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Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

A Different Idea Of Home

Posted by: Carole on Friday October 05, 2012 (23:57:13)   (2499 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Canadian and British homes are worlds apart in terms of style and layout.

Before moving to Canada, my husband and I renovated and extended our 1930’s UK property, stripping the interior - re-plastering, re-plumbing and re-wiring. It was a major undertaking; six months of dust and noise made possible in equal measure by vast amounts of tea (aka builder lubricant) and a forgiving bank manager. We learnt a lot about house building in the process, from the basics: planning and preparation, laying the footings, positioning the steel, to the niche intricacies: installation of quartz work-surfaces, molded sinks and sun-tubes. We were involved every step of the way.

Built to last?
Living in Ontario, we discovered your average Canadian house is a very different animal. The exterior walls of our UK home comprised two layers of brick with insulation between them and an outer cladding, pebbledash or brick for example. Interior walls were brick or timber frame and plasterboard, and steel girders were used structurally to span and bear load.    more ...

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Moving To Canada From The UK? 5 Things No-One Tells You!

Posted by: Carole on Sunday September 02, 2012 (20:15:39)   (88541 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
However many times you do it, moving to another country is a big deal. We try to wrap our heads around it by learning as much as we can about the new place before we go; climate, currency, language, demographics… but it’s the small stuff that someone once said you shouldn’t sweat, that can make you feel like a visiting alien.

Here are five things the guidebooks didn’t put nearly enough emphasis on that made an impression on me when I moved here from the UK:

1. Car culture
Yes, Canada’s a huge country, but I never thought that it would be so car-centric. Here, the car is king. Forget popping down the road on foot – there might not be a sidewalk and at some point you’ll have to cross six lanes of traffic! Road systems, housing and shopping areas are all designed for the motorist.    more ...

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Tropical Toronto

Posted by: Carole on Monday August 06, 2012 (17:07:42)   (1757 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
A record-breaking start to the year

We’ve been experiencing some record-breaking temperatures here in Ontario this year. Our last winter was incredibly mild and spring got off to a flying start with the first record temperature occurring in March, when many parts of Canada saw temperatures in double-digits. The last day of snow was March 9th - unheard of since record keeping began in 1937 and unbelievable considering 6 C is more usual for that time of year.

Since then, things have just got hotter and hotter. As the mercury rose above the mid thirties in early July, Toronto’s power-grid struggled to cope with the increased demand as air-conditioning units citywide remained on day and night. Transit companies were also affected as the heat had the potential to expand/buckle the steel rails, leading to speed restrictions on trains and streetcars throughout the city.    more ...

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Sounds Of Canada – An Auditory Adventure

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday July 04, 2012 (01:56:55)   (2239 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Whenever people travel somewhere new, they talk of “the sights and sounds”, and out come the photos to give us an idea of what they’ve experienced. But without the auditory soundtrack the pictures are static and flat. We can’t feel the atmosphere.
It takes sound to flesh out the visual experience and imbue it with life. Sounds can take us on a journey far more effectively than any picture. The more blanks the mind has to fill in, the more engaged it becomes. With an evocative noise and a vivid imagination, you can travel anywhere. It’s with this in mind, that I’m taking you on an auditory trip to Canada.

From the outset, my experience here was marked by sound. When we first arrived, we were woken in our hotel room throughout the night by the insistent, metallic clang of alarm bells on a railway crossing and the whistle of the freight train as it rolled through with a low steady rumble.    more ...

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

What’s In A Name?

Posted by: Carole on Friday June 08, 2012 (02:47:01)   (2311 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Is it time to pull the plug on Ontario’s government-funded faith schools?

There’s a struggle taking place in Ontario that pits Canada’s most cherished freedoms against one another and could potentially change the face of education in the province.

Ontario politicians are attempting to amend the province’s Education Act, brought in last November to provide a framework for dealing with the problem of bullying. The act seeks to:

• Introduce tougher consequences for bullying and hate-motivated actions -- up to, and including, expulsion

• Require all school boards to support students who want to lead activities that promote gender equity, anti-racism, understanding and respect for people with disabilities and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including groups with the name gay-straight alliance or another name    more ...

