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Tag: Somya Lohia

Somya Lohia

From aspiration to achievement: my journey as an immigrant

In the dimly lit confines of my basement, I was drawing a bright picture of my Canadian dream in my mind. Amidst the shadows, I envisioned myself interviewing a celebrity. However, the abrupt scurrying of a rat and a resounding thud from above snapped me back to reality, reminding me that it was time to prepare for another day at the local retail store.

Six months had passed since I moved to Canada, leaving behind a safe job as a journalist and my life in India. With my dreams packed neatly into suitcases, I arrived in Toronto. I felt hopeful as I stepped out of the airport. The towering skyscrapers, the impressive office buildings, the pristine roads, intricate flyovers and the luxury cars passing by — each sight nourished the seed of confidence within me that I was on the cusp of a successful career and a future filled with prosperity and luxury.

However, that “seed” of hope was quickly crushed as I reached the rented basement in Brampton that has become my home in this foreign land.

Perhaps you wonder why I chose to rent a basement studio. The answer lies in the exorbitant housing costs in Canada, especially in major cities like Toronto. Renting a basement emerged as the most economical choice for a newcomer. Little did I know that this economic choice would come with its own set of challenges.

Prior to my arrival, my social media feeds were brimming with videos showing everything about Canada — the food, the stores and the extensive list of attractions to visit. But the reality of residing in a cramped basement with compromised safety, steep rent, tough landlords, lack of natural light, and crawling rats and worms was never revealed in any glossy video. The constant thumping and noise from the floor above have become the soundtrack of my new life.

 

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Isolation was another significant challenge. I soon realized that the landlords and people nearby were polite but they didn’t want to be friends. They thought that newcomers like me were only temporarily dwelling in such accommodations, aiming to move into condominiums once we secured stable employment.

The solitude, cold days and the darkness of the room began to take a toll on my mental well-being, and the daunting task of building a career from scratch exacerbated my anxiety.

If you find this alarming, brace yourself, for this was merely the beginning; the real challenge emerged as I began my job search.

Having been a journalist for eight years in four reputable media houses in India, I initially pursued opportunities in my field. From scouring job boards online to reaching out to editors via emails and even knocking on the doors of their offices, I did everything possible to land a job. However, negative responses made it clear that I needed to be flexible to survive in this new environment.

After a series of unsuccessful attempts, I set aside my laptop and decided to explore job fairs — the bustling carnivals of employers offering opportunities in a vast hall showcasing promising careers.

Dressed in my finest attire, I headed out to attend one such event in downtown Toronto. As I navigated the city, rehearsing the lines I had meticulously prepared for potential employers, I could feel my anticipation building with every step. Having completed the initial formalities, I stepped inside a large hall with hope rekindled and that persistent “seed” of ambition in my heart — albeit for only a few fleeting moments.

 

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Inside were hundreds of people like me, all vying for a chance at a career breakthrough. I stood in queues for every company to submit my resume, and hoped that at least a few companies would respond. I rarely got to utter my well-rehearsed lines, as the recruiters were busy piling up resumes, politely stating they would get in touch with the most promising candidates.

I have since ventured to several job fairs with the same hope and determination, each time depositing my professional aspirations onto stacks of paper, delivered to waiting hands. The much-anticipated calls and emails never came.

Amid the gloom of my basement and the seemingly unyielding career challenges, two things keep me going: nature and people. From sunny afternoons to breezy evenings, nature always succeeds in cheering me up. The surrounding pine trees, colourful flowers, lush parks, trails and serene lakes have become my lifeline. They provide solace and rejuvenate my spirit to face the hurdles ahead.

Equally uplifting are the diverse people I encounter in this culturally rich country. Every evening as I venture out I know that some people will greet me. In parks and during chance encounters, people from various backgrounds offer kindness and support, unknowingly bolstering my resolve to face another day in my modest dwelling.

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Months passed, and, despite my best efforts to secure a writing job, I had no choice but to accept a position in retail to make ends meet in this new land. Engulfed in the whirlwind of hourly payments, weekly schedules and battling the elements to reach the store on time, I found myself far from the direction I had envisioned.

The computer, once a tool for crafting impactful articles, assisted me in processing orders and handling billings. My interactions had shifted from reporting on the public’s grievances to helping customers find the right outfit.

While the store job differed greatly from my original aspirations and I was facing immense challenges, the “seed” of aspiration remained firmly planted within me, nurturing the hope that one day I would achieve my dreams in this country and once again write to bring about a positive change in Canadian society.

And now, as I pen these words, a new chapter unfolds. I am thrilled to announce that I have secured a position as a reporter for Shootin’ the Breeze, a Pincher Creek-based newspaper.

With this opportunity, I embark on the path towards realizing my dream of becoming a renowned journalist in Canada. With gratitude in my heart and optimism in my soul, I step forward, ready to script the next chapter of my Canadian adventure.

 

 

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