3 weeks and counting. It's happening.
We never in a million years thought that we would be picking up ours lives and moving overseas. I for one feel so completely under prepared. Do I have enough money? Do I have enough warm clothes? Will I make friends? Will I get eaten by a moose? The questions are endless.
We love seeing the look on their faces when we tell them we've never been to Canada before and just fancied it. Nikki had always held a fondness for Canada and a serious desire to visit one day. I'd always liked the idea of living overseas for a couple of years and this gave us the perfect opportunity to see a bit more of the world, experience a change of pace, without sacrificing work experiences or ending up with a gap in our wages.
In addition to this, have you seen Canada? Those sweeping landscapes, the majestic mountain ranges and the incredible wildlife had us itching to catch a flight straight away. As outdoor lovers and adventurous spirits at heart, we knew Canada was going to be a good fit for us.
It was easy enough to settle on Calgary. My best friend was about to move out there herself, so we had a human guinea pig (sorry Shiv) plus the proximity to the Rocky Mountains was just too good to pass up. Combine that with the highest minimum wage and lowest rates of unemployment and we were on to a winner.
Calgary, we're coming for you.
HOW DID WE GET THE VISA?
IEC (International Experience Canada) is the name for the international program allowing young people from around the world to live and work in Canada for up to 24 months. As UK citizens we were eligible to apply for two of the 5000 coveted spots that would grant us the freedom to start our new Canadian lives....for two years anyway!
After submitting basic profiles into the Working Holiday pool, we waited for our names to be picked at random with an invitation to apply. This was where the real work began. I don't think we were prepared for the extensive list of documents we had to provide before being granted our POE (Port of Entry) letters.
Passport Details - This seemed simple enough. But as my passport was due to expire in 2020 (halfway through our time in Canada) I had to obtain a new one after my POE had been issued, which meant going on to apply for a new eTA too.
Family Information - This simple document just wants to know if you're bringing a spouse, parent or any children with you. Irrelevant but we submitted one nonetheless.
Visa Photo - I lost two stone in between having my visa photo taken and having another one taken for my new passport, so there's a high chance I might get barred from Canada for fraud. Watch this space.
CV - Prior to getting approved, you have to submit a draft resume, detailing your work history and qualifications. Maybe they have a recruitment agency within immigartion? Maybe they're head hunting? I don't know.
Police Check - This is the one that catches people out the most. You have to submit address history, get a reference from someone in a particular line of employment, give them your SOUL and then they'll run it through their database and send you back a letter stating whether or not you're a criminal. We passed of course. We're angels.
We exercised immense patience while we waited to hear if we'd been approved. Okay, that's a lie, we spent weeks anxiously checking our emails every couple of hours until we got the news we'd been waiting for. Canada wanted us. This was actually going to happen. Cue full on panic mode.
We slowed things down a bit after that, knowing we wouldn't be leaving until early January. My family had just moved back to the UK after 8 years in the Philippines and I wanted to spend Christmas with them before we moved. Nikki wanted to spend one last Christmas with her family too, and so we booked our one way (eek!) flights for the 14th January, right in time before our POE letters expired on the 30th.
All that's left to do now is get packing, sort out our final admin bits and bobs and enjoy the Christmas break. The countdown is on!