Sunday, September 20, 2009

Landing in Canada: Prepare yourselves



Since more and more are receiving their permanent residents visa fast, the next concern that these applicants will have is how to prepare themselves for their landing in Canada. Here are some tips from a former colleague at Canadian Immigration Consultancy, Ms. Marivic Solis.

Landing in Canada: Prepare yourselves

She landed in Canada on December 2008. You will learn a thing or two from her experience.

So, this is it! The minute I landed at the Vancouver International Airport, I get to experience the things that I used to tell our clients. Now, putting those tips in reality is another thing. I realized that most of the tips we shared to our clients were the same tips that I applied in my own situation. There are a bit of some deviations but it only boils down to one thing ---- the feeling of landing as an immigrant to Canada is an extraordinary one.

Euphoric first days
The first few days upon landing in Canada is revealing for a first-time immigrant. One good thing about the Canadian government is that they have a well-funded immigrant settlement program. Thanks to the immigrant organizations. I have the opportunity of dealing with the Centre for Newcomers and the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association. Both of them have Filipino counselors. (It is a lot different dealing with “kababayans” since they will give you 150% support.) These organization offer more than just providing you with information. CIWA for instance, offers free legal clinic that allows you to talk to an immigration lawyer or to a family lawyer (for free). Also, at CIWA, I had the chance to do volunteer work which counts as a Canadian experience – something that you can put into your resume when looking for a job. I volunteered to work for the Women’s Day and to assist the computer instructor in his classes.

It also pays to be resourceful and find out what programs and services you can benefit out of being a new immigrant. There are more good things than bad --- you get a free bed (the only setback is that you need to wait for a few months). If you go to Scotia Bank and tell them that you are new immigrant, they welcome you by letting you open without putting up a deposit (incidentally, I had already set up my account with another bank until I learned that this bank has a better program for new immigrants.) Scotia Bank will even throw you in with an unsecured credit card!

(By the way, if you chose Alberta, you do not have to pay for your health insurance premium, which is a good thing --- that is around $60 dollars or more off your pocket.)

Job hunting: quite an experience
It was on my first week in Canada that I got a job offer. However, I did not start working on that job since I was asked to report after the holidays. I arrived in Canada shortly before Christmas and everyone was in a holiday mood. I took that opportunity of going through the internet, searching for more job opportunities. It was very tough considering that the recession fever has just set in Calgary and I couldn’t get a job interview not until after Christmas. After turning in so many resumes online, finally, I got another job interview with one of the biggest hospitals in Calgary. Unfortunately, though the HR Manager wanted to hire, he said that he has to follow the hiring policy – which is – that one should be hired if he has the proper qualification. It turned out that I need to get a Medical Assistant Certification. However, it did not discourage me. I still have a few more interviews after this.

Barely after a month of searching, had I finally landed a job that I really wanted. My tip to a new immigrant: keep looking for the job that you wanted to work in. It does not matter if it may take longer but the minute you landed on a job that is not in line, you may have difficulty jumping to another job.

Settling down
With a job in hand, the next thing to do to is to get settled in a community that you want to live. I had to move to 2 different places before I finally decided what area to live in. Factors that I considered is the location of the school, the church, the stores (malls, of course --- knowing how much we Filipinos love to go to the mall), among other things. I am blessed to find a place where it is just walking distance to Wal-Mart and to a Filipino store, of course.

Now, I am settled with a job that I love (and a boss that I love working with!) --- I can’t believe that I will be working in Sales Department. My son goes to school on 3rd Grade. (Going to school is not really free: there are fees to pay but they are minimal as compared to the fees in the Philippines. However, you need to pay for the lunchroom supervision, which is a new thing for us. (It costs $26/monthly). The idea is to have the kids eat their lunch supervised (and make sure that no kid bullies another kid). The only thing that concerns me now is babysitting. I realized how expensive it is to have a nanny here in Canada. (You cannot leave your kids alone if they are below 13.)

One final word…
For those who wanted to immigrate to Canada – be brave enough. It is not easy leaving your comfort zone --- friends, family, officemates -- the environment that you have accustomed to since the day you were born. I have learned to love Canada and its people. Although, most of the times, I still long for Filipino shows (and the Filipino “chismis”). If asked if I have to live my life again, I would still do the same thing, which is, to go to Canada!

This testimony is just a repost from Canadian Dream. I hope Ms. Marivic Solis' story will help you in your preparation for your landing in Canada.