Sunday, 30 September 2007

Rogers it's changing...

Ummm, let's start with some theory so you can understand ^^

In Canada there's few mobile companies, and the main ones are Rogers and Fido. Fido is owned by Rogers, so you could say we are talking about the same company here, but I've read a lot that service in Fido it's terrible! so you should stay with Rogers if you can.

Both Rogers and Fido are GSM companies, so you should be able to use you GSM phone there (the one with a SIM card), BUT you should be careful with the kind of phone you are using, because these companies work in frequency bands. There are 4 frequency bands, 850, 900, 1800 and 1900.

If you have a Quad band phone, your phone supports all 4 bands, so you can use it with any company and if it's unlocked, you can even use a SIM card from any GSM company. Now, if you have a triband phone you are in a little bit more complicated situation, because your phone can only support 850/1800/1900 or 900/1800/1900. Let's think for a moment that you have a 900/1800/1900 and you are going to a country where the only GSM operator works with the 850 frecuency band, in that case you wouldn't be able to use your phone :(

Now to the main problem with Rogers... Rogers used to work with the 1900 frecuency band, so you could use almost any phone there, but tomorrow (October 1) it will officially change to the 850 frecuency band! So if you were planning on using your triband phone there, better to check the frecuency bands your phones work ;)

If you are in Venezuela, I'll give you a little hint, Digitel works in the 900 frecuency band and Movistar in the 850. I have a Digitel triband phone, so I have a problem ^^ I have to sell my mobile phone and buy a new one there, since this one won't work in Toronto :)

Did you checked yours?

Friday, 28 September 2007

Toronto budget for 2

Did you do your homework and calculated how much money will you need once you arrive in Canada? We did it, so now we have a good budget for 2 people living in Toronto, and it was approved for our lawyer and some friend that live there ^^

  • Rent: $1.200
  • Utilities: $250 (if the rent includes utilities, then it's something like $1.400 for rent)
  • Food: $600
  • Transportation: $200 (bus and subway)
  • Winter clothes and winter related: $100 (preparations in summer)
  • Mobile phone: $100
  • Internet and TV: $100
  • Others: $600 (Entertainment and others)
Now, a little detail. The amount for rent for example, it's for an apartment with no furniture, in the middle of downtown Toronto, with 2 or 3 bedrooms. If you don't want to pay so much, you can stay a little away of downtown where rent can drop a lot from that amount. It all depends how much you want/need to be in downtown and if you need a pool and stuff like that.

The amount for food is buying all kinds of foods (meats, fruits, vegetables, desserts) in a good supermarket, so you won't starve with that kind of money for food ;)

Our transportation consist of two 99CND dollars passes for subway and buses ilimited for a month ^^

In winter clothes and winter related, you can see that we are planning 100CND dollars a month, so you don't have to make a BIG investment in one seat. You need to include here clothing, shoes, and all the things you'll need to not get frozen in the middle of nowhere :p

As you can see, we have 100CND dollars for mobile phones, this one doesn't include the actual cellular phone you are going to need, just the amount you are going to pay with Rogers or Fido or Bell, for 2 mobile lines to get in touch with each other and possible employment offers.

With 100CND dollars for Internet and TV, you get a good Internet connection and cable at home. Maybe you can live without cable or you won't need Internet at home, so you can cut expenses here, but we need at least the Internet connection ;)

Others it's an emergency and entertainment amount you need to be aware of. You'll want to go to the movies, or the theater, or a concert, so you need to have this in your mind. And you never know if you'll need something you didn't think of, so you have this money saved in case of an emergency.

As you can see, we don't have here one time expenses like the health insurance for the first months because we already mentioned it, the same goes for the temporary accommodation. You can also see that you can cut a little more in this expenses if you need a smaller place, or you don't need the Internet connection or other stuff like that, so this a very confortable budget ;)

The grand total? 3.150 CND dollars a month for a very confortable budget for 2 ^^

Thursday, 27 September 2007

$ vs Loonie

I know it's a little late to talk about this subject since it has been a topic for a few days now, but better late than ever, and it will be usefull for everyone in the immigration process.

As you may know, the dollar is loosing strength, or at least it lost a lot last week, so a lot of people need to think of that when calculating the amount you need for proof of funds.

