LaraDK

Landing story - Toronto May 2018

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LaraDK

I have finally landed! So happy to be in Canada :)

I landed at the beginning of May, missing a huge windstorm by mere hours. I flew via Zurich overnight from Johannesburg, and landed in Toronto around midday on a Friday. It was a bit strange boarding a flight at 9 am, flying all day, and then landing at noon …

 Going through customs and immigration took about 1.5 hours – a fair amount of people in the queues but it moves swiftly. Got my SIN and all the stamps on all the paperwork – everyone really was as nice as you have been told, and I got quite a few “Welcome to Canada!”s as I went along. I got a new simcard right in the terminal where you exit from arrivals, so that was pretty convenient.

I opened a bank account at RBC on Saturday – quick and easy. I transferred funds from a FNB Global Account, and there was some confusion about SWIFT codes (RBC and FNB had different codes for the branch – FNB was right …) but it all got sorted. Right off the bat I got a cheque and savings account set up, and 100 cheques – yes, people really do still use cheques here! Everything gets posted to you, so having a local address is crucial.

I got a PRESTO card as well, which is similar to London’s Oyster card. You load money on it and can use basically all the public transportation. There are different rates on the various systems though. For example, I am in Durham Region (just outside Toronto) and those buses have a flat rate regardless of how far you go. The GO train into the city is operated by someone else, and that fare is dependent on how far you go. You MUST remember to tap your card on and off to avoid the maximum fare (I forgot once, and ran back like a madwoman to the station to tap out …) There are loads of bus stops everywhere, which is great, although it does take a lot longer to get to where you are going on public transport (I am finding it is on average about double the time that a car would take). I have tried a bunch of transport apps, and really, the Google Maps app is all you need. It gives the bus number, tracks the stops as you go, and has been spot on so far. One thing about the bus stops here is that a lot of them don’t tell you which buses stop at that spot or where they go. You just have to know ….

I spent a weekend in Toronto with other friends of friends [It is amazing how many people hear you are going to Canada, say “Oh I know So-and-so lives there – you should call them!”, and then you have another tour guide or place to stay!]. They took me to Niagara Falls (amazing! Definite must do), Red Lobster (sort of like a classier version of Spur but for seafood – was great), and then we just walked the city for a few days. It was wonderful to stroll around at midnight and see so many people, including families, out and about. There are so many green spaces that people actually use, the city is very clean, lots of events going on all the time, and it felt really safe. Loved it!

I randomly met another South African outside the local pub, and after a few weeks of chatting, was invited up to a cottage further along the East Coast. When Canadians speak about going to their cottages, it really can mean anything from a McMansion, to a rustic house, to a shack without electricity. I went for the Canada Day long weekend – it was incredible! The cottage was on a lake, with miles and miles of forest around. We swam in the lake every day – the cleanest water you can imagine. All the people staying near us pooled their fireworks and had a huge display on the Sunday night. People are quite patriotic, but in a nice polite Canadian way :D

Job hunting has been a bit challenging – apparently most people take their vacations at this time as schools are out and the weather is fantastic, so I am just being patient and keeping at it. People have been quite forthcoming with advice and leads, and there are many resources that you can make use of.

Speaking of the weather, sjoe, it has been HOT! With humidity, it feels like it is high 30s and early 40s most days. So definitely happy to have 4 seasons! (Although the Canadians are quick to tell you to wait until February, and then decide if you still like the weather ….) Nevertheless, it has been fantastic to see the trees turn green and the gardens blossom. Everywhere you go there is greenery and pops of colour everywhere. And so many big trees! Strolling around the neighbourhood and enjoying people’s gardens is really a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Overall, my landing experience has been more than I could have hoped for. Things function as expected, people are generally really very nice and quite helpful, and notwithstanding a few inevitable bumps along the way, I am just thrilled to be here! 

 

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Kitcat

So lovely reading this! All the best for your new adventure - love reading landing stories and hearing about all the new experiences of arriving in Canada.

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MaryJane

Forgetting to tap on/tap off still happens, even if you’ve been here years and know the drill. It just happens. 😕 If you forget again and don’t want to run back and forth in the city like a mad one, you can visit the Presto kiosk when you get to the station and ask them to do it for you. They can fix it too. (You can see I’ve had experience lol).

Anyway, welcome to Ontario and all the best with the job hunt. Hope you get something soon. Sorry I can’t remember the industry you were in but just keep at looking and it will come.

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JennyVee

I loved reading this :D 

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Sav

Like so many others, I love reading posts like this. They help one to stay focused and picture the dream more clearly. And of course, the advice-gathering is invaluable! Thank you for taking the time to share.

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Mad Li

Love this. Thank you for sharing. My wife and I are landing in January 2019. Looking forward to it.

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Duane

I simply love your landing story LaraDK. It makes us more excited to arrive in Toronto.

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