Monday, 28 November 2011

Becoming Canadian :)

Last week I became Canadian! I am now officially Venezuelan-Canadian, just a few days from my 4 year Canadian Anniversary yesterday ^-^

I received in the mail a pink letter that said my ceremony was November 22nd at 12:50pm. Arrived at that time to the Ceremony Center and sat with the other 77 people waiting to be Canadian :)

For the next hour or so, we all had to show our IDs and the landing record (keep it!), plus return out Permanent Resident Card (they keep it :( so no souvenir). They give you the folder with Oath to the Queen and the National Anthem, plus a cultural pass gift and a maple leaf pin :D

Then the judge comes in, gives a speech (very pretty) and we do the oath to the Queen. Next you go and shake hands with the judge (one by one), they give you a letter from the Prime Minister, a letter from the Citizenship Minister, the Citizenship card and a Canadian flag! You sign a book that says you took the Oath and go back to your seat to sing Oh Canada!

After the ceremony, you are free to take as many pictures as you want and just celebrate! You are free to bring friends and family of course. My ceremony took less than 2 hours total and we made up a group of 38 countries! Which the judge say was a pretty impressive number :D

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

4 books in 4 weeks (TTC war stories and a new job)

Four weeks and 3 days ago, on October 3rd, I started a new job. I left Ganz a few days before that and prepared to come work at my old love, Downtown Toronto. I changed responsabilities, from a Database Developer to a Production Database Administrator. I also changed areas, from the gaming industry to the marketing industry (So far, Education, Municipalities, Communications, Software, Gaming, Marketing :))

Now I don't take the car to go to work, I take the TTC. I can take the subway and the streetcar, or the subway and fast walk aprox. 15 minutes. I get to read and read!! I'm on my 4th week and my 4th book (plus booklet ^^). This is my third Assimov book, plus I read the Wealthy Barber and studied the Citizenship booklet. I'm excited planning my book budget for the coming weeks hahahaha

The TTC has reminded me that you can plan nothing if you are taking it. The times that worked one day may be completely off the next one. You may be sitting one second and standing crushed against people the next one. I have taken 1 hour (the whole ride) some days, and 1 hour and 40 minutes other days! Passenger activated alarms being the main reason most of the times.

One day it took me half an hour from Finch to Eglinton! To hear that we were experiencing signal problems and had to leave the train there and wait for the next one. Needless to say, had to wait around 4 trains (15 minutes) just to be able to get in again. No electricity for the streetcar to work (this one was interesting). Trains crawling to the station for no apparent reason, and/or my record so far, 5 passenger alarms in one trip.

On the bright side, I get to read a lot :D

Monday, 24 October 2011

Citizenship Test!

On friday I had my citizenship test! The letter said that I had to be there at 1pm. At that time they started giving instructions about what was going to be happening in the next couple of hours, and they started calling person by person to the interview.

The interview is very simple, only basic question to see your level of english (where do you leave, where do you work/study, what do you do at work, etc). Only people between 18 and 55 years old need to take the test. Younger than that get the citizenship thanks to the parent that applied for them, and older just need to show their ID and go home.

After aprox. 2 hours, is time for the test. They give you an answer sheet with 25 answer rows, and a booklet with 20 questions; you can't and shouldn't try to answer questions 21 to 25, there are no question with those numbers! The test takes aprox. 10 minutes, but they give you 30 minutes.

After 1 to 3 months you should recive a letter indicating the day of the ceremony (if you have 15 or more correct answers), or the day and time of your appointment with the judge (if you have less than 15 questions incorrect). The test is simple selection (1 answer per question) and you have 4 options per question.

I thought it was pretty easy if you study ;) Now we wait for the next letter!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Canadian Citizenship Test

Well, have been keeping this one kinda under wraps, but in week and a half I'll be taking my citizenship test!

The test will be composed of 20 questions of multiple selection. I already finished reading the practice guide the goverment sends you when you apply. Now is time to practice a lot for that test!

These are some of the practice tests I've been taking: (Be careful with some of the answers, I'm almost positive I have seen 2 different answers to what did the goverment do to make immigration to the West easier) (Sample test)
Enjoy practicing!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Register to vote in your country from your new home

One of the things immigrants often forget, is to register to vote in our country, from our new home.

