On (Slowly) Losing my Friends

I’ve been living in Canada for over four years now. I was told by a lot of people that the longer you stay outside the country, the less friends you get to keep in the Philippines. I thought that was bullocks because my friends and I promised each other to communicate often. I was a silly girl.

On my first few months, there were definitely some communications going on. It was mostly on Facebook and Viber. We would chat on FB messenger and have some group message going on. Slowly though, I realize that I was the first one that would approach them. If I don’t say hi, I would never get any message. After a year, I started to wait for them to contact me. There were definitely a few, but it started getting less and less until I don’t chat with anyone anymore. So I sort of started to reach out to them again but it was all futile because I was mostly the one handling the conversation. I didn’t want to strain any friendship I have with my close friends but this distance that they’re putting is enough for me to back off.

I’m still friends with them on FB and follows them on IG. I would like their posts but rarely comment. There’s the occasional ‘Congrats’ and ‘Happy Birthday’ but that’s it. I used to post these lengthy-ass FB birthday posts and reading them on my FB memories when they pop-up gives me such bittersweet feeling. At some point, these people were my friends, my confidants and partners-in-crime. Now, we’re mostly just colleagues with some good memories.

 

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On Turning 22

Today, on the 22nd of September, I officially turned 22. For 22 years I’ve been living in this world, gracing everybody with my wonderful existence. This birthday has been by far my loneliest and quietest birthday ever… the worst if you may. 

For a few days now, I’ve been planning things to do for this day. When I found out that I was given this day off work, I planned to watch the sunrise and go visit the Fort Edmonton Park. Maybe walk around my residence for a while and just enjoy the day alone. I would end the day with a nice dinner whilst overlooking the whole city. However, I did got up at 5 am (I slept at like 2) just so I can catch the wonderful sunrise. Lo and behold, it’s super gloomy and the sun wasn’t even out. It was rainy and cold. I was gonna just enjoy the walking trail but the signs pretty much saying ‘Keep out, the trails are eroding’ doesn’t sound super safe to me. So off I went back to the dorm and re-planned my day again.

Since I couldn’t go back to sleep anyways, my first meal of being 22 was rice with sunny side up! I wanted to have pancakes but I just got lazy to go to Denny’s (which is literally right across the street) and I didn’t want to order online and wait for 20 minutes. I just told myself that I would give myself a wonderful dinner. Looking out of my window, it’s still gloomy and rainy. I just threw the idea of going to the Fort Edmonton Park away and just got dressed for I have no idea what. I was gonna go to Michael’s so I can buy a Create 365 planner but I got lazy (again). I actually have a Create 365 planner which I barely used and still had September to December on it. I want to make a 365 days of writing special things that happened to me on that day onto a diary. However, I know that I suck at keeping a diary (blogging works better for me anyways) and all I need is a little bit of space to write a few sentences. The Create 365 planner is the perfect planner to use.
By 2pm, I didn’t know what to do anymore. I could have studied or read some books. But no… why would I wanna spend my birthday doing that? So I watched Rush Hour 2 and 3 and made myself happy. By 5pm, I was on UberEats and Skip the Dishes app trying to find some food that I want to eat. I can’t decide if I wanted some steak or fried chicken or poke or some Filipino stuff. In the end, after an hour, I settled on some ribs and chicken with rice from Swiss Chalet. I didn’t even have a birthday cake.


Overall, this day for me has been a meh. It’s definitely not how I want to celebrate my birthday. However, I am living alone in this big city with barely any friends. I feel better though when I talked on the phone with my family members. My parents of course called me as well as my aunt. My aunt gave me a gift that I didn’t expect, she’ll pay for my phone’s monthly bill! That’s already a very big help for me because that’s already a $100 less expense for me.

As for some FB greetings, it’s mostly some Canada friends that greeted me. There are some from the Philippines but I actually didn’t even expect some greetings from them. We don’t even talk anymore.

I’m 22, one year older but not wiser. Although I can say that I am more mature now and less vulnerable.

Philippine High School vs Canadian High School Upgrading

Before anything else, let me just say that I’m neither a teacher nor an expert in the education system of both countries. I am a student and this is obviously from my point of view. 

