Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Letters from Foreign

I thoroughly enjoyed the following two articles written by Jamaicans living abroad and published in the Daily Gleaner.  Kudos to the authors for injecting some well-needed reality into the false impression created by visiting Jamaicans that "everything a foreign is sweet."

Tips for migrants to Canada

published: Saturday | March 8, 2008

The Editor, Sir:

In response to the letter 'Migrant facing reality in Canada', many English-speaking immigrants face a difficult time when first they move to Canada. Immigrants who are not black, but are also not white, may find it easier, as many companies are owned or have senior management who are of South or East Asian background. These groups have excellent social networks.

The social system here is complex. You will find that the cities are multicultural, but the more multicultural, the less tolerance for others who are different. It will be hardest on parents at first, but your children will fit in more easily and eventually you will too.

Regarding employment, before emigrating, it is necessary to research the potential demand for your skills. Do not rely on Can/Prov governments projections as these do not usually represent current needs/wants of businesses. Further, some skills sell differently in some provinces/territories. For e.g., currently it's the trades and engineering that are in demand in some places, medical persons throughout, and retail in others. It can be difficult to get into some jobs, e.g. accounting, without Canadian experience, even if you are starting entry-level. As for degrees, a bachelor's degree is usually sufficient for the vast majority of jobs here. Employers look more to your experience which leaves a lot of the well-educated frustrated.

Do not give up unless you do have somewhere better to go. Consider going back to college to get a Canadian certificate; they tend to discriminate against all others, including those from the USA. Always remember, Canadians are not as open as Americans - they just like to project themselves as such.

I am, etc.,


Edmonton, Alberta


Via Go-Jamaica

LETTER OF THE DAY - Living 'a foreign' no bed of roses
published: Saturday | March 8, 2008

The Editor: Sir,

Growing up in Jamaica, I often heard the phrase uttered by many that 'foreign is no bed of roses' I used to get angry at individuals who, in my mind were only saying this to discourage other Jamaicans from going to America, giving them the impression that life is difficult there. Up to this point where I am now living and working in the United States (US), no one could tell me that life was not much better here than in Jamaica. In fact, living in America was my dream and no doubt the dream of countless Jamaicans who still hold on to the notion that America is still the best place to live.

I will not for a minute deny that there may be more and better opportunities for young people here. However, people must realise that opportunities must be sought wherever you are. It will not just come and fall in your lap. I must also admit and make it clear that you have to work twice even three times as hard here as you would the same job in Jamaica. "Mi neva work so hard inna mi life!"

A different experience

Living in the US is a completely different experience. Would I come back to Jamaica to live now? Absolutely! I now realise that indeed foreign is no bed of roses as I used to hear others say and do I agree! For me and I guess for many Jamaicans living here, I feel like I am not living, merely existing. Life is or can be very monotonous and downright depressing. Especially if you live in those states affected by winter. Frankly, this place is not fit for human habitation in winter. Try spending a day in your freezer and you will know what I am talking about!

I guess what I am trying to say is that I would rather be in Jamaica, with all the crime and violence, with all the so-called poverty and everything else that others seems to be running from. There is no place like home. America is not for everyone. If I knew that I would still be extremely homesick after eight years living in the States, that I would feel so incomplete and yearning to return home every given minute, I probably would have made a different decision about relocating. I would have stayed in my country and made the best of my life and my situation. I would have been more grateful being a Jamaican and living in Jamaica. I wouldn't be so critical of everything, and eager to leave.

A blessed country

Jamaica is, as we say, a blessed country. There is this sense of freedom and happiness that you experience there. I am not saying that there isn't a lot of problems and that things are not very difficult for many Jamaicans. What I am saying is that it is not much different here in the US, Life is just as difficult for many, especially if you do not have a skill or a career. You have to fight and work just as hard to make ends meet and to be successful.

My advice to the average Jamaican that still thinks that America is the answer to their problems is that you are in for a rude awakening. Work hard and build your country. Try to make a difference in whatever way you can. You have it good and you don't even know it. Jamaica is still the best place on Earth to live. Ask any Jamaican living a foreign.

I am, etc.,


Brooklyn,  New York

Via Go-Jamaica


At 3/12/2008 6:33 AM, Blogger Morpheus Rablings said...

I am pleased that you have added those letters to your blog, as it gives an idea of what it is really like migrating to the US and Canada.
I also used those letters in my blog and provided my own insight .... it is NOT easy being a black immigrant to this country.

At 3/12/2008 4:07 PM, Anonymous Jamaican Girl said...

