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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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.