"When we arrived, it was minus 32 degrees and there was eight feet of snow, and my girlfriend said, 'I can't believe you brought me here!'"
Such was Albert Watson's first experience of life in Canada when he left the Irish League to try a new experience on another continent.
The 34-year-old Larne defender was an established success on the domestic front when he decided to up sticks and move to North America, having just won two League and Cup doubles with Linfield.
The man from Sandy Row in Belfast began life as a footballer with Ballymena United, spending 10 distinguished years at The Showgrounds before switching to Windsor Park.
He enjoyed a comfortable life but deep down, he and his girlfriend - now wife - Alison wanted a new challenge in a new environment.
His odyssey took him to FC Edmonton in the North American Soccer League (NASL) then KR Reykjavik, the oldest and most successful club in Iceland, before returning to these shores 18 months ago.
"Moving away was the best decision I ever made," Watson tells Sunday Life.
"Firstly, to experience a different life and a different culture, and secondly, for footballing reasons.
"I was at Linfield and I was very happy, but I wanted to play full-time football. The club had knocked back interest from Sweden amongst other places without telling me, but I knew.
"I was chatting to my team-mate Daryl Fordyce about new opportunities and he said, 'I would emigrate tomorrow' and I said, 'So would I!'
"My wife and I had talked about it before and we made the decision to emigrate together, with football secondary.
"I spoke to the Linfield board to tell them I wanted to emigrate and, to be fair, they were very good. I still had a year left on my contract but I said if it doesn't work out and I return, you have first refusal.
"That was January 2013. Alison has a cousin who lives in Los Angeles and we wanted to move to North America. Daryl put me in touch with FC Edmonton and we moved over.
"It was very difficult for us at the start. We left with no guarantees and we were leaving a good life behind; I was playing for Linfield and working for the IFA, so we were comfortable.
"We arrived with about eight suitcases to eight foot of snow and a temperature of minus 32 - and Alison joked, 'I can't believe you brought me here!'
"I went on trial for a week with Edmonton, a two-way thing, for them to have a look at me and for me to see if I would enjoy playing there, and I loved every minute of it.
"You have four or five months of winter and seven months of summer-autumn, when it's 32 degrees, and it's a very laid-back lifestyle.
"Edmonton has a river valley system with trails everywhere, so it was perfect for an outdoor lifestyle, really beautiful and great for cycling and walking.
"It has a coffee culture rather than a drinking culture, a rural area where country music is very popular and Canadians are lovely people - sometimes too nice.
"From a footballing point of view, I was playing in the same League Pele did with New York Cosmos - who are still going - and playing against top players like Marcos Senna.
"I loved my six years there. Then there were problems with the League, changes. TV money didn't come through and I was told Edmonton would be ceasing operations for a year.
"I was in the middle of a two-year deal and I wasn't prepared to wait a year. A former team-mate at Edmonton, Oskar Hauksson, had moved to KR Reykjavik and called me to invite me over.
"I wasn't sure, but Alison said it might work as it was closer to home so we flew out from Edmonton to Iceland, stayed a week and agreed to sign for KR.
"Iceland is a great country, but it didn't work out on the pitch and my wife struggled with the language. They don't speak English to you, they expect you to speak their language.
"So Alison was lonely and she had just had our second child, and I said to the manager, 'This isn't working'.
"It was a pity because financially it was great. They pay good money in Iceland, you get a car and an apartment and they pay all your bills.
"The club agreed to sever my contract and went on to win the title the next year, but we had made our decision.
"I hadn't thought much about returning home but we did and I asked Gary Haveron if I could train at Larne to keep myself in shape. I didn't know much about the changes at the club at that stage.
"I couldn't believe the change, the level of professionalism, the facilities, the attention to detail, sports science, nutrition, everything.
"I had a year left with KR and I thought I was going back, but Tiernan (Lynch) said, 'We want you!' so I told KR I wasn't going back.
"I had no word from Linfield, I think some of the board were a bit sore about me leaving first time around, so I signed for Ballymena United and Davy Jeffrey until the end of the season in January of last year.
"I didn't like returning to part-time football, I told Davy early on I wanted full-time football and signed for Larne.
"This is what I want to do, I really enjoyed it and signed a contract extension just last week.
"I never thought I'd settle here for good, but I am doing my A Licence on top of my sports science degree because there is a life after football as well as outside football."