I am sitting in the lounge of a wonderful hostel in Kelowna, BC, Canada as I am typing these words. Now let me tell you how I finally got into this situation.
After putting all of my belongings in my childhood room in Germany into four banana boxes and storing them under my bed, it was time to pack everything for Canada around a week before departure.
I somehow magically managed to fit everything into my hiking backpack so after several goodbyes to my friends, the day of my departure towards Canada had come.
The alarm went off at 7 am and I headed right to the shower to clean myself one last time before an over 30 hour day to come. Then I had a small breakfast and turned on some 80s in the living room one last time.
Around 8:50 am, we then left the house. My father was working from home that day to be able to bring me to the airport, my mother even took a day off and my sister was excused from school. We arrived at the airport half an hour later where we headed to the counter to check in my luggage.
Right in front of the counter, we met Silas and his family. While he was asked to show his hand luggage to the woman behind the counter, I luckily wasn’t because instead of the allowed 5kg, mine weighed around 11 kg. Lots of electronics…
After meeting up with my grandmother who had come to the airport to dismiss me, it was finally time to say goodbye to my family. Actually, that wasn’t really that difficult because everything just seemed to unreal at that point – and still does – that I couldn’t really comprehend what was happening.
Anyway, Silas and I proceeded through security where it literally took me ten minutes to get all the electronics out of my backpack and another ten minutes to somehow stuff them all in again afterwards.
We had to wait at the gate for quite a while to then get on the twelve hour flight from Frankfurt to Las Vegas. The on-board entertainment consisted of four movies one of which was one single episode of Game of Thrones so Silas and I both were very happy that we had downloaded enough Netflix series for the duration of the flight. Because of the different time zones, we left Frankfurt at 12:35 pm and arrived in Las Vegas around 3 pm on the same day so with the plane always flooded with light, I wasn’t able to sleep a single minute. Still, the flight went by pretty comfortably.
In Las Vegas, we had to get through American immigration first in order to verify that we would stay within the airport for transit for a total of five hours legally which I find so ridiculous. The line was super long since two planes full of passengers arrived simultaneously and the immigration officers decided to only open three of the 28 available counters.
Finally, we came to one of those three counters where a very, very calm immigration officer – and by very, very calm I mean like those skunks in the movie Zoomania, so calm I had huge trouble suppressing my laughters several times – allowed me to enter the US.
After picking up our checked luggage we passed yet another instance of security where Silas was pulled over and the apple in his hand luggage was confessed. Still, he was allowed to keep his three boxes full of cooked vegetables and although I stated that I had foods such as nuts and fruits with me as well, my hand luggage wasn’t even checked in the first place. I guess we don’t have to understand the American border service.
Anyway, we then headed for the counter to check in our checked luggage again. That was necessary because the second and third flight were operated by another airline than the first one. I started walking with 11 kg of hand luggage on my back, 2 kg in a bag in my left hand, two thick jackets and a wool sweater on my left arm and 23 kg worth of checked luggage in a hiking backpack wrapped in plastic and therefore very unhandy to carry, in the other hand.
I gave up 20 meters along the way when Silas luckily came up with the brilliant idea of putting my hiking backpack on top of his suitcase which he could then easily roll to the gate.
After quite a lot of trouble finding that counter and more trouble because Silas’s suitcase was too heavy, we made it through security and to the gate. Just like one would expect at the airport in Las Vegas, there were even a couple slot machined at the gate – so absurd!
We slept for the whole three-hour-long flight before landing in Vancouver where we didn’t even have to pick up our checked luggage again. At least we thought so but when we saw it at the luggage claim, we still took it just to see a hint 50 metres further down the hall saying that those passengers connecting to Kelowna should leave their checked luggage at the claim. So we walked all the way back and put it on the baggage claim once more before walking to immigration.
We had to fill out a little immigration form and were then further directed by several officers to finally end up in a room where a handful other officers were searching other passengers for illegal goods in their luggage. We weren’t quite sure if that was the right place to get our Visa when we proceeded to the counter but there, the officer was able to help us. Although on the internet, the Canadian Immigration Service advised us to carry around six or seven different documents in order to qualify for the work permit, he only asked for our passports and the letter approving our work permit and after ten minutes of waiting, we were allowed to enter Canada, work and stay there for one whole year.
While very happy that everything finally seemed to work out, I was also a little disappointed since I was planning to stay in Canada for 17 months and never read any hint through the whole application process that the length of the visa was limited to one year. And while I can only apply for that kind of visa once, I hope that I will still be able to get a tourist visa for five more months.
Anyway, for the moment we were really glad to finally be in Canada and hold the visas and work permits in our hands. We started wandering around the empty airport because it was just after midnight and no flights would be either arriving nor departing until 4:30 am. After quite a walk, we ended up on a seating bank we had for ouselves for the following six hours before our gate would even open. Being able to sleep for a few hours was wonderful and long needed after 24 hours since leaving our German homes.
In order to board the tiny propeller-driven plane for our third and final flight, we had to walk through a tunnel over the taxiway which was a pretty interesting experience.
An hour later we arrived at Kelowna International Airport super. And this is when our journey will continue in the next post.