To make things easier, courses (subjects) that I’ve taken in the Philippines will be written as “high school [course]”, for example “high school Bio”. Courses taken in Canada will be written as “[course] upgrading”, for example “Bio upgrading”. 

I graduated high school in the Philippines. We’re one of the last few high school batches that graduated with only 10 years of basic education. As of SY 2011-2012, the Philippines’ Department of Education has started to implement the first phase of k-12. Before k-12, high school was only 4 years which means that even if I already graduated in high school, I’ll still be considered a high school student in Canada because of that missing 2 years. Luckily, I was already done with my first two years of Nursing education and so I didn’t have to go back to a traditional high school. 

When I say traditional high school, I mean going to a high school, prepare for prom and graduate with a toga and cap. I would have spent two years doing Grades 11 and Grade 12. But hey, I actually told myself that would have been better rather than spending money just to get my Grades 11 and 12 courses. 

Academic upgrading is pretty much taking up some high school courses in a college/university for various reasons.(Though a student can also do some upgrading in a high school but s/he’ll be stuck with the high school kids.) Some of the reasons could include:

  • the student needs higher grade than what s/he currently has.
  • higher GPA is needed to get into a program.
  • It’s been years since the student has graduated from high school and s/he needs to take it again for his/her desired program
  • an immigrant where his/her high school qualifications aren’t at par with the Canadian system.
  • Blew up the diploma exam and now has to get better grades (because there’s no diploma exam in upgrading!)

These are some of the reasons of a lot of my classmates in upgrading. I have classmates who just graduated in high school and some who are over 30 years old just figured out what they really wanna do or finally have the time to do what they want.

Back to the topic, what’s the difference between my high school education in the Philippines compared to my high school upgrading courses in Canada? To make things clearer, I’m doing my upgrading in a college (nope, not a university… that’ll be too expensive). I’ll try to compare it using only the courses that I’ve taken namely  Biology (0120&0130/Gr 11&12), Chemistry (0120&0130/Gr 11&12) and English (0130/Gr 12). I took Math (30-1/Gr 12) but I won’t include it since I had four Maths in high school: Elementary and Secondary Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry. I feel like it’s sort of unfair to compare just one Math upgrading course to four different Math disciplines. 

BIOLOGY

Biology was very interesting. I’ve done Bio in second year of high school. I remember memorizing different bacteria, families and parts of a plant. I remember genetics (it was in the 2nd grading and my fave topic until now) and planting corns without fertilizer (we produced tiny corns). One of the highlights of our Bio class was dissecting an earthworm. We were quite disappointed that we didn’t dissect a frog like some schools probably do. Our teacher told us that it wasn’t allowed anymore and we have to just settle with the earthworm (we had a fat, long one). Needless to say, we found soil in the earthworm. 

In Grade 11 Bio, some of our lessons consisted of respiratory and circulatory system. It’s not surprising to me considering that I already did my Anatomy and Physiology course in college before but it’s the fact that we took this in detail. I don’t remember much doing this in high school. We might have but not in enough detail that we have to memorize the parts and functions of the respiratory system or which chamber does oxygenated blood goes. I DID THAT IN COLLEGE!

When I moved on to Grade 12 Bio, we did much more complicated stuff. We did the nervous and endocrine systems. Aside from all these hormones that I have to get familiarize again, we also had to memorize it and know which affects which. Our second experiment is by far the most exciting experiment I’ve done for all of Bio. WE DISSECTED A FETAL PIG. YES! We didn’t do a frog, we had a pig. Apparently, even some high schools do it. They buy off a pig (killed/died humanely) and have us cut it open and look at the different body systems. We were able to identify which one is a pancreas or how squishy it actually is. We also have genetics as one of our topics and thank goodness I still remember Punnet square. But I don’t remember doing a dihybrid cross nor doing a sex-linked trait (might/might not have done it in high school). 

