1. Don’t pay someone to help you apply for your visa, don’t waste money on people who think they can help you with your visa.
There are a lot of companies out there that offer assistance and other things like helping you find a job and help you find accommodation, to make sure you have your tax file number, or here in Canada it is called ‘social insurance number’ or SIN, but I assure you, 90% of the time, you won’t need somebody to help you apply for your visa.
Although the Canadian government website might look a little bit confusing at first, when it boils down to it, it is just like any other government website, with a web full of links and departments. If you follow the prompts and actually read the instructions carefully, give all of the accurate information that you can possibly give, at the end of the day, they will only say no to you if you have a criminal record or something on your file that you would probably already know would stop you from entering another country.
This is the first link I will give you information on-
This link is to the International Experience Canada Program for Australians between the age of 18 and 30.
If this is what you are looking at applying for, keep reading below!
First you must become a candidate. It’s a competitive gig wanting to come to Canada against every other Aussie wanting to do the same thing as you
Like I said, I would encourage against companies like Global work and travel, and as great of a company they are for travel, the help that they offer is kind of pointless, because no one other than yourself can legally complete parts of your visa for you anyway, so keep that in mind.
Once you have become a candidate, you can then apply for your work permit.
Make sure for this that you have copies of all of your paperwork that you submit. You will be asked for a Police Certificate. DO NOT get a state certificate, it has to be a federal government certificate.
I only realized that they are 2 different things after paying $40 for a useless state issued certificate only to have to go back to the police station again to get a federal issued certificate.
Read their response carefully and sometimes the wait time can be lengthy, but hang in there!
Once you receive your permit, you still don’t actually have your VISA until the day you step foot onto Canadian soil, then your 2 years starts from then 🙂
2. When you are applying for a job, remember that workplaces over here in Canada are exactly the same as they are in Australia.
Don’t think that because we are half a world from each other that working in a job is completely alien to what a job is like in Australia.
The only difference is, your applying online or over the phone.
Do research into the company that you want to work for. Check out reviews, look at the companies website, check out what sort of products or services they offer. If it is something that you want to do for a job, give it a go.
A lot of companies have online applications now so it is no different than applying for a job at Coles in Australia.
You might have to do the long distance phone call and work around the time difference for an interview, but here in Canada and especially the Rocky Mountains, the businesses out here are very used to people applying from overseas. It is a very diverse culture out here, so don’t be afraid. If you feel more comfortable making sure you have a job before coming to Canada, that is understandable, that is what I did but there is no shortage of job opportunities here in Canada, whether it is in housekeeping, stewarding, waitressing, serving, front desk, don’t be afraid that you won’t find a job.
3.Don’t be offended when someone asks you where you are from, especially if they are from Australia.
Being in the customer service industry I’ll often come across other Australians, and I’ll ask them where are they from?
Typical answer, Australia.
You might think, well dah I can pick that accent, but they can’t always pick yours. Depending on how long you have been in Canada for, your accent is likely to begin to change. Not by a great deal, but I’ve been asked if I’m from the UK, New Zealand. I don’t get offended, my accent has altered, it’s not any that it’s any less Australian, or any more Canadian, it’s just altered, due to the diversity of culture here in Canada.
4. Buy a good camera
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a go pro or a Sony or a Nikon, but get a good one. I have taken hundreds of photos and posted them to Facebook and my blog for my friends and family to see, but no photos have yet done any justice to the beautiful landscape here in the Canadian Rockies. You also want a good camera, whether it’s on your phone or whether it’s just your camera in general, because it is very very easy to make friends out here in Canada and very easy to socialize. You want to cherish and capture every single moment that you can.
Don’t be that person that is constantly taking the weird photos of people, you don’t need to do that, but just every now and then, try and get some nice group photos or photos with you and your best mate or the photo at the bar or on the ski hill or when your canoeing or just of scenery in general, but take lots and lots of photos, when and where you can. This applies to everyone. You might be type of person who comes to Canada, planning on being here for a short amount of time, like the ski season. Or the person that comes out here for their career, and you know you will be out here for a while. Either way, Canada’s landscape is awe inspiring, so don’t miss any opportunities for amazing memory makers.
Which brings me to point number 5-
5. Don’t be afraid of taking risks and opportunities
Since working for Fairmont, starting 6 months ago now, my life has changed a considerable amount. I have grown to become a lot more independent and with that a whole new kind of confidence about myself that I never knew existed. And it’s not just because of the company that I work for, but having moved across the world basically. You don’t think that it will affect you as much as it does, until you start to become settled and realize how different your life has become.
You are in a new home away from home. Maybe its because of all of the fellow Australian’s that are around, maybe because Canadian’s are actually really nice people like the cliché says, or I might just be very lucky to have found a new home away from home. Either way, don’t be afraid of the opportunities that present themselves to you.
