Choosing Change over Comfort: Moving Across the World to Pursue Public Health in Canada.

Why would I start fresh in a new country when I’d built a comfortable and stable life in my home country?

I had a good public health career in India after completing my Master’s in Public Health 7 years ago.

But I had a nagging sense of incompleteness where my goals to make a more significant impact seemed unfinished. And I knew that the best way to fulfill my true potential was to embark on a journey that stretched far beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone.

It was then that I made the bold choice to uproot myself and relocate to Canada to grow my public health career.

“As public health professionals, we are wired to anticipate the unexpected with creative solutions to complex problems.”

The same applies to life – be prepared for the unexpected and confront challenges as stepping stones that propel you in the right direction. THIS was the most important lesson learnt from my experience moving continents to practice public health.

The weather in Canada is often the first challenge newcomers anticipate, but surprisingly, it wasn’t as harsh as I expected. Ready with warm winter gear and bookmarked articles on preparing for a Canadian winter, I faced not cold winds and snowstorms but freezing rain instead of snow. It seemed like I brought the monsoon from India to Canada!

Navigating the job market in Canada was a MUCH BIGGER hurdle than adapting to the chilly winters! I was already familiar with the public health landscape and career requirements so I was surprised at unexpected setbacks when job-seeking. My robust career scope and experience in India did not matter the way I hoped it would. I had to alter my approach, devise new strategies, and reframe my expertise to demonstrate transferable skills in public health.

Are you considering a BIG CHANGE? Here’s what I learned that may help guide YOU.

The Power of Choice

Do YOU have the power of choice? Making this choice was possible for me because I had a supportive network (husband, sister, parents and friends) which helped me stay positive during those times of uncertainty and despair.

Public Health – the best career choice and one of the major reasons for my move – continued to shape my path and fuel my passion for creating meaningful change.

Embracing Many Opportunities

Are YOU Ready to take advantage of new opportunities? Every choice comes with learning opportunities. This means you could choose the path you want in an area that interests you the most.

I was starting fresh (new country, “new” career as I had to translate it to a new context). After years of experience in program management, I seized the chance to work in implementation research to improve access and linkages to care for marginalized communities.

A different place also offers opportunities to expand your professional network and forge connections with people from diverse backgrounds. Through these connections, I now have a network of friends and colleagues from India, Canada, the US, Puerto Rico and Barbados! I also enrolled in PH Spot – a global community dedicated to public health – and was featured for the first time as a guest speaker on one of their podcasts!

Utilizing Your Strengths

What strengths keep YOU going?

Perseverance, resilience, kindness, patience, and confidence played a huge role in my journey.

-Perseverance to keep trying and learning.
-Resilience to never give up no matter how difficult and impossible it may seem.
-Kindness to not be so hard on myself and to appreciate the wins, even the small ones.
-Patience to wait for the right opportunity (even the right apartment) at the right time.
-Confidence in connecting with people through stories of shared experiences.

“There is no perfect time to take a leap of faith and make life-altering decisions.”

Leaving behind the familiar comforts of home – supportive family, amazing friends, and a stable career – to start all over in a completely different environment can seem exciting, but it is quite challenging. This is why making such choices requires a lot of conviction, belief in the infinite possibilities that lie ahead, and, most importantly, endless and doubtless faith in your capabilities to survive and thrive.

As I complete my first year in Canada, I’m grateful (and shocked) for how my journey that started with a single choice has developed.

Regardless of where you are in your career, always evaluate your present and reflect on where you want to see yourself in the future.

Change wears many masks and will more often than not come with a lot of uncertainty. So, whether you’re contemplating a career transition or embarking on a new venture, a change can mean anything you want it to be.

For me, it meant choosing to leave behind my home – where I’ve lived, studied, worked for the last 30 years – to rediscover my path towards a more fulfilling career.


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