ENGLISH

I did English pretty much since I started going to school. Therefore, I didn’t have much problem in my English upgrading. For this course, we barely did anything orally in front of the class. We had 2 or 3 reportings then the rest of our oral grades is just from our seat. Since our class is more focused in writing, we did a lot of essay assignments and made our own poems. We had classes held at a computer lab where our teacher blocked any web browsers to avoid Googling (but thank goodness I have a phone). It was actually my English teacher who caught a lot of my writing mistakes such as tenses and punctuation, something that no one has done yet even after reading some of my essays. 

Compared to my English upgrading, we did a lot of oral practice in my high school English. It was in fourth year high school that I finally started to have less fear on going up front and talk to the crowd because of the various speaking exercises that we did. Even though we’ve been doing declamations and orations since first year high school, it was my fourth year high school teacher who really pushed us to think fast and talk flawlessly (I’m still working on the “flawlessly” part). 

In both English courses though, we had to make a final written output. For my high school English, I had to a term paper and successfully defend it to graduate (my topic was about conformity). For my English upgrading, we had to make an essay about a foundation or philanthropist “who makes the world a better place” (my essay was about Gawad Kalinga). 

CHEMISTRY

I did Chemistry in 3rd year high school. I remember answering “Dihydrogen monoxide” for H20 and our teacher said it was wrong because it’s just supposed to be water. I asked this question in my Grade 12 chem teacher and she said it’s “sort of” acceptable but not much actually uses it. 

The one experiment that I can remember from my high school chemistry was titration. We had this burette and flasks and fancy chemicals that we’ve barely used. We were so excited to titrate and was disappointed one titration after another as we kept on overshooting our solution. Actually, this is the only experiment I remember. Probably because some aren’t as memorable as this one. A lot of my high school Chem lessons came back to me as I do my upgrading. But maybe because we only had one Chem course in high school that almost half of the lessons that I learned in Chem upgrading is new. 

In Grade 11 Chem, we learned how to name compounds, something that I also learned in high school Chem. The first few lessons were a breeze, actually… Grade 11 Chem was fine. A lot of the lessons were not new to me except for some like identifying the nonpolar/polar compounds and stoichiometry problems. I was able to get good marks in this course because I feel like a lot of these were review. In addition, we also did cool experiments which included titration! This time, I was able to get the perfect peach colour that we want. There were also a lot of boiling and dangerous chemicals that were able to handle. I felt like a mini scientist!

Grade 12 Chem is different though. Lesson started off easy, enthalpy change then moved on to more stoichiometry questions then voltaic/electrolytic cells then organic chem stuff (of course there are some more lessons in between). The experiments includes some corrosive materials and lots of boiling. At one point, I BROKE A MERCURY THERMOMETER! I was so scared and nervous because I thought my teacher would scold me. But she didn’t! And I asked her if I have to pay for it and she told me not to worry because it was an accident. They only charge those who were obviously playing. Phew! I remember breaking a cover slip in high school Bio and I had to replace it.

The coolest thing that we did though was making Nylon 6,6. I felt like a little kid while mixing the chemicals and trying to pull out some strands. A few days ago, I was browsing through our lab manual for Grade 11 Chem when the last page included making soap. MAKING SOAP! I’ve made soap before, IN COLLEGE! And here it’s in the Grade 11 course. 

The biggest thing that’s very different in my Philippine high school experience compared to my Canadian upgrading is of course the language. However, being taught in English isn’t really new to me. My high school see to it that our subjects are more or less taught in English (except if the teacher is struggling already ^_^). This is one of the reasons why I was able to adjust fairly well in the new educational environment. 

On Canadian Stereotypes

I’ve been living here in Canada for over a year now. I’ve also worked as a cashier for about 8-9 months now so I can say that I have experience when it comes to dealing with a lot of people. I was bored in Google so I decided to search the common Canadian stereotypes and my opinion about it. 

(This list is from http://www.thetoptens.com/canadian-stereotypes/)

1. EH?

Probably the most common of all Canadian stereotypes. And it’s not on top of the list for nothing ’cause 98% of all the Canadians that I talk with adds this on their sentence. Whether as a way of asking or just to add emphasis on what they’re talking about, these people love their “Eh”. 

