Part 1 - School and Housing
Let's talk about the weather. All Canadians love to talk about the weather.
This is a cold country. It is cold for almost 6 months of the year. And that is in the good places. In the best of times. Take a look at all brochures of Canada, or Canadian universities, or Canadian tourism, or even our citizenship book. They all show glorious pictures of Canada, but in the summer.
Take a look at the "Canadian" television shows. They all show summer. And why not? Summer in Canada is gorgeous. It is amazing. It is spectacular. It is a wonder of nature.
It is also short.
In Toronto, summer can be June and July. And usually August. That's it. It's cold till almost May, and starts getting cold again at the end of September. Snow is usually from end of November to end of March. In other places, it can be worse. Only in British Columbia (and Vancouver as well as Victoria) is the weather much better.
Otherwise, it's a deep chill. Take a look at some Snow Day pictures.
All of this takes a toll on your health. There is the psychological and depressing effect (also known as "winter blues") at the reduced sunshine half the year. There is also the flu.
Every year in October the government of Canada offers free flu shots to everyone. And why not? The flu season officially gets underway with the onset of winter, and lasts till spring. So better get used to these names.
And the children's versions.
This winter (2017 - 2018) the flu season has been really bad and virulent. And there's only so much you can do against viral attacks.
How does winter affect you other ways?
Think about groceries. If you are a new immigrant, you probably don't have access to a car yet. It's winter, it's snowing and you need groceries. So you have to bundle up and wait outside in the cold weather for a bus that's probably late. And if you are driving, good luck with the terrible weather conditions.
Also, there are Canadians for whom this is perfect biking weather.
Think also about the children. In the Spring, Fall or Summer you can take them outside for activities. In the winter, you are stuck indoors.
So how DO Canadians deal with the winter?
First, by NOT being here.
From November, you start seeing ads of what is called "sun destinations".
Cuba, Mexico, Aruba, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, the whole of Caribbean, etc.
These vacations, in particular Punta Cana and Cuba, are very popular. Almost everyone goes for their "sun escape" at least once, if not twice a year.
Second, bundle up and take it on the chin.
Canadians are very resilient people. We take our flu shots. We always listen to the weather forecast so we can make (or cancel) our plans accordingly. We make sure we are properly attired for the weather. We make sure we have proper winter tires. We enroll our kids in winter activities such as karate or crafts. We make sure they know skating and skiing so they can take advantage of living in a winter country.
And above all, chin up and be optimistic.
After all, whether it's snowing outside or not, you still have to go to work.
My point in writing all of this?
So that immigrants to Canada immigrate for the right reasons. Don't be fooled by glossy brochures and TV images. Be prepared for the True North.