By Priya Senroy , MA CCC
I came to Canada in 2004 with two suitcases and the only person I knew was my fiancée. It was -40 degrees with – the wind-chill as I waited for him in the Ottawa train station. The man was late and while waiting for him, I had all emotions kinds of emotions churning in my stomach and rising to the surface within a span of 10 minutes-did I do that right thing? What if I am not able to find work? It is so cold, I don’t like it, I am sure I will be okay, I should call my family everyday.
It’s 2018 and there are times I still feel isolated sometimes and miss home terribly. Yes, all my fears have been eliminated and it’s much easier to settle in 2018 in Canada than 2004.
I did not have any debts from back home and had to get into one in order to get a credit card. I had to jump over hoops to get a bank account and off course go through the stressful process of getting a Permanent Resident Card.
During those initial days, I would wait for my husband to come home and then go shopping as I did not know how to buy anything without a credit card. I would wait for him to make phone calls to offices and needed a lot of hand holding. I craved Indian food and to hear the language and in downtown Ottawa in those days, the options and choices of buying Indian groceries was limited. It was only confined to weekend trips and again dependent on my husband as I did not have a driver’s license. The phone calls to my family were full of regret, the excitement and joy of settling in a new country was suddenly a bad decision. No matter how much I was prepared, I was not prepared for the self-imposed challenges.
These were not challenges but were self-imposed barriers in my opinion barriers as my first language in English, I came here in my early thirties and with a Master’s degree…yet I felt helpless and clueless.
I then decided to take back control of my confidence and go out in the bitter cold, learned how to dress in layers, order Tim’s double double and explore the city. I looked for temples. Indian restaurants and grocery stores and would spend a lot of time riding on the transit to satisfy my craving and not to miss home. If I saw anyone in Indian clothes, it did not matter to me what language they spoke, I found myself talking to them.
I mentor and work with new immigrants who seek counselling with settlement issues. I share with them what I could have done differently things including, seeking support from all kinds of people and places.
Government of Canada website on tip on adopting to a new culture or a country and states that
Moving to a new country may be hard for some people. It is common to feel the following emotions when you first arrive in Canada:
Uncertainty about how to behave
A sense that your cultural beliefs and values are being challenged
A sense that things are not predictable
Your first months in Canada will be full of change. You will face many challenges, especially if you have to learn English or French, or improve your language skills. You may have to take a first job or live in a home that is different from what you expected. You may need to get more education or training to get a job and build your new life here. This can create some stress in your life. Connecting with others in your new community is an important step in the settlement process. Making new friends and contacts will help you feel at home in Canada. It may also help you advance your professional goals by creating a network of people that can support you in your search for work.
To find out some ways to connect with people, this site has practical tips.
The site also has an useful tool – A Living in Canada questionnaire where one e can answer a few simple questions to get the help someone need to settle in Canada and learn all
As we celebrate Canada day in the coming weeks, let’s try to remember where we came from as well as honour the reason we came here. Home is where your heart is!
*The views expressed by the author are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Law Office of Athena Narsingh.
Priya Senroy is a Certified Canadian Counsellor with over 18 years of experience, using client centered counselling approach to support changes in a person’s life. Please visit www.senroycounselling.com for more information or call 64-268-78668 for a 15 minute FREE consultation.