On Feb 26, 2021, I have officially moved to Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada from Japan under continuous employment with Treasure Data, where I have been working for 4+ years.
Just as an experience, seriously.
Of course, there are some tactical reasons as follows:
- I have become a Product Manager having data science expertise. See "Why a Data Science Engineer Becomes a Product Manager" for the background.
- Over the past few years, I have been interacted with many valuable customers across the world not only as an engineer but occasionally acting as a consultant, pre-sales person, and product representative.
- As the company's business grows, the Canadian entity of Treasure Data currently plays a key role as the center of their R&D activities. Here, my experiences above hopefully help to accelerate the growth by bringing customer's points of view to the local team.
By the way, Treasure Data Canada is hiring :)
That said, my personal motivation is simply experiencing life in a foreign country, and I've been seeking the opportunity over the past few years.
Even though I spent half a year outside of Japan in 2019, everything was a part of my limited experience as an international traveler.
How does my impression change if I live there? Is Japan the best country to live in for me?—I'm not sure, because I haven't experienced it yet. So, let me do some experiments and collect evidence.
You should know the world is in unusual circumstances, and moving from one country to another is definitely counterintuitive—Many people, including my friends and parents in Japan, said. That's true.
Again, to directly answer the question, I do have business justifications as stated above. But I know some people still won't be convinced yet.
In fact, the visa application process and international travel are not straightforward under the pandemic, and there were so many confusions and big frustration on the way.
However, I'm more curious about seeing how people live in the situation, what I can do as an individual, and what the pandemic newly brings to the world in the next 2-3 years; the challenge doesn't become a reason of stopping moving forward, and it rather makes my curiosity even stronger.
Life is unpredictable, and it's the beauty for us. At the same time, we don't know when it suddenly finishes. That's why I keep adding extra randomness to my life by traveling the world, doing something uncomfortable, changing a career path, and heading in a counterintuitive direction.
In 20+ countries I've ever visited, Oslo, Norway, and Vancouver, Canada are the only destinations I can realistically consider the possibility of living in the place, except Japan.
The last time I came to Vancouver was in 2018 when I presented at RecSys 2018. During the limited period of stay, I deeply enjoyed the fabulous views from the city, the extremely walkable area of downtown, and high-quality local beers and coffee shops. Coincidentally, Treasure Data officially opened its Canada office in Vancouver next year.
Importantly, Vancouver and Oslo share a lot of similarities with my hometown, Nagano, Japan, in terms of nature. For example, these three locations are in a relatively cold environment surrounded by mountains and are equally the places where Winter Olympics have been held in 1952 (Oslo), 1998 (Nagano), and 2010 (Vancouver). Since I like enjoying nature and going on hikes in my daily life, living in these cities sounds very attractive to me.
For the reasons above, Vancouver was the best, most desirable choice for me compared to the other foreign entities the company may offer (e.g., California, USA, and London, UK).
Although my work permit technically has its expiry date, I honestly don't know how long I'll live in Canada and how my career changes over time from now on.
I wouldn't be surprised if I flew back to Japan within a year. Who knows what's next? But one thing I can clearly say right now is that I'm excited about the current situation as of March 2021.
Uncertainty always makes me excited, and, when the degree of certainty becomes greater than the uncertainty, that's the time I carefully review where I am.
- Becoming Permanent Resident of Canada
- My First Post-Pandemic International Trip
- Next "Dot" in Journey: Curiosity-Driven Job Change in Canada (Aug 2021)
Last updated: 2022-06-05
Author: Takuya Kitazawa
Takuya Kitazawa is a freelance software developer, minimalistic traveler, ultralight hiker & runner, and craft beer enthusiast. With a decade of experience at start-up companies and Big Tech ranging from full-stack/machine-learning engineering to data science to product management, I am currently working at the intersection of technological and social aspects of data-driven applications.
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