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Why are you moving? A question I’ve answered dozens of times in the last few months. To every person, I would smile and tell them that relocating and working abroad has been a lifelong dream. Usually this was met with pleasant, thrilling responses — people supporting and truly believing that I was about to embark on the best journey of my life.

Though I was extremely excited, my nervousness meant that on the lead-up to my move, I became obsessed with researching expat life. I was extremely determined to make sure I was equipped with all the do’s, don’ts and must-knows. Upon delving deeper into expat life, I was met with article after article quite clearly aimed at a demographic I did not belong to. Again, like many areas of life, I wasn’t met with much material that came from people I could relate to.

Mid-research, out of sheer frustration, I shot a message to a few friends who had already made the move to Toronto. “Do you want to start a podcast?” Ping, ping, ping! I was met with message after message, all eagerly agreeing to start a podcast documenting our journeys in Toronto. Minutes later, our WhatsApp group chat was formed. Weeks later we came up with our name: Chapter 6ix. From the get go, there was a thirst to share our experiences — an overflow of ideas that have come from the undeniably layered experience that moving abroad is.

Expat life has always been projected to be a glamorous, once in a lifetime opportunity. Until my teenage years, I viewed it to be a very caucasian experience and an experience that, for the most part, was difficult to attain. For the large majority of people of the diaspora, we have always been taught by our parents to just be grateful to have found one safe home. To go and lay roots elsewhere was something that was unheard of, something that shouldn’t be a focus or goal. Through such iconic platforms as Travel Noire, we have spent recent years exposed to the magic that is Black travel. It has played a pivotal role in the development of the Black renaissance, encouraging people to maintain lifestyles that they did not first hand experience as young children. Though we have now found ourselves in a world full of multiple Black travel platforms, I found that to be a Black expatriate wasn’t promoted to as large of a scale.

All five of us moved to Toronto as an effort to unlock a new, unearthed level in our lives. All with different stories, our common bond is that we wanted to experience something new and to grow in and through that season of adjustment. As we all come from families that migrated to the UK in search for a “better life,” it has been extremely empowering that we have been able to decide to move not for “better” but for a refreshing change. This move was not out of lack, but from a place of abundance.

As my mother ushered me goodbye, she pulled me in tight, crying and whispering prayers of protection in my ear. To her, she had done it. She came to the UK with very little idea of how life would pan out, but living simply for her kids. To her, watching me go from once being an immigrant to being an expat was the happily ever after she had always wanted. A place of abundance and not lack — her only wish for us all, something all five of us wish for this experience.

My friends and I created the Chapter 6ix podcast to encourage other young Black adults to take the leap of faith that is required to move abroad and start a new life. As a collective, we believe in the healing and growth that comes from taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Between adjusting to small changes like referring to “bins” as “trash cans” to understanding the Canadian work culture is very different to British culture, moving abroad gives you a reset button. It gives you a chance to change the things you’ve always been meaning to. Though these things can be changed in your home city, there is undoubtedly a new sense of confidence you feel when you move abroad — it is one that makes you feel equally vulnerable as well as brave; both extremes shape you to want better and that is why we have all moved to Toronto.

As members of the diaspora, it can be quite difficult to move abroad, as it means you are introducing your hybrid identity to yet another new space. Sometimes, uncertainty can feel too daunting to explore, but it is the only way you can ever really grow. As our sisterhood flourishes, we hope you can relate to at least one of the five members of Chapter 6ix — we wish for you to be brave and do whatever it is that you have always wanted. We wish for you to also act from a place of abundance and not lack. 

Listen to our first episode on SoundCloud and Spotify.


Fanan Hailu is a freelance writer, podcaster and full-time finance professional newly relocated to Toronto. She can be found on Twitter at @seoulfulsatsuma and on Instagram at @seoulful.satsuma.

You can find 'Chapter 6ix' podcast on Twitter at @Chapter6ixpod and Instagram at @Chapter6ixpod.