If you have been saving the money you need as proof of funds in an US account, a few months back you only needed $10.000 for 2 people, but now you need to have more than $12.000, so it's a great difference and you need to be careful with that.

So remember this and try your hardest to have a few hundreds more (at least) in your bank account, since you are going to need to show this amount with all the immigration paperwork and at the port of landing. Well, at the port of landing you may or may not needed, it seems to be completely at the discretion of the immigration official and most often than not, you won't need to show it ;)

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Leaving my second home

One of the hardest things I have done so far is leaving my second home, since I haven't leave my home yet ^^ . My second home it's my beautiful university, "Universidad Central de Venezuela".

As a kid I grew up in the university, since my dad worked there and both my mum and dad studied there too. I went to Economy classes while I was in my mum womb, I went to the classrooms when I was a little girl and also played ball, used my bicycle, skated and did all kind of things.

I did my high school thesis in my dad's laboratory and then studied Computer Science in the same Faculty :) While I was a student, I loved to walk the long corridors of my University and take pictures, although I don't have a single one in digital, so these are taken from the Internet. I made a lot of friends and took music and photography classes too.

I met the love of my life in the same career and he is now my husband, I was a teacher assistant in my student years and then, after I graduated, I became a professor for more than 2 years. I really love to teach, to see the faces of my students after they get something they didn't understand before, to be in a classroom full of memories, to give something to the university that gave me all...

I love everything about my second home, did you know that all the university offices smell alike? even if you go to one of the modules in another city, it smells the same!
The motto it's "La casa que vence las sombras", "the house the conquers the shadows", it's so perfect!
And if you go to the Aula Magna, you'll fall in love with it, the smell is special, the atmosphere, the history, the memories...

I can't leave my second home, I'm leaving with it in my heart and memories, I will never forget it.

Resignation letter, one step closer

Yesterday I gave my resignation letter to my boss and to the Human Resources Department! weeee... One step closer to our new life :D

My boss congratulated me but then said that he couldn't be happy because I was leaving, I guess I should be glad that they are not happy with me leaving, right? The girl in the HR Department just told me that they would call me in 2 weeks asking for some medical tests and to sign a few documents for them. Medical tests when you are leaving? Well, it seems that they want to avoid a possible legal demand from me, saying that I got sick working here, funny xD

This is my second letter of resignation in less than 2 months, since I was working as a professor in the UCV (Universidad Central de Venezuela) and had to resign first there, so I wouldn't leave classes just in the middle ;)

When I took that letter to the university I was SO SAD!!! I even cried that day and the night before because it is hard to leave your second home, and that is what that university is to me, a second home... I couldn't throw away the lessons I used to teach and told my mum to please keep them for a while and throw them without me knowing, I'm still sad thinking about it :(

I'm not sad leaving this job. I will miss the friends I made here, but I'll keep in contact with them once I leave, I will not miss the things I did here since I can always find a job like this one in Toronto if I want to, I will not miss the stressfull Caracas...

Do you want to know what is so special about my other job that I will miss that one but not this one? Just stay tunned, I'll write about it soon :)

Monday, 24 September 2007

Winter time :)

The first thing that almost everyone says when they hear about our landing date it's something like "Be prepared, it's going to be VERY COLD!" and it's kind of funny because I always reply "I know!". I know that everyone it's trying to help but one of the first things you have to do when you are even thinking of going to another country is learn the weather ^^

I've never been to Canada and I've never been in a place where snow is falling, so I know that I'll never be completely prepared to that kind of cold without actually being there, but I least you can try ;)

I already have:
I know I'll need more, but I'll just buy it there ^^ If you are wondering about brands, I know which ones are the best! I did a lot of research with people, in forums, blogs and reviews and I can tell you that the best thing it's to buy all this stuff on-line if you are in a tropical country like me.

So the best brands I found for winter clothing are:
  • Columbia
  • L.L. Bean
  • MEC
  • Patagonia
  • Assos (expensive)
Enjoy! ^^

Changing dates...

I already mentioned that having the visas in your hands and waiting to travel with them was very, very, very hard...well...we couldn't wait anymore and decided to change the date of our fligh, so we are now leaving to Canada at the end of November, the 27th to be exact.

Everyone is asking over and over again: WHY!?. Well, we have a lot of reasons, and everyone thinks that one or the other it's not enough, but it's a lot for us so we are sticking with our decision. If you want to know some of the reasons, here they are:
  • We are going to have in Venezuela a referendum to modify the constitution in December, and I'm afraid something could happen, so I want to leave just in case.
  • The Loonie (Canadian dollar) is gaining strength against the US dollar and all our savings are in US dollars, so we are losing savings each day.
  • We are tired of Caracas, every day is more stressful that the last one.
  • We are eager to start our new life... new home, new jobs, new city, and hopefully after a year or so, a new addition to our family ;)
We spent all week trying to change our fligh, since you have to change the tickets with the IOM if you bought them with them and they are a little "slow", but finally, yesterday we had our new tickets.

Yesterday we told my family and my mum was ok with the change, she said that she already expected that we wouldn't be able to wait so long xD But my dad was SO SAD! He didn't want me to hug him and he said he wouldn't take me to the airport :( but I know that time heals everything and he'll be ok in a few days, or at least I hope so. My "little" sister was sad too, she was kicking us out of the house because she will have my room once I leave, but all the same she was sad with the news, and my other sister (middle one) doesn't know yet since I didn't have the opportunity to tell her.

But I'm still happy with the decision... Just 64 days more to go!!! :)

Temporary Accommodation

One of the big problems most immigrants face it's the place where we are going to arrive and what kind of accommodations are available at a modic price. If you don't have family or friends where you can stay, you have 2 choices, a hotel or a furnished place for short term visits.

Staying in a hotel it's too expensive if you are going to stay for a few weeks or a month, but the other choice is perfect, since it's more affordable and you have a furnished apartment with all the commodities you need.

I made a list of this kind of place and sent it to a friend of a friend in Toronto so I could have an opinion from someone there about them. We are going to stay at the Cromwell Furnished Suites, so I'll let you know if it was a good choice!!!

Health Insurance

Hi everyone! Did you check if you are going to need health insurance once you arrive in your province? In Ontario you have to wait 3 months before you can use your OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan), so you need a private health insurance for that period.

I know of 3 choices so far, one is very risky, one is a personal choice, and the other one is the one that we are using and recommend.

With the bad one you arrive in Canada without health insurance and hope and pray you don't need one in those 3 months :S

With the second one, you travel to Canada with a travel insurance from your country for the first few days and find a new insurance in Canada for the rest of the waiting period ;)

With the third one, you find an insurance company that gives you an online quote for you and your family, so you can buy that one from your home country and once you are in the plane you are already covered for those 3 months. I really like this one, and we are going to buy our insurance like this from the Canadian Blue Cross since that one was the one our lawyer recommended :)

Do you have another idea or insurance company you recommend?

International Organization for Migration

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an organization that helps immigrants to relocate to their new country, some benefits are for some countries only but there is one that it's for all countries (as far as I know) and that is cheaper fligh tickets ;)

When you are immigrating, saving money if you can is essential and you can get tickets with good airlines for even half a price, so go visit for more information regarding your country of origin.

Thinking of goodbyes

How to say goodbye to your family and friends? Even thinking about it is hard... You are not saying goodbye for ever because you could visit and they could visit, but it's a LONG goodbye because you are not going to see each other everyday again. I get tears in my eyes when I think about saying this kind of goodbye, and a lot of people don't realize this... a lot of people think that you are leaving so happy, but don't know that you are leaving a piece of your heart behind :(

I think that besides your children, saying goodbye to your parents it's the worst... It doesn't matter if you are the last of the children leaving or if you are the first, or if you are the youngest or the oldest, it's always hard for them and it's always hard for you, even more if you are close to your family.

I am the first one leaving and my mum has been very helpful with everything, being strong for everyone and letting us know that it is ok we are leaving, and that it is for the best, and that they are going to be fine. My dad it's the hardest one, since he's been so sad that we are leaving, and he show it to us everytime he can, so it's going to be so hard for him and for us...

I'm sad saying goodbye... I'm sad thinking in saying goodbye...

