I can’t believe that I have already been living here 2 full days. To many reading this they’ll be thinking “so what?” but for me that’s a pretty big deal given the number of things I have done during that time.
The first 24 hours
The first 24 hours were pretty uneventful, the order of the day was rest and recuperation after a long day in transit. The morning started as any good Sunday morning should, with bacon and eggs.
The rest of Sunday was spent chilling in front of the TV, speaking to family and my girlfriend on FaceTime. I also went for a wander to stretch my legs. My wandering took me up Fraser Street which is one of the streets that runs north to south near where I live. The view walking up the road was amazing with mountain ranges dominating the skyline of Vancouver. My wandering didn’t consist of much except buying some health supplements, getting a few supplies and picking up a much wanted coffee from Starbucks on the way home. The fresh air and views were enough to keep me happy and I certainly felt revitalised afterwards.
Monday – now it’s time to get serious
Monday morning came around and it was time to get down to business. My move to Canada is not just about exploring this amazing country, it is about becoming a valued, hard-working and tax paying resident of Canada. With that in mind I had several important jobs to do, not least registering for my Social Insurance Number (SIN) and getting a Canadian bank account.
My day started at a leisurely hour of 09:30am with me catching the number 3 bus into Downtown Vancouver. Buses out here are different from the UK; you require exact change, they don’t accept notes and the bus drivers are pretty forgiving if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing (that was definitely me).
My ride into town took me along Main Street. The views going down Main Street were equally as impressive as the view I had on Sunday walking down Fraser Street, with the same mountains dominating the skyline. Not only were the views spectacular but the people getting on and off the bus were a right mix. I’d been on the bus no more than 5 minutes before a lovely old lady perched herself in the seat next to me. She took no time at all to strike up conversation, telling me about her plans for the day and asking me about where I was from. She was great and even though we only shared 10 minutes together I felt humbled by the fact she took the time to talk to me, it certainly helped to re-enforce the pre-conception I had about Canadian’s being really friendly people.
After riding the bus into town it was time to crack on with the days jobs. First stop was the Sinclair Centre on West Hastings Street. Inside the Sinclair Centre is a branch of Service Canada (they have offices all over the city). Service Canada is a bit like the UK’s Citizen Advice Bureau mixed with an application centre for everything from Social Insurance Numbers through to advice about housing, employment rights and a whole host of other things.
After a 45 minute wait I was shown to a desk by one of the agents (anyone heading in there I recommend getting there before 10:30am because after that it gets seriously busy). I was asked a series of questions about my reason for being here, details about my family and myself, and after a few keystrokes there it was, my 9 digit SIN number that means I can now legally work and pay Canadian taxes, never before has having the ability to pay taxes been so fulfilling.
Once I had registered for my SIN number my next task was to open a banking account. Before I arrived in Canada I had done research into the best banks for newcomers to Canada. I had already decided to go with TD Bank Canada who are one of the larger banks in Canada and who have a huge number of ATM’s that are free to withdraw from. They also offer a really comprehensive newcomer’s package that makes registering with them really easy.
After wandering the streets and getting myself thoroughly lost I conceded and grabbed a coffee before asking the server for directions to the nearest branch of TD Bank. The server’s directions were spot on and in a few blocks I found myself at the bottom of a huge building inside which was the TD Bank branch that I was about to register with.
Inside the bank I met Jamie, a lovely young lady who walked me through setting up my current account, savings account, getting a cheque book, and sorted out my debit card and explained all the T&C’s nice and simply. She even took the time to get to know me and asked about any other requirements I might have, not to mention she gave me a few suggestions of places to go, thanks Jamie. The whole process took 15-20 minutes and all I needed was my SIN number, work permit and passport.
Next, it was definitely time for lunch and a sit down. Following my nose and catching a glimpse of blue water I quickly found myself down at Canada Place. In Canada Place is the Vancouver Convention Centre and around the convention centre is beautiful with views towards the mountain range I could see coming into Downtown. There were also amazing blue skies, bright blue water, and the buzz of tourists and locals loving the great outdoors and communal areas.
On the way to lunch I bumped into a lovely couple doing the tourist thing and wanting a photo. After taking theirs they obliged a took one of me (it really was gorgeous weather today and a balmy 22 degrees).
Lunch was taken at Mahony and Sons right by the water with my first taste of the local beer. Coming from Granville Island brewery it couldn’t get much more local and damn did it taste good. Post lunch it was time for a wander around the tourist information centre just around the corner (I now have a ton of leaflets to go through).
From the tourist information centre it was on to PhoneBox to sort out a Canadian mobile contract. Again, like with looking for a bank, I also looked into phone contracts before arriving in Canada. Although not the cheapest provider, PhoneBox offer a rolling monthly contract that means it’s easy to cancel if I decide to move to another area of Canada where cover isn’t any good.
For registering for my contract I had to provide a credit card and passport. It took no more than 10 minutes and now I am living the dual mobile life much like foreign people who come to the UK do.
So what’s next?
So now I have a Canadian SIN number, bank account and cell number I can really start to get down to looking for work. One of the biggest issues I faced trying to find work from the UK was I didn’t have anything Canadian except for an acceptance letter for a visa. Now I can show I am serious about finding work, I’ve been here just over 48 hours and already I am able to start working. Fingers crossed that I will now start to hear from employers and can get a job offer over the next couple of weeks. Watch this space to see what happens.