Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Canadian work culture

Last week, I started my first Canadian job.

I like the fun work environment. Colleagues here are supportive. On my first day, the assistant manager took the time to explain my job tasks to me and asked how I was doing, if I was ok, if I had any questions, every now and then. Even on subsequent days, the senior-staff and/or managers would come round to offer support to all the new staff. In addition, the manager-on-duty really respects break times. He/she made sure everyone got their breaks for an 8 hour shift. At the end of each shift, staffing level is such that staff get to leave their positions on-time, i.e. no extra 5min, 10min, etc.


On Saturday afternoon, I received a call asking if I would like to work for 4 hours on Sunday. It was so respectfully done, the assistant manager (AM) put it across as a request.

AM: "Would you like to work on tomorrow?"
Me: "I have appointments on Sunday already."
AM: "How about in the evening, say 5pm-9pm?"
Me: "Hmm, I can re-arrange my appointment for it."
AM: "So to clarify. Would you like me to schedule you on Sunday evening or would you like me to call another person?"
Me: "Okay, I will come on Sunday 5pm. See you then!"

This is so different from my experience in Singapore. Click here for a sample of call-back in Singapore.


On Sunday evening, I worked on the closing shift. The store was tidied up by 8:45pm. Since there was else nothing to be done, the store manager gave us the go-ahead to leave earlier; 15min before the end of our shift.


I really like this workplace. I am tempted to stay if I can somehow have another source of Canadian income to make enough for my living expenses and future plans.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Starting Canadian Experience soon

Went to a toy store for a walk-in interview on Monday. Luckily for me, both interviewers acknowledged my transferable skills given my background in paediatric nursing, and they were friendly and supportive. On Tuesday evening, I got a phone call that I got the job. Although it's only for the Christmas/Year-End season and the pay is considered "low", I'm glad I got the job because it will start my "Canadian Experience" on my resume. Plus, hopefully this local exposure to children will be give me an edge when I return to Paediatric Nursing.

Which brings me to the CRNBC IEN SEC (Internationally Educated Nurses' Substantially Equivalent Competency) assessment. Silly me! I should be used the Canadian "turnaround" time by now and request for a scheduled test date earlier. When I applied today, the response* was the assessment slots are fully booked until mid-January 2011. Thus, I am requesting for a end-January 2011 test date instead. My guess is that I would be done with the seasonal job by then.

*p.s. I am rather impressed by the immediate response that I received from my nursing school on the matter.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Week 5 - The Week of Nothing

Not much done last week.

Had a quick chat with SL today. We both came to the conclusion that we are too focused on getting a job and integrating into the local society here, that we have forgotten to just go-with-the-flow and have some fun. Interestingly, we came to the same conclusion independently despite having different and mostly separate activities while here. Then we laughed, "Perhaps it's the norm for a new migrant? That we will come to this conclusion after 5 weeks?"

Vancouver is like London, one can live the high-life or the budget-life, both ways are still comfortable. Currently, I have applied to volunteer with an organization and also to join another social club. Pending their answer. It would be a good step to meet diverse people with similar interests.


Met a new friend over the weekend. It's nice to meet people who are not bitter* about Singapore after leaving it. This friend's theory is that it is usually the men who get hung up about Singapore even after leaving it. The women vote with their feet and get on with their lives. Hmm, maybe he is right?

* It's a nice reminder to myself to let go of any "baggage". :-)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

10 ground rules for love

Have done a psychic reading for a friend about career and love life recently, it brought to mind a recent email to an ex-boyfriend.


My dear X [name edited],

I don't know what to say. Please keep yourself warm and healthy, and be happy. You are a good man, we have had some nice time in the past. I hope that you will find the love that you want some day.

On turning 40, I have thought a lot about my life and my relationships. I realize that I am pretty happy alone. To have someone else brings with it hope and heartache, besides the practical inconveniences of having to adjust to another person in one's life. Thus, I decided on some ground rules.

