Newcomer Stories: Immigration Sentiments

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Fork in the Road - Borrowed Photo
Looking through some stuff and found this old unblogged post of mine. Seems like eons ago, when in fact it has only been 3 months. Just goes to show that not everything immigration is great...and not everything is stinking bad.
You'd think that waiting for a whole year before activating my Canadian permanent residence visa would make me more prepared for what awaited me. But it didn't. Immigration affects people differently and there is no amount of research that really prepares you emotionally for a new country.

I was very happy to have landed in Canada last December. The timing was perfect. My kids were only finishing school then and I was still working until October to gather enough money to bring across.
It was winter in Canada that time and the family experienced different levels of snow. We had a look around the Greater Toronto Area the first few days and Montreal over the holidays. It was a break. But it didn't feel like one to me. You see, I've been out of work since November and being a bum for so long has not been sitting well with me. Of course, I neglect to mention that during this time I was also studying to take exams and packing stuff to take to Canada like mad.

Anyways, getting back to it, my feelings of anxiety were more compounded when hubby got a job, and family and friends kept asking if I've found one myself already. Hubby put it down to "You're not seriously looking yet, so why are you worried?" A statement that was relatively true. I shrugged it off but nevertheless thought about it endlessly. I applied to about 5 advertised posts a day with no luck.

When we eventually came back to Toronto, I furiously continued my search. Still no luck. I moaned about it everyday to my husband. After one week, I had to change my tactic. It was slowly driving me psycho, this not-having-a-job state.

So I concentrated on the search less. Registered with some newcomer centres, attended some job search workshops on how to improve my resume and interview tactics. Hired a rental and learned to drive the "right" way in the wrong side of the car. With kids already in school and hubby left to start work in a faraway land, getting the driver's licence became priority #1, then getting a job.

Don't get me wrong, I still applied to jobs when I actually sat down to it. But I did that about twice a week for about 2/3 hours (Fixing up the resume to match the ad is SOOO time-consuming. I've got like 8 different sets). Plus to pre-empt people from asking, I'd post regular updates on social media to tell them how we, the family, were doing. Like in about every 14 or 15 days. I did not say too much as I was in the doldrums and I did not want to infect anyone else with my "depression". This became my therapy.

Licence-wise, as mentioned previously, I went for my G1 and passed. Booked for my G test 2 weeks later. The rental was expensive and I had to make a plan fast. Was all nervous at the test, like I haven't been driving for 15 years. The Etobicoke centre had the reputation of being the 3rd highest fail rates in all of Ontario. Examiner tells me to turn right and I indicated to turn left. Of course, that was not "right" (pun intended) as I needed to get onto the highway. So he reminded me that I must turn right. Did some hellraising stunt on the highway like only a Joburg woman driver my super mini rented car. In the end, he had no words to say. I looked at him crushed but he just handed me some paper and said "It's a pass". A "pass" for comments maybe?

I am thrilled at the good news. Immediately went to Tim Hortons and drowned my happiness with a hot chocolate.

But of course, the crux of the matter is I was still jobless and I needed to change that situation. As I was not getting callbacks applying at accounting jobs, I decided to play up my other strong suit, the ADMIN. I applied for admin support, admin clerk, admin assistant, anything admin....with a bit of bookkeeping involved, naturally. Tailored my resume one Sunday evening for 3 jobs, remembered all that I learnt at the job search workshop and applied those to my resumes and cover letters. And my resumes were off!

The Monday after, every single one of them phoned for an interview. Yes! Finally my foot in the door...or their boardroom/office door at least. Can't wait to dazzle. The first 2 interviews went well although it was established around midway the interview that (a) I was not suitable for the position I applied for, being admin, and that (b) they had other plans for me anyway and they just wanted to see me. Both came back with offers although one of them offered a not-really-so-bad unpaid accountant intern position. I went with the paid one, of course. And I am happy to say that I have now been stricken from the unemployment roll....for the time being.

So I think this has been long enough. I now have to go out and celebrate and buy myself a Tim Hortons. I think I'll go to the newcomer centre and just hang out. Be a bum one last time before I start work. Can't go update my status just yet because it's only due on the 15th. LOL. Maybe I'll keep this news for myself for now. I'll research cars instead, 'cause there's free printing at the centre. Plus my daughter just SMSed to congratulate me and is hitting me for a $25 weekly allowance now. So I'll go klap her one."
Hahahaha....Can't help laughing at my own jokes. I am so glad to have put this down just as a reminder that the immigration experience was not all roses for me. Not at first anyway. Funny how 3 months pass by so fast.

Newcomer Stories: Passing Your Driver's....Again - Part 4

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Borrowed Photo

Part 3 was here.

In my mind, because of my nervousness, I did a lot of things incorrectly. In my mind, I thought of other things that I could've done differently or better. I clouded my own judgment. So in my mind, I may have failed.
But I didn't.
That was a great feeling right there. As David, my examiner, signed the sheet that announced that I had passed my driver's exam. I was relieved. And happy. It could have been that David was just such a nice guy that he decided not to fail me that day. But I suppose he would need some true justification that I could drive and behave myself on the roads of Canada.
For people taking the test at the Etobicoke centre, I'd like to share the drive routes that I took when I did my G test. From the Etobicoke test station, it was a right onto Eglinton Avenue West (70kph zone turning into 60 kph before you reach the turn). Drive straight on and turn right again into Renforth Drive (which is a 40 kph zone with the famous pedestrian crossing right in the middle of the road). A few blocks down, it is a left into Eringate Drive (50 kph). Here you drive further down before you reach the onramp to the highway, you will be asked to turn right into one of the small streets to make an emergency stop and 3-point turn. After which, you will have to return back, turning right into Eringate Drive and then finally getting onto Highway 427 (100 kph). You will take the offramp for Burnhamthorpe Road and will turn left on this street, followed by a quick lane change to the right to catch the onramp back onto Highway 427.
Then you are requested to change lanes to the left and to the right, do some overtaking of slower cars and other manouevring prowess.
You take the offramp to Eglinton Avenue West and turn right on Commerce Boulevard. This area is a business district. I don't recall seeing a speed limit sign in this area so I have assumed that it is 50 kph. After travelling Commerce Boulevard, you turn left on Matheson Boulevard East. You then turn left on Explorer Drive and then right again onto Eglinton Avenue West, where you will be heading back to the test centre.
It was nerve wrecking admittedly but I think one should not over-analyse stuff at all when taking these kinds of exams. There is always something that can be done differently. And the best is just to be prepared.