Dear Aunt Agatha,
We've now been here a month, and life is starting to settle into more of a routine after the frenzy of the first couple of weeks.
After the euphoria of signing paperwork on a house, we had a night of heart-stopping panic while we tried to transfer funds over from Guernsey to cover our (legally binding) commitment. We had a transfer instruction all ready to fax to our bank back in Guernsey, but although the apartment had a fax machine we couldn't get the darned thing to go.
At first we assumed we were doing battle with the phone network again, maybe barring us from faxing to an international number, but obviously we were on panic stations right now. We tried calling the bank, but only ended up talking to some minion in a call centre somewhere on a premium rate and with our phone card rapidly expiring. Luckily I was able to call Dad, who managed to get a direct Guernsey number to use. Once we were through to a "real" person at the bank all became clear. The published fax number had been changed so the one we were trying was out of date.
Punched the correct number in, crossed fingers, toes, anything crossable, and it worked! Yay! Money on the way, and we can pay the deposit.
Of course, all this was taking place at 2am our time (in order to hit the business day in the UK) so we were not in the best frame of mind to deal with such shenanigans.
We were also most thankful that, way before we left Guernsey, we'd switched all our banking over to HSBC. Dealing with an international bank made things so much easier for us. We were able to open up Canadian accounts before we left, and had already been in to speak to our very nice account manager here in Victoria, so we had help both sides of the Atlantic to smooth things along.
Then we had the rest of the house-buying process to work through, checking out all the conditions, or "subjects", on the contract. Our friendly realtor was very understanding and steered us through the process quite painlessly.
Now we had another hoop to go through - getting a BC drivers licence! Our UK ones are useable, but only for 90 days, so we both had to book lessons and tests. This was another major source of anxiety. Ali was worried about the theory test, while I still recalled my Guernsey experience where examiners seem to be on a mission to generate revenue by failing almost all first-timers. We made full use of the ICBC website where you can learn the rules and practice the theory test. There were a lot of small and large differences in driving rules to get used to: four-way stops, shoulder-checks on right turns and lane changes, and being allowed to make a right turn against a red light!
One more hoop looming on the horizon: job hunting. I've started checking out the job market, and one of the themes I keep hearing again and again that this town is very hard to break into. Most jobs are never advertised and are filled on the basis of who you know. Despite the so-called shortage of skilled IT workers, this is starting to look a lot more difficult than it sounded from the other side of the pond.
Still, with all the things we've had to do this month I'm glad to have the time off for now.
And we've been finding time for some fun things too. Lots of picnics (in November! Who'd have thought?), a riotous African-theme dinner/dance at Megan's school, and the massive Victoria Santa parade.