Today, in the “Life as a Canadian Immigrant” Series, we feature Marina Esiri who holds a B.Sc. in Microbiology from Ambrose Alli University in Nigeria and an Administrative Assistant diploma from Saskatoon Business college in Saskatoon. Currently working in HR, Marina states her curiosity to experience life in a system that works as one of her motivations to migrate. She also shares how far she has come in this episode.
Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Marina Esiri Iyeme-Eteng. I am from Nigeria. I worked in Human Resources for the last four years before I moved out of Nigeria to Canada in 2016; I currently work in HR and studying towards my CPHR designation. I have a B.Sc. in Microbiology from Ambrose Alli University in Nigeria and an Administrative Assistant diploma from Saskatoon Business college in Saskatoon. I am also a YouTube content creator with the channel – MARINA ESIRI, where I share about my experiences and tips that help newcomers settle quickly in Canada.
Where in Canada do you live and what do you enjoy about this city?
I live in Saskatoon in Saskatchewan. I have never really liked noticeably big cities, so I am enjoying my not-so-huge city life here. I love the community orientation, the nice (and very polite) people and the ease at which I can get from one point to the other. I enjoy the beauty of nature and the lovely blue skies. Saskatchewan has over 100,000 lakes so there are options for that kind of adventure. I will just pretend the weather is beautiful too, so we are good, lol.
What motivated you to migrate to Canada?
I was curious to experience life in a system that works. It had become really frustrating with the way several of our systems worked back in Nigeria and I wanted more. Having kids in Nigeria made me even more intentional about giving them a different experience.
What are the key differences you can point out between living in Canada and back home?
First will be the availability of resources. The ease at which what you need is readily available is almost unreal. The information you need is almost one click, or phone call or email away. This has also made planning and projection easier. I like how you can put plans in place for years to come and it will pull through because of the stability of the system.
Career-wise, how have you been able to navigate the waters and would you say the process is easier here?
Because of the disparity between my previous education and work experience back in Nigeria (Microbiology education and HR/Admin work experience), I had a hard time finding a job in my early days here. I had to go back to school to bridge that gap and it has been seamless since then. I would say I find it easier here because you can more easily see the rewards of your work. If you put in the work, the reward is almost always sure.
Asides the shocker with the weather (absolutely nothing prepares you for the Canadian winter, especially in the prairies), the next challenge was the loneliness. I moved with my family, which is my husband and two kids, but there was a sense of feeling lost for the longest time until I started to build my own community here. It is still not the way it was back in Nigeria, but I am far from lonely now. The support of an extended family, however, is one I have not been able to fully replicate yet and it does get tough, especially with young children.
What pathway brought you to Canada, would you advise other intending immigrants to go through same?
I applied for Canadian immigration in November of 2014 through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) before it became Express Entry in 2015 so that program is no longer a stand-alone immigration pathway. I will advise intending immigrants to be open to the available options especially if your profile is not the most competitive. Consider provincial nominations from multiple provinces because you never know where the nomination will come from.
What advice do you have for those looking to move to Canada?
The first will be to figure out the ‘why’. Why do you really want to move? A clear understanding of your ‘why’ will help stay focused on the goal especially when it gets tough. Next will be research. Take the time to gather as much information as you can. There are many resources online and people who share valuable information that will help. With Canadian immigration, there are no shortcuts or quick schemes. You will need to put in the work or pay a licensed consultant to do the work with you – the keyword here is LICENSED. Also, you will need to give room to learn new things, unlearn irrelevant things, and relearn other things as it becomes necessary.