Category Archives: Immigration Progress

Kittie and the bad s-word, brainwashing and medical exams

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Now, we all know we shouldn’t swear, and a lot of time has passed since the last entry I possibly entertained you with. Say it did or I will cry and that ain’t pretty for anyone. Everyone that knows me knows that I am very prone to swearing. Pretty much every other word is something your grandma wouldn’t want to hear and the contents of my ramblings are highly questionable at best. Yesterday I used one that made even me want to wash out my mouth with soap: S-N-O-W.

All of you that live in not-snowy areas get that stupid shimmer in your eyes when you hear that word, you think about romantic walks and snow angels, building snowmen (if you start singing that song from Frozen now get the hell out and never come back to my blog), sleigh rides wrapped up in warm blankets and quite possibly snowboarding. Here’s a dose of reality for you: getting stuck in your own freaking driveway, snow up your neck, snow in your boots, cold and wet feet, frozen fingers, car doors that refuse to open, having to plug in the car every night, having to unplug the car every morning when the stupid plug is frozen, moronic drivers almost ending your life instead of theirs, slushy roads, tracks in the snow all around town so deep you feel like you’re driving a lowrider and that make left turns virtually impossible, snow removal meaning they first push all the snow to THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Who needs left turns anyway.

Still think it’s romantic? You’re hopeless.

Off to more interesting news. We’re permanent residents now, have been for almost a year. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. We had to drive down to the border (there was snow everywhere too) because our work permits didn’t allow for a seamless affair. So, down we went. I had just worked a ten hour shift outside in thirty below weather because I’m insane like that, and after a mere twele hours we were there. We had been told beforehand that we needed to inform the US border people that we didn’t intend to enter the country, so we did. They took our passports and had us park the car.

My exact thoughts at that moment: oh, shit.

After nearly ten years I know my husband. I know what happens with him and governement officials and such. Never, ever a good combination. So they had us declare everything we had in the car. Meat? Ten eggs benny sandwiches with bacon. Fruits? Four apples. Tobacco? Twelve cigarettes, can I have one now please. They asked for our license plate number (which we had to check) and the colour (they said color) of my van. Husband said black but it’s MIDNIGHT STEEL or some other bull. They got a dog to walk all over the hood of my van, and through it. I hope they let him have one of my sandwiches, they were awesome. After half an hour they let us go. They escorted us around the building so we wouldn’t drive off into the sunset and into the States (which I wouldn’t do anyway. Not with my family in tow, at least.).

Canadian border. Again, why did I let my husband drive? How long have you been in America? -About half an hour. Do you have cash over 10.000 on you? -I wish. At that point she wrote something on our immigration papers and I swore to the God I don’t believe in I would desecrate the next best flag and strangle my husband with it if his warped sense of homour (humor) would cost us our papers.

Anyway. Ten minutes before it was our turn to speak to a Canadian Immigration Officer. The CIO as we called him. Around us disgruntled truck drivers with missing permits, and all sorts of travellers. I felt instantly superior because we were almost half Canadians now. We were home. He asked us a few last questions regarding our paperwork, answers which at that point we had to give so many times it was sort of boring. We weren’t lying about anything so I wasn’t worried at all. Meanwhile the Canadian side searched our car with a K9, again I hope he got a sandwich out of it. I swear they put our stuff back in the bags after that the other side had left out. I love these people.

Finally the guy looked up at us, after his colleague had returned without any drugs. He smiled and said “Welcome to Canada.” I half expected him to repeat it in French, but he was busy explaining to us where we could obtain a MSP (Medical Service Plan) with our care cards, social insurance and other documents. Dude. We’ve been living here for over a year, not getting all these things by this point would have been against the law. But since some people get their PR before they come to the country I guess they just have to have their programs.

Elated, at least I was, we drove off with screeching tires, only to stop at the rest stop two minutes away. I needed nicotine and phoned relatives quickly to let them know we were alright and didn’t get arrested (you never know, with the way we look… SUSPICIOUS). I think I also updated my status on Facebook.

That’s how we became PRs. And I swear we have been brainwashed. Last time my house was decked out in skulls, all black furniture, the works. Now I have skulls too, but with antlers attached. My husband is wearing Wranglers, so am I, we each own boots and a hat. We go to the rodeo every year and our next big project is buying 100-some acres out of town to start a little farm. Us. Tattooed, pierced, listening to metal. But Eric Church ainèt bad, and really, Jeff FoxworthyÉ SO funny. Yep. Totally brainwashed. Our friend is really proud of us though. She knew we would come around. Five years ago my husband teased her about her camo hat, now he has one himself. Is there a thing like metal-rednecks?

