Starting a new job.. in a new country.. in the middle of a pandemic!

Picture by Mikey Harris,

After clearing a series of interviews on Microsoft Teams, I got to hear the 3 golden words “You are hired” !

I got my break in the Canadian Financial Services industry! Wohoooo! One of the happiest days of my life. I told myself “It was all worth the effort” and waited patiently for clock to strike 9:30 pm (which is when I talk to my parents in India) on a pleasant May evening.

1 week ahead: I am ready to go to my office in downtown Toronto. It’s not to start my work from my workplace but just to get my system configured (basically get to business – but from home). As I entered the historic Canada Life building, I felt a sense of pride, excitement and hope. Hope that one day we will return to work and I get to experience the corporate life in this new country. After done with the IT setups, I was given a mini tour of the office building by the very welcoming IT guy who quickly became my first friend in the office.

2nd day of office and so on..: My teammates were very welcoming and excited to have me onboard. I fed their curious minds with my story of moving from India to Canada in the peak winters (Feb’2020) all by myself, desiring to start a new life in the great white north. As I was getting a hang of my day to day responsibilities, and getting introduced to the broader team and stakeholders, I found myself trying to find my place in a very diverse crowd. That’s the beauty of Canada, people from all across the world in one place! I have imbibed to be respectful to these differences.

After 3 months or so..: The lockdown restrictions eased a bit. Touristy places in the city reopened and you could travel within the province but with restrictions. I wondered if our offices would open? Me and my team members would discuss case counts, vaccination status, fall colors, the U.S. elections and returning back to office, in our weekly catch up calls, which my boss introduced as a means to stay connected (well virtually!). Returning back to normalcy seemed unlikely anytime soon. The pandemic helped companies devise a new way to save cost – let employees work from home! In line with the trend, our company gave us incentives to invest in work from home office space. No complains!

Winter is coming..and so is another wave..another lockdown..: Every newcomer in Canada is told about how cruel the winters can be. This was my first full winter season (i.e. Nov/Dec to April/May) and I was ready to embrace it with my winter gears (the must have – Winter coat and not just a regular coat/jacket, beanie, gloves and winter boots). By this time, I managed to make a few friends outside of work and had started to invest in these relationships. Being more of an introvert, I was content with just a couple of friends with whom I can spend quality time which won’t necessarily include too much talking! Post work I would indulge myself in table tennis game, reading some non-fiction self help kinda book in the park, playing frisbee, running and taking long walks discovering hidden gems in the city. When restricted indoors due to cold weather, I would make paintings or try my hand at ukulele. The paintings were acrylic abstract art on raw stretched canvas (follow @soulonmycanvas in case you are on Instagram) and ukulele was a gift from my friend who encouraged me to discover my creative side. Both of em kept me going..

Till date in Sep’ 2021: By now almost everyone has accepted the new norm of working from home most of the week. We all have experienced the flexibility as well as need for social connection. The virtual meetings are less exciting and lacks body language cues but it does keep us protected and less exposed to the virus. The lockdown gave me chance to make the best use of technology whether at work or out of work, time to explore the city and outskirts, have fresh home cooked meals, and finally rekindled my artistic inclination. I look forward to normalcy but at this moment I am content and grateful for all that I have, all that I am and all that is.

Published by Nitya Singh

Finance professional - Permanent Resident, Canada - Creative Soul - Blogger - Artist

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