Newcomer Pt. 1


5 years ago, exactly this month, I arrived in Canada.

Before the plane landed, I didn’t know if I was supposed to wear an extra sweater. I heard spring had just started and it might be a little chilly still. When we arrived, the first thing I noticed were the CBSA officers. They were huge! They meant business, guys. We were moved into this cubicle for an interview. I don’t remember much about it. I was too excited to see my mother and too nervous about adapting to Canada and Canadians.

“Will I be okay?”
“What will they think of me?”

Finally, I saw my mother and one of her friends offered to drive us to our new apartment. It was almost midnight. The streets were empty. The buildings were mostly made of exposed brick. The architecture is totally different from where I came from, which is a tropical country. Our apartment was almost empty (not for long though!). The heater beneath the windows really stood out for me. I never really needed heaters for over two decades until that day.

I don’t ever remember being tired or hungry. I do remember being anxious. I was very aware that I only knew my parents, my brothers and my aunt here. Nobody else. I left my friends and my comfort zone on the other side of the world. I knew I had to speak English every day from now on. I also had a feeling I will need all the guts I could gather if I intend to succeed here.

Next morning, we lined up for our SIN cards, OHIP, opened bank accounts and even got ourselves library cards. Back then, we didn’t have anything else but TV and basic furniture in our apartment. So, if we needed to print our resumes to apply for jobs, we went to the library.

I would like to especially mention the genius that is my mother. We did all of the above within 2 days. She planned it really well, so that we can just walk from one office to another, and back to our apartment. At the time, the only person who had a job was my mother. And, having to pay for tokens for a total of 5 people was quite expensive.

Next time, I’ll tell you about job searches and navigating services in Toronto.

I’m writing this series hoping that a newcomer to Canada will chance upon it. I’m also hoping that my experiences settling in my new home will help someone out there make sense of a possible rollercoaster of emotions they might have as they discover different aspects of living in the Canadian society. And, if you want to start a conversation around this topic, feel free to leave comments or send me a message.


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