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Don’t stop believing

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Yes, this title was brought to you by a Journey song, I hope they will sue me and take away my credit card. Before that I was allowed to listen to Kansas and even though I really wanted to write I HAD TO dance around and sing a little. On a few washers and dryers waiting to be picked up. Using a mop as a mic. I totally blame the heat.

Anywho.

NEWSFLASH: Four flights, umpteen hours flying with a headstrong 5-year old? Are not fun. But we did spend some extra money for decent meals so on our 12h flight from Frankfurt to Calgary we weren’t only served first but I got awesome vegetarian stuff (couscous salad with chickpeas? FRESH FRUIT and real cutlery. Not plastic.) and my kid had all kinds of things arranged to look like smiley faces and all. That is the only positive thing I could say about the flight with the German airline.

Then we arrived in Canada and once again it was like being shoved into an alternate universe. PEOPLE WERE FRIENDLY. A dude (playing a dude disguised…. sorry, wrong story) helped me carry our two carry on bags stuffed with important things (cameras, external hard drives, CDs, random memorabilia, a flannel blanket and tons of toys and that was just MY bag), the young police officer that unfortunately didn’t want to marry me on the spot ( I was just grateful for finally getting somewhere, seriously) and didn’t even want to see the letter from my husband allowing me to travel with our son alone and said so many nice things about my hair. “It’s really pink, eh.” MARRY ME NOW YOU SMART, SMART MAN.

Ahem. Then: Immigration. I dreaded that place. Last time? I waited for 3 hours. This time? 3 minutes I spent trying to console a young lady from the States who thought they thought she was an illegal immigrant. The officer seemed slightly unfriendly but she probably had German ancestors. I had all my paperwork in one place, which pleased her greatly and anyway, my husband had already been in the country and gotten his work permit so she just gave me my open permit and waved us on to the next place where I was allowed to pay 150 bucks for my permit.

THEN the fun part began. Picking up our three humongous bags, dragging them and the kid through customs just to find that the Air Canada check in was right in front of the doors. Let me declare my undying love and gratitude for Warren who not only welcomed me back after hearing my ghastly story but also was just his friendly self and helped me with the bags and all. The two hours we had to wait for our flight to leave were spent in yet another security check and hanging out with firefighters that sadly didn’t look like the guys from the calendars. It was way too hot for flannel, too, which made me sort of sad but there was camo all around. Paired with flip-flops.

When it was time to board our flight we could go first because little child (by then he was almost sleeping anyway) and THEY DROVE US TO THE PLANE! You know those awesome little cars they have at airports? I always wanted to be on one, can cross that off my bucket list now. Our seats were in the very first row and our flight attendant was every nerdy girl’s wet dream. And so, so good with kids. And witty. And… yes, I was tired and just happy about every friendly and helpful face, but the guy was really nice and funny. And we were also allowed to remain on the plane while we stopped in Edmonton.

When we finally arrived in Grande Prairie it was almost midnight and I really almost walked past the husband because he had shaved and lost a few pounds. He blames the absence of my good cooking, that sneaky bastard.

Anywho. He managed to obtain a little fourwheeler for our son and they spent all of last week working on it after hours, yesterday we took it to our friend’s farm and the boy rode around on it for hours on end, only stopping to feed the gigantic wolf mutts or to get a quick snack and a drink.

I have been busy harvesting rhubarb previous tenants have planted and making all kinds of fun things with it. If I wasn’t cleaning like a maniac or sanding down our old furniture. A few years ago I was convinced that all our furniture had to be black and glossy. I probably knew how bored I’d be a few years down the road, without internet or cable. So, my fingers hurt, they are stained a reddish pink and I accidentally sanded down a few fingers when I was tired.

But I also got my SIN card today and will receive my ID and license shortly. I have worked my first day at the SPCA, walked a few dogs and socialized the cats and all of it without taking any animals home. I might however stat breaking in some of our friend’s horses. Maybe I’ll even keep one if things go well. Now it is 9PM here and I am really tired. There is bread to be baked and whole pigs to be bought because a few things haven’t changed: Canadians still don’t know how to bake, make sausage or beer. That’s next on my list!

Progress

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I had my wisdom tooth pulled yesterday, which is vital information for this blog simply because I enjoyed it so much more than all the paperwork that needs to be done. I’ve had nightmares about blue validate-buttons and every time I see a .pdf somewhere I start crying. BUT!

We’re almost done.

My husband will leave early tomorrow and has a lovely 20h flight ahead of him. One could think he’ll be flying to New Zealand (please, no! They’re driving on the wrong side of the street.), but he will make all kinds of lovely stops in between, including four hours in… was it Chicago or Seattle? Really, I can’t be bothere with details. All I know is that he’ll leave tomorrow, fly to Edmonton (anyone got a good truck for sale? Just asking) and will head on home from there.

