It’s been a long minute and it has been an interesting year!
You know, with every major milestone that I have experienced this year, I have drafted a blog in my mind and that is where it ends. I talk myself out of writing it or publishing it. So, I challenged a fellow quiet blogger to write a blog post before Christmas to break the silence. I have to say, even with that, it is past 1am on Christmas morning and I’m only just drafting this!
Back to my uncomfortable growth…..
It’s been a year filled with growth, lots of good news but also a lot of bad news. I found myself in some instances being happy and sad at the same time. It was frustrating. Can I celebrate my wins or should I be crying instead?
The irony is, now that I’m typing this, I can remember the good times very clearly, but only remember a handful of the bad times. I am thankful for being able to look back, and say boldly that in everything, God brought me through and I can truthfully say, I sailed through. I have lived by two mottos this year. They are pretty short and may mean nothing to you, but to me, they helped me a lot.
1. Living each day an hour at a time
2. Being thankful
This year was busy and certainly overwhelming. I had to let a lot of things go and also learn how to adapt my mindset to survive. I had very little capacity to deal with anything else. I was in survival mode. It’s funny, because speaking to even some of my close friends, this was not obvious to them and I was getting things done. As the saying goes, thank God we don’t look like what we have been through.
At some point, living each day at a time was just overwhelming and I found taking each hour as it comes more comforting. I felt more in control that way and I’m working my way back to taking each day at a time!
I got promoted at work a few months ago and the new managers were privileged to attend a conference that doubled up as a celebration event. We had a lady speak to us about mental health. Something that struck me about everything she said was how she highlighted that good news could result in the same amount of stress on an individual as bad news.
Often, with good news, it is less obvious that the person needs helps or support. Third parties can often look into such situation and say, “they prayed for”, “they worked hard for it”, “they deserve it”, “this is exciting”. Hardly will anyone ask you if you are up for the task. Certainly in my new position, it has been a steep learning curve with expectations increasing overnight. The first couple of months were certainly challenging, but I think I am at a place where I can lift up my head and ride the waves. Phew!
As another example, you buy a new house and most see you as wealthy, but they often forget buying a new house is a huge initial financial outlay that could some take months to recover from.
I am also extremely thankful for all the good that has come my way this year. I will never take it for granted. None of these things would have been achievable without an amazing support system that was sent my way when I needed them the most.
To conclude, if you take nothing away from this post but to remember that you are most likely not alone if you feel stressed even in good situations. I hope you will let yourself find someone you trust to provide the mental support you need to get through this temporary phase.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on advance!
It has been five months since we moved from the UK to Calgary and four and a half months since I started working. At the time, it felt like a huge mountain to climb and every day of not hearing back about whether or not I had secured a job felt like months.
Based on my conversation with other recent immigrants who have either secured jobs here or are job searching, I have noticed that a number of people have moved to Canada without a job. The good news however is that the majority of those who have moved under the permanent residence programme and are persistently looking for a job will get a job within 6 months of moving. I have no real statistics to back this up other than a rough estimate based on those I have been communicating with. In addition, as the conditions to qualify for the permanent residence programme are quite rigorous, and takes into consideration your employability, this increases your likelihood of getting a job.
My path to getting a job in Calgary was slightly different as I worked for a multinational firm in the UK and the Calgary firm was open to accepting me as an employee, provided I passed the interview. As our move was time-bound, I had to be very proactive about trying to secure a job before we moved. We had decided as a family that we will move provided either myself or my husband secured a job and so the search began.
My first point of call was to have an open conversation with my line manager at work. I had the type of relationship with her that made me confident enough to have this conversation as I knew my job will not be at risk, and if it was, we were moving anyway. The reason I decided to speak to her about it was to see if she would be able to assist with getting a job in the Calgary office. I explained we were looking to move to Canada by June 2018 (it was September when I had this conversation) and it would be dependent on me getting a job there. She seemed excited for me and said she will speak with her contacts to see if I could be transferred. However, I did not wait around for this favour as I knew it would not be a priority for her.
I got desperate a few days later as I really wanted to get the ball rolling and so, I went looking on good old Linkedin. In my situation, because my speciality is Tax, which is very country specific, I was at a disadvantage because, although I was already a Manager in the UK, it was of little value to me in Canada as I knew nothing, or shall I say very little about the Canadian tax system. As such, I deduced that my best chance of being employed in the same line of work would be to stay with the same firm, where I have proved my ability in the UK and to try to build on that goodwill to convince them to hire me.
