The time has flown by quickly. One day I was on the longest flight of my life heading to Toronto, and today I look at the calendar and realize 30 days have gone by since I landed. In true Naija fashion, once I checked the date and realized it was my anniversary, I broke out singing like my mother. Indulge me for a while yo ??
It wasn’t easyyyyyy, it wasn’t easyyy. It wasn’t easy but it was worth ittttt. It wasn’t easy…
This entire experience has been a lesson in getting out of my comfort zone. In the spirit of celebrating milestones, I’d like to share 5 tips for surviving here in Canada for the 1st month. This is based on my personal experience & what I’ve heard elders on this journey say to me. Here goes:
1. Do your research and when you feel like you know enough, research some more. Seriously, you don’t know what you don’t know. Systematically investigate the viability of your profession here, getting certified, applying for the right fit jobs and succeeding at interviews. Also create time for networking in your field and staying connected to influencers. Before you arrive, seek out people on LinkedIn to connect to and try and build a rapport online. There’s a French guy called Lionel Laroche who has a set of helpful YouTube videos on integration for new immigrants in Canada. Also take advantage of the Canadian Government sponsored programs. There’s Planning for Canada organized by the International Organization of Migration before you land and several others once you have landed.
2. Get comfortable with asking for help. There are many things here that will not make sense or you will not know how to do it. One day I was taking the transit bus using Google maps and felt I had all the knowledge I needed. Now with the transit buses, they travel only within their region (or Local Government Area in Nigeria). So if you are commuting from one region/LGA to another, you have to board one transit bus and ask the driver for a transfer note for the connecting bus. I didn’t know this that first time and my Presto card (bus card) was charged for a longer travel distance than I actually travelled; and I ended up paying 40 bucks for that trip. The next time I got on the transit bus, I saw one lady ask the driver questions, and even hold up the bus because she wasn’t sure where she was going. ‘Ehen??’ I said. ‘So I don dey dull myself since for this place?? Next time, I’ll do better’ and I did.
3. Come prepared for the unexpected. Despite the fact that I waited until Spring before travelling here, my body has had to get used to the weather conditions. In the first week of my arrival, I suddenly realized I was struggling to properly breathe. I mean, taking a deep breath was difficult for me, and I broke out in sores on the inside of my nose. I thought I had suddenly become asmathic or I was coming down with something until I checked WebMD. It looked like my symptoms were caused by the cold air here. Thankfully after 4 weeks my lungs have acclimatized to the cold, I can breathe easier and my nose doesn’t have as many sores. My skin however is a different case entirely. I don’t know whether a new layer of skin is trying to spring forth in recognition of this Yankee place oh ?? but the skin around my ankles has been peeling since I arrived.
4. Stay open but know your worth- You will run into a lot of people telling you about the importance of Canadian work experience and how disadvantaged you are because you don’t have it. Some lady on twitter was trending about three weeks ago because she spoke about how people have to start completely fresh in Canada. You may find yourself having to compromise with salary or take on a contract role initially, but this is not in all cases and for all professions. Since I’ve been here, I have interviewed for a job that was going to pay me below minimum wage and I declined it. I also met a recruiter who was most condescending to me. She actually recommended I take on an entry level front desk job at a company even after reviewing my profile, and my solid experience in HR at a Multinational company. She went as far to say, ‘You Nigerians are everywhere in this country’ as if that’s a bad thing or for this reason I should take on any kind of work. The saddest part of my encounter with this black lady is that she is Zambian and I would not have expected someone from the African continent like me to be that snobbish. In summary, you will run into people who will try to belittle or underestimate your experience, politely smile at them and keep on networking in the areas you want to work.
5. Fail fast. Even after you must have adhered to all the pieces of great advice you’ve researched on, chances are, you will still make a mistake. The important thing is to quickly learn from it and do better once you know better. Whatever you do though, please do not cross the train tracks in a haste like I did. I had to go down to the Ontario Court of Justice for Provincial Offences and trust me when I say it wasn’t a pretty experience. The women attending to us offenders were firm and loud. You could openly here all the details of the conversations they were having with people and the details of their offences, without even trying to eavesdrop. I applied for an early resolution of my offence, so I have to wait about a month or two to get a mail, with an appointment to speak to the prosecutor about reducing the fine for the offense. Not cute at all I tell you.
With these few points of mine, I hope I’ve been able to convince and not confuse you on why it is worth migrating to Canada ??. Honestly, there are opportunities here to thrive and bloom. Believe you will succeed and you will be fine.
Love and Light ❤?