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Car Insurance In Canada - 5 Tips For Expats

Posted by: Carole on Sunday May 06, 2012 (12:14:04)   (7011 Reads)
As an expat in Canada, finding affordable car insurance can be like trying to shift those last few pounds to reach your target weight. You’ve come so far; found somewhere to live, started in the new job and worked out the recycled waste collection schedule. You’ve decided on the car you want and the monthly (or bi-weekly) payments are do-able – then you get the insurance quote…

When you emerge from the short depressive episode this brings on, you’ll set about searching the web with renewed vigour, determined to track down a more realistic figure. Over and over again, the same, unreasonable amount keeps coming back. Like the figure on the scales, it just won’t shift.    more ...

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Declutter Your Life – Emigrate!

Posted by: Carole on Thursday April 05, 2012 (13:11:19)   (3487 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Ok. Maybe that’s a bit extreme. But have you ever been surprised how much “stuff” you own? Minimalism is easy when you’re a couple, but add children to the mix and your “Stuff Quotient” soars. Strollers, highchairs, stair-gates and outgrown apparel populate the shadows of the basement or gather dust in the attic. With children, comes a move to a bigger place, perhaps with a garden, and suddenly you have “outdoor stuff” too – mowers, blowers, trimmers and garden furniture. There’s an urge to fill the new living space with more “stuff” that somehow represents and defines you - your beliefs, your personality, your memories.

Two years ago, we were living in Britain and expecting our third child. We had just finished a big renovation project that increased the size of our home and were in “Stuff Acquisition” overdrive – we had rooms to fill, a bigger canvas to stamp our identity on. Then, we made a decision that would turn our world on its head. My husband accepted a post in Canada.    more ...

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

7 Things To Remember When Moving To Canada

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday March 06, 2012 (03:10:35)   (4648 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
You could be forgiven for thinking moving to Canada doesn’t entail the same consideration journeying to a third world country might. After all, it has a stable economy, an established infrastructure and an accepting attitude, right? But it’s always the small, innocuous things that lurk below our radar that can make life miserable with their irksomeness if overlooked.

There are a few things to be aware of that will help your Canadian experience go smoothly. They may seem obvious to some, but that’s easy to say with the benefit of hindsight:

1. There’s a voltage difference. The plugs are different but so too is the voltage. In the UK its 240v compared to Canada’s 110v. A plug adaptor alone won’t be the solution to your problems, as I found to my chagrin when my steam steriliser couldn’t reach the temperature required to properly sterilise my baby’s bottles. Cue boiling them in the kettle each night as sterilizing tablets were nowhere to be found here.    more ...

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Smooth Moves for Expat Kids – tips to ease the transition

Posted by: Carole on Monday February 06, 2012 (04:23:25)   (6066 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Moving to another country with children can be a stressful experience. The tearful confession, “I want to go home,” is the last thing any parent wants to hear. Adults will be going through their own period of adjustment and this, coupled with the logistical matters that lay claim to their time in the early days, can leave them ill-equipped to give their children the help they need to cope with the transition.

The good news is that, when properly prepared and supported, children often adjust more quickly than adults. The key to a move with minimum fuss comes down to 3 main things:

   more ...

Columnists > Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Conquering My Driving Demons

Posted by: Carole on Thursday January 05, 2012 (04:46:51)   (4092 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
For us, 2012 will be the Year of the Road Trip, the year we travel to Tadoussac to see the whales swimming in Quebec’s first purely marine national park, where the Saguenay River meets the estuary of the St Lawrence. I’m excited at the thought of the drive and the stops we’ll make en route, but this wasn’t always the case. My confession? For a while back there, I lost my driving mojo. What was once a source of enjoyment provoked a cold, sinking dread in the pit of my stomach. No-one was more surprised than me, lover of fine cars and consummate speed junkie (think Jeremy Clarkson without the gob).

For a long time, before exchanging my British driving licence for a Canadian one, I would mentally rehearse driving here. Closing my eyes, I would imagine every part of the journey into town, all the intersections, traffic lights and lane changes, haunted by the fear I would end up on the wrong side of the road and terrified of the potential carnage.    more ...