The REP is the registry for the venezuelan voters. When we reside in another country, we can only vote in the presidential elections (as far as I know), but we have to register in the embassy/consulate that corresponds.

To register in Toronto, is necessary to go to the Venezuelan Consulate in Bloor st. You will need the form thats on the web page, 2 photocopies of the passport, 2 photocopies of the resident card (they shouldn't ask for this but do it either way) and 2 photocopies of the "cedula". Everything in different pages.

You should take it to the consulate and aproximate 2 weeks later, you have to go back to stamp your fingerprints (make a phone call to the consulate to verify the papers are ready).

After the fingerprints, they tell you it takes aprox. 6 months for the registry to be updated (took 2 weeks for me!!). Is good to do it as soon as possible, because they can close the registry at any moment.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The life of the immigrant

How can I be happy and sad at the same time?
Why are my sad tears rolling down my face while my eyes and heart are smiling?
How is it possible to be happy with what we have and still miss so much of what is far?
How can it be so painful and be so grateful at the same time?

This is my country now, it is my home; yet my family is not here.
My friends and their families are my family now; yet I need my parents here.
It's the same sun and the same moon, is my same God, is the same love.
 My heart is filled with love, but there will always be a void, you are not here.

Four years doesn't make it easier, and doesn't make it harder, its just more of me missing you. Your hugs, your kisses, your smell, your touch. I miss you with all my soul, and will always be like this.

Wish you were here.

Monday, 26 September 2011

One roof!!

Jesus Got Us Fallin' In Love
One roof  is the event that The Meeting House did this year to celebrate all God has accomplished in the community over 25 years. Given that The Meeting House is not a conventional church, this couldn't be a conventional event!

I love what they did with the event and the special touches all around. This video shows how church can be a good place and a fun place at the same time.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Konnichiwa!! (Japanese classes)

Yesterday I started classes at the JCCC (Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre) here in Toronto.

When I was in Venezuela I took one level of Japanese, but didn't go anymore because of timing issues and the teacher was all from "the man first" culture.

Here, I've only had one class and I'm having a blast! Is one day a week, hour and a half, for 10 classes, for $100, not bad! The only bad part is that it's only during spring and fall, so no winter or summer sessions... Still don't know if I'm going to find another place for that time yet, or just wait until spring, but we'll see :)

My class is 8 guys and 5 girls, and everyone has interesting stories on why they are learning japanese; including 2 that are learning so they can comunicate with their parents in law xD

The other funny thing is how many languages we talk. I was talking to the girl sitting next to me, and the guy sitting next to her, and between the 3 of us, we know 5 languages and learning japanese now! Pretty fun :)

Monday, 19 September 2011

You want how many on a what?

Tim Hortons... Gotta love it :) There is a certain hate/love relationship between canadians and this place, some love it and some hate it. Seems to be the one place everyone has an opinion of!

I'm sure everyone has their own little stories about the place, but for me, the drive-thru has to be THE place to find the funniest or the most annoying ones LOL

We got one of our inside jokes from that place. Every single day my friend would go there (and he used to go every day), he would ask for 2 this, or 1 that, and the woman taking the order would go "How many?" in some type of accent. It became the phrase to say among us, "how many?" and we would all laugh about it.

A few weeks ago I went and ask for a breakfast sandwich on a biscuit, but I pronounced it really really funny, and it has been such a joke that I don't want to pronounce it right anymore. So the girl at the drive-thru kinda laughs but still understands what I want without problem.

Yesterday we go again, and this time I'm not driving, so my "nomnom" (who is driving) decides to try to ask for my biscuit the same funny way I do (he is canadian btw) "can I have 2 sausage breakfast sandwich on a biscuit please" and inmediately the woman at the drive-thru goes "on a what?!" hahahahaha

Seems like I'm the only one able to pull that one off :) Now my other friends are going to try the same, see who else can make them laugh, take it seriously or make them say "you want how many on a what?!"

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Letter to my friends

Always in my heart, always in my wishes. Even if I'm not there, even if I don't call, you are always in my thoughts, always in my prayers and dreams.

I may not be there, but I'm always with you. I may not look for you, but I'll be there if you need me.

