20 March. School!

I officially love school! Not sure about the kids, but I do. Ok, they did, too. Lia was more enthusiastic as she’s been today’s star at school, everyone mentioning she’s the new student and all. She’s already made friends, which was her number one worry for today. πŸ˜€ Rares, upset that he’d lost his hat, but so impressed that he has drama classes, and actually so am I. And happy about it. What they do is they watch a movie for three drama classes in a row and then discuss it or something, we’ll find out at some point. But the point is it doesn’t even matter what they do, because no matter what it is, it’s so wow! Drama classes, in the school official schedule, say that again and pinch me. Ok, I might be more impressed than him, but hey, can you blame me? Wouldn’t you have liked that, ey? What I’d give to be a kid in school here right now. 

Ok so first day of school went well, as I thought it would. They took everything easy and one step at a time and on a stress – free basis. We sent them to school with one notebook and a pen, we’ll buy them some pencil cases because they want to, but other than that, schools provide all school supplies, when and if needed. 

Among the highlights of teaching, Rares ‘ home teacher (not ‘head teacher’ as we used to know the term, but ‘home teacher’, which makes it all so much warmer and human) is a French language teacher. His drama teacher said she knows it’s tough on a first day, so she asked the other kids in class to introduce themselves to Rares, too, not just the other way around. Lia’s teacher is extremely nice and caring and introduced her in the morning to everyone in the class. She specifically told Lia when I went to pick her up that ‘all questions are good’.  Meaning, you know, if she has a question, go ahead and ask your teacher. But it’s the way she said it. ‘All questions are good’.  Not that ‘there are no stupid or bad questions’, not the classical ‘anything you don’t understand, ask.’ There was no ‘No’ in her sentence. This is art. ‘All questions are good’ means exactly that and it’s encouraging and reassuring and makes you, even as an adult, want to ask the next good question. This is art!

Ok, I could probably write volumes on this topic, so stopping here.

While kids were at school, we, as responsible parents, went house hunting today, in Toronto, which meant a one our trip there by bus, then half hour by subway and then a nice 7 km walk building to building again. What we found out is the market is even tougher and more expensive there, so here we are, settling for the Mississauga flat we found. We also kind of agreed our physical condition is quite good, so why even bother thinking of buying a car? No, I’m joking, that’s the next thing on the list in the next few weeks. 

The thing is right now I’m so getting used to taking things one step at a time (sometimes literally),  that I can’t think about steps that are too far ahead. 

I’m just happy kids were happy today. 

It’s one of the reasons we’re here for and I knew they’d like it, I just didn’t have all the info about why they’d like it. I suspected why, but when things get to be concrete and you realize your dream somehow matches reality, that’s when you get tears of happiness. It’s milliseconds of that kind of tears that make it all worthwhile! 

Before school today, plane – spotting. πŸ‘

And our little view of Toronto, some pics I managed to take on the bus on the way back home.

CN Tower (and the clouds).

These buildings looked very impressive from the bus. πŸ˜€

And, saved the best for last, zoom in and see why I took this one below (hint: has to do with tailoring). πŸ˜‰

I have to say, the electricity pillars and cables are my least favourite scenery here and they’re haunting me already. Don’t like them at all. Plus, they ruin my photos.

PS: electricity here is called ‘hydro’. It’s like we call all photocopies ‘xerox’ even when made on a non Xerox machine. Why hydro? That’s the official name of the electric company, Toronto Hydro. So there, now you know, because I didn’t and thanked good old Google for the explanation. 

Happy happiness day, by the way, found out about it at school today. And I felt this way πŸ˜€.

Second weekend. Out and about

Our search for apartments goes on. After losing one opportunity to the fact that we’re new and unemployed, therefore risky business, we keep looking. Found one flat that will be available in a bit less than a month, which is very soon for this area and I mean country. Rentals are not immediately available just because they’re posted on a website. Patience, Watson, patience.

