I thought it would be interesting to document my experience of moving and working in Canada. When I moved to Poland I found a blog of an expat who had moved there some years before me and recorded the adventure. I found it really useful, so I thought I would do the same. The hope is that someone planning to move to Canada in the future will find this blog series and gain some reassurance, or useful information that will make their lives easier when they set off upon their own international adventure.
I’ve also found throughout the course of writing this blog, that putting down my thoughts and experiences is incredibly cathartic, so I guess I’m also using this as a kind of self prescribed therapy to help me deal with everything that’s going on in my life. I’ve always believed you should write for yourself first and foremost, so I guess this is no different. I hope you enjoy my ramblings about an Expat’s life in Quebec City, Canada.
Since my blog post announcing that I was moving to Canada a lot has happened. The day after I published that blog post I spent a good twenty hours travelling. That day was gruelling to say the least, but I’ve travelled so much in my relatively short life that I’ve kind of grown accustomed to it. Once you’ve made the thirty six hour journey to New Zealand and back a couple of times, hopping across a single ocean seems relatively simple by comparison. I was still pretty tired of course, but I had my travel kit well prepared and I arrived in relatively good condition. I was picked up at the airport by my good friends, Niko, and Emily. One of the nice things about coming to Quebec is that I was lucky enough to already know several people who were here already. I’ll tell you this; when you move to a new country, there is nothing more reassuring than seeing familiar faces. We drove back into the city in what can only be described as, the jeep from Jurassic Park. Honestly it looked bullet proof.
When we arrived in the city it was time to go and find my temporary accommodation. When you relocate for work, the company will usually provide you with somewhere to live for the first month whilst you acclimatise and get yourself organised. If you’re planning on moving for a new job and this isn’t mentioned, for the love of god ask about it. There is nothing more painful and frustrating than trying to find a place to live from another country. Get yourself where you need to be, have a temporary base of operations and then find yourself somewhere from there. Being able to go and see places and be picky is a good thing. When you live in a strange land, your home is going to be your safe place, your sanctuary. Having a home you love and enjoy being in is really important for your peace of mind. Luckily, my temporary accommodation is quite nice.
The apartment is at basement level, which isn’t that great, but it’s fairly spacious, and it has the best bathroom I think I’ve ever seen. it’s like a little cave with an amazing jet stream bath hidden in an alcove behind the sink. It’s a quiet building in a beautiful part of town. it’s also about ten doors down from where Niko, and Emily live, which is quite handy for seeing them. So my first weekend here and the actual move wasn’t too bad at all. The flight was quiet and uneventful, the temporary place I received was nice and comfortable, and I was close to my friends. Now came the next big thing; starting work.
I’ve been at Ubisoft for one full week now and I honestly love it. I’ve been made to feel really welcome, and they have been incredibly helpful in organising things I need to get done in order to live and work here. I have been a little bit overwhelmed with information. I have a hell of a lot to learn, but i’m taking it in my stride and just chipping away at it day by day. I’ve met a lot of new people, and had a lot of meetings. It’s going to take a few weeks to properly adjust and for things to feel familiar, but as far as first weeks go, this has been a pretty good one. I’ve already sorted out all of the necessary paperwork I needed to do, which is great. I feel like I can now just focus on my work and really get stuck into things here. So what paperwork did I need to do?
The first thing I needed to do was acquire a work permit. I did that in the airport when I arrived here. It was already approved, I just needed to collect it, pay the fee, and enter the country with it. I didn’t really have to do anything here, I just waited in immigration, then when I was called up I gave the agent all of my paperwork which Ubisoft prepared for me earlier. That was pretty much it. The next thing was to acquire a social security number. This involved going to an office in the city and showing my official documentation. This office seemed to have a strange policy of only dealing in French. Apparently they are notorious for it, and so one of the HR team from Ubisoft came with me to make sure it all went okay. Despite speaking in French, the lady we dealt with was lovely. We had a good chat via my HR translator and with my social security number acquired, we went on our way. The next thing on the agenda was sorting out my medical cover.
In Quebec, there is a form of basic NHS style cover which everyone gets. I had to go and sign up for that which was really easy and took no time at all. The man I dealt with here spoke English, so we had no problems communicating. After a twenty minute chat I was all signed up. My medical card would be sent via post and took three months to process and arrive. This is standard practise apparently, so Ubisoft provided me with emergency cover until that arrived, so if anything happened to me I would be able to receive medical care. I also sorted out my private medical cover that I get through Ubisoft which is really comprehensive. It covers pretty much everything including dental and eye care, so that made me feel a lot better. With all the medical stuff taken care of the only thing left to do was to open up a bank account.
This was the only thing I did solo. I emailed a contact at the bank I wanted to join and she booked an appointment for me. I walked there Thursday morning and found it no problems at all. The signs might be in French, but Canadian cities are laid out in such a way that finding a street isn’t hard. The only problem was that this particular bank was up a god awful hill that was San Francisco levels of steep. I arrived at the bank a little red faced and out of breath, but in time for my appointment. The woman I spoke with was lovely. She was all smiles and was very helpful. She set up everything for me, explained how it all worked, and gave me all the necessary paperwork and information. Banks are quite different out here compared to the UK. I won’t go into it here, but I might do a separate post about it sometime. To summarise, you buy everything on credit card, and banks charge you for everything you do with your money with regards to moving it around, spending it, or withdrawing it.
So that’s my first week. If you think that’s a lot of information, you would be right. I am exhausted, and I haven’t even gone into my experiences with Canadian super markets, but I will soon. Despite being tired I’m glad I got the bulk of the red tape out of the way in my first week. I feel like I am almost ready to start actually living here now and I’m looking forward to what next week brings. This weekend is Black Friday, so I don’t think I’ll be venturing to any shopping malls if I can help it. Have a good weekend everyone, and if you celebrate it, Happy Thanksgiving.