Thursday, October 23, 2014

4 years in Canada

When I read Singaporean Missy Jo's (The Slim Rolly Polly Wannabe) blog post about her doubts on ever settling-in after almost 5 months in Perth, it reminds me of the doubts I used to have after about 6 months in Canada. Back then, my "Migration & settling-in: A progress review" had more "did not meet target/expectations" (X) than "met target/expectations" (V). I guess the doubts/ups-and-downs is a challenge that many new immigrants go through.

I have been in Canada for just over 4 years now. Below is a progress review of my "settling down" process -- and thankfully a happier report, it seems.

V Local friends: As mentioned back in my April-2011 blog entry, I have been blessed and continue to be blessed in this regard. I am very grateful for that.

V Love life: DD has been a wonderfully supportive husband. We have gone through ups-and-downs together, and our relationship has grown stronger with time. Of course, we both have individual quirks that each has to put up with from the other. After all, marriage takes effort. Overall, we share similar values for the important matters, and have shown adaptability and willingness to communicate+accept differences on other matters.

V Family: Through marriage to DD, I have gained a Canadian family with members spread mainly over 3 Canadian provinces. I have since met most members on the maternal side of DD's extended family and some members on the paternal side too.

V Career: I have been working as a registered nurse in Metro Vancouver for 1+ year now. I am quite happy with my current main job and 1 unionized casual job, both private-sector employers. There have been ups-and-downs in my main job (click here for example), but all in I am happy where I currently am. On most days, I look forward to heading to work as I found my work meaningful and rewarding (not just financially).

V Canadian income: My income goes up and down depending on the number of hours I have been assigned on my main job each month. When there is a lull in my main job, I look towards accepting on-call shifts at my casual job, which helps to stabilize to my income. It also helps that a RN's pay here really reflects the professional nature of the job. Friends and (my in-law) family suggested that I look towards working with a health authority instead for more stable income and better benefits. My reply was, (as mentioned above) I am happy where I currently am, and have actually quit from a casual job with a health authority earlier this year.

V Living accommodations: As Mr S from Neurotic Ramblings puts it, "having your own place to call home" is one of the factors that Singaporeans and/or ethnic-Chinese often count towards the concept of "settling down". DD and I have recently moved into our "new home" -- an old condominium unit which is technically-speaking owned by the bank (thanks to the mortgage we took). We are still in the process of unpacking and settling-in, but it certainly feels good to have "our own place to call home".

V Getting around: I am still relying on Metro Vancouver's good public transport infrastructure to get around most of the time. Sometimes, DD would chauffeur me around. I am so comfortable with the current arrangements that I kept delaying on my plans to get a B.C. driving licence. Unlike in Singapore where people generally expect things to tick like clock-work, people here seem to be more tolerant of sudden changes in plans due to un-forseen circumstances (e.g. breakdowns in public transport).

V Community/volunteer participation: After a few rounds of ad-hoc and mid-term community/volunteer roles, I have settled nicely into a new long-term community/volunteer role earlier this year that is likely to last for a few years.

? Credit rating: When DD and I applied for a home mortgage in B.C., I found to my surprise that my Credit Rating is "UNKNOWN" despite having used my credit-cards regularly and paying my dues fully on schedule. I guess I should have heeded the advice from my lecturer at the "Financial Literacy Program for new migrants" to check with one of the 2 major Canadian Credit-Reporting Agencies at least once-yearly on my credit rating (i.e. either Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada). [Aside: Thankfully, DD has excellent credit rating and our mortgage application went through smoothly.] I guess getting my credit rating set-up is one item on my To-Do-List. That said, there is no urgency as my main bank (i.e. financial services provider) seems view me as an excellent credit risk, and it keeps offering to increase my credit limit and/or promoting lines-of-credit to me.

Ok, that's my status summary for now. Someone once told me that it takes 5 years to settle into a new country. I now truly appreciate the wisdom of her advice as my "settling-down in Canada" is still a work-in-progress.