Apart from the website and on-site quest, we finally managed to go to the movies today. Lia wanted to see Ballerina, obviously, which I was happy to accompany her to. The boys went to see Logan, which they agreed was cool, but dark. Ballerina, on the other hand, was everything I needed.πŸ˜€ I mean it, it had the dream big, follow your passion and nothing can stop you mix, plus the great company I was in. Lia, being a ballerina herself, not only followed the story through, but also had comments such as ‘even I can’t do this jump after 5 years of ballet’. Dreams are dreams and fiction is fiction, but the feeling you can accomplish the impossible is only possible after watching this kind of movie. A movie that speaks of talent, defines passion and follows the dream. Thank you, Lia.😘

Logistically, I was surprised to see that the movie tickets here have no row and seat numbers. I searched on the ticket and couldn’t see any, so I noticed people went in and sat wherever they chose to. Hm, that’s yet another new thing to get used to. No fights on seats this time, by the way, but what if it’s a new movie? Need to observe this from now on, it’s quite peculiar. πŸ˜€

It was a nice day too, warmer than we’ve had this week, sunny and almost not at all windy, which really makes a whole lot of a difference in whether or not you feel the cold to the bone.πŸ˜€ 

Tomorrow is the start of a new week, which marks the beginning of school here in Canada. πŸ‘ So be prepared for funny stories of school going and hopefully success stories of flat renting. 

I have no pics of today, as I forgot to take my phone with me, which, I have to say, felt a bit odd and made me wonder which feature of it I’m more addicted to. It’s the photo taking, no hesitation here. 

So I can only post one photo from Friday, coming back from a 15 km walk, door to door and building to building, to find a flat to rent. We must have set some kind of a record here, definitely, as not many people actually walk, almost everyone drives, and from those who do walk, not sure many walk that much.

And we were still able to put on a natural smile in this selfie. Ok, close to natural. I was beat, but hey, good training for the half marathon. Thought I wouldn’t run it? I googled it, it’s in May. πŸ˜€


Thursday, 16 March. Toronto

First time downtown Toronto! Had a great day. Went there to meet a former colleague, now a friend :), who’s Canadian and who came here to visit, me included :). Thank you for a great day!!

Toronto has a nice buzz, I love cities with a buzz. It’s a cool combination of brick and glass, old and new, and I’m talking about buildings and people alike. Everyone is different from every one and so are the buildings, while at the same time everything mixes perfectly with all that’s different all around. It’s similar to London, in a North American way.πŸ˜€

It’s also a city that still builds, a lot of construction sites right downtown, which didn’t diminish the flow of people going up and down the streets. By the way, I found out from my friend today that one of the streets in Toronto is one of the longest streets in the world: Yonge street (read it as in ‘young’). It’s 86 km long (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yonge_Street)!

I also loved that the old factories were renovated and turned into either office or apartment buildings, which looked really cool and kept the retro air of the city. Not letting the old buildings crumble in ruin is, to me, a sign of civilization. And of caring, most of all.

And Lake Ontario! I saw the lake today, loved it, even if I’ve just seen a small part of it, leave me by the side of a water and I’m happy :). It gave me that feeling of hope, trust, stability and clarity (by the way, it was really clean)!

And, amidst new, old and future buildings, in all that buzz and by the lake, there was a beach. An artificial one, (naturally πŸ˜€) but a beach! A sand, umbrellas and chairs beach! Oh, the feeling, have a look.

Isn’t it a brilliant idea to have something like this by the big river of a big city? I thought it was a genius idea. 

And, of course, I couldn’t miss another perfect mix: snow and sand. Perfect harmony. πŸ˜€

Very good day today. πŸ˜€

Realized, again, how much of a difference it makes to get out of the box. And I mean that literally, metaphors left aside. It makes a huge difference, a Yonge street sized difference.πŸ˜€

Back on track. πŸ‘πŸ˜˜

Start of week 2. Weather talking

I know. I haven’t written in a while and realized I’m breaking my promise (and habit). And I realized I wasn’t writing because I didn’t think anything worthy of writing was happening anymore. 

And I was wrong.

Caught myself thinking we don’t need extraordinary things to happen to write about the days in our lives. There are so many things going on anyway – inside and out – and which may be even more spectacular than actions and events.

I also realized that sometimes a life changing experience such as this one can make you feel alone. As in alone, lost, clueless about who you are and what you can or cannot do anymore.

We’re used to others around us validating our actions. All the time, since forever. Since we’re babies and then in kindergarten someone appreciates our drawing as a child – even if it makes no sense to them at all – and then we feel so good about ourselves. Same with everything else we do while we grow up. The things we do that are appreciated and accepted by the others, and which make us feel good about ourselves. Then as teenagers the thrill of driving everyone else around us crazy with the things we do and which they don’t like at all. And then the chilling down as adults, living in our society and following its rules, norms and regulations. 

