Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Living in Canada

It's been more than 7 months since I moved to Canada, in the meantime some of the things I have written on my other blog in serbian language have helped a lot of people from my former country who came here to Canada searching for a better future.
I really hopped that someone else will be able to read it in a language other than serbian by using google translator but when I tried to do that, it came out as a bunch of nonsense, so I've decided to slowly translate most of it into English myself. Some things that are not that important will be omitted but I'll try to do my best and give along the way the information that might be useful to newcomers and that certainly was useful to me.By the way this is not immigrant info blog, this is my experience and my views and thoughts, so what I write down in this blog reflects only my picture of Life in Canada not everyone's else, and as I always say every person who comes here has their own path, some find it great some find it not so great and with a lot of bureaucratic obstacles in their way...


To understand my story a little bit better I'll try to shortly explain what my life was like in the country I came from. I was born in a country called Yugoslavia that doesn't exist anymore, it was torn apart by several consecutive wars that started in the early 90ties and lasted the next several years, even though the historical archives can put the start and the end dates on those wars, for the people there 90ties have brought a wave of darkness and despair that is still omnipresent in their daily life, the economy collapsed and never fully recovered after numerous crises and hyperinflation...it seems as though it is never going to be better and that there will always be some kind of crises that will prevent you from living your life as you should and put you down to miserable bare survival.
I try to avoid this subject all the time, because I didn't see my future there, I have learned a lot about things and people, about values in life, about politics and elite,about choosing your battles carefully, but that kind of schooling I wouldn't wish to anyone.
Anyway, after 2003 my future husband and I realized that things are going for the worse once again, the new prime minister who wanted to cut the crime and old politics and bring the country into EU was murdered and the old regime took over once again, we decided to immigrate even though we had jobs at the time and were living at his parents house.We were the lucky ones, most of young couples in Serbia cannot get a job or find a place for themselves, simply because there are no decent jobs since the economy is almost non existing. They are forced to live with their parents and share income of one or two small salaries among several family members, sometimes that monthly income can not even cover a single utility bill.
We had two salaries and that gave us the opportunity to save enough money over 4 years to be able to immigrate.In 2006 we applied under the old skilled worker program and finally in 2010 immigrated to Canada with our baby that was born in 2009. We actually thought that we have waited enough and wanted to get on with our lives and have a baby when the letter from embassy came, it took us then one more year to arrange papers for the baby. We arrived to Canada beginning of June 2010.

The Departure

If you are lucky enough to get a visa and are able to immigrate buy airplane tickets as soon as possible because the ticket price changes in thousands of euros (in our case ) the  closer the departure date comes ...
We bought tickets three months earlier at a cost of 900 euros for the three of us, the baby pays only some 30 euros and doesn't get the seat of his own, one week prior to the departure date the same tickets were nearly 4,000 euros.
Buy a ticket out of summer touristic season, if you can, that means do not buy dates after 15 of June to 1 September because the tickets are most expensive in that period and during the holidays.
Be sure to regularly check your flight, what happened to us was that Alitalia canceled our flight a week before the trip and we were not informed, I almost got a heartatack! If  something like this happens the arangments  for the new tickets and flight are free of charge as long as you didn't cancel the tickets and it's their fault.
Some companies give a discount for buying tickets online, call their representatives on the airport, you can save some money  if you purchase it online.
Cheapest tickets are economic classes, no special services for children or babies, by airfare companies logic children under 2 years don't need to have their seats, but a flight of 15 hours is quite an effort for babies as well as parents, from our experience.
Seats are small and uncomfortable, flight is long, you are lucky is if there is enough empty seats on the plane that you can put your child to sleep beside you, in other circumstances it should you sit in your lap non-stop ...

Ask about the luggage limits

Each carrier has a limit depending on the price of tickets, the cheaper the tickets less luggage allowed, the rule is 23kg per 10kg for children, and hand-5kg or 10 kg per person, of course, make sure you don't end up paying 10 euros per excess kilogram, or 100 euros per suitcase if the weight and dimensions are not proper.
There is no "discount" when it comes to luggage for immigration or emigration.
Baby strollers are not included in the weight of  the luggage.
Bringing food and water into the airplane is not a problem if you have a young child with you, I had  4 bottles of food and milk and 2 bottles of water and no one has said anything, I also had a blanket, spare clothes, bag with diapers, plastic bags for waste and other baby stuff ... all that I needed for my baby I brought on the plane without problems.


In principle, all overseas flights are flown in a similar aircraft, the difference is in the price of the tickets and a connection.
We took Alitalia  and it was quite stressful, but a bargain compared to the others.One week before the departure they canceled our flight without any warning and without informing us, we tried to get the next flight, but they forgot to make a reservation for the baby ...As we arrived to Belgrade  airport we found out that one ticket is missing, Alitalia's office at the airport did not work because the worker was not coming that day and we were one hour away from the flight and with only two tickets  ... JAT our connection flight to Rome somehow provided a ticket for the baby to Rome and told us to solve it there with Alitalia's workers.Then it turned out that the luggage is a problem, we had a surplus of 4 kg for which we needed to pay 100 euros, we decided not to, somehow we got the guy in charge to let us go  because these were all baby items, we told him he can take all the diapers and baby clothes and toys out on the floor if he wants to, but I don't want to pay that ridiculous amount of money...at the end we gave him 10 euros instead and he let us go.
In Rome we caught to a train to the terminal we had half an hour to fix the ticket problem but 325 people were waiting to board the same flight.We got split seats, I pleaded them and  asked that we sit together, explained that we have a baby and that we should hold it for the next 15 hours, finally they had mercy and we got to sit together.

The plane was a mess, small narrow space full of people, and small seats. In front of us was a guy with two wives and four young children, crying, screaming and running around, he'd play music on his cell phone and turn it very loud...It was hard with a small child, no where to move or turn and baby could not sleep because of the noise and the crowd ...I told myself I'm not getting on a plane until he is big enough to endure the flight or to sleep it over in his own seat.
My advice to you is: if there is any chance to take the night flight do it, the child will at least get a bit of sleep and you'll get some time to recover ...
Some have advised me to give him fever medication that will make him sleep but I didn't want to do that, I didn't see the point we would be dead tired after landing and he would be fit for fun, that would probably be even harder to cope with.
 It took us all together 20 hours to reach our final destination.