Three Years On!
As I wait on the threshold of citizenship to a new country, I look back at the last three years and think of the things I did, to get this far wondering if I would do them any different, if I was starting this journey again. This is based on the successes that we have achieved and may help those that are starting their lives in this beautiful and splendid country.
I would like to start with the things I would do the same
- Research – is the most important part of your move and this is a continuous process throughout your life. We spent hours reading forums, looking up information, reading books, checking maps and areas that we were going to visit. There are many more avenues now than three years ago. Social networking was just taking off and the ability to communicate with people overseas was limited to email, websites, forums and blog posts. With Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Google Maps; information is now faster, current and accurate. With Google Maps you can actually see the neighbourhood that you are going to live in. You couldn’t see stuff like this three years ago. If you are intimidated by technology, local libraries, community and welfare centres still exist to provide answers. However, you have to adapt to technology in order to be successful. With all that has changed, even people’s attitudes to new immigrants have changed. There is greater acceptance and specific programs are designed by the local community to ensure that new immigrants have a seamless transfer. Banks have also changed their attitudes towards new immigrants most of them have programs specially designed to integrate new immigrants into society.
- Time of Move – We came here in the summer and to me this is the best time to make your entry. When you move here in the summer (June – August) it gives you adequate time to get things organized before the cold weather sets in. If you have children, it gives them some time to acclimatize before getting ready for the school term. It is easier to get around when searching for jobs, places to live without having to depend on people to drive you around as the conditions as dry and there is daylight till 9:00 PM. It is also a great time to learn to drive as the roads are not that busy.
- Job Search – I’m sure a lot of you have heard the much dreaded words ‘Canadian Experience.’ This is no different from experience anywhere in the world, however, it is something all employers want you to have. While most professions require you to take some reciprocity exams others do not recognize your qualifications at all. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer in attempting to find work in the profession that you were in your native country. It may take time, however, do not lose sight of what you want to achieve. In some cases you make have to take a few courses to get that dream job; it is important to have faith and be patient. You don’t have to settle for anything that comes your way.
- English – You have to speak and communicate in English in order to succeed here. There are no concessions in this regard. We were raised speaking English so we never really had a problem and most of the locals are amazed that we speak English fluently. They do not expect people from South Asia to be fluent in English. So if English is not your first language make every attempt to master it by taking a class that focuses on conversational English. As basic as it may seem to some people, the ability to express your views, ideas and opinions in a language that people can understand is very important to be successful here.
Things I would do differently
- Driving – I started driving almost two years after I came here. Although my wife started driving immediately, I took my time with it and used public transit. Driving in Canada is different and if you never driven before it does not matter. You still have to acquire skills that make you a safe driver and so do not be intimidated by this. Driving gives you the freedom and also broadens your opportunities. Relying on public transit limits the areas where you can live and work. At least one member of the family should drive as this makes you independent and allows you tackle those tough winter days. Imagine carrying a pile of groceries, school supplies on the bus or train in sub zero temperatures.
- Renting v Buying – When we came here the global economy was steady and there were no obvious signs of a recession. So we chose to buy immediately and therefore did not know how to play the markets. After you pay double digit interest rates back home single digit interests are pretty attractive. If I was a new immigrant in the current market, I would rent for a year, looking at options and areas that I would finally like to settle in. This would also give you me to understand the financial environment so that I could take more informed decisions.
To summarize, we are very satisfied with the steps we took and while it may seem that things were simple, I must point out that it wasn’t easy. Be prepared for the worst and then whatever comes your way will be easy to overcome. Support each other and never focus on the things that you left behind. Being positive was our motto and it helped us tremendously. Final note, ‘The Lord always helps those, who help themselves.’ Do not expect results without efforts!
“Allan D’Silva is an experienced Call Center Manager and was part of the outsourcing boom in India in the late 90’s. He moved to Brampton, ON, in 2007 from Mumbai and continues to work in management roles. He absolutely loves cricket and has recently taken to the sport of Golf. He writes a blog on his experiences as a New Immigrant and hopes to benefit others making Canada their new home.” He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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