The waiting game

In the immigration process you wait and wait, then wait a little more and then wait again, until you get really tired and decide you can't wait anymore or get yourself to do something else that gives you strengh to wait just a little bit more Wink

First you have to wait until you get all the paperwork done so you can actually begin the immigration process. In this phase you get all kind of help from other people in the same boat as you, and you get overwhelmed with all the information you are finding on the Internet! I have a friend couple in this stage and I'm loading them with all kinds of information xD

Then you have to wait for the embassy to review your case and give you the visas. This one is one of the most stresfull time you are going to live, even worst if you are in one of those countries where you have to wait years and years for the decision to come :(

After that, you may or may not have to live the waiting period I'm at this moment. You have the visas in your hands, you can leave anytime you want, can't you? Well, is different for everyone, since you could land in Canada, come back to your home country, finish everthing and then go back to Canada, but I don't like that one for us. You could also have everything ready at the moment you get the visa (because you were expecting it at any moment) and leave as soon as you get the air ticket, or you can be in the same situation as us.

We have everything in Canada ready (the air ticket, the apart-hotel, the Internet connection, the suitcases we'll need, the health insurance for the first 3 months, and even have organized the things we are going to do the first few days there), but you weren't expecting the visas so soon (no that you complain). So you're stuck in your home country finishing everything and waiting! Because you can't leave now, but you don't want to wait anymore, and if you are in fear in your country is even worst. We don't know what to expect tomorrow with anything and we live in fear, but we can't leave yet :(

So hold and behold the beginning of this blog :) I can kill time writing here and help others in the same process! Are you in the waiting game??

Paperwork for the Immigration process

We started the Skilled Worker (Federal) process just a few months before the simplified process, so we had to give to the embassy all the paperwork since the beginning.

You have to have notarized copies of :
  • Your birth certificates (Doesn't have to be recent, but you need to have the originals so you can notarize it).
  • Marriage certificate (Same as the birth certificate).
  • Your school scores and Diploma.
  • Your University scores and Degree.
  • Work letters (You need as much information as you can get written, but it is not absolutely necessary to have every little thing the embassy asks to have in these).
  • Language Proficiency (You need to take the IELTS and have the highest score you can get, and if you are claiming high proficiency, you need to get at least 7 in all sections).
  • Letter of good behavior (You can get this one taking to the prefecture a letter from your condominium association stating how many years you've been living there and that you have been a good neighbour - You need to give the original to the embassy, so don't notarize this one).
  • Military inscription carnet (This one is important but not absolutely necessary and you can give them the inscription paper instead of the carnet - Don't notarize this one since you need to give the original to the embassy).
  • Proof of funds ($10.000 for a couple).
  • Seven pictures each (Be careful where you get the pictures taken since they have to be perfect!)
Don't translate anything here, since the embassy doesn't ask for anything in english and in Canada you are going to have to translate them with a Canadian certified translator.

By the way, you don't need to take the University Degree or the High School Diploma to have an apostillate before giving these papers to the Embassy but you need it to take them to Canada when you leave.

I hope I'm not forgetting anything here, but feel free to ask :)

My first post!

Hi everyone! This is my first post in my new blog and I decided to introduce myself first. I'm a Venezuelan girl, married, and with a big dream about to become true. We got married in April, 2005 and we've been living with my parents and sisters since then because our big dream was moving to another country to start a new life.

Last year, in April 2006 we went to those immigration conferences about Canada they give every few months and in less than 2 days we felt that was our path and decided to hire our new lawyer and start the process.

A little over a year later (may) we had our rutinary interview with our lawyer, but it wasn't so rutinary after all since she told us that day "Just yesterday we received the papers from the embassy asking for your medicals"... What??!! We couldn't believe it, even her was surprised :)

We had our medicals in June and the lawyer told us that we should hear from the embassy in 3 months more or less. Well, we could wait... But a month later Igor (my husband) told me to go to the computer (were he was) to see something... We had received an email from our lawyer explaining when to go to the embassy to GET OUR VISAS!!!! WOW, that was fast! I like it!

Now I want to share with everyone the details of the process, waiting until January to go to Canada and anything and everything we can think of ^^