1. He must be single* and available. No "separated", no "just broke-up", no flings.
2. He must be financially able to sustain himself. I don't need him to be rich, but I will not respect him if he needs others' charity to live-on in the long-run.
3. He must love me as I am. I am not perfect. I have my flaws. I need someone who can accept and love me as a whole.
4. He must love me enough to want to marry me. We will get married legally as soon as it is convenient. No grand weddings, they are often a source of headaches!
5. He must love children or nature. It does not matter if we have any or otherwise. It is just that I don't think much of the kindness/humanity/gratitude of a person if this person cannot bring himself/herself to love children or nature.
6. As an extension of the kindness/gratitude rule, he must care about the people related to himself and me. He does not have to agree with them or like them, but basic fellow human concern is expected.
7. He must live/work in the same city as me for a long enough period. That is, until after marriage and the relationship is strong enough to withstand the distance.
8. I must be able to trust him. He must trust me too. This takes time to build, thus the rule about living in the same city.
9. He must be able to forgive. Not necessary to forget, for we learn life lessons from our experience. But in the long run, a willingness to recall the past without anger, bitterness or heavy regret is important to being happy.
10. He must be a non-smoker. It is not just about his health. My nose cannot stand the smell of a chronic smoker's breath.

As you can see, you passed all except for rules 4 and 7. ... [Edited] Still I wish you well. I hope to see your happy face on Facebook someday. After all, we are still friends, right?

With lots of love (i.e. as friends),
[Edited: Winking Doll]

[*Addendum on Sunday 12-Aug-2012: By "single", I mean single, divorced for over 1 year or widowed.]

1st rejection email

I got my first rejection email from my job applications today. It was for an RN position. Obviously I didn't expect to land it since I do not have the local RN certification yet. But still, to be totally honest with myself, I was a bit disappointed.

Add to that, I submitted a job application for a part-time cleaner* position via a settlement service agency. I edited my resume and cover letter, as previously advised by job agent S, careful to exclude any mention of my IT experience and qualifications. But I left my RN experience on my application. I described it as I "have experience in handling human waste" and felt that my nursing experience should prove that I'm not afraid of "dirty" work.

Job agent S returned my application today. He suggested that I drop the RN qualifications because I would be deemed as overqualified. I found this suggestion acceptable. However, I disagreed with his other suggestion to write that I "worked as a cleaner in a hospital". IMHO, there's omitting "irrelevant" facts, and there's outright lying. I drew my line there. I felt that S being an immigrant himself for only a few years, was viewing my application from his Asian perspective. Thus, I felt frustrated as I cannot submit my application direct to the employer because the job posting specified to go through that settlement service agency. [Note: I have checked the company's website for openings, the cleaner position is not listed.**] And I am blocked... by this job agent whom I am currently "assigned to" from this largest settlement service agency in BC. While I understand the good intents of job agent S -- to guide me to get a job ASAP -- I don't feel that we are a good client-agent match.

I took a break from job application and cheered myself up. Then a friend called me about a reading I had done for her recently, and she cheered me up. Later, another friend CS, who migrated from Hong Kong to Canada 18 years ago, discussed with me her perspective. I am glad that she too would draw the line on writing "worked as a cleaner in a hospital".

My 2 cents.
  1. Some may view being a cleaner as a lowly job that anyone can do and therefore can successfully lie about it. It actually requires very specific knowledge and skills. I used to chat with my housekeeping colleagues and I respect their knowledge and skills in the cleaning domain. IMHO, it is as dignified a job as any.
  2. I do not wish to lie outright for a job. I think it degrades the job and myself.
* Note: I was and still am inspired by Singapore Serf's blog adventure of migration and integration.
** Note: Just as well, because I found other positions listed there that I can apply for.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

1st month's expenses

I budgeted for a rather generous "Settling-In" allowance for the 1st month; in anticipation of the numerous diners/outings to meet new friends, and so that I would not feel miserable about moving to the cold.

My total expense for the 1st month (4th to 31st October to be precise) is around CAD1,950, broken down as follow.

Amount (CAD) : Category

Once-off expenses
  • 250 : Rental deposit (refundable)
  •  15 : Taxi from airport
  •  79 : CRNE prep guide
Monthly expenses
  • 500 : October room rental
  •  40 : Mobile (will be less next month)
  • 110 : Transport - Monthly 2-Zone Farecard
  •  31 : Transport - Others
  • 235 : Food/groceries
  • 263 : Clothings
  • 103 : Household Items (including tioletries)
  • 105 : Recreation/Entertainment/Restaurant
  •  99 : Meals/Drinks
  •  37 : Stationery/Postage
  •  84 : Others (Lottery, Gifts, Books, Donations, etc)
Henceforth, it will be back to a more realistic budget.


p.s. Originally I wanted to format the above in a table, but somehow the Blogger's table display sucks on Firefox. So it's back to the simple unordered list.