Welcome to another #BeAHero series, where we’ll be sharing inspirational stories from all kinds of communities of immigrants in Canada. Arthi Nandakumar immigrated to Canada from Ooty, India, in 2017 and now works for the Remitbee Online Money Transfer team.
We had an interesting chat with Arthi and got to hear about her amazing experiences of becoming an immigrant and settling into life in Canada. She is a hero for building a life from scratch in Canada and still remembering to support her family back home.
Here is her story.
Tell Us About Your Journey from Ooty, India to Ontario, Canada
I never dreamt of travelling abroad, I just love my hometown. But after my marriage I had the chance to move from India to Canada. Initially I travelled to St. John’s Newfoundland for a year with my husband before coming to Ontario – St. John’s is one of the most beautiful places in Canada and I started falling in love!
In Canada I have many opportunities to find jobs, to join the communities and to meet lots of new people at an international level. That’s the big difference between living in India and living in Canada.
Remitbee Tip: like Arthi, you might need to search around for a job. Places like Toronto will have more opportunities than beautiful but out-of-the-way locations like St. John’s.
How Was Settling into Canada on Those First Days for You?
When I started falling in love with St. John’s, my first plan was to settle there. So, I began searching for jobs in St. John’s but unfortunately that didn’t work out. I looked for jobs online and got through to several interviews but was ultimately unsuccessful.
So, we moved to Ontario, a place where there are many more opportunities and there’s so much to do. It’s the complete opposite of St. John’s. I didn’t like Ontario in the beginning but once I started meeting people and my life was settled in, I got the opportunity to work with Remitbee.
To this day, I continue to work with Remitbee and love my life in Ontario!
Remitbee Tip: it can take time finding a job when you’re in a new country. Make sure you have some savings ready to cover costs and sending money to India if you can’t find work immediately.
What Did You Do to Expand Your Social Circles and Join New Communities in Canada?
I’m not a very social person, but I did meet new people and join the communities out of loneliness. When we came from Ooty and started living here, we didn’t go out much. And when you don’t go out, you don’t have the opportunity to meet new people – that’s where everything ends.
To avoid the loneliness and explore new things, I pushed myself to search for the communities. After a few months here of meeting new people, I now have good friends close by and feel truly settled into life here.
Remitbee Tip: push yourself to meet new people and join communities. Be polite and make an effort – you will be reward with friends and community support. Don’t isolate yourself!
What Was the Biggest Challenge You Overcame When You Moved to Canada?
Networking was the biggest challenge I faced. Initially I felt it was very difficult as to get a job you need references in Canada. Even with experience, you can’t get a job without references from people. So, I have been practicing and building connections in Canada to overcome this challenge.
Remitbee Tip: collect business cards, make small talk and do everything you can to build relationships (professional and personal) to help you network in Canada.
Rapid Fire Round!
We threw random words at Arthi and asked her to say the first thing that came to mind.
First Snow in Canada – I remember my fall!
Sun – I rarely see the sun in Canadian winters!
People in Canada – Very calm, very polite, they value time, money, food, and everything else. I love that they respect everything.
His visit to India.
Cricket – Dhoni.
Taxes – Pay all your taxes right!
What Are the Major Living Differences Between India and Canada?
First, there’s the food!
Also, in India, there is less diversity as we are all from a similar background. In Canada, you meet many people who’ve migrated from different countries with different cultures. Meeting, talking to, and integrating with so many different people from different backgrounds is challenging but also very interesting.
Remitbee Tip: from CAD to INR, hot weather to cold weather, there are many differences between Canada and India. Read our 5 Things Every Immigrant in Canada Needs to Do This Spring/Summer to enjoy classic Canadian past-times like a native!
How Do You Stay Connected with Your Family Back Home?
I stay connected with my parents back home in India virtually/online – I don’t have any siblings. We connect through video calls regularly.
Remitbee Tip: you can send money to India online with Remitbee so your family can invest in the tech to communicate with you regularly.
How Do You Celebrate Festivals Now You’re in Canada?
Right now I celebrate with my husband and my uncle, my mother’s brother. It’s become a small community in Canada, compared to back home where we have a huge network and I can meet all my cousins etc.
That’s actually a drawback of moving to Canada – celebrations are smaller with less family around me.
Remitbee Tip: there are many communities that get together across Canada (check out this article). Or, why not invite your new Canadian friends to join the celebrations? If you can’t find a community, try building one.
What Message Would You Like to Give to Newcomers in Canada?
Explore things, make a big network, and just enjoy Canada!
Join the conversation. Share your Heroic #BeAHero story. Comment below which loved one (e.g. parents/aunt) you’re a Hero to and why you send money. Or simply share which part of Arthi’s story you resonated. Use #BeAHero.