Barbara Bauken remembers her husband coming home and asking her how she’d feel about leaving their home in Germany and moving to the United States — she provided an emphatic “no way” rather quickly.
Not long after, he came to her with a different option, “How about Canada?” This time, she answered him with a yes.
That said, this new opportunity was with her husband’s company in Tillsonburg and she knew that wasn’t going to be the right fit.
“We wanted a bigger city; I wanted to work as well, and London seemed the better choice. It’s a bigger city with more going on,” Barbara said. “There was no big deal to going aboard. I once lived with my parents abroad when I was a child. I studied a semester in Spain; I was in Ecuador for a student exchange for three months. I never felt homesick here in Canada . . . you have everything you need to feel good.”
That said, Barbara admits she didn’t know a whole lot about London, Ontario.
She learned about the Grand Theatre, the VIA train station, and Western University, but mostly she was just happy to not be headed to the United States.
Even so, she heard all the typical stereotypes about Canada. Barbara had heard the country was very friendly and open, “which is all true,” but she still recognized if she was going to move across the ocean she needed to do her research — which she did.
However, there’s nothing quite like experiencing a community in person.
And so, about a year before the big move, the couple came to London for a week-long visit.
With her husband “busy doing company things,” Barbara was left somewhat on her own.
Despite being “kind of scared” about that scenario, she decided to strike out on her own and learn what she could.
At one point during that initial visit, Barbara ended up walking through the Woodfield neighbourhood and falling in love with the area.
Ironically, the two new Londoners would end up finding a place in Woodfield. Over the past two years living in the neighbourhood, Barbara has come to think of the move as fate as she now considers it the best place to set down roots.
“My husband asked me if I could imagine living together in London, and I said absolutely,” she said. “Sometimes I really feel like a Londoner. When I can tell people to check out this or that, I feel a part of it.”
Barbara is quick to acknowledge she’s “not a Twitter person,” but she started following various Londoners and local organizations on social media to find out what is going on.
She wanted to know what was happening, which she said definitely helped her become more involved in the community.
Of course, to many Londoners, being a part of the community means taking in a London Knights game, which Barbara and her husband have done.
She enjoyed the game and even if the sport of choice might be different back in Germany, the sense of community that comes from cheering on the home team is something she can relate to.
“I like to be passionate about your home team; it is so beautiful to see everyone in their team shirts, the families all together. We did that in Germany with soccer; so, I’ve seen the Knights, been to a Majors game,” she said. “I think sometimes we’re trying really hard to be Canadian, to really experience it. Our neighbours make fun of us sometimes for wearing flannel, but sometimes, when in Rome you do what the Romans do.”