You know what I like about Canada? You all mind your business! I feel so free. I feel like a completely different person there.
I’ve never seen myself living in the Caribbean for my whole life. People here always say “If you really want to make it in life, you have to get out of Trinidad.” And I love traveling. I have so many friends around the world.
I also love Mr. Harry Styles. He’s been a big influence on why I travel.
It was because of him that I took my first trip to Florida to see his concert in Fort Lauderdale in June 2018. I took a chance and bought everything online —plane tickets, concert tickets, everything. Still, I had to beg my dad to let me go. We don't have trains in Trinidad because it’s such a small island, so I had to figure out how to use trains when I got there. That was its own whole experience. It was all worth it though.
Florida has become a second home for me. I got to meet some of my internet friends for the first time there. You find your group of people, and it’s like one big group of love.
The best part about Harry Styles’ concerts is that all the fans know what he’s going to wear on tour, so we match his outfits. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is there because we all love the same thing. You feel free, like you can be yourself.
You can be whoever you want to be in that room.
After that first trip I was like “Man, I'm not stopping there!” The experience was amazing and it motivated me to see other guys in the band like Niall Horan and attend other events like Playlist Live!
I only got the opportunity to see Harry once, and I'm so grateful I took that chance when I did. You can't do that now with COVID. It makes you wonder “Is now the right time for me to be leaving my country?” I was supposed to see him in Canada this year in September, but the event got cancelled.
Even though I didn’t get to see him again, Harry is still the one who paved the path for me to begin my travel journey and I’m not afraid of where it will take me; I go with the flow and take risks.
I’m very excited for my move up to Canada soon and to attend classes in person instead of online from my basement. I went to the career fair in Trinidad four times and eventually chose to apply to Sheridan because I liked their placement options and my dad has lived in Canada before. I also have family in Mississauga.
I got into every program I applied to, and last minute I switched into finance instead of marketing. My gut told me. I wanted to challenge myself with something new; anyone can do marketing. The world is changing. You can do anything to make money if you put your mind to it. I want to be able to give back to my parents because they have already given me so much.
I know I'm in charge of making my decisions. I’m going to travel again. I’m going to go to so many more concerts and meet so many more of my friends! I’m going to see Harry Styles live again one day, and I can’t wait.
--Leia Maria Ali
(Interviewed and Written by Eugénie Szwalek; Photo by Nolan Brinson)