride home and be welcomed with my mom’s pepper soup. This time was different.

My living situation despite being paid wasn’t exactly great for my mental health. I had to navigate dealing with some people with deep seated personality issues constantly. I am naturally introverted and I like to keep to myself but it can be seen as aloofness and it probably rubs people the wrong way. I kept so much inside and I cried several times. FYI, I rarely cry.

I eventually fell quite ill and my stay at the hospital racked up bills. Although I had insurance, I constantly had to worry whether my claim would be approved or not. It was always lingering at the back of my mind. So you might have seen all smiles on Instagram or jokes on Twitter but I was constantly worried.

Eventually, my worries cleared up all in good time. My graduation happened in June. I moved into my first big girl apartment in July. I now live alone as I would like and I can keep to myself without worrying about how it would be perceived. My claim got approved so I have no debt. Lastly, I am doing work that I enjoy with a team that I learn from every day.

During those days I struggled, the support from my dad and mum played a big role. You never outgrow the love of your parents no matter how old you get or how far away they are. My uncle and his wife were very helpful too especially that time when I needed a change of scenery and I am super grateful that I have them.

Lastly, my spiritual community was my family away from home. I would never forget the effort those individuals out just to make my hospital stay a little less lonely. From calls to visits and looking for where to get 'spicy food’ because hospital food sucked and I was craving something spicy.

I have met new people, made new acquaintances and friends, ate new foods and visited new places.

If I were to summarize the lessons learned, they would be something like this:

  • God first always. I found my family away from home by keeping up my spiritual routine. I might have looked ridiculous to others dressing up for Bible studies that held on zoom but when push came to shove, those people in the meetings walked the extra mile for me and I would gladly do the same for them.
  • Your parents would always have your back. Screw not wanting to ruin decade old relationships. There’s always a way to resolve issues. You don’t have to carry everything in your chest. Let it down sometime.
  • Take that leap. You have absolutely nothing to lose. The worst that can happen is you don’t get it or you get a no.

With that being said, that last point is my motto going forward in 2023. You miss all the shots you don’t take. Career, friendship, and love. Let us shoot all the shots we want and achieve all we hope for this year. Toodles!

PS: Talking about shots and goals and what not, I picked up building Notion templates as a hobby. Try out my Notion goals tracker to track all the shots and big leaps you want to take this year. 😁