Before immigrating to Canada, I was a physician in a hospital. Every year, I had about 9 months to do my research work. I also had a grant to study mammalian gene expression. In May 1999, seeking a better life, I came to Toronto with my husband.
The first several months passed quickly, and we felt exited about the new environment. We began to discuss looking for a job.
My husband was a chemical engineer in China. At that time, it was very hard for him to find such a job in Canada. The same thing happened to me: I could not become a physician in Canada in such a short time. So I started to look for a job in a lab that would utilize my background in molecular biology research.
I sent out my CV to every PI I could find on university or hospital Web sites. I got several interviews and, fortunately, one PI offered me a position as a short-term volunteer in his lab, ignoring my poor English and lack of local experience. With his help, I started my medical research career in Canada.
I was very nervous about my first job. Even though the work was not hard for me--maintaining mouse strains, isolating DNA, PCR, primer design, preparing to make a new gene construct, northern blots--it took me a lot of time to translate so many English terms into Chinese in my mind. It was a stressful period, but it turned out well, as my supervisor started to pay me as a research assistant after 3 weeks of volunteer work.
After working there for 10 months, I changed to another lab, seeking benefits and better pay. I worked for 3 years in the second lab; during this period, I learned a lot of new techniques. In the beginning, I took charge of only some of the lab's mice, about 100 cages. The last year, I took charge of all of the mice in the lab, around 300 cages. These 4 years of animal-work experience gave me a solid foundation for my future research career.
Last year, my former supervisor moved away and I changed labs. My new job is more challenging, involving more histology and protein studies. I am very exciting to learn all of these new things.
It is not easy for a new immigrant to fit into a new environment and find an ideal job. But I was lucky, in that during this difficult period, tons of nice people gave me lots of help. It made me feel an unexpected happiness during the hard times.
I have been Canada for 5 years. My husband has finished his master's degree in computer science and is looking for a job now. I hope he can get a job soon. Things get better and better.