I'm not ready, I can't make myself, is hard for me, it will always be. I just want you to remember that I'm always here, I love you, you are my friend.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

North York

North York is part of Toronto, at the north of it. Is still part of the Yonge Subway line, so pretty useful, as you still have easy access to Downtown and other areas.

I like it a lot, is more quite than Downtown and still close enough to go there everyday :)

Here are more some more pictures!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Fireworks, MTG and Anime

How to keep busy? With a ton of fun stuff to do xD Thats why I haven't been posting as much as I want to, too many fun things to do to miss them :)

This year for the first time I fired my own fireworks with a group of friends! They do it every year for Canada day, and this year I had the pleasure of going with them and even get my own special fireworks, the bandito LOL
Went to a park, had some music, $800 of fireworks, chairs, blankets and lots and lots of fun! Spent more than 2 hours firing them hahahaha

This weekend on the other hand, had my second pre-release tournament of MTG :D The only girl around 30 guys or so, I won the door prize, probably because of my interesting status at that moment hahaha, but not complaining about that! A lot of fun playing cards, won 1 round, lost the other 2, but have great cards for my collection and will get my prize at the end of August, yeay!!

Besides that? Lots and lots of anime!! I normally try to be watching one anime at all times, but somehow right now I'm watching 4 anime + avatar the cartoon, how did I get in so much to do, I will never know LOL But have so much fun doing it that I will keep at it xD So thats why I haven't been writting too much, but I'll keep trying, not going away, just trying to find the balance :)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Why Canada?

A gut feeling, the right place to be, destiny, coincidence, a leap of faith... All lines that could be used in my immigration to Canada, all lines that could be used in my coming here to Toronto.

I was looking at immigration since 2005 or so, study in Japan? Live in Australia? Go to Spain? The latest 2 common choices around Venezuelans, the first one because of my love for Japan, but Canada? hahaha, nah, thats too cold and I don't know anything about the country!

Around February 2006 my mom sees a newspaper ad for a Canadian immigration lawyer talking about the country, the process and her services and she goes "why don't you go and see?"... "umm... well, have nothing better to do that day, sure!" God's plan in process :)

So I go to the conference, and the moment she starts talking about Canada... wow... I.. start... crying... I admit it, I'm a cry baby, but come on! It just felt right! All the moments when I was a kid and wanted to buy a winter coat in Venezuela, or winter boots and my mom would go "where do you think you will use that?" clicked, me hating the all_year_warm clicked, this was the place I needed to go.

A week later I had a lawyer, and less than year and a half later I had a permanent resident visa. During all that year I read and studied Canada like crazy!!! Went to every single immigration forum I could find, and listened to Canadian radio stations online.

By fortune/chance/destiny the radio station I liked the most was Chum FM, a Toronto radio station; so a year of hearing about Toronto, the chances for the IT market, the english instead of french, the fact that is an amazing big city, all of them were in play for deciding Toronto would be my home.

Knowing no one here, being the first venezuelan blogger in Toronto, they were all part of the leap of faith, an experience I don't regret at all and absolutely love.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Zumba time!

I'm not a gym or sports person, I'm ok with them and enjoy watching some sports but I'm not a fan of practicing them xD

Having said that, I like to stay fit, and I need to exercise regularly for health reasons so I keep looking for the perfect exercise that I will love. Using the Bosu ball has been fun and I like it but is lonely doing it at home alone :) I like Yoga but haven't done it once in a proper yoga place, again I end up doing it at home (soon to change!), and then we have belly dancing that keeps calling me to try it out, and Zumba!

I love Zumba :) :) From the official Zumba site description it says "Zumba classes feature exotic rhythms set to high-energy Latin and international beats". Even though it changes from instructor to instructor, is basically exercising while doing dancing steps for salsa, cumbia, samba, bachata and merengue.

It wasn't easy to find places in Toronto for Zumba, but some gyms offer them, as well as the place I'm going: TorontoDanceSalsa. I really like this place, my instructor is an asian girl that moves really well, the dances and the music are fun and the prices are not bad!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Common Resume Blunders

I was checking out Linkedin and found this very interesting article of the 13 most common resume blunders people make.