But where and when do we learn to self-soothe? To appreciate ourselves for who we are and not for what we do. To be able to tell ourselves that even when things go wrong, it’s still us deep down.

Where do we learn that it’s ok to have bad days?

Days when we go wrong, nothing works, stress is high, we have bad moods and bad ideas and it’s still us on the inside. And it’s just fine. Yet we forget that. Because when no one external seems to appreciate something we’ve done, it’s tough for us to internally appreciate who we are right then. Rebounce is hard to do if it’s not practiced, exercised. 

Psychological fitness should be a compulsory subject in school. 

So, as I was saying, our days have stopped being spectacular and personally I had a couple of days when I was so stressed and tired and discouraged. To get an example, looking for an apartment to rent.

Never thought that would be a problem. And it’s not, just that it’s not that easy. First, there aren’t many available. Second, from those available, not many suitable. And from those suitable, well, the party is only starting there! You need to apply for renting. Prove you have the resources to pay and that you are a serious person who won’t just run away one day without paying. For the first time anyone wants to rent, they need to sign a one year contract, no less. Plus, if you are unemployed, as we are as newcomers, that’s a bit tricky, right? 

And so, after many trials and tribulations of searching and not finding and then searching and finding something, we are at that stage where we need to have our application approved. So keep your fingers crossed, I know you are anyway, but can’t help asking for it.πŸ˜€

Other than that, applying for jobs every day and nothing yet, not a sign in the sky. Keep the faith! Couldn’t even bake a decent pizza the other day. Our stuff is still in suitcases. And then when nothing fits, what’s left? I cracked. Crying is ok, too, makes me feel better, crying when I’m upset is like running when I have a migraine. Medicine.

Oh, and in all this whirlpool, I missed the fact that we got to have a taste of Canadian winter. Minus 7 feeling like minus 18 on Tuesday, and some snow. Well, quite some, indeed. πŸ˜€

I wrote in one of the blogs (last year) that the weather inside is the real weather we feel. So in this cascade of emotions going up and down, my internal hurricane beat the outside snowstorm. It’s called life, right?

Anyway, bad days happen and that’s good, because then good days happen and we can figure that out. Otherwise, how would we know we have good days, after all?

I’m not going to end this post saying it’s all going to be fine, because it’s ok for things not to be fine. Sometimes good times are just not with us. And THIS is ok. Hard to bare, but ok.

I can only show you the snow, but you will have to imagine the cold. And if your internal weather is more around springtime, then just admire the snow, it will probably bring good times to your mind, right?πŸ˜‰

Seeing that smiley on the wall, drawn in snow, makes me want to say this (always wanted to): ‘I’ll be back’! πŸ˜€


Week 1 in Canada

It’s this time last week that I was writing my first log from Canada. It’s been a week and it seems we’ve done pretty well.

Bank, schools, phones and today the written drive test, all ticked. πŸ‘ πŸ˜‰

We have a long way to go, but for starters, it was a great first week where I learned that:

  • Things can be done with a smile on your face
  • There can be no stress and that’s ok, you don’t have to be stressed to feel you’re alive. On the contrary. 
  • Systems do work. State systems do work. Fullstop.
  • Schools can be great places where people cherish learning and where everyone is working for the benefit of children. 
  • Diversity truly is diverseπŸ˜€ here. What I mean is that when you’re an immigrant child registered in school you hear words like ‘welcome‘, and that children support one another because they’ve all been new, even to the country, at some point. You also hear about other children who were not able to go to school daily back in their home countries. You hear the word ‘empathy‘! And you hear things like ‘looking forward to seeing you here on Monday’ (the other Monday, told u they start with a holiday)πŸ‘.
  • By the way, we’ve heard ‘welcome’ more times this week than during the past I-don’t-know-how-many months.
  • It’s ok to have an accent, everybody has.
  • It’s ok to be an immigrant, almost everyone is. πŸ˜€

That being said, I feel included, welcomed, faithful and not just hopeful, positive and reassured that it was a good choice. It’s been a tough week, not easy to wake up and see you’re not home, not easy to not have everything and everyone you used to have beside you. Not easy to see your kids spending time on their own more than you wished they did because you have to run here and there and restart your life. Not easy to deal with emotions from within the rollercoaster

At the same time, life truly is counted in days. Oana Pellea, great Romanian actress, had this saying. And she is right. Every day matters if you let it. Reloading this Life 2.0 is only possible bit by bit (or better yet Bit by Bit πŸ˜€). And day after day. Intense, good, difficult, happy, headaching, alive days. 

