This second interview of the series is the chance to meet a very new immigrant couple: Nelson and his wife, from Venezuela, landed in Toronto just a few weeks ago. Coming to Canada had been a lifelong dream for Nelson, who wanted to complete his studies here. But his family couldn’t afford sending him abroad so he moved on with his life and started his career in Caracas.
When the political situation in Venezuela got tricky a few years ago, Nelson thought about moving to Canada again. A successful professional in telecommunications, he was selected under the skilled worker program. The immigration process was long but Nelson says it was worth it. The couple is adapting to a new life in Toronto, and took a moment to reflect on their journey.
1) What brought you to Canada?
When I was 15, I wanted to be a pilot. It had always been my dream since I was a little child. But I was diagnosed with myopia and that dream was totally shattered.
With the help of my parents I started looking for a new career. I liked music a lot and I wanted to study Sound Engineering. Some friends told me that the best place to study it would be Canada.
But there was a big problem: we lacked the resources to study outside Venezuela, so I ended up studying Electrical Engineering in the best public university in Venezuela, the U.C.V.
From time to time, I still thought about my old dream to come to Canada.
Many many many years later, when I was working in a telecommunication company, I meet Noryen. A couple of years later, we were a couple and we were talking about flying away from Venezuela because of the political, economical and cultural situation.
Nory has family in Canada and she had been to Toronto before, so in 2007, we decided to take a trip just to get to know the country and the city where we were planning to live in. I just fell in love with Canada and Toronto that I liked better than Ottawa or Montreal.
We went back in Caracas, and in 2008, we applied for permanent residence through the Skilled Worker Program. Three years later, here we are!
2) Did you find the immigration process difficult?
I’m very proud to say that we did the whole process by ourselves, without help of any immigration lawyer/advisor/expert/company etc. It wasn’t difficult. You just need to read and understand what you need to do.
We didn’t look for any consultant because we didn’t want to spend our money that way. Moreover, we did not have easy access to foreign currencies in Venezuela.
We applied in the old Skilled Worker Program—and I still don’t know why it’s called the “simplified” program!
The process took three years and a big scare because of an email that we never received. But finally, four months after the Canadian Embassy in Caracas stamped our passports with the immigration visa, we landed in Toronto, where we currently live.
3) Are you looking for a job? What are the obstacles you are facing?
We don’t have a job yet. We’ve only been there for five weeks! But I got an interview just a couple of days after we landed.
Right now, we are taking our time, taking a break from the past four months and working to improve our English skills. Before we landed but we were in a constant hurry and stress in Venezuela, selling and giving away everything we had.
We are IT professionals and I’m confident we can find a job as soon as we really start looking.
Meanwhile, we are not wasting time: we are taking English classes for IT immigrants and going to job workshops where we are learning tips for interviews and how to prepare our resume and everything related to job search.
4) Where did you learn French/ English? What was your second language level when you first came to Canada?
I’ve been studying English since kindergarten. But I lived in a Spanish-speaking country so I really didn’t practice my English until I was here.
However, as soon as we applied for immigration, I started to work on my English: I listened to podcasts and news in English, read a lot and even set up every device I had in English. One of the things that helped me the most was to listen to CBC podcasts.
I also tried to learn French. I learn some basic rules and words but not enough to say that I speak French.
5) What was your biggest culture shock?
I can’t say I had much of a culture shock. Some people don’t realize that Caracas (where I lived almost all my life) and Toronto are very similar in many aspects. But Toronto is a safer and better organised for a big city. Some Canadians consider it a “fast” city, but I find it pretty calm.
6) What haven’t you gotten used to yet in Canada?
Right now, we are living with Nory’s aunt and uncle, who are immigrants too. They have been here for more than 15 years. They helped us a lot!
So far so good but… ask me that question again next winter!
Nory haven’t gotten used to see any kind of “fashion/look/custom” on the streets. So, every time she sees something “strange” on the streets, she says: “there are every nuts people on the streets!”
7) Did immigrating to Canada match your expectations?
It surpasses my expectations. Sure, the whole process was too long, but as soon as we landed here, everybody helped us to feel welcomed.
8) Do you find life expensive in Canada compared to your home country?
We came from the “twisted” Venezuelan economy, where a used car increases in value every year and where you have not easy access to foreign currencies. So life it’s cheaper in Canada than it is in Venezuela.
9) Are you planning to apply for Canadian citizenship when you will meet the requirements?
Yes, we are planning to apply for Canadian citizenship as soon as we can.
10) What advice would you give to someone from your home country interested in immigrating to Canada?
Es posible! No es fácil pero tampoco imposible. Si quieren venir a vivir aquí, Canadá los recibirá con los brazos abiertos. Este es un país de inmigrantes como Venezuela. Y aun cuando algunas personas piensen que la gente aqui es fria y distante, es muy amable y respetuosa.
It’s possible! It’s not easy but neither impossible. If you want to come here to live, Canada will welcome you with open arms. This is an immigrant’s country, same as Venezuela. Even though some think that Canadians are cold and distant, they are very kind and respectful.