I just wanted to add a dimension to this post. I have read several letters about this issue and started an email amongst my friends who are now living in Canada. I did this because I have heard so many stories about Canada in particular, being very immigrant unfriendly and how many people have returned to Jamaica etc. However, I found it odd that not even ONE of my close friends has contemplated returning any time soon. I have lived in the UK before and so it's not like I don't understand what living abroad has been like. So I asked my "Janadian" friends what their views were on these letters and they all admitted that yes, it is a struggle initially.....but then this is why when you are applying for Canadian residency, you must be leaving here with apporx CA$12,000 as there is no guarantee that you will get a job quickly. They have all expressed that it can be a very lonely life, especially when we are used to dropping in to people's homes here without notice....but the feedback I have received is that once you get a job and get settled, then everything else will fall into place. My friends all have at least 2 degrees in their various fields and when they compare where they are at now to what they could be here, they say they would rather be lonely. Buying a house at age 35 in Jamaica is not an option available to many persons, no matter how skilled or educated they are. Even getting a job in Jamaica is hard unless you know someone, who knows someone etc. Nepotism is rife in Jamaica and I am sure you must realise that this is an obstacle for many. The feedback I get is that people would rather stick it out and make like for themselves in Canada. I too am contemplating Canada and I am not letting any letters dissaude me whatsoever. In terms of earnings, I hardly think that right now Jamaica offers better salaries than the North. As an aside, I am looking at the push-pull factors of migration for my thesis and I will say that the literature reflects that based on owrking conditions in particular in Jamaica, migration is still seen as a favourable option because people can see at some point what they are working for. We cannot see that here in Jamaica...and let me just add that the situation in Jamaica is not going to get any better for now but in the mean time, people would like to get their financial lives on track....and migration is the perfect outlet. Sorry to be lengthy, but I still think that for me personally, I will take the lonliness and the racism any day over the pathetic salary scale and nepotistic ways of Jamaica from my own people. That's a personal take on the matter.

At 3/12/2008 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Edmonton. Not sure what city the "Canadian" poster is from, cause it sure isn't Edmonton.

Jobs are plentiful here and salaries are high. Service and retail industries here pay more than professional positions in some other parts of the country. There is an oil boom on and demand for workers is high everywhere.

There has been a big spike recently in the cost of living, mostly related to a boom in the housing market. Rents doubled in some cases, but they were fairly low to begin with. The housing boom has stopped cold and house prices are beginning to retreat slowly and are projected to continue that way for another two years. It is very hard to find a place to rent because vacancy rates are very low. There are however a glut of houses on the market, and anyone earning an income as a skilled professional will be able to afford a house.

As far as racism, I think the poster probably hasn't lived in both countries long enough to make the comparison fairly. Canada is much more open to immigrants than the US by far. We bring people from all countries and nationalities in to work at my place of employment, and we assist them with finding housing, getting legally registered etc. I recommend finding a good company that is looking for your skillset before moving and using their immigration services to help ease the transition. There are cultural groups and clubs in all Canadian cities, look them up.

Here as in the US, racism mostly corresponds with education and upbringing. I grew up around and went to school with people of all different nationalities, so it really isn't a big thing to me and most Canadians are the same way. Hopefully the poster isn't letting a few bad experiences cloud his/her judgement.

At 3/13/2008 4:44 AM, Anonymous Jamaican Girl said...

In response to the post by anonymous, I had forgotten to mention those issues. Canada IS looking for people, but TORONTO is not Canada! A lot of Jamaicans tend to settle in the GTA area of Ontario mainly because they have support systems in place there. However, one must be prepared to make a move where the jobs are. It is commonly known that with the oil boom out west, you can work at say Tim Hortons for a tidy sum...I can only imagine what professionals must be raking in. Also, I gather if you are in IT then east is for you. (I am open to correction on this). I have a friend who moved to Moncton NB where there was no family support system but it's where the job was....she was able to get a job right away and even though she may not have family/friends on spot, she has made new friends and has adapted to the situation fairly well.

I don't know but I think that people who are "bellyaching" about the issue must ask themselves a few questions. Is it financial health you are looking for, or do you want the trimmings of a non-industrial society where you can pick your neighbours mango without going to jail? Nobody thinks that "foreign" is the end all and be all of life....I mean these Gleaner letters are speak to "Maisie from country who neva si di airport yet and do likkle selling in di market a week time" (my view)....but it certainly doesn't speak to me. We just have to decide what we want from life. If I leave I may want to come back even as a real estate investor.....but I would like to be exposed to a wider range of careers and experiences and I will determine what my future will be like. Yes I know there is racism but guess what....right here in Jamaica there is racism and classism....and you are screwed if you don't know someone who knows someone...half the people who are in the work force today are not suited for their position and have arrived there because of some connection...for the most part....

At 4/08/2012 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in USA for awhile and I didn't like it either and both USA and Canada are racist.


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