2. Everyone’s extremely polite. 

Yeah, a bit maybe. A lot of times when I bump into someone (and my fault), I say sorry and the other person says sorry too. When even just something that you shouldn’t be sorry about, you still say sorry. Yes, that’s how polite a LOT of people are. But seriously, there’s no perfect country with perfect people. There are also a LOT of rude people here. You can just never get rid of them. 

3. It’s cold. 

I live in Northern Alberta. The place where temperature during winter can go down as low as -40 degree Celcius. Yes, it’s cold. But since it’s currently summer, the temperature that we had this morning was 31 degree Celsius. So nope. Canada is not always cold. 

4. All that’s watched is Hockey.

During the Winter Olympics, a lot of people actually can’t stop talking about hockey. They actually had to change the curfew (or I think move it, either way it happened in my place) in bars so that people can drink and cheer for the Canadian team. Yep, that’s how dedicated they are to hockey. But some people just don’t care. 

5. They say a-boot, not about.

They DON’T say “a-boot”. They say “a-boat”. 

6. They all drink Tim Hortons. 

Uh. Tim Hortons is actually one, if not the most popular, place to get coffee and easy breakfast foods. And Timbits. Definitely timbits. Can someone please tell me if there’s no Canadian who haven’t tired Tim Hortons coffee?

7. All they eat is Kraft Dinner. 

Since I work in grocery store, I see a lot of these Kraft Dinners being bought. Be it in a box or in the microwaveable cup, a lot of Canadians love Kraft Dinner. It’s easy to make and cheap, too. (I tried it before, didn’t like the flavor that I got.) I think a Canadian gets to try Kraft Dinner atleast once in their lifetime. 

8. It’s winter all year round.

Hell no. Today’s temperature is pretty much the same as the Philippines.

9. We wear toques all year.

I love toques during winter but not for the whole year. TOQUE DURING SUMMER? Are you kidding me?

10. All men sit down and watch hockey all night.

Huh. There it is again, the Hockey stereotype. I think there’s truth in this statement especially during those big moments in Hockey (Stanley Cup Playoffs). 

So there it is, a non-Canadian’s view on Canadian stereotypes. 

 

My Life in the Philippines vs. My Current Life in Canada

There have been lots of times when I tell myself “Oh this is so different from back home”. Of course it is, I’m not back home anymore, I am out of my home country. I am now in this new country where I am the foreigner and I am the one that speaks the weird language. Along with the big move is the big change in my life which can definitely affect my hopefully existent future.

In the Philippines, I am a student, a full-time Nursing student. I study, I go to school, I make projects and receive money from my parents (and grandma). In between those are the hanging out with friends and spending money that I didn’t even earn, just given. See, I had an easy  life. My mom’s abroad and my dad is a police officer with a rank. I can ask for money to buy for my books and other necessities. I just ask for lunch money and things. I don’t have to work because why should I? My parents can provide everything for me. I can easily finish Nursing in four years without the worry of not being able to pay my tuition or buy the requirements. I was well-provided.

Even before I came here, I already knew what to expect. I expected that I would have to work, save money for college, go to school and voila! I’m a nurse. Easy to say but not really. It’s such a struggle… and I’ve been here for just two months. I’ve already applied to a school,  a college not a university, and I was rejected! Never in my entire life would I thought that I would be rejected! Turns out that the deadline was done and I have to wait for the next opening. Result? I’m an out of school youth for a year.Cool? Yeah. Hint: sarcasm. Then it all came to me, this is more difficult than I thought it would be.

I have never worked in my whole life! Like work with pay, not just house work or school work. Growing up in the country where education is very much treasured and the only way to go up to the top of the rank is to graduate from a top university and have good grades, I’m pretty much excited to finally experience having a work. Back home, students are students and working students USED to be rare but now it’s starting to become common, and I don’t know if that’s good or bad. MOVING ON. Since I didn’t have an experience (except for clinical exposures but whatever), I really thought that I would have problem in applying. But hell no, after a month of arriving, I GOT A JOB! How cool is that? I get to have experience, connections and MONEY! Money for school!