Read and learn :) May help you if you are working on yours or trying to find a new job!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Three and a half years later

I'm here, three and a half years later and I think I'm very much used to the Canadian weather, I love the 4 seasons and the only thing that I still find a little weird is the drastic changes like the last storm we had this week, with hail falling on my car and the temperature at almost 40C :S

Back in Toronto life feels a little easier than in Mississauga, but all is relative, I'm sure if I had kids it would be another story... The reason I moved? People keep asking but just a few get a real answer, isn't it enough to know that is better for people that want a more dynamic style of life? :)

My mood goes and comes, and my blog shows it hehe, sometimes I write a few times a week, sometimes more than a week goes by without writing, but I'm still trying to find the right balance between what people want to read about, what I want to write, and the personal aspects of what I do. I thought I had that balance but somehow it seems like is not the right one right now and it may take a while until I find it.

In general I'm happy, I'm happy with my life in Canada and my friends, and everything that seems like an obstacle is just a bump on the way to teach me something and prepare me for the future. I still love this country and still feel like this is my country, I feel happy to be Venezuelan and will be really happy the day I can say I'm Venezuelan AND Canadian! :)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The meeting house, a different church!

I was raised catholic in Venezuela, but never with a close mind to other religions or atheists, everyone is entitled to believe in something and that something is not wrong just because is different to what I believe in.

The thing about my school catholic upbringing is that it was all about how God is going to punish me and how I HAD to do this and that, and not about the good things (at least they didn't concentrate on that), so I stopped going to church many years ago.

A few months back a friend invited me to a christian church, where things were a lot different, there is a pastor giving the service, no images, and the message was different, we all try to do the best we can and if we fall, we get up and try again.

I moved to Toronto and had to find a new church again, and this one is even more different than the other one hehe. I have been to this one twice already and love it!

I go to the movie theater, choose a seat and listen to the live band play songs, then I seat and listen to a short introduction by the local pastor, and read on the movie screen quotes from different places about today's subject, then a video clip from a movie, tv series or documentary comes on and next is the pastor talking from Oakville.

The message is great, the pastor is very easy to like, and you feel involved with the message and the people, you end up happy, maybe with a nice better view of things and, if you are like me, with the desire of coming back next week :) The local pastor talks again briefly and you go home.

Talking about their message and the way they think would be an every week post that I'm still not sure I will do, but if you are interested in any of what I just said, I encourage you to go to their site and find out more, is worth it!

Correction: The service from Oakville is not live, is a recording of last week's service there, so they are always a week ahead.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Sunday fun - Port Rowan

This last weekend was a long weekend because of the Victoria Day Holiday, so it was a nice rest for some and an adventure weekend for others :) Mine I would classify as half and half, and one of the things I did during the weekend was to visit a town I didn't know, Port Rowan.

Port Rowan is a little town right next to Lake Erie with just a few shops and lots of farm houses everywhere, a little cute place to relax and have a nice time, specially if the weather is as beautiful as it was on sunday afternoon.
It was a nice day of looking at amazing views, walking hearing the birds sing, and eating a great ice cream!! That ice cream parlor is the cutest store I have seen, inside and out and didn't take pictures in it just because I was so mesmerized that didn't event think about it xD

So bought some ice cream, something like chocolate fudge brownie flavor LOL, and went walking down to the dock and the lighthouse, enjoying the little boat houses, and just listening to the birds and the water, so peaceful!!!

A really nice short trip that will forever remember :)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Doors Open Toronto 2011 - Getting ready!

From the official Doors Open Toronto website:
"Close to 150 buildings of architectural, historic, cultural and/or social significance open their doors to the public. Admission is free. Doors Open Toronto 2011 theme is Photography."

I love Doors Open Toronto! Went 2 years ago, missed it last year and I'm really excited to go this year again. Every year they have different places to go and you can never go to all of them in one event, so year after year you have new places to visit :)

This year I'm very proud to promote a very cool, very useful, very FREE iphone/ipod/i_everything application a good friend of mine developed. Is a Doors Open Toronto app that will show you all the places open this year, map to see where they are located, description of the places and categories of what you may want or may not want to see.

Are you interested in only visiting churches? Not churches at all? Haunted places? Ecological places? So many categories where to choose from! and you can add your itinerary in the app so you don't forget any of the important places you want to visit.