With this in mind, my search on Linkedin was targeted at looking for my firm’s recruiters in Canada, in particular, Calgary. My search yielded three promising results and I decided to email two, leaving the third one for later if my first two emails yielded no results (no real logic to this). I drafted an email using the office internal email to both of them. One of them blew me off with a generic email along the lines of – contact me when you are sure you will be moving and have your dates confirmed – thanks, but no thanks. Thankfully, the second person I emailed was kind enough to respond, telling me she had forwarded my email to the person who deals with Tax in the Calgary office. This person turned out to be the third person I was saving to email later! Let’s call her Anna.
Anna turned out to be so helpful. She took her time to have an initial telephone interview with me to understand my background, motive for moving, my expectations and then she asked me to send her my reference from a Partner or Director in the UK. This was where I appreciated the importance of being diligent and the benefits of networking. I called on a Director I had worked with in the past who liked my work and I had subsequently built a good relationship with. She too was excited about the move and remembered that one of her friends who is also a Director had done a secondment in the – wait for it – Calgary office over 6 years ago and may still have contacts there. She shoots her friend an email with a glowing recommendation for me, asking him if he could refer me to the Partner in Calgary. Her friend calls me to interview me to make sure I was legit and that he wasn’t just rubber-stamping me based on what my friend said. He sends an email to the Partner and without me going back to Anna, she emails me to confirm she had received my reference/recommendation.
Anna managed my expectations by letting me know they will not be able to offer me a job as a manager based on my limited knowledge on Canadian Tax and so, I would have to take a step own – Boo! But it is a means to an end right? I would rather take a step down than move without a job or watch my career fizzle before my eyes, or at least it felt that way. I accepted this compromise. She then arranged for me to have a two telephone interviews with Partners and just before Christmas, she confirmed I had a job. Christmas was a lot merrier as this was one less thing to worry about. We could finally fix a date to move and start packing up.
This whole experience confirmed for me the following: importance of being good, networking and going out of your comfort zone to get what you want. It may not come easy, it may not come quick, but I know you will learn something from it. Going on Linkedin and sending cold emails where there was no job advertised did not come naturally to me, neither did calling in a favour from a friend.
I am grateful that settling in my new team has been seamless. They are a warm bunch of people and also willing to help. I have learnt a whole lot since April and I still have a bunch more to learn. Most importantly, they are happy with my progress, and I hope it stays this way.
To those who have recently moved and are job searching, I can imagine it gets frustrating after some time, keep at it. Praying with you that you get something good soon. Here are a few tips that could help:
1. CV format – the first thing I did before applying for jobs in Canada was to change the format of my CV. Speaking to a few people who live in Canada, and just a general google search, I found that the CV format here was different to the UK. This small change can make a big difference to your job search experience.
2. Feedback – where you have interviewed for jobs and have not been successful, ask for feedback and work on this feedback.
3. Network – Once you have exhausted applying for all the jobs you can find online with no success, speak to your employed friends with jobs or anyone you meet, you never know where your help will come from. As an example, most offices have a referral system whereby, if an employee successfully recruits for the company, they will get a finders fee. It is a win win situation as you get a job, your friend gets rewarded by the company and the company does not have to pay recruiting agency to fill the position.
4. Connect – Connect with other immigrants. It can be very lonely leaving the comfort of a secure job and a country you called home to move to a foreign land, searching for a job. Connecting with other immigrants, particularly, those from where you have moved from can make the process less lonely. There are different Facebook and Whatsapp groups made for this purpose. I joined one of such groups and I find that job adverts are shared often for those who are still job searching.
In this world, I get lost too easily. It is not something I am proud of. However, I realise that I am quick to give all of me to people in the name of loyalty and in the process, I lose some of me, my opinions, my wants, needs or just the ability to do or say things that I would really like to. It is always nice to regroup and love on myself again. I love people but I love me also. I will always be loyal but not to my own detriment. Me version umpteenth loading….
I am hoping that this deficiency is finally being sorted out on my most recent sojourn to find myself will fix me for good. I matter, my opinion is valid, my problems are worth solving and are a priority when necessary and my joys are worth celebrating in real time. So cheers to the future.
