As with most things in my life, I tend to have a checklist to keep me organized, so the same applied to my planned “first week in Canada”. But you know, life happens and things don’t always go as planned.
This post sums up all I did in my first week of arrival and can be a guide on important things to consider doing when you arrive in Canada. (P.S – I landed before the Covid19 pandemic and things might be slightly different. currently).
I surprisingly can’t remember much of the final flight to Canada. What I do remember is that it was about 11 hours long and I kept drifting in and out of sleep. We FINALLY (after traveling for what seemed like 2 years) arrived YYZ Airport by 7 am and getting off the plane felt like hurrying off a roller-coaster. The airport walkway thing led us straight in, and we followed the signs to immigration through customs, newcomer registration, and finally baggage claim. BOOM! It was all surreal; I was here, this was no dream – here in my new country.
I’m still so excited, but let me backtrack a bit.
Remember we landed at 7 am (Thursday), so it was quite early. There was just skeletal staff at the Newcomer registration area and quite several newcomers – so the queue took forever to move. Eventually, it got to our turn, we were asked to present our passports and COPR document, asked random questions and next came the famous ‘Welcome to Canada’ I collected my documents and rushed away faster than a Lagos driver avoiding LASTMA. Taking no chances okay?
SUBMITTING AN ADDRESS FOR YOUR PR CARD
When your documents are being processed at the airport, you’ll be asked to provide an address where your PR Card will be mailed to. If you don’t have a permanent address yet, that’s ok. You can always update it. Most often, it’s safer to avoid using Airbnb or hotel addresses. I used a friend’s address and I received my card two weeks after. No issues
GET YOUR SIN
SIN – Social Insurance Number, is a 9 digit number that is unique to you, and must be kept private at all times.
It’s one of the first things you need to do, can be done at the airport or any Service Canada office near you.
TIP – Try landing on a weekday. That way you get to register for your SIN at the airport and be done with that almost immediately. (However, the process for this might change due to COVID-19 as some people who recently landed are yet to process their SINs because most Service Canada offices are closed)
The day was still young so right after dropping off my stuff at the Airbnb, I set out to accomplish other things on my list.
OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT
Opening a bank account was top on my list as I didn’t want to be stuck carrying cash.
TIP: Before you land, you should do some research on banks that are immigrant-friendly. Also, once you decide on one, ask for the newcomer package. This is common with most banks so compare their offers and select the account that adds the most value. Again, it’s worth noting that you might not be able to walk into a bank on arrival as you might need to be isolated for a while, so you can explore opening the account online and depositing your cash much later.
GET A SIM CARD
This was one of my priorities because almost everything requires a phone number. You also do not want to be locked out of the world, I mean you’re probably going to be locked down for 14 days in isolation. Phone plans in Canada are pretty expensive and nothing prepares you for this. There are big major phone companies with good inter-city connectivity and the others that just get by. I didn’t want a limited sim and also considered the size of data I could get – blogging requires large data, you know? I also wanted a plan with no overage charges. and eventually settled for Telus as they met my pressing criteria.
In retrospect, there are cheaper plans that might have gotten me similar offerings so yeah, do your research and ask questions. Everything is negotiable.
REGISTER AT A NEWCOMER CENTRE
This isn’t compulsory but if you have the time and can get there after isolation, why not?
Yes, you might already have friends in the city where you land and your motto is “no new friends” but the newcomer centers are for more than just meeting new people. They generally help with advice on how to settle into your new location etc. When I landed, my friends were very helpful – they were working tight schedules so I wasn’t going to bother them much, not that they would mind. So the newcomer center can assist with general stuff. I made my first Indian friend here; he landed a week before I did and it was just good to know someone going through the same process.
GET YOUR PRESTO CARD
Now, I don’t know much about transportation in Canada as a whole but for Toronto, presto cards are used on buses and trains. I got mine from the bus station for 6 CAD and loaded about 44 CAD so I was sorted for a while. Transportation is pretty easy and you can easily navigate using the ‘city mapper’ app or just your regular google map. I like city mapper because it shows you different options alongside the costs including UBER. Nothing like having all the information necessary to make an informed decision.
REGISTER AT A LIBRARY
If you’re like me that love books, this is Gold because it’s free to borrow books amongst other benefits.
EXPLORE some touristic Canada spots. (when Government allows)
Landing in January meant peak winter, so yes I wasn’t about to turn to the Ice queen because of exploring, but when I stumbled on ALAN GARDEN on Instagram (an indoor garden) it immediately shot to the top of my visit list because it was indoors and I could avoid getting cold. win-win!
Two things that were on my list but I didn’t do was to try the famous Tim Horton’s and poutine and I am yet to apply for my health card – I’m ashamed because that should be top on my list. Please don’t be like me.
Now that all this is out of the way. The next step is looking for a permanent house and getting a job. (Updated. I got both). You can read about how i got a job here.
It’s ok if you are unable to do all this in your first week. This serves as a guide and as long as you keep ticking items off this list, you are on the right path. You also have to be kind to yourself because you’ll make some mistakes, miss your way, and knowing that your support systems are miles away will be challenging.
Most importantly, you’ll be fine. It gets better.
What will be the first thing you do in a new country? What did you do in your first week in Canada (if you’re in Canada)? Do you have specific questions? Drop your comments and let’s talk.
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