28. Finally back!

Somewhere between Frankfurt and Vancouver, 03.01.2017.

Happy new year everyone! It has been quite some time since I last wrote an entry for my blog. And I am truly sorry about that. There are some excuses for this fact but none is really convincing so I won’t bother to go into detail why I didn’t write anything in the last weeks.

Anyway, now I have time and I feel like writing something again. In the moment, I am currently sitting in a Boeing 747-400 “Jumbo” and we just flew over the edge of Greenland. Thus, soon we will enter Canadian airspace and fly the last 3636 kilometers to Vancouver. Just about four and a half more hours to go, good news! By the way, this is the first time I am in this type of plane and it is truly huge. The planes that I flew regularly with between Frankfurt and London Heathrow were often a lot smaller. But that was also a much much shorter route.

Our plane after we landed at Vancouver airport.

Before I start explaining what I am planning for the next days and weeks, let me first tell you what I did since I wrote the last blog entry. In the last several weeks, I focused mainly on two things: Firstly, I needed to sell, give away or throw away practically all of the stuff in my apartment and give the latter back to the landlord by end of December. And Secondly, I wanted to see as many of my friends and family as possible to say “Good- Bye” and enjoy some quality time with them. Both endeavors were quite successful.

I managed to return my apartment to my landlord on December 23rd. Just in time to enjoy Christmas and the last few days in Germany without having to worry about THAT anymore. As of now, the amount of stuff that I kept for myself in Germany is very limited: roughly 12 boxes, unevenly distributed among my mum’s and my dad’s house. It is a little bit shocking that this is everything that is now left after 35 years of life. But I don’t mind about that, really. In the end, it is more often the immaterial things that make us happy. So I don’t really care about leaving everything behind. If I really need anything in Canada that I could not bring with me, I’ll just buy or lend it. All will be fine…

Today’s flight took me right past the city I last lived in: Siegen.

After having visited Berlin in November, I managed to see some more of my friends and family in the past weeks. When thinking about it, I was actually able to see a lot of those people that I really care about. I enjoyed a Cinema- and Party- Weekend with Glenn in Siegen, played a Poker tournament in my Poker club in the very same city, visited a very old friend of mine from my early army days in Koblenz, played three great board game days in varying groups in Siegen, Mannheim and Wesseling, spend New Years Eve with two good friends of mine near Cologne and finally I was also able to meet a former LIDL colleague and friend of mine with his wife on the evening of January 1st and two friends from my later army days on January 2nd. That was yesterday evening. A bit stressful, but it was absolutely worth seeing my buddies again. Sad thing one of them could not be there but we will make up for that in June or so. And then, there was a big surprise at the airport for me today. One of my buddies took the train from Cologne to Frankfurt airport to say Good Bye to me personally again and to show the airport to his two little boys that he had with him. So nice of him, I felt a bit humbled by that.

The flight also took me past the towns where some of my family and friends live.

With regard to my family, I spent the last one and a half weeks at my mum’s place and managed to see Adelheid, my dad and my brother after Christmas. Also, my brother and I managed to go to our traditional December- concert. I don’t know exactly for how many years he and I managed to go to a concert in December but it must be at least 4 years in a row. Probably more. Today, my mum and I got up very early and she drove me to the airport so that I didn’t have to take the train. That was very nice of her and I was happy to say Good Bye to her in person at the airport. Then, my plane took off roughly one hour late at 11:20 AM since the flight was hopelessly overbooked and they kept looking for people who wanted to stay in Frankfurt for a day and get a 600 Euro- compensation for that. I could not wait to finally start my trip to Canada so I chose to wait if I could still get a seat on the plane which I finally did. Good thing. So I am now finally on my way, probably starting the biggest adventure of my life. I can’t say I am not excited… 🙂

Rocky Mountains just south of Jasper. What a beauty!

And what are the plans for my first days in Vancouver? Well, everything is pretty much straightforward. Upon arrival, I will get my rental car first and then go straight to the next TELUS- shop to reactivate my Canadian SIM- card. Having a working phone is pretty important I guess. Then I will probably try to fulfill a few bureaucratic tasks in Vancouver: Surely, I need to apply for a Social Insurance Number and to register myself somewhere. I hope the immigration officers at the airport will tell me in detail what to do and where to go. If not, I will find it out another way, I don’t worry about that yet. If I still have time after that, I will try to open a bank account somewhere. That will probably be the biggest challenge. At least if the Canadian procedure is similar to the one in England. I remember having the most trouble with that when I arrived east of London in March last year. God, it is unbelievable that this is already so long ago. I can’t believe it…

Anyway, all the above mentioned stuff will keep me very busy today. And maybe I will have to do some of these things tomorrow if I start getting tired after the flight. Which may happen since I also didn’t sleep very well last night. Once I got all these things boxed off, I will start looking for a car of my own so that I can return my rental car as soon as possible and still stay mobile. Possibly, I will start looking for some kind of Jeep or car that can go off road. I do plan to make some trips to places that are a bit more remote so having a suitable car for that sounds like a good idea. Finally, I already booked a First Aid course in Surrey next week and of course I will attend. In case I will be able to work as a Park Ranger, I need this qualification. And if don’t get a job as a Park Ranger, it is never bad to refresh one’s knowledge what to do in case of emergency. When I was still in the army, we had to do First Aid courses every year and in hindsight I think that was a very good thing to do. Knowing what to do if someone is an emergency can’t be bad, really.

Arrival at Vancouver airport. Quite the queues at the customs booths and the immigration office.

Ah, I think we just touched the “job”- topic. Probably the one topic I discussed the most with many people in the last weeks. It seems like a lot of people are more worried than me if I get a job or what I will do for a living. To be honest, currently I am not worried at all. I already applied for the job as a Park Ranger in Alberta and in Sasketchawan. And when the job openings for Park Rangers in British Columbia are published, I will also apply for one of those jobs. This is currently my plan: To spend a season as a Park Ranger in one of Canada’s beautiful parks. We’ll see if that plan becomes reality or not. If it fails, I can always drive up north into the Yukon and mine gold for a season. Like the crazy guys in the american TV Series “Gold Rush Alaska“. Honestly, I would love to do that. Gotta learn to drive the big machinery first, though. In Germany, this TV Series runs on DMAX at 6:15 PM each evening. Take a look at it, it’s really interesting and entertaining. Anyway, I will keep you updated how my search for a job goes on. And I think I will also write a few things about my future ambitions to do some Marathons here in the next blog entry.

My rental car that I will use until I found and bought my own car. Good to drive, no complaints.

Finally, as usual, I’ll conclude this entry with my music advice. Today’s piece of rock is really solid and straightforward as well as fitting to my current situation. Cheers!

Linkin Park – Don’t stay

22. Canada reloaded: next stop 2017

Siegen, Germany, 19.09.2016.

A little more than 3 months ago, I wrote the last entry for this blog when I was waiting for my flight back to Germany at Vancouver airport. While writing the blog and waiting for my flight, I somehow felt very sad because I did not want to return to Europe anymore. Anyway, I guess that there are things you can change in life and there are also things you can’t change. At that time, I had to fly back to Europe to deal with all the things that required my attention there: Mainly my appartement in Germany and my job in England. I thought that after returning to my job and having my daily routine again, my great memories of Canada would start to fade sooner or later and I would be happy again in my everyday routine. Well, guess again. It didn’t happen as expected. Instead, I continued thinking about Canada each day and I could not clear my memory of the great experiences I had there. At that point, I knew I had to make a decision. I had basically two choices:

1. The safe and rational option: Keep on working in a good job with good career opportunities and decent pay. This would have meant staying and getting old in Europe and only returning to Canada once a year, if possible.

2. The risky and emotional option: Make a radical change in life, resign at your job, give up everything in Germany and try to make your luck in Canada. The upside of this option is to live where I actually WANT to live but failure to properly integrate/ accomodate is also a real thing.

Two years ago, my decision would have been easy and straightforward: Take the safe and rational option. Listen to your brain. Why should you possibly give up a good present situation for a doubtful future situation that could very well turn out to be less favourable? That does not make any sense, right? Well, after my Canada trip this year I began to think differently. I realized for myself that life should really be about being happy and trying to achieve the dreams that you have. At that point I asked myself what really really made me happy recently: It was my time in Canada. Of course there were also other things that I enjoyed a lot: Meeting friends or family, playing all sorts of games, some aspects of my job, etc.. But all these positive things were not comparable to the great time I had in Canada. So what to do now? Well, I decided that after having made (safe and rational) decisions with my brain for more than 15 years, it was now time to start making decisions with my heart.

Thus, I started gathering information on what my options were to return to and possibly also to work in Canada as soon as possible. Fortunately, as I am not yet aged 35 or older, the Canadian government offers a visa and a working permit in its “Work & Travel”- program. So this is what I applied for in July. At that time, chances to get the visa and the working permit were rather slim. Several hundreds of applicants were fighting over a few handful of permits. Nevertheless, I handed in my application and hoped for the best. I don’t know why it happened but the Canadian Government then decided to make another 1000 working permits available to the current and future applicants this year. That is why I then actually got my visa and working permit in early August, just roughly 3 weeks after I started the application process. This is truly amazing and I am very greatful for that. And this is how it looks like:

Working permit, issued by the Canadian Government

After I received the positive news, I still took my time to think about the future and the consequences of my imminent decision. After two nearly sleepless nights, I then decided to proceed with my plan to go to Canada for a longer time. Thus, my next action was to write my job resignation. Not an easy decision to give up everything you worked for and start something completely new and uncertain. But then again, how can yo be completely happy or sure that you are not missing anything in life if you never take a risk or try something new? With the fresh impressions of my great Canada road trip in my mind, it was now or never to make this decision in my life.

Originally, my plan was to roughly work until end of October, then to take the rest of my holidays and quit the company on November 30th. Thus, I wrote my resignation accordingly. However, I did not consider the possibility that my company could release me from work earlier. This is what happened on September 8th. Now I am still beeing paid but I don’t have to work anymore. Strange world. To me, this feels really odd and it also seems like a waste of resources. But I will not complain about this situation anymore since I can not change it anyway. And on the flip side, I now have enough time to organise my Canada- adventure properly. Also, it allows me to spent some weeks of vacation in Scotland with a good friend of mine in October. 🙂 So I guess everything is fine.

Now, what will be the next steps for me? Here in Germany, I need to sell or throw away all of my furniture and most of my stuff and make sure my appartement is empty at the end of December 2016. In England, I also need to clear my appartment. This, however, will be less work as none of its furniture belongs to me and it can be cleared in a day or so. I guess I will do this in October at some point. And Canada? I will have to intensify my planning and preparation a bit. As of now, I only know that I will be flying from Frankfurt to Vancouver on January 3rd and stay at Dawn’s place in the beginning. Job- wise, I will apply for a position as a Park Ranger in a National- or Provincial Park. As I am very flexible, I will apply for every open position, no matter in which park. We will see what happens….

In the next blog entry, I will possibly write a bit about my holidays in Scotland and my preparation for 2017 in Canada. As usual, the blog entry concludes with a music advice:

Dream Theater – Constant Motion