So, we have been living in Calgary now for 5 months. It is beginning to feel like home. Other than my family being happy, the other thing I am grateful for is a fantastic support system. I have been floored by how far people who have become really good friends are willing to go to assist myself and my family and make us feel at home. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed phone calls. For some reason, in London, I just didn’t have that. Everyone was busy, including myself. I would think three times before I gave someone a call. But here, I can pick up the phone and make that call and know it will be picked up and I can have a good old fashioned conversation! I have always known I am an old soul at heart, but you can’t imagine how happy that makes me feel.
Work has been quite slow paced compared to what I am used to. If it could change anything, it would be that. I used to being over utilised. However. I understand it is only slow in the summer and things should pick up in the fall. I am so looking forward to that. Weirdo, I know, that’s me!
We always said the night life here wasn’t great and I wasn’t expecting to find any good places to eat that would excite me. However, I realised I wasn’t going about this the right way. One of my colleagues happens to be a foodie like me and all her recommendations have been on point. I am once again happy that I can’t restaurant hop and treat my taste buds to some good food!
I love that I have time to do other things. I can be a wife, a mum, work full time, work on my fitness, work on my business and have some leisure time. After doing all this, I still feel sane and not rushed off my feet constantly.
I am grateful for sanity, I am grateful for life and I am grateful for health. Everyday, I am reminded that life is short. I intend to live it living my best life, so help me God.
As with the title, not much else to say today. Just journaling my current thoughts. Until next time .
I was transiting in Houston airport and waiting for my flight to Calgary when I decided to charge my phone as I will be needing to watch movies on the United flight back home (not cool United airlines!).
The first charging space I spotted had a bit of puke on the floor which was disgusting and I was pleased to have spotted it before I stepped on it. Naturally, I was on the look out for another charging spot so I don’t have to stare at the puke. I found one near this unassuming older woman who was also charging her phone and so I said hello and sat next to her.
She started a conversation about how it is no longer fun to fly. I initially thought she was referring to terrorism and the alarm that went off earlier at the airport but I was wrong. She was referring to flight cancellations and the fact airlines seem to have fewer flights out of her home city, Detroit, because it is economically depressed and she is now unable to travel on her day of choice and is stuck with travelling with the business travellers, who she considers to be stuck up. She shared a few stories about the stuck up business men she has travelled with in the past. One that stuck was when she told one of the business men she travelled with in the past that she has a million air miles and the guy, with his nose held high, said he had 3 million air miles. To this, she responded with, “but it is not the same, because I paid for mine with my own money, no company paid for it for me”. If you ask me, that was a good come back.
She tried to figure out my accent. Even I don’t know what accent I have. I explained to her I am Nigerian and I lived 15 years in the UK before moving recently to Calgary and so my accent is a big chunk of Nigerian with British inflection (if there is anything like that). She commented that it was an interesting accent. Thank you ma’am.
She told me some more about herself, how she is/was a scuba diver and travels a lot to go scuba diving. She said and I quote “you see, I love scuba diving because there is no bull shit under the water”. This cracked me up. We talked some more about scuba diving and I asked what some may call stupid questions, but I was genuinely interested in the answer. I asked if she had ever come across sharks or dangerous fishes while scuba diving. She said only on one occasion and in her experience if you do not bother the fishes, they leave you alone. She lamented about how some scuba masters in some places she has been to (I didn’t catch which country) have cultivated a habit of feeding the eels. The issue with this is the eel then wraps itself around them, expecting food and bites them if there is no food. Common sense obviously says, don’t feed the fishes, they will fend for themselves.
I noticed her facial skin looked smooth and supple, although there were signs of ageing on her chin and neck, but she looked good and if I was have to guessed her age, I would have said late 60s, about 66. However, she let it slip while telling me about her family that she was 77. I gasped in shock. She happily told me about her facial regime. She explained she had never had plastic surgery but has a great dermatologists and a laser procedure she has done twice a year. I can most certainly see the benefits of it. She looked good.
We talked about her four grandchildren and how expensive it is now to send kids to college. When she went to college in 1957, it costs USD1,000 a year and now it is in the 30-40 thousand range. She explained that her grandchildren quickly realised they will have to work very hard to gain scholarships in order not to be overwhelmed by student loans. I shared my family’s experience with expensive international fees for universities and two other siblings and at the time, as we were not citizens, we weren’t entitled to any form of financial aid.
I asked her how she kept up with everything she does as she gets older. She said getting old is hard and not fun but all she can do is to keep pressing on, keep learning and not to give up. This, I thought was really good advice.
