Newcomer Stories: Job Hunting Experience Outside Canada

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
After getting our immigration visas and deciding that we will be landing in Canada within a year, one of the things I undertook to do was look for jobs before we arrived in our new country.
We were on the job hunt before while we were still in the process of our permanent residence application. However, many have told us that it was extremely difficult to land a job especially when we were still out of Canada and were not even sure when we'd get there. So we halted the hunt until we had more definite plans.
And so the time came. The visas in our hands, we were just waiting for December to finally leave for Canada. I started the job hunt again in August. I had converted both my husband's and my CVs into Canadian resumes. I trolled and visited work sites like Monster and Workopolis everyday looking for opportunities. When I found anything that looked worthwhile, I would send off our resumes.
This was one way my husband found a job before landing in Canada. On one of the odd occasion I sent off his resume, the employer made contact with him via email. This was around November when he was contacted. The employer even went as far as doing a telephonic interview, phoning from Canada to South Africa, to determine if my husband was the right candidate. He passed the interview and all that awaited him when we landed was to visit the company, negotiate his salary and finally make his decision if he really wanted to take the job.
Nothing like being a little certain of your future in a new country, I say. At least, that was one less thing to worry about. It all seemed to have gone so easy. I was really so proud of him.

Newcomer Stories: On The Other Side Of Fear Lies Freedom

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

From Pinterest
A few weeks into my new country, one winter day, early in the morning, while waiting for my bus at the bus stop, a young lady approached and chatted me up. At first I was a bit dismissive and aloof. Deep inside though, I was more scared than anything else. My mind was racing and thinking horrible thoughts. What if she was a robber, had a gun, had a knife, etc.? My defences (which were trained in South Africa) came up and I could hear my mind thinking of escape routes.

She smiled all this while and brought out a pamphlet from her bag (which I thought might have been a knife or whatever). And then she proceeded to tell me that she was a Jehovah's Witness and that she just wanted to share some of God's teachings with me. I mean this with no disrespect, but I have never been so happy that somebody told me that they were a Jehovah's Witness until that time. I felt relieved (not because she was a Jehovah's Witness but) because she was not there to harm me.

I suppose more than the teachings she shared, she taught me a more valuable, blatant lesson...That my life in Canada was very different to my life in South Africa. I knew this before but it was never as apparent and clear as day until then. Living in South Africa sure has taught me to be overly cautious and alert...and scared. And I realised that that was not such a life at all. My illusions of being happy in South Africa sorta died a little that day. I would never have had that kind of talk in a bus stop. I would never be caught dead in a bus stop at all. Period.

We discussed the teachings for a short bit while I pondered my newfound realisation of freedom. I must admit I enjoyed speaking with her thoroughly. My bus came and I had to leave, but not after exchanging names and kind words and hopes to maybe cross paths again. She was aptly named Gloria.

Newcomer Stories: Getting Into Catholic Schools

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
One of the biggest worries as a parent when you embark on such a big move across oceans and seas is to make sure that the kids suffer as less as possible.  Regardless of how difficult and chaotic this time can be for you (or me in this case), the kids must never feel too traumatised with the move. In short, their lives must go on.
We timed our departure from South Africa to be the month of December because that was when schools closed and we thought it best to let the children finish their respective grades. Around January, after being in Canada for a month, we started looking for schools around the area we lived in.
The choice was made easy by the school catchment system applied here in Canada. Basically, each school has a boundary map and if you stay within its boundaries, your child can be enrolled into that school. In Ontario, I found that each area usually had 2 accommodating schools - one public school and one Catholic school. Both types are public schools, funded by the government, except that there is religion teachings in the Catholic schools.
As a family, we had decided before landing that we would be enrolling the kids into Catholic schools. We went to a newcomer information centre, where we booked to have assessments done on the kids. Although the kids were allocated to their levels based on their age, the assessment was also  important to assess that the kids would be in the right level. My kids were promoted a grade higher. My younger one would have been grade 4 based on her age, but was put into grade 3 since in South Africa, she had only finished grade 2.
We gave in our address and the information centre confirmed the schools that my children were going into. At the school, we went to register the children. Documents that were required for registration were birth certificate, proof of address, immunization record and ID passport. At the elementary school, we also had to produce my youngest's and my baptismal certificates. You see, to attend a Catholic elementary school, it is compulsory for one of the parents of the student to be Catholic and for the student to be baptised in the Catholic faith.
For my eldest, who was attending high school (or secondary school as it is called in Canada), all she needed extra was to buy a few sets of school uniforms. Her baptismal certificate was not required as all students were accepted regardless of their faith.

All in all, it was an easy registration for them. I was glad. As a parent, it's always a great feeling to know that with so much uncertainties around us and our situation at that moment in time, something was going right. The kids were all right after all. :-)

Newcomer Stories: Mississauga Library System

Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I've always loved books and reading and I secretly blame this hobby for blinding me years before. But more secretly, I really just love it to bits. I've encouraged my kids to love the library as a source of endless information and knowledge. Reading is probably one of my passions that I can't ever live without.
Without a doubt, I am a regular patron of the local library. So coming into my new home/city, I decided to check the local library out. There are 18 libraries in the city of Mississauga. I went to the one nearest me and I must say, I was not disappointed. The library is bigger than any libraries I've ever been to. And in my eyes, the privileges of becoming a member at a Mississauga library are just too great for words.
Inside a Mississauga library
You can borrow a whopping 50 items at any given time. Fifty! That is a big wow! Items include books, DVDs, CDs, audio books, e-books, etc. And the abundant choice does not hurt either. The whole collection of items at any Mississauga library is at your disposal. And to top it off, you can even book, renew, place a hold on an item online. I just love a library keeping up with the times. The normal borrowing time is 3 weeks, which is not really that bad at all.
It is very easy to get a library card. All you need is some identification with a proof of address (that you are a Mississauga resident), and presto! Library card in hand.
I was like a child in a candy store. I just couldn't help myself. To say that my first trip to the library was an exhilerating experience would be an understatement. It was definitely something more than that for me.
In my excitement, I checkout a total of 18 books (Missy's books included). Didn't exactly reach the 50 but wait for me to get over my initial shock :-) I'll be getting my rhythm back.
My 18 check-outs