A path left untaken

Vancouver cityscapeSomewhere in a parallel universe is a version of me living and working in Canada.

Last year I worked my butt off and spent a considerable amount of time and money securing myself an IEC Canadian Work Permit and a spot on the Work Canada programme.

It was and still is a dream of mine to fly across the pond to the far west side of the second largest country in the world and land firmly in British Columbia to set up home in the coastal seaport city of Vancouver. With the right documents I could stay for up to 12 months, sampling a real big slice of the Canadian way of life.

I spent a week in Vancouver whilst travelling North America in 2010 and it made a lasting impression on me. Often referred to as the ‘Hollywood of the North’ thanks to its impressive list of film and TV connections; the people I met were charming, the weather was great and the scenery was beyond beautiful. Things just seemed better there.

I didn’t get up to much though, I went on a tour, drank coffee, shopped, and (hands up) attended the annual Supernatural convention (I later realised they have those in the UK too).

So if you know anything about that part of Canada you’ll understand why I feel like I had a lot left to discover. I put a pin in it and over the next few years revisited the idea, doing research and working out numbers. It wasn’t until I finished my advertising degree at university that I set the wheels in motion.

It was September 2013, I had a part-time childcare job whilst looking for a full-time media related job and I could feel the restriction of the 18-30 eligibility age bracket closing in on me.

I decided that I had nothing to lose in applying and that I’d only regret it if I didn’t so I signed up with BUNAC, paid my programme fee deposit and got the ball rolling.

I figured that by the time my application was approved (if at all) and a deadline set for entry into the country that I’d be in a better financial situation and would be able to afford the associated costs.

The programme includes help with pre-departure planning and provides advice and preparation in the run up to the IEC Work Permit release date. It offers two nights arrival accommodation, transfers, access to the resource centres and everything from arrival orientation and social events to job and accommodation listings. It was so exciting!

The application for the work permit was arduous though. I had to detail the details! From the last five years of employment history to personal information on my siblings. I was applying for a place in the January 2014 quota and I was there at my computer with all the documents and details I needed at the (very) precise day and time they were released. After I made it through that round I could relax a little and make progress with my police check. Once that returned a-ok it was on to the next step and the one after that. I’ll be honest I’m still not sure how to navigate the various websites and log-ins I had to deal with and I still have a folder full of information!

The perseverance paid off – I received my Port of Entry letter!
I hadn’t expected a response so quickly; I was pleased but doubted I would have the money I needed in time for the March 25 2015 deadline.

There were lots of costs to consider: the programme fee was £359 (I paid the £100 deposit), the visa cost $250 and the ACPO police check set me back £45. On top of that I had to consider flights and insurance and participants aren’t allowed to enter the country unless they have $2,500 support funds (roughly £1800).

My part-time childcare role definitely wasn’t going to get me there! Luckily in April I landed a job in the marketing department at the university I had just graduated from. The role was perfect for me and it came with a good salary, a great location and lots of lovely new people.

Within the next few months I realised that I had a pretty good set up, not the kind you abandon to take a year out and live it up in Canada. I had a much clearer path in front of me; I’d made lots of new friends and finally felt settled. I wasn’t the same person who had applied for the visa back in January – it’s true that things can change in the blink of an eye. Well maybe not that quickly but you see what I’m saying.

TenerifeBy October I had managed to save a fair bit of money but I sat down with my boyfriend and we discussed my options and the things we had planned for the future. I decided that although I still wanted to explore the world, it wasn’t the right time. He had also just started a new job (fresh out of college) and felt he needed to stay put a bit longer.  So we used the money to take a week off and stay all-inclusive at a 4* resort in Tenerife. It was one of the best holidays we’ve ever had and I don’t regret spending the money at all.

Just because you aren’t where you thought you’d be in life – it doesn’t mean you aren’t where you are supposed to be in life.

I may not be interning at an ad agency in Vancouver, exploring one of the most exciting places in the world but I am in a steady job with great prospects… I am in a happy relationship with my best friend… and I’m staying put to support a certain someone with a certain new arrival (!) and of course to celebrate my mums 50th Birthday in May – I’m not sure she would have forgiven me if I had missed it!

So I’ve let the deadline pass me by because for now, this is the better deal, the much better deal.

If you’re reading this and wondering about your own path in life, it’s worth noting that it isn’t all about the cards you are dealt in life but how you choose to play them. You’ve got to weigh up your options and take the path that will ultimately make you happier in the long run.

Author: Rachel

Content Exec by day, TV show addict by night. Fighting #LymeDisease 24/7. Brunel MA Grad Creative Writing: The Novel

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