By this time, it was time for me to board my plane to Calgary, I waved her goodbye and she got up, gave me a hug and a peck on both cheeks. I wished her good luck with her travels and we parted ways.
I am glad I sat next to her and engaged her in a conversation. If I were to have guessed what her story was before speaking to her, I would never have guessed it correctly. She opened up my mind that little bit more, and of-course, gave me enough inspiration to update my blog!
To those enjoying a day off tomorrow for Memorial Day or any other reason, enjoy your day off. As for me, I’m back to work tomorrow… boo!
I have been a Christian since I can remember. I was born one and made a conscious decision to stay a Christian when I was old enough to make the choice myself. Naturally, as a practising Christian, I go to church on most Sundays. As such, one of the key things on my to do list for when we arrived in Calgary was to find a church to settle as a family in.
My first port of call was good old google. I searched for churches in the area I knew we would be living in and I quickly settled for one that seemed to tick all the boxes based on their website. Their website looked exciting, Jesus. Check. Kids church, Check. 8 minutes drive from my house, even better.
Excitedly, this morning, I got everyone ready and we got to church 10 minutes late. Not too bad as we still met the worship session. The preaching was okay but I missed most of it because my kids would not settle in the adults church and I had trouble trying to get them into the kids church.
However, I felt anything but welcome as soon as we walked in. I have to confess that I did not fully appreciate the importance of ushers until my experience this morning. This church was a big church, I will estimate about 250 members with three services every Sunday. So, surely, having new members shouldn’t be new to them. In my experience in church for the last 20+ years, new people get even special treatment. We get asked to put up our hands and additional information about the church gets handed to us. People go out of their way to say hello to us and most definitely, an usher welcomes you to the church and tries to find you a seat in this new environment.
However, no one said a word to us when we arrived, there was no usher in sight. If there was one, we didn’t notice him or her. I had to find a seat for the four of us, and once settled, I headed off to find the kids church.
Now, this was where I decided I was never going back to that church again. The kids seemed to be sitting and watching a video about a lesson there were to be learning about before the breakout sessions. Nothing wrong with this, however, I couldn’t find an adult to ask how the kids church worked, if I could deposit my kids there for the next hour, where to sign them in, etc. There was no one to ask. I went back with my now disappointed son, who couldn’t understand why he couldn’t join the other kids and this time, there was a gentleman dispensing sweets for the kids, he glanced once at me, with two kids in my hands and went back to dispensing sweets. No hello, nothing. I had to remind myself I was at church.
I took my son to the bathroom, once again, bumped into another Sunday school teacher, I was eager to say hello and maybe finally ask her how to go about using the Sunday school, once again, she didn’t look interested in having a chat and was focused on the kids she brought to use the toilet. Which is fine.
To avoid going into too much detail, it was not a very nice feeling and I can’t imagine experiencing this and going back to church if I was not a Christian. I reported my experience to a friend and she asked maybe they were having an off day but, there were so many people involved in this off day that could have at least said hello. I wanted to say hello, but no one held my gaze long enough for me to do just that. It was a very upsetting experience if I am being honest.
I really wanted to like the church. I mean, I had spent ages on their website for the last three months and was so eager to get involved. We won’t be going back and my search for a warm welcoming church continues.
Most importantly, this serves as a reminder to me to be warm and friendly to people, particularly as a Christian. More so when I am at church. Church is where we encourage non-Christians to come to learn more about Christ, learning about Christ starts with the individual.
It most certainly has been a busy week! I am however enjoying it so far. No regrets yet, however, I am very aware that it’s only been a week, so too early to say.
To be honest, the soft landing we did in January helped a lot and I will recommend it to anyone planning to relocate anywhere. Back in January, we visited for ten days. It was a stressful ten days but it laid the ground perfectly for when we arrived a week ago. We registered as permanent residents, for medical, obtained our SINs, opened bank accounts, visited potential schools for the kids and narrowed them down to one for each child, viewed houses for rent to give us an idea of where we wanted to live when we eventually moved. We did this and a few other things which meant we hit the ground running. So far, so good.
I am not sure if this is a thing, but one thing I have noticed is that I keep getting static shock when I touch anything and everything! Some much so I have stifled screams! My husband and mum believe it is because my skin is dry, but I promise you, I moisturise! It is better now, but I am so tentative before I touch anything, because I know there is a 80% chance I will get zapped. I’m hoping this doesn’t become a long term issue and ends soon.