My life here is definitely different. I dare say that I am more independent now but only by an inch. I’m naturally a shy person and I have problem dealing with new people, what more in dealing new people that are FOREIGNERS? But I’m starting to listen to my own self-pep talk about confidence and louder voice. Ha! Going out of my comfort zone can be difficult but not impossible. As the ‘national advice’ of Filipinos go during times of struggles, “Tiwala lang” or in my local dialect Bisaya, “Salig lang” or in English, “Just Believe”, all I have to do is believe in myself and to Him up there :)

My life in the Philippines and Canada  may have many similarities but can never be the same. I’ll just have to make the most out of it :)

Things to do During the First Few Weeks in Canada

I’m a landed immigrant and these are the first things that I’ve done here. I live in British Columbia and maybe the things you should do will differ a bit but maybe not much. It’s pretty much the same except for the laws and legalities.The things that I list here may only apply to landed immigrants and maybe some to skilled workers. 

1. Get you SIN or Social Insurance Number – during the first week, you must have this already. This is very important especially if you want to apply for a job. So before anything else, get your SIN. More info: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/sin/

2. Enrol children 16 and below to school– this is very important. Each province has their own age limit so check that one out. The school year starts in September and ends in June. Even if you’ve arrived here during the middle part, you are still expected to enrol the child. If you’ve arrived around April, I don’t think the child can still catch up with the lessons. Talk to the school counselor on what you should do. There are times when sitting-in in class is okay. 

3. Get a phone– I got mine during my fourth week but I guess it was fine. However, it was a pain everytime I apply for a job because I’d have to use my mom’s number for the resume. It’s better if you have your own phone so in that way you can easily call the employer and they can easily have a hold on you. 

4. Find a job– Finding a job is not easy if you’re looking for a very high-paying job. If you go to supermarkets, they actually are looking for some workers. What you need is a connection and finding an entry-level job can help you with that. And of course, you want money. 

5. Look for support offices in your place– here in FSJ, we have S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and they actually helped us start with something here in Canada. They were the ones who referred me to NLC for English as Second Language course and referred my dad to employment connections and other offices which offers lots of opportunities to find a job. Each place has their own offices like these so take time to ask some people about it. 

6. If you’re planning to proceed directly to university/college, call and email colleges and ask for requirements and such to be able to enrol– like for me, I was planning on taking up Practical Nursing so I have to take the SLEP exam and get a grade of 64 to be able to be accepted. Each school and program has their own requirements so it’s better to ask them what you need and if you need to take up ESL. 

7. Walk around the area you’re currently living and be familiar with it– This is for you to be well acquainted with the area you’re currently living. Also, memorize your address because this is very important including the postal code. If you’re city is small,  like mine, walk anywhere and remember the important land marks and bus stops. 

8. Be familiar with the Public Transit/Bus– if you’re from the Philippines like me, then expect that the public transit is very much different. They follow the bus stop rules and they have bells to ring. This is also needed if you don’t have a car and wants to go anywhere. Also, the bus can also help you be more familiar with the place. Here in FSJ, the bus usually changes number so I get to ride just one bus but different routes and I took that as my way to tour the city. 

9. If you’re 19+ above, get your driver’s license– I think the minimum age depends on the province so check it out. If you’ll start from the L (learner’s), you basically have to wait for 2-3 years before getting you Class 5 license which means that you can now drive alone. For those who’ll have to get a Learner’s license, you still have to take the knowledge exam then wait for 12 mos to take the road test for the Novice  License then 24 mos for the Class 5. For 19 y/o and below, there are more things that you have to do because you’re still a minor like having a professional sign a form. I know cause I’m still below 19. Check your province’s laws about this. 

10. Make connections– they can help you in finding a job. Just tell them in a casual way that you need a job and at times, they can refer you to a job opening in their work. But don’t just rely on them for the job, do your research too. 

There’s the list. Maybe you’re wondering why I did not put ‘Look for a house’, ‘Buy a car’ and other things. Well because this is in a PR’s pov where we already have a house (well, renting) and a car. These are the things that an individual should do which have the same case as mine :) So I hope I helped you get started. 

Living Abroad is NOT Easy

When I told some of my friends that I’m already moving to Canada, a lot of them said “Maypa ka” or “Wow, you’re so lucky”. At that time, I thought I was. I was living  the dream of lots of Filipinos! But when I moved here, it’s not really that easy.

