Tag Archives: British Columbia

Arriving to Vancouver

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Flying for the first time to Canada, to Vancouver more precisely, was a different type of experience for each of us. It happened many years ago. For our son, who’s age was still counted in months at the time, was just one of those regular trips. He didn’t really get all the fuss around him since he was on the go from day one of his life, so this trip was no different. To me… I was literally trying to enjoy it, as much as a young mother could. I have been only minimally involved in the planning of the trip and there were simply too many things I didn’t know, not to mention all the things I didn’t know I don’t know. So about that specific emotion “you’re changing your life forever”…  I can’t remember. To my husband… well, that is a different story. He was watching the Rockies as we were flying over them on a beautiful sunny day, and I could see he was barely breathing. To see the Rockies was one of his big dreams. It was the first day of May. I didn’t understand much at the time. The plan was to move here, so we were moving. All the wheels turning behind the entire mechanism were not one of my troubles, I was just too busy being a mother. And that’s how my life has changed. Forever.

We landed at about 3 pm Vancouver time. My hubby would know exactly, I am quite sure he still remembers. Went through the immigration quite fast as he knew everything step by step. A friend from North Vancouver was waiting for us at the airport. I remember seeing YVR for the first time: cute, but small. We’ve loaded our luggage into the minivan and off we went to North Van. My tired eyes were looking outside at the funny looking buildings, many seemed unfinished, no roof, nothing like in Europe I thought, and I was rather disappointed. People were nice and smiling all the time, but as I didn’t speak any English I didn’t quite get why. At our friends’ place I felt a bit better, even though many things looked funny there as well: the toilet was full of water (the first time I flushed it I thought it will overflow), the bathtub was really low, and the host, holding out a green smoothie, was very enthusiastic about how great this is for your health. But then … there was a gorgeous view of the Lion’s Gate bridge from their balcony. I loved it! As the night settled, we were definitely jet-lagged, so I stayed on the balcony for a long time, looking at the sparkling view over the gulf. A myriad of tiny stars made room for themselves, one next to the other, just to add more glamour to the whole picture. sheridan-lake

Two days latter, we moved our luggage into a rental car and embarked on a two weeks trip around British Columbia – our first discovery journey. The plan was to stop for the first night at a hidden in the forest cottage on the Sheridan Lake, then a few days in Prince George (as I had to visit UNBC), then move on to Jasper National Park, followed by a three days stop in Edmonton, then Calgary, followed by a stop in Banff for a couple of days. We drove north on the Ice Fields Parkway towards Mt. Athabasca, did some hiking, and came back to Lake Louise (which I fell in love with forever). On our way back to Vancouver we have stopped at Yoho National Park, Revelstoke, and Kelowna. I still remember pretty well many of the amazing Bed & Breakfast locations we stayed at throughout this trip. They have added local flavor to the breakfast time, when we could learn more about people, listen to their stories and try to understand what the Canadian culture is all about. It was an amazing trip, helped us see how huge, how beautiful, and how delicate British Columbia is. Even though we didn’t go past Prince George… some day I will come back here to write more about certain parts of it.

When in Rome, do as the Romans

If you’re one of those who had a great time at the BC Professional Immigrant Conference this past Saturday at Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, you should read on. Have you missed this event? Then you should read anyway and try to expand your network / become more active on various social platforms, so you don’t miss similar future occasions. New Vancouverites – professionals trained all over the world – came to learn about how to be successful in their new home country. If in theory it’s quite simple – When in Rome, do as the Romans – practice proved as differently. To me, this event was great on a few different levels: I’ve reconnected with some old friends and some of my colleagues I haven’t seen since the Career Development Conference last year, met a few of my former clients from Richmond – so happy to learn about their success stories and even happier they came to see me, made a few new connections, was able to present on such a dynamic topic as Social Media, and to help some of the participants who stayed behind with questions. IMG_0268As a participant on the other hand, I was happy to meet Lionel Laroche, the keynote speaker and the author of – among others – Managing Cultural Diversity in Technical Professions. He addressed an audience of over 500 participants on the topic of Succeeding in Canada. Laroche emphasized many of the points we bring up during our counselling sessions at Skills Connect, yet wrapped in some great stories, these points have moved the audience – myself included – from smiling, to laughing, and to noises specific to suddenly surprised crowds. The learning curve an immigrant expects to go through when s/he arrives to Canada is somewhere from 6 to 12 months, but in reality, as per Lionel’s discourse, this can go up to around 6 to 7 years or more. Once those numbers uttered, I looked around me and I could sense a heavy and silent shock, some heads moved slowly from left to right and back, some sighed heavily, some chins dropped down. As someone who has been here long enough, I could see Lionel’s point very clearly, but this is a hard to accept reality. On the bright side though, as a career advisor, I must say I have experienced beautiful success stories of people who managed to get all settled in a good position in less than a year. Not very many, however. And no matter how fine that position was, it was still at a lower level then what they did before moving to Canada. In a charmingly plain graphic representation, Lionel Laroche illustrated how along this learning and acclimatization curve, some factors proved to be more important than others, and among the central ones we find – again – the language skills and the soft skills. As a newcomer, as soon as you manage to tune your soft skills up to the standards of your new home country and as soon as you manage to develop your communication skills, you’re good to go. Many immigrants come to Canada with really high technical skills. When they fail at securing a professional position, their first attempt to fix this situation is to go back to school to take those technical skills one step higher. And this is unfortunate. Bringing-up an inspiring story about his own start-up in Canada, Lionel Laroche emphasized how it truly is the soft skills newcomers should tackle and improve, not the technical ones. I really enjoyed listening to this stimulating keynote presentation and it is my hope that all the participants have left the venue with some precious information in their pockets. If what you have learned has both inspired and moved you, don’t sleep on it for too long – get started, you’re the master of your own future! If there are questions that worry you, then seek professional advice and try to move on, make a plan and follow it, as time does not forgive. And I’ll conclude with a quote from the American author Wayne Dyer: Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal, live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone.

by Magdalena Mot