Monday, December 31, 2007

I got a story about something happened to my wife and I the December 24, between 12:00PM and 2:00PM in “Plaza Venezuela” station of “Metro de Caracas” subway…
My wife and I were coming back home from last minute shopping when, all of the sudden a man engaged us asking
“Hi, do you speak English?”

I was kind of stunt and amazed because of the question, especially here in Venezuela, the people isn’t prepare to speak English at all and it is weird that at a public place a lonely man look for assistance... I said “yes?” more questioning than answering.
The guy told me back:
“Thanks god! First merry xmas, I am from Brooklyn and I really really sorry to bother you. I am in a rush; I was robbed and dumped in Altamira a moment ago…” (4 stations from where we were) “… I need some directions and some money to get to the embassy or going back to the hotel in Puerto Cabello…”

There was nothing more to say or to hear, I knew at that very moment that no one can fake the new Yorker accent and isn’t weird that the personal security in Venezuela is pretty much damaged. So I asked him what could I do to help him, if he needed money, how much does he needed and if he already tried to go to a police station… He’s answer was:
“Police?? Oh yeah, sad story… when I got there and tried to tell ‘em I was rob, then entire police dept started laughing… turn their head back pointing at me, and laughing even more… pretty much depressing, uh?... Seriously, I wanted to study a little bit more your culture because I am a professor... Sociologist as the matter of fact, but I don’t want to stay here any longer, just want to go home; if god let me I will be having Christmas in new York tonight… I asked for assistance in the street and what I got was a ‘go home Yankee… a cab to Valle Arriba (where the embassy is) cost Bs. 25,000 to 35,000’ but then the people vanished and I got in the sub as a cheaper way to get to the U.S. embassy…”

I watched at the same moment my wallet… just Bs. 30,000 in there ($15 bucks), so pulled out Bs. 25,000 (odd $12 bucks) and gave it to him saying… “What you need to do is go back to Altamira, where the Caracas’ Palace Hotel is… Ask in the lobby for assistance, in order to get a cab, DO NOT TAKE ANY CAB BECAUSE THEY ARE AS DANGEROUS AS THE ROBBERS… ” (Sad thing, Venezuelan taxi cabs take advantage of foreign visitors, stealing their money, bags, suitcase, etc…) “… ask the receptionist for help too, you need to get to the embassy as soon as possible. I am really sorry for the inconvenience you had suffer…”.

He looked my wife and I and told us with a grateful smile:
“Do not apologize because of what happened… I was staying in Puerto Cabello for the last days and I can tell you, I was in a paradise, I shouldn’t have come to Caracas but I wanted to study the behavior of your city… Plus, you are the only couple who are willing to help, thank you very much for everything and thank god for put you two in my unfortunate today path.”

We saw him jump in the next train and comeback to Altamira station… After a few minutes my wife and I were terrified, why didn’t we help him more? We should have call the taxi cab instead and send him straight to the U.S Embassy… Once home we wanted to call the embassy to know some status of the man odyssey, but realized we didn’t had any name, just the look-like description and the brief information, sent an e-mail asking for his status but no info had come back…
This story could give you one series of reasons, why we want to migrate… Dangerous city, poor police effectiveness, poor security… And the list goes on and on…

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy holydays!

Our dear wishes for this holydays. We wanted to wish you all the best presents you could ever have which are health and caring from your beloved ones.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah 2008. We hope Santa, baby Jesus or these 8 days brings you the best you deserve. Happy holydays.

PS: If you are Jewish, sorry that I didn’t wished Happy Hanukkah before the Dec. 21. The meaning is what matter, isn’t it?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Other Services...

Why should I talk about other migration services?

As I said before, my migration process is been care by the organization “VEA”. But as my wife and I have been going through this process, we have met other families or people with the same dream as we have.

A quick search gave us two options and a chat with a friend gave us another. I am not going to discuss live in Australia, mostly because is the same company as “Viva en Australia” which is Southern Cross Alliance.

The other option was Migration Expert, which is a online organization with some free services. Their main objective is to assist a large number of skilled and business professionals wishing to migrate to Australia, Canada or United Kingdom. Their services are notable less expensive than SCA services or AMES. But you must spend some time doing your forms, getting help with the document construction process and sending your papers to Australia.

Oceania Worldwide services, is a private company which help the emigrant to move to Australia or New Zealand with a very personal treatment. Isn't the largest, recognition or the one with more customers, but certainly is the one with the more loyal customers as I have seen in forums.

The last recommended service was AMES (Adult Multicultural Education Services), is one of the largest employment and settlement services which provide assistance to the emigrant with government contracts or insertion in the educational and laborer fields. The friend who told me about this service is not on its productive age and so, it is difficult to find sponsorship with the Australian government and some services... He started the migration process with AMES because they told him not to worry, they wanted to do the best to help him make his dream come true; meanwhile SCA told him they couldn't accept their case because of the age issue.

