Unexpected surprises

Photo by Jeff Werner, Flickr

Photo by Jeff Werner, Flickr

More than anything, I wished to move to an English speaking country for a year, to become bilingual and work in my field, which is accounting. In France, during a job fair, I found an organization offering to their members to enroll in a paying language school in Vancouver for six months, and to be allowed to work in Canada, evenings or on weekends coupled with work experience in my field for the following six months. In this way I could cover the cost of my language stay.

I therefore made the decision to enroll in this language school last August 22. I had every confidence in the French organization regarding registration and the processing of my Canadian visa. In the end, I had to learn for myself how to perform these procedures and I didn’t obtain my visa until less than one week prior to my departure.

I could easily see the total incompetence on the part of the person in charge of my file when I was asking her about tricky issues, but I had already booked and paid for everything. In theory, the organization I dealt with guaranteed that they would take care of all the procedures and that North America is their area of expertise.

My Canadian visa was a study permit with a work authorization with a C30 Exemption and breaks down into two parts: a student visa for the first six months, with no work allowed, and a working visa for six months but contingent on a single employer. That was very different from what I had been told by the organization I was referred by. They had told me I could work in any job without restriction for a period of one year.

During my training, I earned from $200 to $350 dollars a week, instead of the $1500 to $2000 I was told I would earn per month.

Life in Vancouver is as expensive as in my region, the Côte d’Azur, and reduced fares for students are almost non-existent. Moreover, when studying in a private school, one cannot make use of the same resources available to students at publicly funded schools. In France, I was told that life in Vancouver was cheaper than on the Côte d’Azur, and that by working, I would get back the amount I originally spent on this adventure.

In conclusion, I recommend the greatest caution to anyone wishing to leave France for Vancouver, since not all the organizations offering assistance are reliable.

But I must say that I enjoyed having the opportunity to get to know Vancouver. It is a very cosmopolitan city and from the first week, I felt an extreme open-mindedness and kindness.

The all-present nature contrasts with the closeness of Vancouver skyscrapers. One can experience a kind of balance in terms of quality of life: everything seems nearby despite the city’s size thanks to a good public transit. Its topography is similar to the French region of the Alpes Maritimes, and this is one of the reasons that influenced me to spend a whole year in this city.

Regarding my English skills, perfecting them came naturally day by day. Perhaps this is because I found it rather easy to understand the Canadian accent of British Columbians. I never had the sense that I was completely in a strange country thanks to the French labels on products. In addition, when dealing with public administration, it is common to receive service from English and French bilingual counselors.

Leaving France for a year can result in a feeling of homesickness, but who knows if it will not be equally as difficult when I must say goodbye to Vancouver.

Translation Nathalie Tarkowska