It’s been a great week. One I will remember forever (and that’s because I wrote about it, my memory is really not that good). And also because it’s the week I’ve had so many of our friends watching (over) us. Thank you for that, you’re now one week into this community!

And the only photo I managed to take today, a photo of the Drive test building. 

It may be a long time (may be) since I took my first drive test back home at, ahem, 23, but the test today was in front of a computer and a touch screen and at the end I instantly knew the result. No sweat (but heart rate to the roof, exams are exams, no matter the age)! That was pretty cool (says the geek in me). Plus, it’s the first time I see 16 year olds taking a drive test, that also looked pretty cool. I instantly thought Rares has three years to go until he does the same. πŸ‘

So, good first week, loading in progress, no errors, heads up, onwards! πŸ˜€


Day 9. RegistrationΒ 

Registered kids in school today. I thought, you know, immigrating and having two kids would mean hours, days and maybe weeks of running around crazy to put them in school.

It took one hour.

Half hour writing registration forms and talking to people at the School Board (an office where you have to go to have your kids registered, which is also an adult education centre, by the way). Half hour the registration itself, all done by the Board, photocopies included. My Romanian friends know what I mean with the photocopies, especially when it comes to authorities. You usually have to have them done already or run around like crazy to have them made. Authorities do not make photocopies. Well, here they do. 

So, Lia in fourth grade, Rares in seventh grade, just like back home, by age. In two different schools here, one which is elementary and the other a middle school. Can’t wait for them to start, but as they truly are very lucky, they start in style, with a holiday next week. πŸ˜€ And so they really start on the 20th, I’ll have to wait till then. They are absolutely fine with starting later, by the way. πŸ˜‰

What I found again is that people are nice. Even when they’re in a hurry or stressed. They don’t try to make you feel guilty. You notice they rush you or nicely put you off, but the key word is ‘nicely’. And, believe it or not, you feel good in the process.

Another milestone passed today was getting mobile numbers here. Checked. It’s more complicated than you’d think, because competition here is tougher and selling skills are high in all sales agents. Speech, gestures, tone, eye contact, all there. Some are better than others, of course, but as a customer you need to really think it through to try and make sure you got the best deal for you. Try, because as far as I can tell, there is no way you can actually be sure you really got the best deal. But this is maybe how and why people here are more ‘finance’ educated. They have daily choices they need to make about their own finances. Choices that do make a difference in their budgets at the end of the day. What better practice can you have?

Photos for today are a few from the school Board and then from downtown. Don’t be misled by the sun. It was max -1 today, and the -2 were feeling -8. And we were smiling and crying at the same time, because the sun was in our eyes. πŸ˜‚ 

On our way to the school board. 

At the school board. ✌

Sun in our eyes, after the school board. 

Crying and upset because of the sun, the photo and life in general when making selfies. 😘

That’s it, looking forward to the drive test. πŸ˜‰

Day 8. Learning

No better way to celebrate (again:)), than doing what I like: learn. 

Well, the subject isn’t fascinating, I admit, I’ve learned for the drive test. But it was another chance for me to notice my way of learning by doing and I had to appreciate that the drive tests are done in such a way that it’s impossible not to learn the theory. They use images and choices and put you in practical situations basically covering all main learning styles. Plus, the online tests are so easy to take and they do provide points – to encourage you. And I found myself thinking that the way we adults learn for such tests is so similar to how kids learn in school now. No wonder my son was there with me, in front of the laptop, actually enjoying some of the questions and getting a lot of the answers right.

Couldn’t help noticing the learning process, professional habit.

It was encouraging, anyway, I’ll pass, I’m sure now, will let you know on Friday, keep your fingers crossed, anyway! Please :)!

Until then, proof of learning:

And a quote I loved today, need to share it here, to celebrate women’s day today. And to celebrate every day, any day,  that’s always worth remembering.

I’d make one small change to this quote, I’d say ‘stand before your fears and speak up’!

βœŒβ€πŸ’ (peace, love, flower power) πŸ˜‰

Day 7. Bank

Small steps. Another one today, which proved to be another refreshing one, most surprisingly: we opened a bank account. As simple and maybe stupid as this sounds, it helped! Not just because we need it for other papers we need to apply for. But because I suddenly felt ‘legit’. We’re slowly becoming part of the system, which is what we wanted in the first place.