The only family that I have here is my parents. I don’t have my grandma or aunt here that I can easily talk to. All of my friends are back in the Philippines. I don’t have a job YET so I don’t have work friends YET. I really do hope that I can someday have lots of friends here that I can hang out with so that I won’t just keep on staying in the house.

Clothes are pretty pricey. But guess what? I was able to buy lots of clothes at THRIFT STORES! A lot would say, ew! I used to think that too. But after going to one thrift store, I realized that it was a high-class ukay-ukay. The clothes are all up in hangers so you don’t have to dig deep and most of the clothes are branded! Some were even just barely used! How awesome is that? Of course we still have to wash it before using but still, it’s a really good bargain. Some people wants to be ‘Canadian’ or ‘American’-like, then go buy at ukay-ukay.

Another is my problem with my education. Because I wasn’t able to be part of the K-12, I don’t even know if I’ll still be a college/university student this school year or if I’ll still go back as a high school senior. No way will I go back to high school but I don’t really know what will happen.

Gosh, I may living the Canadian dream but it’s far from happy ending YET! I need to work HARD. gosh.

On Moving to Canada

It has been 9 days since I have touched down at Vancouver International Airport. It has been 9 days since I have been an official landed immigrant and permanent resident of Canada. It was and still is a big move. Moving out of the country is a very big sacrifice because I have to leave my other family and friends and live with just my parents. But I think I can move on.

Living here in Canada is very much different from living in the Philippines. In the Philippines where pollution is very much evident, here, I can freely breathe the air without thinking of being infected with TB. I live in the high parts of Canada, at Fort St. John, and I like it here. This is like my ideal home. Our house is near the church and the grocery store and you can just walk around the neighborhood. It’s like a one big subdivision. But on my first night here, I felt really uncomfortable. It was really quiet. I was used on hearing loud music and neighbors talking with each other loudly even in the wee hours of the night. But here, there wasn’t even any crickets that I could hear. Top that with a really loud tinnitus and I felt like I’m having a silence overload. Thank goodness I’ve been starting to adjust slowly and hopefully this tinnitus will go away.

The weather here is good. Unlike back home where it was still summer, a really hot summer, when I left, here, it’s really cold. It’s still spring and summer is just around the corners. Since I was used to the hot weather, i was like weather-shock here. Before we arrived here at FSJ, we had to ride another plane from Vancouver. From the inside of the airport, it looks really hot outside. The sun was brightly shining and you can actually imagine its piercing heat. But when my dad and I went out of the airport to go to the plane, IT WAS FREAKING COLD! You can’t really feel the hot rays because of the cold.

There are lots of Filipinos here in FSJ. On our second day, we already had a Filipina visitor (thank goodness a Bisaya) and in the afternoon, we had a picnic at the Beatton Park with more Filipinos and some of the children. I have only befriended one Filipina close to my age. There were other two guys but I haven’t really befriended them. It’s really fun and so far, I have been to three houses of Filipinos and just ate there. If back home it’s called a fiesta, here it’s called a dinner. We once hosted these dinners and my mom cooked three viands. I told here, “Mom, in the Philippines, this is already a fiesta or a birthday. But here, it’s a dinner”.

I have also gone to their grocery stores to buy some stuffs. I’m still not familiar with the value of money here. Like for the coloring pencils, it says like $4. I’m like, “Wow, that’s cheap” but when I converted it, it’s like PhP160. What?! But then I’ve tried to stop converting. I still have to learn really the real value of money and if what I’m buying is worth the price. I have time for that.

For now, it’s still my mom that’s working for us.  My dad has applied to some jobs and we’ve yet to hear from them. For me, I’m still looking. I saw this museum summer job and I really want it. I love history and I think that this is a great opportunity for me to learn while working. But it isn’t that easy. I don’t even know how to make a cover letter. I want it to be good and worth reading and I’ve been spending a lot of time working on it as well as correcting my resume. Finding job is tiring but can also be fulfilling if I get it. Oh I really hope I do.

Well that’ still much I can say about living here :))