Moving to a new country can be daunting. Finding employment, settling into a new community, leaving family and friends behind, and coping with food in a new environment can be challenging. As a newcomer, here’s my story.
My name is Pamela Yengayenge, I’m from Burundi and recently immigrated to Canada. I’ve traveled the world as a tourist and an international student but North America was last on my list.
I arrived in Canada last year in April, joining my partner. Although I had a sister who is a Canadian citizen, I was feeling a bit anxious about starting over and adjusting to a new life and the Canadian weather, especially winter. I have lived in Europe and tasted several winters, but Canada was a different experience. I like how the system is set up to support newcomers and facilitate their integration.
Finding a decent job
Most of the people I knew here told me if I am not a permanent resident or citizen or don’t have Canadian job experience, it will take years for me to get to the level where I was in my home country career-wise. All this made me nervous and uncomfortable.
It wasn’t as much of a hustle as I was told! I started attending job fairs organized within the city, and interacted with employers, always handing my resume to them. Luckily, two weeks after attending a job fair, I heard back from a manager I met. He told me he was impressed with my resume and asked if I would be interested in an interview. I was notified a week later that I passed the interview. Then I was hired by a multinational company as a customer representative and started a 4-week training that helps newcomers strengthen their knowledge about the country, culture, and services offered by the company. The fact that I am bilingual was a bonus.
This position expanded my network and connections across Canada. It also gave me my first Canadian job experience to add to my resume. I later moved to a better job in my field—project management—in the organization that I am at today.
Adjusting to Canadian society
I joined the InterNations group of expats, where I met different people from all over the world, Canadians as well. Through this group fun activities were organized. I met and made new friends, tried new hobbies, and sometimes had to leave my comfort zone, but it was all part of having new experiences. I noticed quickly that Canadians in general are so friendly, polite, and cautious but it can be difficult to know what they truly think. I am very grateful for all of my Canadians coworkers. They were and are always willing to help and challenge me to acquire new skills.
In the meantime, I encountered a few challenges in finding housing without a guarantor or a credit record (the Canadian system relies on having a good credit score), and I had none since I was new in the country.
Finding a balanced life
While immigrating to Canada has challenges, I have grown so much and I am still growing as a person. I am proud to be in Canada because this country has allowed me to be who I am. It serves communities through specialized programs, such as the newcomer integration programs that helped me. I became more responsible for my entire life. I am taking care of all of my expenses without living under my parents’ roof, dreaming of a better future, building a family and enjoying a peaceful environment.