Sunday, October 04, 2015

5 years in Canada

Today marks my 5th anniversary in Canada. Almost a decade ago, when I told a close friend that I planned to emigrate, she gave me the T-shirt below.

[Slogan from a T-shirt from the mid-2000's]

Back then, I could not truly appreciate the truth in the T-shirt's slogan, "The brave finds a home in every land". Perhaps I was just foolish, thinking that migration is merely a matter of "filling in the forms, providing the required documents, taking a plane, landing, finding a place to stay and a job, done!"

I remember landing in YVR airport (Vancouver) back in October-2010, going to the immigration officer's counter to present my COPR (Confirmation of Permanent Residence). The officer, let's call him X, typed in something into his computer, gave a puzzled look, and then called his colleague Y over. I began to worry if there was something amiss in my papers as a result of my DIY approach to the immigration process. Together X and Y had some questions for me.

X asked, "Have you been to Canada before?"

I replied, "No."

X asked, "Have you been to the USA or any part of North America before?"

I replied, "No."

X asked, "So you have NEVER been to North America before?" 

By then, both X and Y wore the same astonished look on their faces.

I replied, "Nooooo?" [By then, I was pretty sure that I had probably "screwed-up" in my DIY process.]

X and Y looked at each other, a little stunned. Then they smiled, instructed "make sure you sign WITHIN the box", processed my application, and waved me on. I gathered then that most immigrants under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) would have had prior experience (work or visit)  in Canada and/or USA before landing for permanent residency. Thus, it was a surprise for them to find one doing her PR landing for the first time without any record of prior trips in the immigration clearance system.

That was probably my first Canadian hint that migration would be more than just "filling in the forms, providing the required documents, taking a plane, landing, finding a place to stay and a job, done!"


Looking back, 5 years seem to have passed rather quickly (my adventures as a new migrant are shared in this blog). I have grown a lot in these past 5 years.

Living in Canada has given me experiences that would otherwise be unlikely if I have stayed on in Singapore. For example...
I have also found it easier to "live and let live" “与世无争”。 I do not know the exact causes for this. It could simply be mellowing with age, a slower pace of life, or perhaps Metro Vancouver being less crowded than Singapore in general.

In all, I think ASingaporeanSon summed migration up succinctly with his diagram "Attitude towards migration", so I am going to unabashedly reference his diagram below.

From the above, migration isn't for everyone. I know now how foolish I was (from the mid-2000's to my early years as a new immigrant) to suggest to friends who had complaints about their life in Singapore to consider emigrating. The time, effort and other resources needed to re-build one's comfort zone in a new country is costly indeed.


But if you do take that leap of faith, don't be surprised to meet other Singaporeans along the way.

[Don't be surprised to meet other Singaporeans. 
Ask for the owner* of the above Vancouver cafe]

*Note: I am NOT the owner of the above cafe, I just like the food there, and I happen to have met the owner.