So, who is going this year?! And if you have an apple device, check out the app and let me know what you think! :)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The IT market

I have received lots of petitions for specific subjects and how I see the IT market has been one of the most requested ones! :) Please remember this is only from my point of view, any comments about the subject are welcome.

I think I should start by saying how it has been my working life here in Canada. Don't remember how much I already wrote at some point, so from the start, it took me a month and a few weeks to find job as an intern (thanks to Career Bridge) in a software company as a C# Developer, got promoted to a full time position after 3 months and became the DB expert of the company, along with my C# skills of course ^^; after 1 year and a few months decided to change jobs and found one as a Java Developer where I currently work, but turns out they needed my C# skills way more than the java ones and became the sole owner of one of their internal products, to then become the DB Team Lead of the company, and still use my C# skills because I can never get away from that one hehe.

I have seen the amount of people coming in and out of the company and is MASSIVE, and I'm also in a Canada Jobs group in Linkedin and see all the job posts being announced every single day for the IT people. Without looking for a job I receive at least 2 emails a month from recruiters calling me for interviews, so I know the IT market is in pretty good shape right now.

In IT, from what I can see, the areas with more work are Developers (C, Unity, C# and Java on the top of the list), DBAs and Sys Admins (specially Linux).

And when talking about salaries, from the averages I have seen we have:
QA: $35.000-$40.000
Developer Junior/SysAdmin Junior: $40.000
Developer/SysAdmin: $50.000
Developer Senior/SysAdmin Senior/Team Leads/DBA: $65.000+ (based on experience)

For new immigrants to find a job in IT it depends completely on the area and how current they are, I have seen people take between 1 and 5 months. Obviously, the more current, more experience and more contacts you have, the better ;)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

You are my mirror

Writting like there is nothing left, like your world has crashed and burned, like there is absolutely no end, writing so you can ease the pain.

Nothing can hide me but I can always try, nothing can stop me but I can always hide, nothing can break me but it will leave me scars, this can not kill me but can make me sad.

I smile, I cry, I laugh and dance, I mourn and hide, I open to love and close to myself, I look at the stars and look at the rain, I see my good side and my very bad ways, this shows me my very true self.

Why are your eyes so sad? why so much pain? and from whatever you have inside, you come to my aid. Because its you and me, and no one else, because He is by our side and will always be there, because you and me are one, and we divide but we are the same.

My love for you is here and your love for me is there, we just need ourselves; and I look at the mirror and see for myself, we are strong and happy, you and me, I and myself. Thank you for being there.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Mississauga vs Toronto (again!)

Mississauga or Toronto?

Thats one of the most asked questions I have ever heard, and I always reply with the same answer, it depends :)

Neither city is just better than the other one, they both offer different things for its residents and it depends on what you are looking for to decide which city to choose (including any other cities you want to include).

I first lived for 1 year in Toronto, now spent 2 years and a half in Mississauga and going back to live to Toronto. The reason? What I'm looking for has changed.

Toronto is specially good for single people and couples with no children, Mississauga on the other hand is great for families with children. I have loved my time in Mississauga, really peaceful and everything you need, but it can become a little boring when you just want to go out really quick to have fun, or want to go to the gym without having to use the car, or want to spend the night out in a club.

So again, it completely depends on what you are looking for ;)

Thursday, 7 April 2011

So far

Part of a year and a half in my life
(No order in the events at all)

Planted Tulips and I'm watching them grow right now!

Applied to sponsor my family to become Canadian Residents :)

Spent Christmas with both families here, every single one of our parents, brothers, sisters and nieces!

Sold the house!!

Went to France :) (Europe for the first time!)

Applied for the Canadian Citinzenship!!! Already received my booklet and now it's time to study ^^

Went camping :)

Bought an apartment in Toronto!

Ate apples from my own apple tree :)

And so much more to come!!!!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Coming back

Year and a half of changes and more changes, year and a half of going up and going down and going sideways, year and a half of not writing.

I need to confess that I've missed writing but everything that was going on with my life kept me away from it, but I'm back!

I'm not sure how to come back, what information I can give that will be useful and how I can keep helping with my little experience but I'll try once again :) Will keep looking for the little things that make me happy and make me who I am and will continue to get them back.

Hope we can work together to get this blog back in track! ^^ Any subjects you would like me to talk about? :)

Missed you!!!