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Interview With Gaston, from Costa Rica to Quebec

Gaston, Paula, Sebastian and Daniel
Gaston, Paula, Sebastian and Daniel

Gaston is from Cartago, Costa Rica. An industrial engineer, he first moved to Canada with his wife, Paula, and son, Sebastian in 2010, on a temporary work visa.

After a year, they decided they liked Canada and they applied for permanent residence. They got it, and their second son, Daniel, was born in Canada.

The family lives in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, on the west of the island of Montreal.

1)     Why did you decide to immi­grate to Canada?

I entered Canada as a temporary worker for a company in 2010, so at first, I did not exactly choose to immigrate to Canada.

I did decide to “immigrate” a year or so later when I started my Permanent Residence (PR) application. Why? Well, while living here I started to like the Canadian way of living and the fact that my kids can be trilingual.

2)     Did you find the immi­gra­tion process difficult? Which immigration category did you apply in, and how long did it take for you to get permanent residence status?

I completed 3 different immigration processes: a Temporary Foreign Worker application, then an extension of a Work Permit and finally a Permanent Resident application.

First, I applied for a work permit from Costa Rica. I took 7 months to have everything ready to travel to Canada.

A year after I arrived in Canada, I sent all the documents for my Permanent Residence. I prepared the application myself, and the whole process turned out to be very easy and straightforward—probably because I was already in Canada. I applied through the Selected Skilled Worker-Quebec. Including getting a CSQ, it took 16 months from the initial application to “landing” as a Permanent Resident of Canada.

While applying for PR, my work permit expired and my company applied for an extension. It was even faster than the first time because I already had a CSQ, it took 4 months.

Sebastian and Daniel
Sebastian and Daniel

3     What did your family think of your move to Canada?

They have always trusted my judgment and respected my decision. They supported me I know it was hard for them, though.

4)     Do you speak French? Where did you learn English?

I did not speak a single word of French when I came. My French is very basic still, but I’m taking classes from Immigration Quebec in one of the institutions for newcomers.

I learnt English in Costa Rica; by my last year of High School, I had a pretty good grasp of the language. It improved throughout my professional carrier.

5)     How do you find the cost of living compared to Costa Rica?

Very expensive!! My country’s cost of living is very cheap; a good meal will cost you 3-4 bucks. Taxes are very low. However, gas is almost as expensive as here.

6)     What has been your biggest culture shock so far?

The “Language Police”. I still can’t believe how the preservation of culture and language are more important topics than economic growth and job creation.

Seeing that officials apply the politics of division was shocking as well. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of Quebeckers are very tolerant, but that third of the provincial population that wants to separate from Canada goes a bit too far.

7)     What aspect of life in Canada did you adopt right away?

Multiculturalism. I like a lot the fact that I met people from all over the world and from so many backgrounds, tasted their food and witnessed their customs.

8)     What’s one thing you don’t like in Canada?

In this country, time flies!! Days come and go so fast that you lose track of time. I guess this is due to the well-defined four seasons Canada has. You don’t count in months, you count in Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn.

9)     What’s the best part about living in Montreal?

Montreal has this European feel that makes it a unique place in North America. It’s the second-largest city in Canada, but still, it is like a small town. You can walk, bike or take the métro. It has old neighbourhoods, a mountain in the middle of the city, all kinds of stores and restaurants and many parks. In summer, there is something going on at every street corner, that’s so cool!

10)  What advice would you give to someone starting the immigration process?

Immigrating isn’t easy. It requires a lot of preparation and courage.

Make a budget, and once you figure out the money you may need, double it. Depending on where you are planning to live, getting a job, could be tricky, so do yourself a favour and avoid headaches.

If you are coming with your family, have your partner on board, because this is not a “one-man show” project, it will really test your relationship.

Proficiency in the language of the province you want to live in is critical, the highest level you have the better. Expect the first 2-3 years to be tough, but once you settle down and it really feels like home, this is the greatest place to be.

Finally, remember this is Canada and by default, in winter IT’S BLOODY COLD!! I warned ya!!

You can connect with Gaston on LinkedIn.

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