Adjusting: Attitude Makes The Difference
The process of immigration and settlement is experienced differently by every individual. People within the same family can have diverse experiences. One person can love being here in Canada while another hates it. Over the past 15 years, the settlement process in Canada has been studied by many experts, and a list of the ten greatest settlement challenges has been developed. On this list, finding a job is number one.
There are thousands of ‘settlement experts’ in different areas. I am not an expert, but an immigrant, who arrived in Canada with little education, two small children and an abusive marriage. I think it is, in some ways, easier for people like me than for professionals to find stability as newcomers, because as a non-professional, I had nowhere to go but up. Every time I completed something I had a new qualification.
But for those who have worked in their professional areas in their home countries, it is very difficult to start over again. Unmet expectations create a mindset of discouragement and disappointment that gets in their way. But even professionals can enjoy the settlement process if they have the right attitude.
I know of a couple, both doctors, each with a wonderful sense of humour. In their old country they owned a small hospital and had an army of staff and servants. When they came to Canada with their two teenagers, they could only afford a three bedroom apartment.
Within four or five months of coming here, the woman found a job that supported her family, while her husband studied for his exams. I asked her one day how they were managing. She was surprised that I asked, and responded, “Settlement in Canada is a matter of attitude. We knew we had to learn to stand on our feet quickly and so we did.”
When I asked her for an example, she said, “One day my daughter complained to me that she only has three pairs of jeans now, and she use to have so many clothes before coming here. I asked her, ‘How many pairs of jeans do you wear at one time?’ You see, there was no need for me to have this conversation with her back home because there was abundance of everything, but now she is learning to live within her means, a life lesson I could not have taught her before coming here.”
Each evening the four of them study together, the wife tests her husband and discusses with him what he read that day. They are learning together, and as soon as he starts working, she will start school. In a year of two they will be fully licensed Canadian doctors. In the meantime, they are having a great time learning about their new homeland.
When I asked her how her family manages to keep such an upbeat attitude, she says, “We chose to come here. In our minds we know who we are. We are both professionals. At the moment I have a job, for which I am grateful, and soon I, too, will be back in my profession. We are both determined.”