Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We finally landed, now what ?

We were given a form to fill on the plane.It was about things that we were bringing with us, we had nothing but clothes packed in 3 suitcases and one old lap top. We did not plan to bring anything else since we didn't have it, but if you plan to import let say a car or household items you need to write down the description and value of these things, and a serial number if it's a car or something electronic ... We didn't purchase anything at the airport either so we left the form mostly blank.
We landed in the afternoon, it was a gray rainy day on Toronto airport, I remember looking trough the window and thinking after all that horror of a flight :" Oh God, what is this?" it was such a sad and depressing sight.After landing the first thing to do was to pass the immigration and then find the luggage. Our procedure lasted about 15 minutes,we reported how much money we had and they asked to see our bank confirmation, we applied for the PR cards and that was it, it would be sent to us within ca 10 days on the address provided.A nice woman at the counter for the new immigrants gave us the bag with brochures and sealed documents for health insurance and child benefit, she said to fill everything and send it.
We found only two suitcases, the baby's was missing,that meant no spare clothes and diapers for him, the rest stunk of alcohol because someone's spirit probably broke and it leaked over our luggage. I was at the verge of tears at the custom counter, he just looked at us and said "welcome to Canada..."
At the time we had a friend waiting for us to take us to his home in Kitchener.
When we first applied for visas we didn't have the faintest idea about life in Canada, I canvased the internet but could find anything to help me with understanding how things function here, the only thing I new was that it was probably better than where we were...My husband and I had a crazy idea to go to Fort McMurray work very hard for several years, save money and then move to a more hospitable place and have kids, well that changed over time because the years of waiting were passing and we wanted to have a kid before our thirties. We thought about Alberta for a while, we never wanted to live in Toronto because we don't like crowded big cities, in February 2010 when we finally got our visas we still had no idea where we were going and we were taking the 9 months old baby with us.
Luckily we contacted a family from our hometown, my husband's ex teacher at the university, that immigrated to Canada some 10 years ago and they agreed to help us and rent us their apartment in Kitchener.
They practically saved us, if it wasn't for them we would be lost in some awful and expensive motel in Toronto and we would probably hated being here from day one. Instead, we went to their home and were treated as guests, I loved Kitchener it reminded me of Europe because of the people there, they were all so nice and kind, always saying hello and laughing at us in the street, many of them helped us so much. I miss that feeling very much, in Toronto people mind their own busyness and don't even look at you, no one says hello and I stand in the elevator as a convict silently waiting to get out with a bunch of strangers. Big cities remind me of ant's nest, I don't like them.
Went to the bank and opened account with President choice, we put some money to make so-called credit history and got debit cards.
The next day we went to apply for SIN, we were waiting at the Service Canada Centre and about 20 minutes. and got that done as well. Be sure to carry your passport everywhere you go.
Next was applying for health insurance, that we screwed up, we were waiting half an hour just to be told the necessary documents are pr card, passport, contract for an apartment or a cable, a report from the bank accounts and to document the names of both spouses, we didn't have all of them yet.We had to fix that latter. 

Before we came I contacted several agencies for rental apartments, only two responded to my mail, mostly all of them want you to have Canadian  documents,  the PR card, bank account with income, two rents, first and last, and the contract for one year. In principle, it is almost impossible to rent an apartment for the first month, maybe if you find someone to be a cosigner ... we were so lucky that we found the apartment before we arrived.
I can not write about hotels and motels, I know that they are not cheap but we didn't have  to go to one so I was thrilled.As far as I know from google searches reservation is required at least 2 weeks before arrival and room rates are ranging from 50 to 100 CAD per night, hotel ,motel whatever.

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