My Story by Shanmei Liu

When I told to my manager that I was going to quit the job because I had already received the Canadian immigrant visa, she felt incomprehensible. “Do you really want to go? Both your husband and you have stable and favourable career, good salary, and experience. Are you going to give up those to start from zero?” Even one of my friends gave me a call from the States, “Trust me, living abroad was not easy”. Yes, we lived in the south of China, one of the most prosperous cities in China. We had nice occupations and income, many friends and relatives. But I am not a person who is afraid of changes. Before I was a resident of ShenZhen City, I had lived in WuHan City, the central part of China, for almost 20 years. I also changed my jobs three times. When my husband proposed the plan of immigrating discreetly, I nodded without thinking for long. Was I slapdash? I didn’t know. But I knew in someday, I would be regretted if I refused it. Every person is the architect of his/her own fortune. However, the different life experience would be my treasure forever.
A whole year’s work depends on a good start in spring. The day that I went into a plane was a very beautiful spring sunny day in March; nevertheless, when I arrived in Person Airport, it was snowing. The job market looked like winter too. The after-effects of “911” were still influencing the economic of Canada. This was the buyers’ market. Many people were looking for jobs. How a new immigrant with accent, zero Canadian experience, and poor networking can compete with others? We wanted to continue our professional career, so we did not consider labour jobs. The Canadian workplace culture is totally different with that of China. We had to learn the format of a resume, realize the importance of a cover letter, prepare interview questions, dress like a Canadian. My husband had spent more than one year sending his resumes, going to career workshops, and trying to find co-op opportunities to earn Canadian experience. His work got return in the next year. He got a contract. Even though the salary was too little to support our daily expense, it was my family’s biggest turning point.
English is my pain. Although I had studied ten years English in China, I still didn’t understand what people were talking in my first year in Canada. For example, I met my neighbour in the elevator when I moved in. He talked to me with enthusiasm. But I did not understand anything. Ultimately, I understood one, “she doesn’t know English.” I knew he just told the truth, but I was ashamed at that moment. In spite of I have fair education background, I was “deaf and mute” in Canada. I went to a high school as a full-time student again. It was hard time for me because I was also a wife and a mother. No pain, no gain. Now, I have confidence to have a conversation. So I can talk to my daughter’s teacher to follow up my daughter’s school behaviour, get news from radio, and discuss and ask questions in the class.
Family life is another good acquisition. My daughter is born in Canada and the new member brought us a lot of joy. I took care her full-time for about two and half years. I am the witness of her first smiling, rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking. I did not miss the first word “mommy”, and the first sentence “I love you”. So I could give useful advice to my friends who have babies. In contrast, working women in China have only five months of maternity leave. If I were in China, I might have missed some significant milestone during her growth. In addition, the immigrant life makes me a good cook. I learned how to bake a cake, roll a sushi, make a pizza, and pickle kimchi. When I met my best friend in MSN and show the food pictures for some party, she was very surprised. “It is amazing! I can’t believe that you made all the food. I haven’t known that you have a talent for cooking.” I found my unexpected ability. Moreover, because of expensive labour wages, we have to do some renovating for my home by ourselves. We picked the material from Home Depot. We painted the wall, changed the faucet, and installed our furniture. Although the life is ordinary, something is changed.
My immigrant life exercises me. I am more confidence, tolerant, and creative than before. Someday I will tell my grandchild, “organize your life, and pursue your dreams, you will not bring regret to coffin when you are old enough.”
“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

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