Canada.. the land of dreams!
Moving to Canada means a dream come true for many. Yet, at the same time, it’s a cultural shock and adjustment for everyone. That said, being a woman, I want to particularly talk about the ‘Lady of the house’.
When I landed in Canada to settle in 2013, I had a mix of fear and excitement. Soon after we settled in the beautiful Calgary, a completely unknown city to myself, I started to fall into depression. It crept on slowly, with me eating more, and shrinking away from social interactions. Soon the pounds piled on, and 6 months passed in the blink of an eye.
So I had to pull out the ‘Q’ in me, and give myself a pep-talk! That really helped! Some of the tips that worked for me, may be just what the doctor ordered for you! So read on to know the various adventures I went on to exclude depression from my life, and to make Canada my home.
1. Take your Social Network to the next level!
Even though I was on Social Media before arriving, I did notice that Middle East is more on board this train, than Canada. While that is a major good point, it can be isolating for someone like me who just moved here. I looked around and joined several local Facebook groups, but could not create any connections or get any answers. Light bulb moment! I created a special dedicated group called ‘Calgary Pakistani Ladies Forum‘ or a.k.a.; CPLF. I know I was being limited by connected with only Pakistani ladies, but it was my ethic background originally from! So I started getting first hand advice, comments from people of similar context. That said, the group grew quickly, and led to many meetup for networking for new people like me. I must say, CPLF was the gate to the friends that I have today.
So if you are new in Canada, try joining a group where you can find a supportive group! It will help you break your loneliness rut.. join or create a social group local to your area! Another great platform is Meetup.com.
Go out and volunteer! Any event you find interesting, any organization you want to learn more of, simply drop an email and ask about volunteering opportunities. I have been lucky to get into many such situations, where volunteering paid for the admission fee, and in addition gave me the exposure and experience to put on my Resume.
Also, the education board is always looking for volunteers. If you have kids in school, get the police clearance (which btw is free for Calgary) and go and help out. You will break the shell of having ‘no-work experience’. Also, it will help you network!
If you don’t know where to start, just google and you will find so many resources on who is looking for volunteers. If small kids are stopping you, ask the organizer if child care is available. Surprisingly , many will allow you to bring your minor if the event doesn’t forbid it all together.
3. Join the Library.
Join your local library. Of course the key purpose is to read, but also it is a great opportunity for you to get out of the house. Visit it once a week to load up on reading material. Libraries offer so many free programs and trainings to new-comers and regulars, ranging from ESL, to how to build your resume, and more. Try to join as many of the programs as possible. Also, for libraries like Calgary Public Library (CPL), there is a plethora of online tutorials and classes available to the members. Currently the CPL membership is free. Check your own local library for their fees, and related benefits.
The CPL has so many benefits, that I will just list some of them down in a list:
- Free programs for all age groups
- special camps
- Online courses
- Online Language courses
- Online ebooks
- Reserve books online
- Rental space
So go and explore what your local library offers and use it to build yourself up!
4. Search for local programs for new comers.
In Calgary there is the amazing initiative called CIWA , or simply ; Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association. This is a perfect beginner place to go in to understand what learning opportunities are available to you as a new immigrant to the city. They also offer many educational and socially beneficial programs for different age groups. Go and check out their website for more details.
5. Know your neighborhood.
Once you are settled in, walk around and learn about your surroundings. Knowing who your neighbours are, and what facilities are available at hand, can make you acquainted and more at home. Many of us moved here from Asia and Middle East, where women normally do not walk in their neighbourhood. This would need to change, as we need to not only acquaint ourselves with the new home, but also integrate within it. Ask your neighbour about the upcoming ‘block party’ or a ‘walking-group’ and don’t be shy to join it. This serves to make you part of this multicultural society!
So tell me how have you become ‘Canadianized’ ?