Again this applies to not only long term workers but short term as well. You won’t get anywhere in life by saying no to opportunities. Fairmont is very good at recognizing employees that have an outstanding set of work ethics. This may be with customer service, front of house or heart of house. It’s plain and simple, if you are good at what you do, Canada will throw opportunities at you.
6. SAVE, SAVE AND SAVE SOME MORE! $$
This applies to both short term and long term workers. Just because there may be a job lined up, remember that not only are the wages lower, but being in a foreign country, you will want to travel and explore and have adventures 🙂
The minimum wage is extremely different to Australia. And although in the weeks and months leading up to the big trip, you may work and work and work some more, and having a very minimal social life, the social life you may have with your new friends could become more eventful. Every week there is something new on, or a new person starting or someone leaving. There is always an excuse to socialise. There has been my first Halloween, my first Canadian Christmas and Canadian New Years.
I would recommend trying to save where you can, but back to the whole taking up opportunities where you can, enjoy your social life. You don’t want to get what we call here in Canada, FOMO (fear of missing out). If you make great friends out here, you won’t want to ‘miss out’
Having a social life here in Canada, and especially in Lake Louise is important because Lake Louise is very small community and is very easy to become isolated. You need to have people to lean on when you are on the other side of the world.
7. You won’t have a car, so get used to public transport
If you are coming out here from Australia, you are more than likely not going to have a car unless you have excessively saved like I mentioned in the previous point, you will have to get used to public transport.
Learn the bus schedule and try to stock up if you can afford to. Also try to get rides with friends when ever they are also doing groceries.
Note, WALMART may become your new best friend.
8. Shop at a thrift shop or watch out for the donations table
This relates to Walmart as well! Not only have you just spent thousands of dollars on flights and other necessities, but you will probably also need basic things like sheets and a fry pan!
You will find thrift shops and second hand shops everywhere, and out here at the Chateau, in the colleague services building, is a donation table. Due to the high turnover here, the donation table gets used quite frequently. There is constantly clothes, shoes, appliances and even small furniture that shows up on the donation table, but it usually doesn’t last long. People save money and items get recycled which is great for the environment!!
9. Familiarize yourself with ‘Gratuity’ and ‘Tipping’
You may find yourself in a job where you will receive tips. Which is a great thing!
But don’t forget to tip in return. A lot of places like food and beverage, a standard gratuity amount is about 15%.
Don’t feel like you have to pay that if the service isn’t worth it. But if your server has worked for their tip, gave happy and friendly service, fast delivery of meals and of course food and beverage quality, then please tip appropriately.
T.I.P, To Improve Performance.
If a server receives a low tip, they should know that they have not done their job to an expected standard, and should try harder next time.
Tipping is also standard at places like spas and salons, and any other service industry like taxis for another example.
It takes a little while to get used to, but remember it is not wrong it is just different. You are a guest in a foreign country, please respect foreign customs.
10. Get an emergency credit card
So you have a job, an income and a roof over your head. I would still highly recommend having an emergency credit card.
If there is something that you need to fly back to Australia for last minute, even though travel insurance may cover it, you still need to spend the money in the first place. And flights back to Australia aren’t cheap. It doesn’t need to have a huge limit on it, just something to get you by if need be.
And if a medical emergency comes up, remember you are in a foreign country with different health policies and coverage. Again, travel insurance may help but it may not be available straight away.
11. Get provincial health cover and also long term travel insurance
Here in Alberta, there is a provincial health coverage called ‘Alberta Health’ (original right?)
It is just like our Medicare in Australia. It will cover basic things like a doctors check up for example.
What it doesn’t cover is more expensive things.
Then there is more personal health cover that may be included as part of your employment. Similar to HCF except it can be either paid through your work (as a group plan) and deducted from your pay check or paid directly from your employer if you work for a fabulous place!
There are many great benefits ( I am covered through a company called Great West Life), with benefits like $250 worth of glasses and/or contact lenses and/or prescription sunglasses every 24 months, $500 of chiropractic and massage every 12 months and many great others.
Having long term travel insurance is a serious back up plan that I would highly highly recommend looking into. I am covered through Cover More which can be purchased at any Flight Centre.
If you come over here to Canada and decide to go skiing or snowboarding for example and have an accident that can possibly become quite costly, it would be worth your while having travel insurance that will help you out big time! Or if for example you do need to make that emergency trip back to Australia, most insurance companies will cover last minute flights for things like death in the immediate family etc.
So I hope that this is something that helps people who are coming to Canada, or who are thinking about it and not sure about what things that need to be taken into consideration.
Again it’s just all stuff I’ve learnt along the way and need to share!
Missing my beautiful Aussies!