It’s strange because in the seven years we’ve been together we have never been apart for much longer than a week. Well, I think I was in Finland for ten days once. And now it’s a month without seeing his grumpy mug every day. We even behaved like an almost normal couple today. Straight out of Twilight Zone.

Anywho. I need to translate my resume because for some reason or other I have to have it handy upon arrival. Can’t say I’m looking forward to spending time at Immigration, last time I’ve been there I was pregnant and almost passed out. Ah, the memories.

Police records have been collected (don’t mean to brag, but I never got caught. Just kidding.), birth certificates have been copied, all kinds of documents including our marriage certificate had to be translated, too. And once we’re in Canada our lawyer will start filing for Permenant Resident Status. For some reason they want six pictures of each of us, I have considered sending them a set card or something. Seriously, six? Then there’s the police records and all that junk. And let me tell you now that I just know I will regret not applying for an international driver’s license. Because for that I had to drive all the way to our county’s capital to apply for a new license… Because I still have my old one with my maiden name on it, which is valid here since the license is not a piece of ID in itself, so you are not required to get it updated. Well, too bad because for the international license? You need the updated version. I already see myself standing in the office in B.C. pulling my hair out. But you will hear all about that in due time.

Did I mention that I’m supposed to use only one suitcase? Ahahahaha.

Seriously. That’s not even enough for my shoes. The important ones.

Canada 2.0 – this time I mean business

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Leaving Germany is somewhat of a trend these days. Every time you turn on your TV (and I strongly advise you don’t) you see some sort of show about people moving, or wanting to move, to the States, to Spain (Mallorca, those imbeciles) or some other country they think they can live in without working much, earning tons of money and living the dream. Now, while I fully understand how one could be fed up with this country, with the job market and the lack of perspective for oh so many professions…

Emigrating ain’t easy.

And I have to know it. Been there, done that, didn’t even get a lousy T-Shirt. We’ve made an attempt in ’05. I met this guy in May, we got together in June, and in November I was in Canada, waiting for my work permit to go through. We did so much wrong back then, but we still managed to stay in Beautiful British Columbia (it says so on their license plates so it’s the gospel truth, folks) for a little over two years, until my husband’s permit didn’t get another extension and we had to leave rather… quickly. If you ever had to pack up an entire household, list everything including it’s value, get three cats chipped and ready for a long flight and dealt with a cranky toddler and an equally cranky guy, you know why I said I didn’t want to go back. Ever.

But guess what? We’re going back.

It’s been a long time coming. My husband has been working 14-hour shifts every day, 5 to 6 days a week, with a ridiculously low pay that didn’t allow us to pay for all our bills. I started an apprenticeship, went to vocational college along with it, but the pay I got was just enough to cover gas. In a situation like that, if you know you could earn what you make in a month now in two weeks if you just move to another country… you’d be extra stupid if you didn’t take the chance.

This time we were smarter…ish. We hired an immigration lawyer, one of my favorite people on this planet right now. We still had to fill out more applications than you need to adopt a gang of children form Africa (please do list your employers of the past ten years, your addresses of residence of the past ten years and hey, while you’re at it, fill out a personal form. Four times. And let’s not talk about obtaining a passport for a Canadian child living in Germany), but our new friend made sure it was all filled out the right way – please submit that form again, your signature is touching the border, it will be declared void. You can’t write it like that, it sounds better if you fill it in like this… And who knew that using another term to describe your job would heighten your chances of gaining the so highly sought after work permit? Not to mention the fact that this woman knows more about the entire process than you as a mere mortal will ever be able to figure out on your own. It was a huge relief and definitely worth all the money. She even coached my husband’s future and ex employer for an interview some government official or other wanted to do with him. Don’t get me wrong, but the guy is Austrian. My German friends will most likely have a certain picture in their head, painted with colorful sterotypes. And yes, all that.

And now here we are. The fussband, as I always like to refer to him, will leave next week. The kid and I will follow him a month after that. Am I excited? Hell yes. Am I sad to leave? Sort of. Ever since we came back I missed Canada. All of it. The people, the landscape, the general… canadianness (that is a word). While I was in Canada I missed my friends in Germany. I’m not someone who generally gets attached to living creatures unless they are furry, but I do have a few friends I value and that I will miss terribly. I’ll miss our ventures, the incredibly stimulating conversations about all kinds of topics (bikers, food, kittens, knitting, music, TV Shows, musicians, stupid people (men), palm trees, noses, Slayer (TM)… all in the course of an hour), the fact that they made me feel like I’m not the only one completely bewildered by everyone else. Everyone else is crazy, you know. And they don’t laugh about my weird eating habits. Yes, I will miss them.

Maybe one day I’ll write about the farm we bought to grow veggies, raise our own bacon and breed alpacas. My husband refers to it as “Camp Serial Killer”… If I could I’d pack up those three people I’m thinking of right now and take them with me… Then life definitely would be perfect.