If you’re like the millions of Filipinos thinking about joining us here in Canada, you should know while it’s absolutely doable, it is far from easy. If you’re looking for a short cut, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Here are 5 things Filipinos should know before the think about moving to Canada.
1. MOVING TO CANADA ISN’T EVEN THE MOST DIFFICULT PART
Whether you’re a first time immigrant, or a seasoned OFW, moving to a new country can be extremely difficult.
It’s hard for most people to start over, especially if you’re set in your ways.
Then there’s that whole thing about “Canadian Experience”. If you’re new to Canada, you don’t have any.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional with many, many years of experience under your belt. If you’re an internationally trained and educated professional, chances are you will have a long and difficult road ahead of you if you want to continue practicing your profession.
It’s not impossible, it’ll just take a lot more time and effort (not to mention money).
You’ll also have to learn how to do everything all over again. From learning how to drive, to crossing the street to taking out the trash, it’s amazing how things are done differently here in Canada.
A lot of Filipinos have done it before, but not too many have shared how difficult it was for them.
A lot of Filipinos experience mental health issues as part of their settlement in Canada. If you are having difficulty adjusting, make sure you get help.
2. MOVING TO CANADA CAN BE VERY STRESSFUL
If you’re used to waking up in the morning, looking out your window and seeing all your relatives outside, you might be in for a rude awakening when you arrive in Canada.
Even if you have relatives, you’ll find that you still have to pretty much figure things out on your own.
Canada is all about routine. Go to work, pay the bills and cross your fingers that you win the lottery. Rinse and repeat, it’s the North American way.
If you’re starting out, all the stresses of being a Newcomer to Canada will really get to you.
Which is why you should really take the time to access all the available (not to mention, free) settlement services before you get started.
Seriously, google “settlement services near me” and give a call to the nearest one to your location. It might be the absolute best thing you can do to start your new life in Canada.
For OFWs who sponsored their husbands and kids, try not to find a job for them even before they arrive. You haven’t seen them in a long time, it might be a good idea to reconnect with them for a bit first.
After your family has gotten into a routine, try to spend as much time with them as possible.
This is especially true if you have little kids. If you are working two or three jobs and don’t have time to spend with the little ones, it might be time to rethink things.
You didn’t come to Canada to do the exact same things you did back home in the Philippines.
Relax and take the time out to enjoy the fruits of your labours. Make sure to spend quality time with your loved ones, doing stuff you all enjoy!
3. CANADA IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE PHILIPPINES
Canada is one of the most multicultural and diverse countries on the planet. Even if you are an experienced traveller, we can pretty much guarantee that you will experience culture shock.
If you grew up in the Philippines, you were surrounded by people who were just like you who shared pretty much the same values and perspectives.
When you go to Canada, you’ll find out the meaning of the wordsmulticultural and diverse.
You have to remember that things are done very differently here in Canada.
For one thing, we have divorce here. You can get married and if things don’t work out, its as simple as going to the lawyer and getting some papers signed.
Same-sex marriages are legal in Canada. Love is love is love, but if you come from an ultra-conservative country like the Philippines, seeing it first-hand can be quite a shock. After you get over it, the next thing we suggest you do is attend a local Pride Parade during the summer.
Recreational marijuana is also legal. You can go to a store, buy a couple of blunts and smoke up at designated areas, no one will mind. If hasn’t been legal for very long, but things haven’t fallen apart like some people thought it would. Like other things, it can be quite a shock if you see someone smoking weed in front of you for the first time.
Don’t forget, people come from different parts of the world, bringing with them their cultures and religions. Not everyone is Catholic, so try to be respectful of other peoples’ beliefs.
When it’s time for your kids to grow up, try not to act too surprised when they bring home boyfriends and girlfriends who aren’t Filipino. It’s very common for Canadian kids to grow up no longer seeing skin colour. It takes some getting used to, but we’ve seen a lot of multicultural Filipino families in Canada. We think it’s rather nice to embrace multiculturalism on a very personal level.
If you have customs and traditions you would like to continue in Canada, you are very much free to continue practicing these things, as long as you do it in the privacy of your own home.
There are certain things that don’t translate very well, such as the concept of utang na loob. If you do someone a favour, don’t expect anything more than a thank you. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartbreak and disappointment.
Try not to impose yourself on others, but if you’d like to share, always remember to ask.
While we’re on the subject, you might want to make some new friends as well. Unfortunately, not all Filipinos in Canada are willing (or able) to give their fellow kababayans a helping hand. For whatever reason, some folks just aren’t in a very good place.
If you would like to make some new friends, make sure that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Sometimes you have to take a look outside the community, and that’s not altogether a bad thing.
4. IT CAN GET VERY COLD IN CANADA
One of the things we love talking about in Canada is the weather. Did you know that for most parts of Canada, it’s cold half of the year?
We can tell, because that’s how long we leave the winter tires on our cars. It kind of gets colder the further north you live.
And a lot of Filipinos live north (as in, far North, where Superman and Santa Claus and Dr. Manhattan live).
The cold definitely takes some getting used to, especially for elderly folks.
The kids do love the snow, but adults have to deal with it in their own special ways. After all, life doesn’t stop just because there’s a bit of snow on the ground. You still have to go out and get to your job and get chores done.
Winter time is also the season when a lot of people get sick, so make sure to get your flu shot. It’s free, and provides the best protection against the flu.
On a positive note, if you’re lucky enough to live in a part of Canada that has white Christmases, the experience really is quite magical.
Just make sure to bundle up and bring extra clothes. You don’t want to lose a couple of fingers to frostbite, not do you?
5. YOU MOVED TO CANADA FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS
Let’s face it, everyone wants to live the good life without really having to work for it.
That’s why some of the most shared stories on Facebook are about Filipinos enjoying great success in Canada.
What they don’t share are the small details, such as the years of sacrifice and hard work they put in before they get to that point where they’re comfortable sharing it with the whole world.
If you’re thinking about going to Canada to escape your sad and dreary life, that might not be the best of reasons for filling up that application.
Make sure that you take a long and hard look at why you want to move to Canada, then do it ten more times.
While many Filipinos have found great success and happy endings in Canada, there are also a great many who have not been as successful.
The difference would be in the amount of preparation they made before arriving in Canada, and the motivations that drove them to uproot their families to begin a new life in a strange country.
Each person is different from the next, what might apply to one might not necessarily be true for another.
Regardless, whatever your case may be, understand this: preparation, not desperation is key to a successful and meaningful life in Canada.
Good luck and all the best to you! Will you be submitting an application to immigrate to Canada very soon?
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