Andrii Story author: Andrii Story language: English

Choosing a country of immigration

Just like Ostap Bender, the immortal character of the novel by Ilf and Petrov, I had a dream. Only unlike Ostap, who dreamt of Rio de Janeiro, where “everyone wears white pants,” my thoughts about immigration were stubbornly associated with Australia. Why so? The hell knows, but even when I met my future wife, I almost asked her half-jokingly on our first date: “Will you go to Australia with me?” to which she, regaining her senses from my audacity, timidly replied, “I will”.

Thank God I didn’t end up in Australia. The way I see it today, it was like going to the moon with all the other people left on Earth. Besides, as one Canadian put it, Australia is the ocean shore and the rest of the continent trying to kill you in every possible way. I’m more than sure that many would disagree with me or my Canadian friend, but in any case, I find it very hard to see myself in Australia. At least for now. However, ladies and gentlemen, you can’t go anywhere just because everyone there is wearing white pants. It’s wiser to approach the question rationally, answering a few basic questions for yourself, such as:

  • In what country do I have relatives, friends, or acquaintances?
  • What language can I learn?
  • In what country is it easier to get a job as an immigrant?
  • Will I be able to work in my profession and if not, what profession can I learn?

You can read an article about the ranking of the most prosperous countries in the world, see Norway in the first place, and boldly declare that you want to go to Norway. But I would personally recommend coordinating your dreams with reality. If you speak German, consider the choice of countries accordingly: Austria, Switzerland, Germany of course. If you want to start a business, it makes sense to check the ratings regarding how simple it is to do business or to look at where the best market is for goods or services. Off the top of my head is the US.

That was not my starting point, though. I knew from the beginning, and I am convinced to this day, that the target country must be an immigrant country, one founded by immigrants. Why is this so? It is very simple. The language in most cases will remain limited and with an accent, that’s number one. Second, and even more serious, is society’s stance regarding you. You are much less likely to encounter discrimination or xenophobia in an immigrant country. Indeed, who can ever tell me, “Come and go”? Someone whose parents had done what I did? Not to mention the fact that discrimination is a very serious offence, severely punished in these countries. I remember when a friend of mine had settled in Toronto, one of my first questions was how the kids felt about school. Understandably, they are the most vulnerable in terms of ridicule, bullying, and rejection. I can remember today what my friend said at the time, “Who will laugh at them, Mexican or Chinese?” Perhaps that was what sealed my decision at the time.

On top of everything else, being a citizen of such a country is very prestigious. A Canadian (American or Australian) passport gives you visa-free entry to many countries in the world, and you don’t have to go anywhere else. This feeling of freedom, unfamiliar to someone born in the USSR, is truly amazing. It is not easy to get used to, but it is so good that you do not even want to get used to it. You want to go to the UK, so you buy a ticket on the website and fly. At customs, we proudly show our passport and catch a buzz. We answer the question about the purpose of the trip, of course, but that’s all.

You may dream about Rio, Oslo or Melbourne, but when it comes to real scenarios and options, it’s better to take off rose-coloured glasses. No, don’t get me wrong, I adore Europe with every fibre of my being… Italy, for example.  For now, although my place is in Canada, the dream of Italy with a Canadian passport is by no means unattainable. But as a friend of mine said upon arriving in Toronto whose dream had been Vancouver, “I think I found my Vancouver, guys!”

That’s what I wish you!