I know it’s just a small step for humankind (to use the politically correct form – why is it called political, by the way?). But to us, it’s like starting to at least show our faces to this new world. Which is good. It’s reassuring, it means a lot, a whole lot, to be accepted. Brain works this way, mine at least is a ‘workaholic’ of belonging and acceptance, as far as I can tell.

So yey! Never thought a bank account would make me feel so good. But it did. Feel like I’m now ‘authorized’ to move on. πŸ˜‰

One other thing we did that felt like home was, ahem, a visit to McDonald’s… what can I say, I know the cons. But hey, anything that gives you back some roots is good. Plus, we agreed the meat tasted better. Not sure if it’s because we wanted it to or because it really did, but who cares? πŸ˜€ It was a good getaway. 

I have some photos, not from the bank πŸ˜€. I was impressed with finding recyclable materials everywhere in a fast food restaurant, and that we had to separate them in their special bins on our way out, not throw everything in the same one. πŸ‘ 

What, I told you, I’m at a stage in my life when all the small, apparently insignificant details, matter. A lot.

Can you not be impressed by this add? I was.

Fully focused.πŸ˜˜πŸ˜€

That’s it for today, coming back tomorrow with other news from Life 2.0. Onwards! πŸ˜€πŸ‘πŸ––πŸ˜‰

PS. Just thought now that this immigration thing is like being reborn, just that this time directly as an adult. Complicated. πŸ˜‰

Day 6. My day

Time stopped today as I was thanking everyone who sent their birthday wishes to me. Time and space stopped to matter anymore, as I could feel the energy in the messages. So thank you! I mean, from the bottom of my heart, thank you! Because that’s how I also stopped feeling invisible. I felt I mattered to so many people that it was overwhelming!  And it felt good, too! πŸ˜€

Felt so good that I started to apply for some jobs, feeling freshly visible and all now!

And yes, I also celebrated,  with my family, who only need to say their wishes waking me up in the morning to melt me. And with our friends here, who brought me flowers and a cake. Sometimes that’s all it takes, and not even that. Sometimes all it takes is a ‘happy birthday ‘ to make your day.

So this post is about ‘thank you’, you have no idea how much your wishes coloured my day. And my soul. And my face, with smiling colours.πŸ˜€

I’m sending you in return my thanks and gratitude and all of my best wishes. And some photos, of course :)!

Before going out today, another selfie we’re trying to take and look natural. Almost there!πŸ˜‚

This one’s from the walk today, a school bus, loved the logo, bday present for me!!! 

This one from my kids, no comments at all, I simply love it, of course I do! I’m their mamami, right? πŸ˜€πŸ˜‰β€

And the surprise flowers and cake (chocolate cheese cake, it was as good as it looks, yes:)). Sharing them with all of you now.😘

Thank you! You have all made (this sixth day) my day! ❀

Day 5. Just Sunday

We unpacked some of the stuff today and realized we only need the minimum, really. I mean it’s unbelievable how many things we took and how few we actually need. The rest are more of memories, which I guess we have, anyway, stored in our brain. It’s as if we wanted to make absolutely sure we remember it all. Roots. We need to take them with us so we remember who we are. Or so we don’t forget. Or to simply feel like we still belong to our kind. Not sure where this came from, but it did. I warned you I wouldn’t edit the thoughts in this blog, so there.

Apart from that, today a few photos from downtown Mississauga, I liked the combination of American modern and western style, while I found myself missing the European one. Eh, nostalgia.

So tomorrow we start making our way through the steps we need to take to start integrating, which means school for the kids and a driver’s licence for us. I’ve learned that small steps are essential and you can’t do everything at once. I knew that, yes, but the need to belong is big and this gave me an urge to start doing something, anything, to get things rolling and start living the way I was used to. Go to work, groceries, cook, read, school, stuff. What do you do when you are invisible? For the moment, we are invisible people. So I kind of wanted to shout ‘hey, we’re here, can you see us?’

Ok, so I promised photos. Here we go.

First time I’ve seen a public phone in a long time. Had to take a pic.

Call me an ignorant, but the names of the countries impressed me so much. 

And then, the city. Not busy, maybe because it was Sunday, but still. I expected more traffic. 

All right, it’s night :). Speak soon.