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Seeking Opportunities: Ayaan's Story

If I had to pick one word to describe my immigration story and all that followed, it would be “opportunities.” Canada is a land of opportunities and growth. Long before I stepped foot here, I envisioned my future here and how I could make an impact. I lived in India before moving to Canada for my undergraduate degree in May 2021. I lived a very different life back home compared to my current lifestyle. I wasn’t doing much back home: I followed the usual routine of going to high school and studying. Now, I juggle working with finishing my bachelor’s degree in business.

My parents wanted me to complete a master’s degree in Canada, but I was more interested in pursuing my undergraduate education. Despite this difference, my parents generously funded my education with the caveat that one day, I would pay them back. As a result, I was able to find different ways to afford my lifestyle and tuition through work. I managed to pay them back in full within a year. They were initially hesitant about my decision, but after seeing my success in Canada, they soon came around and were happy for me and the life I had built for myself.

My original plan was to arrive in Canada in August 2020; however, my Visa application process was delayed by seven months due to the pandemic. I had to attend university virtually from my home in India. When I first booked my flight, it got cancelled the following day due to Covid restrictions. I had a feeling that the situation would only worsen from there, so I made the decision to book an expensive flight directly to Canada. Looking back, I’m glad that I listened to my gut; flights were soon banned for months on end.

This was during the peak of the pandemic so I struggled to find jobs. It was difficult to explore the possibilities with limited work experience. After applying for countless jobs, I received a number of offers, which finally allowed me to pay for my necessities. From then onwards, the journey truly began.

I chose Calgary because of the tech startups; I truly believe that it will be the Silicon Valley of Canada. I believe Calgary is the major hub where I can make an impact with new start ups.

I dreamed of coming to Canada for three years, so I felt prepared for what life had planned for me. I prepared myself both mentally and physically to be able to do as much as possible to make the transition process easier. I love the country and Calgary is home for me now. As such, it didn’t need much adjustment and I was able to take advantage of new opportunities right away instead of needing time to adjust.

The country has given me far more than I imagined, and continues to live up to my expectations. Every job I have gotten so far has been through networking. I attend networking events and I know people in these companies who reach out to me with opportunities that suit me best. I got rejected from hundreds of jobs when I first moved here. However, after learning about the importance of networking, I learned how to communicate my ambitions and passions in a way that captivates people.

Back home, I didn’t speak a lot of English since we mostly spoke in Hindi or Gujarati. I never really got a chance to communicate in English, but I don’t think there was much of a language barrier upon arriving in Canada. My first jobs here helped me a great deal with my communication skills: they helped me transition into an English-speaking environment through small talk and customer service.

Everyone has been extremely friendly to me and I really haven’t had any bad experiences at all. I feel accepted. People at work or in my network are always willing to help me with my career or personal life. They have truly helped me achieve my goals.

During the entire process, I think I have helped myself the most in adjusting and making my life smooth in Canada. I have control over how my mind works and it shaped my success and failures over the last few years.

I have lived alone since I was 16 years old so it is not difficult to live by myself now. My parents even visited last year, which was a lovely treat. I lived in Dubai until 2015 and then moved to India to finish my high school graduation. I have developed a good habit of keeping in touch with my family via video calls and texting.

It’s been a great joy living here and a crazy journey since Day 1. I have multiple jobs right now, and working gives me a joy I’ve never felt before. I’ve sacrificed my sleep and social life to achieve my goals, but it gives me happiness to know I’ve reached them.

If I could, I would recommend everyone to always aim for the highest possibility and look to grow.

Please note that certain facts have been altered for anonymity

This story is a collaborative effort between Nandini Agarwal and Ayaan Patel

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