Our Journey to Canada
Meet Soham Bhattacharya, a first-generation immigrant to Canada who moved here in January 2021 from India. Soham holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from B.M.S. College of Engineering in India and worked at Unilever for four years on various products, as part of the R&D team. Soham is a recent Master of Business Administration graduate from the Smith School of Business, where he specialized in marketing and sales. At Smith, he was the VP of the Marketing Club, a Student Ambassador, and a general member of the DE&I club. Currently, Soham is a Consultant with Deloitte Digital and is pursuing the Chartered Marketer designation with the Canadian Marketing Association. While reflecting on his immigration story, this is what he had to say:
Although I was born in India and grew up there until 2020, I come from a family of immigrants. In the midst of protests and violence due to communal unrest, my father’s family moved from former East Pakistan, present-day Bangladesh, to India in the 1960s, leaving behind land and other properties. My dad had a difficult life growing up without access to proper physical and mental health care, career guidance, and food security. My mother’s family has roots in India's present-day state of Rajasthan. Her forefathers moved to Bengal as business advisors and bookkeepers. She grew up in a joint family where traditions were taken very seriously, to the point that she was not allowed to wear some form of makeup and not allowed to learn dancing, which she wanted to.
My father has taught me numerous life skills, from mental math to navigating directions, for which I will always be thankful to him. My mom almost single-handedly brought my brother and me up, always ensuring we had all the comforts growing up, especially for studies and academics. It was not until I moved to Canada to pursue my MBA at Queen's University that I truly understood and appreciated the importance of family and culture.
With the hopes of a better future and lifestyle, I decided to come to Canada. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, grow, and excel as a professional. When choosing an international destination for my MBA, Canada was a natural choice because it welcomes and embraces immigration as a conduit to a better society and stronger economy. Also, I would lie if I did not mention the postcard image of Canada’s beautiful landscapes in my mind. The excitement to live in a country that is so beautiful and vast played a significant role in my decision to choose Canada, along with its multiculturalism and high education standards.
I vividly remember the day I landed in Canada in the middle of January winter. After exiting Pearson Airport in Toronto, I made my journey towards Kingston via the 401, where I observed my first Canadian thing: a guy who had his car windows rolled down while driving against the sub-zero temperature wind.
When I reached my apartment in Kingston, I knew I had to quarantine for 14 days. Those two weeks in a new country where I did not know anyone was some of the toughest days I have experienced thus far. I was homesick. I was crying. I was regretting coming to a place more than 13000 km from home.
I remember talking to my MBA career coach for the first time at the beginning of the MBA program. I started off the conversation by telling him that I was not doing great and that I was homesick. He was kind enough to concentrate on my feelings and not solely focus on my career discussions.
As time passed and I spent more time in the program and in Canada, things began to get better. With the Covid restrictions lifting and the 2021 summer weather and activities approaching, I made new friends and met someone special. That’s when I knew I had made the right choice of coming to this country!
Having lived in a new country for almost two years now, if I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self:
Starting life in a new country where you know no one will not be a walk in the park. Do not underestimate the impact on your mental health and bank balance.
Do not hesitate to ask for help or ask questions! By asking simple questions, one can learn anything about anything. Especially in a new country, you will have no option but to step out of your comfort zone and ask for help.
You miss the chances you do not take. Say “yes” to experiences that will push you to be a better person. Such moments could be the most memorable and rewarding ones.
Patience! It is easy to be influenced by all the good things and achievements people share on social media, especially on LinkedIn. Although one can find inspiration in the successes of others, everyone has a different journey.
Have a plan B. But never give up on plan A. If situations are out of your control to accomplish your plan A, use your plan B to achieve your plan A. But one way or the other, never ever let go of plan A.
The most contagious thing about Canada is that even though I still consider myself new to this country, it has not shied away from embracing me!
I am not saying that Canada is a utopia and everything and everyone is flawlessly perfect here, but it is perfect enough to make me feel proud about my decision to move here and learn from the challenges of immigrating to a new country.