My First Day in Edmonton
Moving to a new country (Canada) away from my home in New Delhi, India was just like a roller coaster ride: it had its ups and downs, it was full of thrills, excitement, and nervousness, but most importantly, it was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. The part of the journey I was most scared and excited about was my first day in Edmonton.
When I arrived in Edmonton on August 24, 2018, I had to figure out everything on my own, and that gave me a new sense of independence. When I walked off of the plane, I honestly did not have a clue what I had to do next because it was my first time travelling outside of India. I was so confused whether to pick up luggage first or do immigration. However, I had some advice in my mind that helped me figure out most of the things at the airport. A recruiter [from the University of Alberta] once told me that when you’re new to a place and don’t know where to go or what to do, just follow the crowd! So, that’s what I did. I followed the crowd, and I saw people standing in a queue, waiting to make their declarations. I never knew that such a thing existed until I discovered it for myself. So, I learnt one thing for all my future international trips: you first go through immigration, and then claim your luggage.
After all these tasks at the airport, the next big thing was to get to the hotel — with five bags in tow. Thankfully, I could book a shuttle at the Airport Welcome Booth. The shuttle was free of charge through the Transitions Orientation program hosted by International Student Services. With five bags in hand and a lot of responsibilities in my head, I was overwhelmed. All I wanted was a friend I could chat with during the time I was waiting at the airport for the shuttle to arrive. Well, all thanks to the Airport Welcome Booth, I made an upper-year Indian friend! She was the first person I spoke with after arriving in Canada and guess what? We’re still friends! I was so intrigued to know what my experiences and life in Edmonton would be like; I asked her so many questions to clarify my doubts and ease my fears. What is the education system like? How is the workload? Will I like the food? She gave me some tips that still, to this day, help me a lot, like avoiding procrastination, respecting everyone and their cultural differences, and calling my parents every once in a while because they’ll be worried about me.
On my first day, I called my family 20 times as I was already missing home a lot, and talking to my parents made it feel like they were right there beside me. Following the senior student’s advice, I shared every detail so that they wouldn’t worry much about me. I feel contacting your parents during such a transition is extremely important to ease you into your new life.
Once I reached the hotel, I learnt about something practiced in Canada that was new to me: tipping. While waiting at the reception desk, I noticed guests tipping the person helping them with their luggage. That’s when I realised that maybe I should also tip. Since I was new to the practice of tipping, I had no idea of the appropriate amount. So I took a random guess and tipped $5 per bag. Upon sharing my hotel experience with my Canadian friends later, I realized that the standard tipping amount is $1 per bag. This means I tipped five times the amount I was supposed to! I feel this regret is relatable to every student, as we try to save money whenever we can.
Finally, after settling in, I decided to grab a meal. I did not order Indian food because I wanted to explore the Canadian food options. I ordered a vegetarian pizza from Boston Pizza — a Canadian restaurant chain. I was excited to try it but ended up being highly disappointed as it did not even taste a bit like the pizzas I used to eat back home. I should have kept that in mind and ordered Indian food so that it would feel like home. With a half-empty stomach and a ton of emotions, I went to bed, telling myself that it’ll all get better one day. One day I’ll feel like home in this new country and get used to the food and homesickness because it is all doable, and I’m not going to give up so soon. Because as they say, great things never came from comfort zones, and I was ready to get comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortable!