Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Arriving in Canada


So guys, I know there’s hundreds of questions, and that you are a little nervous to leave home… But honestly there is nothing to be worried about. Canadians are the sweetest and most helpful people (probably in the world), or that is just how I find them. So I’m gonna tell you a little about what you’ll be needing when you are arriving to Calgary.
First of all, yes it is exciting, and I know you can’t help it, I was a bit anxious the first time I got over here, to Canada, as well.  But as long as you aren’t lying on the declaration form you have to fill out on the plane and you’ve got your working holiday form printed out and an updated passport you should be pretty good.
You’ll arrive to Calgary Airport, have the declaration form, passport and working holiday paper ready when you go through customs.
- Then they’ll probably ask you: “What you are going to do in Canada?”
- You’ll answer: “I’ve got a working holiday visa” (and then show the custom-guy)
- And then you’ll continue: “I’m here on a gap year program with Gap Year Canada, where I’ve pre paid my accommodation and already got a job with … bla bla … and so on…
- Then the custom guy will probably just say something like: “Alrighty, you sound like you are ready to go through immigrations, it’s that way…”

Okay, this is maybe a bit of a short version of what will happen when you go through customs, but they are normally really nice and helpful, and as long as you have got you passport, working holiday paper and declaration form with you, there shouldn’t be any problems at all. You all got everything set up prior to your arrival, and if you are one of those people, who gets super nervous take a little note with you with the address of your house and Gap Year Canada’s information.

Immigration are pretty much just a loooooong boooooring wait to get up to another counter where you’ll have to then repeat all that you just said to the guy in customs and then get your visa printed and stapled to your passport.
So honestly there’s nothing to really be worried about… It takes a bit of time getting through the first time… and it is boring… but other than that, you should not worry at all.

When you’re done with all the customs and immigration stuff, you go get your suitcase and then walk through the doors out to the rest of Calgary Airport, which is not at all that exciting or busy as airports could be. Then you just take a right turn, and walk up to the Brewster information desk, which is maybe a 50 meter walk…. And the people working there are super nice and helpful, they will help you with your airport transfer. And if you missed your transfer, they will just book you for the next one. So there is again no worries to be later or that you have to hurry or anything if you plane arrived a bit later than scheduled or immigration just took ages to get through.
There will always be a next bus that you can get on, so the worst that can actually happen is, that you will have to wait a couple of hours in Calgary airport for the next transfer… Which isn’t too bad.
When you are on the bus, you’ll have around one and a half hour drive out to Banff, and you’ll be dropped of outside the house you’re going to live for the next 8 months or so…

So really… It’s not that bad at all… Just take it easy, and don’t lie to the customs or immigration people… they probably won’t like that. And then you should be in Banff in no time! Can’t wait to have you all here in Banff! 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Prior to your arrival


Yes, I know this is a bit boring, but I’ll try to do my best and make this as FUN as can be :)

Flights

You’ll hopefully arrive at Calgary International Airport at some point. Ensure which ever carrier you use, that you check baggage allowance, and change in flight fees. Often we have many participants that decide to extend their stay for the summer. So maybe just don’t buy that return ticket before you know that you’ll be needing it. I fell in love with Banff, that’s why I’m back here now, and stayed until late July before I had to go back to Denmark and Uni after my winter season.

Travel Insurance

An important thing to have! Compare prices to ensure you have good coverage, and you are covered for snow sports for the duration of our winter season, early November to the end of May. Use the facebook group to connect with others while researching best options and pricing for insurance. Those that have a working holiday visa are eligible for Alberta Heathcare and you can apply (it is no charge) when you arrive. Alberta Healthcare will cover doctors, and hospitals but not presecriptions, dental work, or ambulance (touch wood none of you will need one!). For the few Danes out there, I can gladly recommend Europ├Žiske, www.er.dk. (maybe you can use them as well if you’re English)

Health

Some of you will be away for up to a year, maybe even longer, So, it’s probably worthwhile getting to the dentist and doctor for a check up prior to departure to ensure you are in good health, which could save costs in dentist/doctor visits here in Canada. It’s just a thought.

Airport arrivals & transfer details

Airport transfers from the Calgary International Airport directly to your chalet in Banff will be scheduled the first week of October. Please post your flight details into the file in the group on the Facebook group.

Arrival Details

When you finally get to Banff we will meet with all of you to run through the essentials to ensure you are prepared for the season. Social events will be posted through Facebook to everyone in the group so you can meet and connect. So if you have any ideas for things that you would like to do, please tell me, then I’ll try to arrange something.

We will ensure all of you are set up with local Social Insurance Numbers, a bank for employers to pay wages into and if applicable, Alberta Healthcare which will keep your insurance claims to a minimum.

Bla bla bla.. I know it gets a bit boring, but it’s good to know, isn’t it?

Parcels & Mail

There is no home delivery in Banff, Post Office Box can be set up and a key can be shared amongst the group, or anyone can send parcels and post to:
                Your Name
                General Delivery
                Banff Post Office
                Banff, Alberta
                T1L 1H1
General Delivery mail requires you to go in person with your ID to collect post or packages, they will hold post and packages for two weeks.

Identification

It is kinda wise to bring a picture ID to use when you’re go out in the evenings and have an alternative to carrying your passport. And a passport just isn’t the coolest thing to run around with when you’re drunk… If you have a drivers license, bring it, so you can keep valuables like your passport safe at home.

Mobile/Cell phones

If you have a newer unlocked phone you can bring it with you and get a SIM card in Banff to hook you onto the network without having to set up year long contracts.  Otherwise there are pay as you go options through Rogers, and Virgin Mobile. Although a mobile phone is not necessary, it seems many people have not lived without one for many years!

AND one last thing, Please bring an extra police clearance, sometimes your employee would like to have a copy, don’t ask me why, you need a clean record to get your visa…. Hmm…

My suitcase isn’t big enough!


My suitcase isn’t big enough!
Yea I know, I thought the same thing, when I was moving out here for my first season. So I OVERPACKED, stuffed my suitcase and my all-in-one ski bag to bursting levels.

Packing

Packing for a full season or year, yes it’s difficult, especially with the stupid baggage and weight restrictions on airlines these days! But use it, think this is my new best friend, because if you are bringing all the stuff that you really want to, you are going to smack yourself after a month, when you get here. Because who really needs all the stuff that they have in their closet? I didn’t!

I brought a stuffed suitcase, just under the weight limit of 20kg… which was fine… BUT, I just got myself a pair of skies, new boots and all that crap, because I really wanted to be ready for this season. And of course I was not just going to carry around a pair of skies and a pair of boots in the airport, No, I bought a BIG all-in-one skibag too, where my poles, boots, helmet, and avalanche gear could fit. Then I stuffed that bag as well with 30kg of gear. Mainly just ski gear, all brand new or from my season in France. 2 jackets, 2 pairs of skiing pants, 10 pairs of skiunderwear and middlelayers of different thickness, and yea, I don’t even know what I couldn’t find a good reason to bring, because it’s going to be sooooo cold in Canada. (I needed an excuse to bring all the stuff I thought I would need)
But to be honest, looking back, you only really need one set of good ski wear, if you got an outdoor job maybe bring an extra set of warm underwear. But you are coming to Banff, not going to the end of the world, where you’re out of reach from any kind of clothing store.
So pack your suitcase like you’re going on a 1-week skiing holiday in France rather than paying for excess luggage.

Banff is a casual environment, you won’t need much, and washing machines are in all of the houses so try and repack and sort your luggage before you go.
Though! Remember to make room for a towel, pillow and fitted sheet. All the chalets are all fully furnished and have wireless internet, So, what more do you really need then?

Gear

If you have your own gear, it is worthwhile bringing! BUT, if not, wait until you’re in Banff to shop. There are great deals on ex-rentals, which are perfect to learn and use(or wreck) at the beginning of the season. And throughout the season you will improve so much, that you will probably buy whatever new gear you will fancy anyways. I did! Mmm, Big Fat POWDER skiis.
There are also a few gear swaps at the beginning of the season, which is a great source for inexpensive skiis and snowboards. And Banff has some pretty sick shops, and lots of variety for warm layers that you will use all season, and we definitely have better bootfitters and gear knowledge than most English, Danish or other non-skiarea-local shops has.

SO, what I’m trying to say is; pack light, wait to buy you gear until you’ve been out here for a while and you know, what exactly you want.