Another thing I have struggled with is brands. I underestimated how much value I had placed on known brands. Back in the UK, I knew where to go, depending on what I needed to buy. In the US, I also have an idea where to go. However, over here, I am in over my head! Boy am I glad we rented a furnished house because I wouldn’t even know where to start.
A day after we arrived, I made what was meant to be a quick trip to the supermarket. I was doing okay until I got to the butter aisle. I found myself staring for about 5 minute. What happened to good old Lurpark, or Anchor or Flora? I was met with new brands. It is not the end of the world, I know. However, it was in the butter aisle that it full sunk in that I am officially living in a different country. Just in case you wondered, I settled for Naturel (I think that is what it is called) and it was not a bad choice.
On a separate note, I am now used to driving on the other side of the road and just about learning my way around. I am also hoping that we have seen the last of the snow. A few days after we arrived, there was a ‘snow storm’ if I can call it that. Apparently, it was nothing compared to what they experienced in the middle of the winter. I think I wrote this paragraph too soon as it is now snowing again. Getting used to it though, and also, I am more prepared now I have bought my snow boots and ‘Calgary Grade’ winter jacket!
To summarise, our first week so far has been good. I have one more week until I start work so I am trying to maximise my downtime by catching up on my favourite shows and doing nothing for a change!
It has been so difficult to write this blog. I started writing it on 7 February and couldn’t bring myself to complete it. Maybe now that I’m thousands of feet in the air and finally on our way to Calgary, I have plenty of time in the 8.5 hours or so it will take us to get there to complete this blog.
My family and I are moving to Calgary, Alberta and I have been in total denial about this.
Our love affair with YYC started two years ago when we visited a couple of friends over there. After our first night. We started exploring the option of moving.
We expected the process of applying for permanent residence to be long and tedious but it was surprising quick. It required providing a lot of information upfront but once this was done the rest of it was straightforward. We are grateful for the opportunity to start our lives somewhere new and exciting and looking forward to the prospects of creating beautiful and exciting memories together.
However, it isn’t all singing and dancing as I am a bit apprehensive about the move. A lot of people have said I have nothing to worry about and although I believe them, it does not change the fact we are taking a big step and a big risk. We are leaving good jobs, great schools for kids and the comfort blanket of having great friends and family surrounding us to move to a country where we will have to rebuild what we know all over again. I will be moving from a country that has become home, where everything is familiar and we are nicely settled, to another with numerous unknowns in a different continent.
We all know you don’t buy everything in the same place, well I certainly do not. For example, I can buy my milk anywhere because it’s just milk but I drive to Tesco for their brioche because my family love their brioche. I will need to find a supermarket that actually does the brioche my children like. This proved difficult when we visited back in January.
For celebrations, I will need to find a lovely bakers to put my Pinterest downloads into edible form.
Not to forget, learning the new tricks about commuting downtown, what is the best time and station to travel from.
Learn the new ‘lingo’. I know they speak English, but every country has its lingo I’ve come to find. For example, it took my a while to understand British humour, but now I do and I love it. I can laugh for days at a British joke but 15 years ago, I just didn’t get it.
So, you get the drift. I’m going to have to learn it all again. It is okay however, because it is an adventure and I’m privileged enough to be doing this with my family.
The hardest part of this whole ordeal has been my family and my friends. You know the ones that are really there for you when it matters? The ones that are just totally amazing, the ones you can’t even think of replacing, those are the people that make this move all the more painful.
It has been such an emotional few days for us. My sister in law who is just great on so many levels! I couldn’t be the wife and mum I am today without my Sister Ore! She has been a constant rock, a constant support! She has been a sister. Let’s just say the tears were never ending. It will be a lot to adjust to not being able to just pick up the phone to call her as often as I will like because of the time difference.
My friend become big sister, Buki. She is all sorts of amazing as well, and extremely thoughtful! She is cool and extremely resourceful. The kind of friend that stops in unannounced with a tonne of thoughtful gifts that make you tear up. I have learnt so much from her in such a short space of time and I’m sure going to miss her.
My best friend, Vese. It’s been an extremely emotional one. I’m not going to dwell on this paragraph. All I will say is thank you. Thank you for being amazing. Our friendship is going to be tested by distance and time, but I trust that we will be okay. I will miss you loads.
I will talk about the practicalities of our moving in another blog, but until then, I’m going to cry some more before we land in YYC because I’ve promised myself, Calgary is going to be happy, we are going to be happy and it will be worth it all!