Wednesday, 30 April 2014

More jet-lag, more Canadian

Back from the holidays, with a damn headache that has been hammering my neurons since I left for Italy. Oh, the joy of jet-lag, that made my holidays really miserable!
My slept was totally messed up for the first 10 days at least, which made me sleep an average of 3-4 hours a night.
I became very soon an intractable, nervous and overstressed person who probably made my family regret to have me back home.
In other words I discovered the perfect formula for bad holidays: how to get back to work from your vacation even more tired and stressed than you were when you left.

While in Italy I didn’t really enjoy much social life, as I don’t even know where my friends hang out now (assuming that they still hang out). A talk with a couple of people I knew was enough to remember me how sad and depressing can be there, especially if you are looking for a proper job.
I am aware I’m getting more and more disconnected from my home country: I watched the news on TV distractedly, as if I was in a hotel room of a foreign country, passing there and feeling no connection at all with that temporary place.

The return flight was less traumatic then I could imagine: unlike the last time the immigration officers didn’t seize me for an interrogation, searching for evidence of something strange in the underwear  I had in my baggage. In fact when I showed my passport and work permit at the security control, the officer just said: “Welcome back”. A sign that I’m becoming more Canadian and less Italian? The only problem is that the jet-lag passed the control as well and followed me.

Monday, 31 March 2014


Challenges: what fuels human ambition to do more, to crave for better, to climb another mountain (even though when I do it I feel vertigos and get scared I may have gone too high, instead of find something higher).

Challenges are what I’m dealing with now, that make my life less relaxed but maybe more interesting:
1) immigration (‘cos hey, I know I got a work permit, but it’s not over yet until I’ll put my hands on the pr card, thus soon it will come the time to research again the government website and find the best way to make it)
2) work (always busy, one million things to do in a start-up and my intentions to learn new things continuously postponed to when I’ll get some more time)
3) social life (improving, thanks to my colleagues, but I should stop thinking of a rainy Saturday night as an excuse to stay in)
4) ...

Challenges are also what keep me busy now, at the point I barely think in 2 weeks-time I’ll be back home on holidays. They will be my first holidays since last June (yep, that’s the side-effect of living in Canada) but somehow I don’t feel excited and impatient as I was last year.

I’m not saying I’m not happy to see my family, but I feel as if it was a part of routine process, a yearly task to deal with.
That makes me aware that my country is going farther and farther from my thoughts and that I have been loosening my links to Italy much more in this 2 years in Canada than in 5 years in Ireland.
After all, let’s be honest: if that famous 24th April 2012 I had left Canada (it was my original deadline in case of failure to get a job) now I would be unemployed in Italy or not in my home country at all.

Definitely too early to say Canada is a choice for life but at the moment I have tasks to accomplish here.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Italians: mixing love and hate in a messy recipe

Glad at this time I won’t talk too much about my immigration issues: I got my work permit, and for a couple of years I should be ok.
I need a work permit for the obvious reason I’m not Canadian. It doesn’t happen often to me to think of myself as an Italian in Canada: I just live my life in Vancouver, mixed with thousands of other people who do the same and that probably come from somewhere else. That’s actually something it’s always fascinated me: the number of accents and languages you can spot when for example you go to a supermarket.
Yet, something that happened some weeks ago drove me to think what it means to be Italian.
Not to me, but to others.

I was with some colleague at an Ethiopian restaurant: chats, laughs, food of course, whatever you can expect from a lunch with colleagues.
I had paid my bill and I was about to get out when my attention was caught by a paper hanged on the wall,  close to restaurant entrance.
I didn’t read much, but the title was meaningful: “Graziani, the butcher of Ethiopia”.
Graziani was the commander in chief of the Italian army that invaded Ethiopia in 1936 and used toxic gasses against Ethiopian troops.
Italians therefore, at least to some, are not just the people with love for stylish clothes who always waive their hands when talking, messy, noisy and unreliable, but funny after all.
What has recently happened in my home country, with the 4th Prime Minister in the last 3 years can just confirm Italians are messy and unreliable, at least when they have to stay together.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that from a badly managed country thousands of people are fleeing (in few hours the 2000 places available for the WHV in Canada got finished).
Being Italian abroad, especially nowadays, I think it means somehow to love and hate your own country at the same time, because when you look at it you probably look at yourself, what you actually are and what you don’t want to be.
It’s probably a mixture of pride towards a concept of quality and way of enjoying the life unknown to Canadians and rage for the absolute lack of cohesion and civic-mindedness that afflicts Italy.
It’s love and hate, good and evil all together, with a result that’s not always a masterpiece like a monument or a square in an Italian city, not always tasty and healthy like a real pizza (where you do NOT put ketchup on), not always a dolce vita, rather than a difficult situation that has brought many to leave the country.

I wouldn’t be in Canada otherwise, would I?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Canada: Year 2

Year number 2 in Canada for me today.
Not much to say honestly: I think I exposed quite clearly in my previous post how the last year was, what I managed to achieve and to improve. I can just repeat that I went beyond what I could expect, and that will keep that way.
And let’s be honest: the first anniversary is always the most exciting one, as along the time you risk to get stuck in some sort of routine, with year after year to put on a pile like the rocks on English Bay.

Ok, maybe the word routine doesn’t entirely apply to me: it will if and when I’ll get the permanent residence.
For now I’m impatient to get the new work permit and book some holiday to go home.
Canada is actually trying to teach me the virtue of patience, but I’m a slow-learner.

You are asking me time Canada, so I’m asking the same to you: be patient with me.

In case somebody noticed the new cover: it's a picture taken a couple of weeks ago in Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver.

