5 things TO DO IN Toronto after landing as a pr
Holding our hands tight, anxious grin on our faces and feelings of void were too apparent when the wheels screeched and we finally landed on the Canadian soil. But all these emotions were not entirely because of sheer anxiety, but also because I am very scared of landings :D After all the ordeal inside the airport was finished, we headed towards the exit to meet our very dear friends who were waiting outside to pick and take us straight to their house. Well, I can't stress enough how important and advantageous it is to have someone close who could help in those initial days when the mind is nonplussed, the heart is aching for people back home and you already realize that the struggle is tenacious.
Here today, I will discuss the first five things we did within a week after landing in Toronto
Read why we moved here
Get the Bible - SIN CARD
SIN card or the social insurance number is the most important document over here. Hold it to your heart, as you will require this card or the number in everything you do. From your job applications to getting any government benefits, you need your SIN(I mean the document here ;)). It is a nine digit unique number and is issued to anybody who is legally entitled to live in Canada.
I remember we got our SIN card just the next day after landing from Service Canada. This government institution is located in many places in Toronto where the staffs are friendly and cooperative(they try their best, trust me..but some of us are...duh!)
LOCAL TELEPHONE NUMBER
When you are already feeling at a loss, it is important for you to not to 'get lost' any further! At this stage, the phone for all good reason is for having a hearty conversation, but also more importantly for Google Map and trust it more than you could trust your partner..ahh and I mean it (Canadians living here for many years also use GPS to take them back home from work :D) so you understand!
Next, is to have a primary contact number if by some luck you receive an interview call, which generally never happens before 4months at least- remember, patience is a virtue in this area. But still, you have to have a contact number right?
Then, more than anything, you could have a phone without chipping in a penny. No, it doesn't go for free, its on lease and gets billed monthly along with the plan you take.
I got my phone on the very first day from Eaton centre in Toronto. It was my first ride on a subway and my introduction to the 'Canadian Fashion' for this was the biggest shopping mall in Canada. I had to carry PR card the only identity proof then in Canada and got a plan suited to me. But again, my friend had to be a guarantor. (Life is easy with friends around, aren't they?)
I still remember the influx of emotion that traveled through me when I entered the first Canadian bank to open an account. Being a banker back home, I only dreamed of entering the Canadian banking industry as soon as possible and envisioned myself inside that glass cabin where my wife and I was taken inside to discuss the plan. Half way through the discussion I realized a current account is named as a checking account here and with some few difference compared to banking in my country.
In Canada, there are five major banks and other smaller banks where an account can be opened. But it is important to talk to some localities and get feedback and go through each ones website and research a little about their annual fees and offers. Generally most newcomers feel baking in Canada is expensive and might pay more annually than they would back home. Therefore it is essential to research and go with the best. Remember to not only get a debit card but also a credit card, yes you do get one under the new comer program with almost all banks with a minuscule credit limit. Your credit history is the key to get any loan in the future. Hence it is absolutely mandatory to have a solid credit history.
Sweet Jesus! The most exciting yet the most stressful of them all. Even though our friends and relatives were there to help us out in this, still it took us 3 weeks to find a decent place- well I started the search and conducted some research online even before landing to Canada. Finding an apartment which will suit your peanut budget in a desired area with some basic amenities was a herculean task. And for those newcomers who do not have a job or a reference it could be even more stressful. In this case you need to find a flexible landlord who could put in some trust in you and rent you his basement. Yes, basements in individual houses are often given out on rent where the landlords aren't that strict like apartment realtors.
But in our case we had our friend who not only referred us but also stood as a guarantor (because we were unemployed) which helped us to secure the apartment we liked. We got our one from an advertisement in Kijiji. Craigslist, Pamapper, Walkscore, rentseeker.ca are some of the reliable aggregators for apartment search.
If you are a book lover like my wife, getting a library card is a must. Government libraries are spread across the city and probably will be there in your vicinity. Get your identity card (PR), proof of residency(bank statement or rent agreement) and a photo to get access to the best book collection - from stories to documentaries to magazines and innumerable study materials of various languages can be a treat.
Here the libraries are not only dedicated to only books, but also have games room, a gym and surfing computers with free Wi-Fi, which can be very helpful for new comer children and house wives. When I was in between jobs, library was my happy place and continue to be one even today.
After the dust is settled for a while, and the most essential errands have been run, it's important to walk around and get to know your neighborhood, not really your neighbors though. Err.. you'll literally see your neighbors once in a month probably and exchange pleasantries in a way that they are your bum chums! In a country where winters are harsh and the weather changes in a wink of an eye, having a grocery store, a drug store and a transit near your apartment can be very handy. Most of the apartments are located in a place from where these essentials are at a walking distance. Once you know your neighborhood, start exploring. Either get a transit pass or rent a bicycle (only in summers) and keep ticking off your list.
After reading this, many of you will wonder why 'job search' or 'how to get a job' is missing from the most essential few things after landing. Trust me people, the ones mentioned above are in some way related to getting your first interview call in this land of opportunities mingled in stashes of struggles as reference and trust are the few things which are important to enter the Canadian workforce. Therefore, talk to people, make acquaintances if not friends and be good to each other to build a relationship of trust which can take you a long way in this country. Because Canadian are helpful and well mannered!
Everything about the job market and the means of searching for one will be covered in the next blog, so stay tuned and follow Elan and Elation!
P.S: We can't thank enough our friends and relatives for all the help when we really needed! (They know who they are :)
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