Welcome to our “Life as a Canadian Immigrant Series”. Our second feature is Olu Ajiboye. Olufemiloye as he is popularly known, is an Immigration Consultant… In this interview, he shares his journey so far, adapting to Canada when he first arrived and so much more.
Hello, Please tell us about yourself
My name is Olu Ajiboye. A lot of people know me on the Gram as Olufemiloye. I immigrated to Canada in 2015, first as an international student, and currently reside in the country permanently. I am a researcher and policy analyst by profession, and also rounding up a Doctoral program at the University of Saskatchewan.
What city do you live in, what would you say are the highlights of living there?
I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Although I get to spend time in Ontario and British Columbia where I have family members and work commitments.
Compared to many other Canadian cities, Saskatoon gives you a quiet, simple, communal, and affordable lifestyle. The people are generally friendly and always willing to be of help. If you are the one who likes nature and natural outdoor activities, or you are looking to raise a family in a city that is not too busy, then Saskatoon is for you. You can get anywhere in the city with a 15 to 30 minutes drive, and the public transit system is also very reliable.
A fact that is, however, not so fun – the winter weather in Saskatoon will humble you!
What influenced your moving to Canada, the desire for a better life? Career or family?
For me, it was quality education at first. The opportunity to be trained in a world-class system was too enticing to ignore. Upon arrival, the career prospect and quality of life became the reasons for deciding to remain permanently. In a system that works, there is a reward for putting in the work, and that is very encouraging. Also, the opportunity to be who you want to be in Canada is limitless!
In your career path, how easy has it been to transition from the way of doing things back home to adapting to the life here?
It wasn’t easy at first. You mostly need either Canadian work experience, a Canadian degree, or a combination of both to get your foot in the door. Canada is also a fast-paced society and the way many things are done here is quite advanced and different from how we do things in Nigeria.
I remember contemplating dropping out of my Masters program just two weeks into the program in 2015. I had the same feeling when I got my first job. There was just so much to do right from the first day and it felt overwhelming.
However, there are lots of resources and networks of people around to be of help. Leveraging on that has been very helpful for me. I think this is also why a lot of people will tell you that knowing how to network is very important in Canada. Having people who have gone through what you are about to go through is always helpful in preparing you for the task ahead, and useful to avoid the mistakes they made in their own time.
What was a major challenge for you when you newly migrated?
I think it was the weather and the system of teaching and learning here. The education system of hitting the ground running from the very first class was a bit strange. Before I knew what was going on, there were lots of readings to catch up with and assignments that were due. I struggled a bit with that at first but got a lot of help from the Graduate student support center at my university.
It also took some time to adjust to the winter weather. I arrived in Fall, but before I could settle in, it was already snowing. The only thing that prepares you for winter in Canada is experiencing it!
Would you advise anyone in your field of work to move to Canada, and particularly your city?
Absolutely, yes! I have worked on projects, and with organizations I wouldn’t have the opportunity of working with if I was in Nigeria. My professional network has expanded, and I have worked with people from many countries I haven’t even been to. And I think that’s one of the opportunities that moving to Canada brings your way. I work on development projects and programs involving vulnerable and marginalized groups, and if that is not the area of specialization for someone in my field of work, they may also consider other cities or provinces where their specialization is in-demand. But I’m sure there is always something for everyone, somewhere in Canada.
What advice do you have for those looking to move to Canada?
My advice has always been what I call the 3Ps. Plan, Process, Patience.
I advise potential immigrants to plan well. Immigrating to Canada does not happen overnight, so you need to map out your journey very well. You also need a good plan for your career even before your arrival. That way you are well prepared to hit the ground running as soon as you arrive in Canada.
It is also important to follow the due and legal process when planning to move to Canada. Immigrating to Canada is good, but it is most beneficial when you do that using the legally approved ways.
And lastly, patience is key. You will need a lot of patience for both the immigration application process and for integrating into the Canadian system.
You have been resourceful to many on social media. What motivates you to provide the amount of information that you churn out on a daily? And on a lighter note, do you think being in Canada makes someone a better person because Canadians are generally polite.
The desire to see people leverage the opportunities available in Canada or across the world, and use that to improve their lives and careers, is my biggest motivation. It is also fulfilling to see that one is contributing to other people’s successes in your little way. The world becomes a better place, one action at a time when we all look out for each other.
The politeness of Canadians asides, I actually think there is something in the air we breathe in Canada that makes you want to be a better person! Hahaha!