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.


  1. 5 years 7 months for me.

    I have long since settled down, after the first year in fact. I guess I am one of those people that adapts easily.

    I now proudly call this place home. Although I might be forced to leave it soon for love.

    1. IMHO, the answer lies in the couple's hands (i.e. minds). Love is hard-work -- the commitment to communication, mutual support, compromises and acceptance. :)

    2. Therein lies the rub. The other party must work hard too - in this day of impatience and navel-gazing how sure are we that the other party will work hard and not give up?

      I'm not a virgin at this. Been there done that designed the tshirt. Come chat with me after 5 years of marriage, by which time most of the oxytocin would have worn off and you'll probably agree with me that 'love' is but a chemical reaction.

      In other news, one citizenship has been renounced. Next on the to do list: CPF.

  2. Hi WD,

    Congratulations! I've been in Canada for over 7 years and well settled. I've made new friends, found love and my dream job, picked up running (outdoors all year round, and yes, in -25C temperatures.) Work-life balance is something I experience only after I moved to Canada. Living in Ottawa, a medium size city with slower pace, I feel that I get to take the time to explore and do things. I don't feel the need to go go go and yet I feel I've accomplished more things both in my personal life and my work, than I'd ever done in SG.

    Life is not all rosy in Canada. Once in a while, we are inconvenienced by strikes and protests, but I view this as freedom of expression (be it for social justice, values or beliefs). Then there is the cold weather (at times -25C and -40C with the windchill), but that's when I get to skate at the Rideau Canal, or ski downhill, or snowshoe. :)

    In a nutshell, my life is so much better in Canada, a country that I now call home. :)

    1. Hi Oblivious,

      Thanks and congradulations on settling into your new home-country. I hope I'll say the same in a few years' time.

      > Life is not all rosy in Canada.

      Over in Metro Vancouver, I've seen some immigrants/refugees who struggle to adapt to their new host country. To be frank, I occasionally sense a tinge of regret from these folks... or maybe it is just my imagination. As such, I am now more circumspect about encouraging others to emigrate -- they have to know what they are able/willing to sacrifice in order to rebuild their lives here.

      That said, I share your sentiments that Canadian life has been kind to me too.

      Cheers, WD.

    2. Well, immigrants and refugees have a distinct difference. Immigrants usually make a choice to leave their homeland in seek of better life (whatever that may mean for them). Refugees tend to be forced to leave their home country and in most cases due to political turmoil or war (be it civil or with neighbouring countries). Many of the refugees would not have left their home country if life had been peaceful and good. And many longed to go home once their home country is politically stable again.

      As for immigrants, some adapt well and others don't. And those who regret usually belong to the latter group. And one of the factors is their expectations of the new life. Some immigrants don’t do enough research to be better prepared for the hardships at the first few years. It is tough moving to a new place, adjusting to new environment, people, culture, etc...

      I agree that immigration is not for everyone. And for those who choose to do so, they need to be prepared for the hardships and have some kind of backup plan if things didn’t go as well as they have hoped.

  3. Congratulations.

    I have been in Canada for over 3 years, well the French side. I am happy with my life here.

    Overseas sinkie

    1. Thanks, Overseas Sinkie.

      Congrats to you too! Always good to hear of another immigrant settling down well. :-)

    2. Winking Doll,

      Yes, my experience here has been priceless. Thinking back, I am glad I was bold enough to make the move to Canada back then. There are so few people from lion city in the east coast (asians are a real minority here). What about the west coast where you are?

      Overseas sinkie

    3. I currently live in Metro Vancouver. There are lots of Asians here, from a variety of countries and various waves of migration.

      E.g. The ethnic Chinese has 150 years of history here on the west coast of Canada (early pioneers were mainly brought in to build the Pan-Canada railroads).

  4. Winking Doll,

    That's amazing. I hope to visit Vancouver some day. I heard that it's a beautiful city with a backdrop of the Rockies. One thing I value greatly here is the wide open spaces and how tranquil it is.

    Overseas sinkie

    1. Hi Overseas Sinkie,

      Vancouver is considered city/urban living, although (I heard) not as buzzling as Toronto, and definitely not as crowded as Singapore.

      I love the mountainous backdrop against our daily commute here in Metro Vancouver. The proximity of the mountains to the city (quick 1-2 hours drive) meant that one can combine the convenience of urban living with the beautiful respite of nature all within a day. With help and planning by experienced and fit friends, even someone with limited physical fitness (i.e. yours truly) can enjoy the glory of the mountains here.

      Come visit the west coast when you have the chance. As for myself, a cross-Canada trip to explore the other provinces/territories is on my bucket list.

      FYI if you're interested: UBC (University of British Columbia) has a free online library of videos, interviews, stories and history about the Chinese Canadians. I enjoyed the videos on "Chinese Canadian Stories".

      Cheers, WD.

  5. Singaporean here. As i deal with my current obessesion with migration from reading blogs here, im pretty happy for some reason that you settled down well and happy. To me, that kinda gives me a bit of hope that someday i can call some other place, other than here, my true home.

    Indeed, i have a bit of an idealistic mindset, prob coz its the June hols (when im act suppose to be studying) but I have thought of migrating somewhere else. This is not the perfect time to even think about migration, lol, but i cant stand the rat race race anymore and I feel the urge to live a meaningful lifestyle.


    1. Hi najiha,

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

      I presume you are still a young student (age 20's and under). If so and your family can afford it, consider doing your further education/training overseas in the target country of your migration plans. It will make it so much easier for you to settle into your host country as you would have made friends, understood the local culture and obtained local qualifications/experience while being a student (and working and/or volunteering part-time while on student visa, of course).

      Check out my blog series on Migrating Via Student Visa to Canada written in Sep-2013. Note: Its contents may be obsolete since Canadian immigration rules get updated frequently, especially around May each year.

      Good luck!

      Cheers, WD