So the near 2 years of planning, deliberating and waiting has finally paid off and I am now living my Canadian dream. Sure, I have plenty of things to do to be completely independent but I have certainly taken a big step to making that happen.
Getting here hasn’t been easy, there has been lengthy waits, numerous forms to fill out and plenty of money spent.
The Last 72 Hours
The last 72 hours have been an interesting mix of emotions, starting with sadness on Friday morning as I bid farewell to my partner. Although this move is going to be challenging for the both of us, I think both she and I are committed enough to each other to make it work. I certainly know that her support and love has been unbelievably appreciated while I have been going through the process of applying and getting out here. So to her here is a massive “thank you” from me, I really have, and still continue, to appreciate your support.
After leaving my partner, my brother, who had kindly come to meet me in Nottingham, and I, set off aboard a first class train to St. Pancras (definitely could get used to travelling first class). Upon arrival in London he not only insisted on looking after my huge bag, which I aptly named Colossus, he also treated me to lunch at an awesome Indian restaurant around the corner from King’s Cross, thanks Gra.
From there we met my mum at Paddington Station who had travelled up from Cornwall to see me off and then we went back to my brother’s flat near Wimbledon. That evening was thoroughly chilled and yet again I was treated to a farewell meal, this time at Cau in Wimbledon. They claim to serve some of the best beef you’ll ever taste and I can confirm quite happily this is absolutely true. The rest of Saturday evening was spent chilling, chatting and reorganising my bag ready for the flight on Sunday.
D-Day arrived and it was finally time to make the 4,700 mile journey to my new home in Vancouver. The morning started at a fairly civilised hour, 0800, after what was an interesting nights sleep of me getting up and down and thinking about the various things to come.
After getting to the airport shortly after 0900 I had a 20 minute wait before I could drop off my bag (I’d already checked in to the flight on Saturday using the British Airways app). After dropping my bag off I had a great breakfast at Carluccio’s Italian restaurant in Terminal 5, with my mum, brother and his girlfriend Liv, all of whom had come to see me off. Post breakfast we exchanged numerous hugs and farewells before I set off through security.
Security I went through without a hitch. I always expect to get stopped and searched, it’s certainly happened enough times so I am no longer surprised when they pull me to one side. This time I was stopped to swab my hands and shoes before it was run through a drugs detector. Clean detection done and it was time to join the other travellers on airside.
Once airside I joined the madhouse of other travellers hustling and bustling around the various duty free shops. To my brother’s disappointment, aside from going into WH Smiths to buy some chewing gum and a big bottle of water, I didn’t step into one shop. I personally do not understand the desire to go shopping immediately before travelling, but each to their own I guess. Also given that I don’t yet have a job set up in Vancouver I’m keen to look after every penny and cent I have, and only want to spend it on getting to know Vancouver and supporting myself in my pursuit for work.
Flight time came around at 12:40pm. Thankfully I had been able to book an aisle seat and the seat next to me was unoccupied which allowed for ample space to spread and be comfy. When I was boarding the plane I walked though business class which was a big disappointment as I knew my seat wasn’t going to be as spacious and comfy. One day I will fly Business Class. The flight itself went as smoothly as I could wish for with minimum turbulence. We touched down in Vancouver after just over 9 hours flight to blue skies and a slight breeze, absolutely perfect weather for me.
Border Patrol and Immigration
As soon as I arrived in Vancouver it was the start of queues, queues and more queues. The first queue was border patrol armed with passport and the immigration form I was given on the plane.
Next baggage claim, mine came around in less than 2 minutes so I was really lucky. And then came the long queue that goes at its own pace, immigration. This is the place where you find out if the last X-number of months of waiting has paid off and if you’ve remembered everything you needed to bring. Well I can say the answer to that question for me was a triumphant yes! Nearly 1.5 hours of waiting and it was my turn with the immigration officer – there were 10-15 people in front of me so I’d heard good and bad news being given out, so I had my fingers crossed it was going to be good news for me.
I walked up to the desk and was greeted by a friendly immigration officer. I handed over my passport and immigration form and had my folder full of forms that I’d prepared for them. As I am a member of a number of the International Experience Canada groups on Facebook I already knew that since my visa application had been approved the automatic visa allocation for UK citizens had gone from 12-24 months. With that in mind I came armed with 2 years worth of travel insurance and enough funds to justify the extra length visa. After some tooing and froing with the officer I was approved for a 24 month work permit, wahooo!!
Post airport queuing it was time to head into Vancouver to my accommodation for the next month. For me staying in a hostel didn’t really appeal, I like my own space and creature comforts too much. I arrived at my pre-booked accommodation and was met my host. After a quick tour around the property, getting the obligatory wifi password and being shown to my self-contained suite I was left to settle in to my new home. First job for me after being left to my own devices was a shower. My ensuite comes with a great walk-in shower with built-in seat, it is amazing and the water pressure is really good too!
After a quick shower and it was time to hunt out some food. Having “pounded” the streets before I got here via Google maps I already knew there was an Indian restaurant and discount food store down the road I wanted to go to for convenience, which turned out was not a bad idea at all. I picked up a really good meal from Tandoori Chicken on Main Street and 56th Avenue, and a few basics from Michael’s Discount Store a few doors down.
As the area I am living in is popular with the Asian and Indian communities the selection of food is really varied and different. After coming home, munching and chilling in front of the TV for a bit, it was definitely bed time! Being awake for 22 hours with nothing more than a couple of power naps I was really tired. Here’s hoping my first night’s sleep goes well and I don’t wake up at 2am wide awake. I want to adjust to Vancouver time as quickly as possible so hopefully the extra hours I forced myself to stay awake pay off.
Until next time I wish you all the best and send much love and happiness from Vancouver.