Monday, 30 December 2013

It's getting better (Happy New Year)

End of the year, time for an evaluation. I’d say it’s like a sort of reverted Christmas, where the letters are maybe written only mentally, the writers are “old kids” like myself, and the content is not about gifts to get as a present but what this finishing year has already brought to us.

It’s been a complicated year: a never-ending (in fact not ended yet) fight with the immigration, the desperate need for a new place to live in order to save myself from a possible physical assault coming from a crazy fucking alcoholic, the struggle to get finally hired full-time in my company and start learning some interesting cool stuff, a sense of loneliness capable to strike all in a sudden and make my cry (hey, there’s a man behind this screen), friends who left and that I miss (especially one, who sometimes comes across to these pages).
It’s also been a year of successes, and yes, if I look back to 2012, I can only say that things, far from being perfect, are anyway going better:
1) a job, sometimes hard, sometimes funny, in general interesting, maybe the first one after years I can really say I care of and that I don’t see a simple salary provider
2) a work permit on its way (I hope)
3) a place close to the office, close to the sea, close to supermarkets, close to everything I need, where may not have found my best friends ever, but certainly more normal and less psychotic people, and with a landlord that so far proved to be the best since I’m in Canada
4) a more active social life, with some friends to hang out with from time to time, and colleagues to have culinary experiences with in ethnic restaurants that contribute to Vancouver’s fame.

Not only culinary to be honest: a couple of weeks ago I was at my company’s Christmas party, and it was great. I had fun and won a full bottle of maple syrup.
As I decided to head to a nightclub with a bunch of colleagues, I kept drinking  from the 750ml bottle, leaving maybe less than half, just to make my night sweeter.
The bouncer at the entrance, at the beginning reluctant to let me in, thinking I was an alcoholic, reacted with a mixture of surprise and indignation: “Are you really drinking maple syrup” while his colleague was carefully checking the bottle.
Well man… you know, I didn’t win any booze at the Christmas party, we are in Canada, so yeah, I’m drinking maple syrup. “By the way, can I get in with the bottle, leave it at the cashier and pick it back when I’ll get out?”.
To much of my surprise the answer was “Yes”: power of the sweetness or award for the most original customer of the night.
The day after I was in hang-over, my first one without having been even tipsy the night before: the bitter side of the syrup maybe?

A meeting with Italians a couple of days after made me see many new faces: bad signal, meaning many Italians who came here last year failed to find a job, and many other who failed in Italy came here packing clothes and hopes all together.

I don’t know what 2014 will bring to me: in few weeks it will be my second year in Vancouver.
Still here, against all odds and predictions, farther than I could imagine.
I have not a list of things to ask to the incoming year, but just the hope that in a year time I will be writing a new post, saying that things have been better than 2013.
Everything can happen in this challenging city, including the beauty of the English Bay and Stanley Park covered with snow 10 days ago.

Happy New Year.




Sunday, 24 November 2013

Autumnal shots

The time goes by and I don’t even pay attention to that. It’s been 3 weeks I took some photos of Vancouver’s autumn with the intention to post them on my blog, but I’ve made it only now.
The beautiful red tones of the first photo are now gone: what you see are just skeleton trees.
I came to the conclusion that, whoever designed the Canadian flag, was looking out of the window or walking in an ordinary autumnal day.

The fact in a month time it will be Christmas has come to my mind only today, while I was distractedly listening to the radio and I heard the speaker saying “Vancouver Christmas radio station”.

That means soon I will go in search of a panettone to delight my colleagues.

Near Denman - West Georgia crossroad

View from Queen Elizabeth Park

Robson Street by night

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Wake me up from immigration nightmare

Ok, it’s official: Canada is seriously trying to drive me crazy.
The immigration turned out to be a real nightmare I cannot awake from.
Well… we all know it’s difficult right, but what happened to me was quite unexpected, and scares me more than zombies and vampires wandering in Vancouver streets on Halloween.

My Visa expired in July. Having being hired by my company just a little before its expiration, I was in an extra rush to send the application for the visa extension before it was too late.
The fear of not making it, the stress to deal with papers and forms to be filled in, the money to spend for the Canadian government fees, the money (quite a lot) for my immigration consultant, made my days horrible at that time. My application was received just 3 days before my Visa was over.
But to get a new visa you also need a work permit, that in Canada is called LMO (Labour Market Opinion).
That can be sent even after your visa has expired, but it’s not easy at all to get.
It’s not enough to say “Hey guys, I have a job, here it is my contract”.
No, your job must meet some criteria, in terms of wage, working conditions and so on, enough to convince them you are not literally stealing some job to Canadians, and your boss must convince the office that deals with this stuff that the company really needs you.
A negative LMO means game over, unless you have time and strength to apply again, and now with the new rules it is even more complicated and costly for employers.

Despite of my natural pessimism I got last week a positive LMO, hooray!
Just the time to let me enjoy the week-end, because on Monday I figured out the match was not over at all: having not received my LMO on time, the immigration office in Alberta rejected my Visa, even though I had sent them a paper stating clearly an LMO had been requested by my employer.

Yesterday I went back to my immigration consultant: in other words I will have to apply again, pay extra money, pay my consultant again, including this time in the application the LMO, just not to give them any apparent reason to reject it.
As I cannot leave Canada until the end of the process, and since I don’t know how long it will take, this means no Christmas holidays at home, once again.
And, above all: I don't know if this time my new visa will be approved.

It is more and more my certainty that the system is organized on purpose in such a complicated way, to feed the immigration business.
Yeah, immigration is a business in Canada and a career, so if you have money to spend, get a course for consultant or become a lawyer and you’ll probably pay off the mortgage for your home in few years.
I’m wondering what could be the % on Canadian GDP related to immigration.

As coming to Canada to work is getting very complicated, it may eventually turn against Canadian economy, starting of course from the consideration this country needs immigrants to fill many positions.