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.
About to finish my last travel in 2019. Here is the consequence. pic.twitter.com/HXTKvxFFwp— Takuya Kitazawa (@takuti) December 18, 2019
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.
The booking process was so frustrating, but I can't imagine the chaos at Toronto airport as my on-arrival experience on Feb 26 at YVR was just perfect. Everything was smooth from COVID test to hotel transfer, and a hotel has a good selection of foods (from @White_Spot). https://t.co/MIxyYsnOt9 pic.twitter.com/doGxjDyavU— Takuya Kitazawa (@takuti) March 1, 2021
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.
Support (Thank you!)
- My 2021 Annual Review: A Year of Divergence (And Slowly Started Converging)
- Next "Dot" in Journey: Curiosity-Driven Job Change in Canada (Aug 2021)
- Why a Data Science Engineer Becomes a Product Manager
Author: Takuya Kitazawa
Takuya Kitazawa is a product developer, minimalistic traveler, ultralight hiker & runner, and craft beer enthusiast. Throughout my career, I have practically worked as a full-stack software engineer, OSS developer, technical evangelist, sales engineer, data scientist, machine learning engineer, and product manager.
Opinions are my own and do not represent the views of organizations I am/was belonging to.