I am not going further with these topics because my information can’t relate experiences but at least gives you a idea of where to look (besides of Google :P)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I decided to join up a yahoo group labeled “gotoau”. Obviously is a community of families in the same migration process as I am. Why I wanted to join? Because I need to start knowing people in Australia before I get there.

A couple of weeks ago, I read a internet article exposing that most of the people moving to somewhere else, fail to adapt when they don’t have people around them in their new environment.
Once in, I started having some new friends, talking a lot and dissipating every migration related doubt.

It is important that if you have under consideration to moving to another country / place where you don’t count on some backup or support you should better start chatting over internet or meeting some new people which are having the same intellectual context as you do.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The post should have been named “IELTS Ready!” but I had to change it!!

As I said before, i had to take again the IELTS… I did and I got a solid 7.0.

I must confess to those thinking to take the IELTS, is a very tricky test. Those who haven’t take it yet here is a short description of the IELTS and a couple of tips.

First you are going to have the Speaking module (In some cases this test is the very last because this section of the examination is individual and usually in a separated date) which isn’t difficult. Don’t worry; you are not going to be asked to tell the entire theory of relativity, just the half of it… Ha ha, joking. First you are going to be asked to give a short description of yourself (your name, your age, if you are from around the area and stuff like that). Next you are going to be giving a situation, the first time I took the test was “globalization” and next time was mass transportation. The very last part of these module consist on chatting with the examiner about the previous topic taking out the most of your vocabulary out, this activity takes about 5 minutes. It was fun both times because the people are very nice and they try to get you calmed. The entire module examination takes 15 minutes the most.

All the other modules are taken at the same day (I took the speaking module the Wednesday and the other examination started the Saturday noon).

The first of these modules are the listening module, this is one of those tricky test which takes more speed as it goes by, so don’t take it for granted because you did it great at first. It requires concentration more than anything… I was having the test near someone which started to cough every 5 minutes… I wanted to kill him. Anyway, you will hear people calling to an info centre asking prices on items or subscriptions, a guide talking in the visit to a museum, infomercials or related stuffs. The listing module takes 30 minutes divided in 20 minutes listening the recording and 10 minutes (30 seconds after every dialog completing 6 dialogs, and several minutes at the end to check your answers). My advice, avoid people with a sick look… Another good advice would be try to read your questions before listening every dialog, this is vital, otherwise you will be lost in the context of the conversation and you will not catch the answers.

The second module is the Reading Module which is fun (if you are taking the general training) because you are given a bunch or articles telling you very specific things (such as a hall’s/building’s description, painting course’s description, newspaper articles, magazine spots, etc. If you are taking the Academic training it would be like reading manuals or book short chapters. Then you are asked to respond things such as which is the name of the hall with lots of parking lots or, do you have to take your own colors to the first class of painting? The module takes about 60 minutes. My advice, sum the article and then read the questions, if you find something familiar you would know where you read it, confirm your reading and set the answer. If you read the entire article you are screw, because you will be wasting time… the sick men next to me didn’t matter.

The third and last module is the writing module (which you might take after a nice break, so try to call the muses). Here you will be given two ideas which you have to develop. The first idea is to write a letter directed to a manager, friend or government because you had a defective item (or want to say something nice to the manager) or want to have a meeting with someone or want to serve to your community… The second idea is based on your opinion… when I took the test for the first time I was asked to give my opinion related to the education of kids with their parents and the second time was related to the importance of drama, art, music and languages for balanced minds. I pretty much recommend practice it because you’ll better be quick thinker in order to reduce the thinking and start writing something coherent and not just throwing lots of ideas into the paper. The first idea should take about 20 minutes and the other one 40 minutes, don’t count the words and just write till the paper is filled up. When the paper is full write a quick end and jump to the other idea till its paper ran out. If you think at this point you can add some thoughts to any of the reasoning ask another sheet and keep writing but keep in mind that at any moment the examination will be ended and you will have 30 seconds until the examiner tell you to avoid writing. So, any extra reasoning must sound like a closure. The sick person might help you with reasoning about how annoying are or to write the friend later and you just want to tell him how bastard he was coughing at the EILTS test…

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Yes, sad thing, I had to take twice the IELTS.

Which was the reason?

Well, to begin with, the IELTS was taken by 200 people at once, in the very same hall at the Caracas place hotel. The idea of a huge room where everyone could make weird sounds avoiding you listen the tape in some modules or someone getting you out of focus in the huge room wasn’t a pleasure. The British Council wasn't prepared at all to handle this kind of situations. The test started at 1 PM and everything was done at 6 PM.

Isn’t necessary to remark, a 5 hour test is not a good test. I only enjoyed the first module (speaking module) where I stood open minded, speaking about everything I wanted to… When I got the results back I notice this module was the only one I was great.

This doesn’t means that I fail the test, I just got the pass mark in 1 module (5.5) and just a bit better in everything else (6.5 to 7.5). It wasn’t good enough for the Australian migration process.

If you think the IELTS is a hard and tricky test, don’t worry anymore. I think is a practice matter. Those who take the test without the concern of not practicing at all, must have a great confidence and concentration.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Or How to get ready to take the Eilts?

Easy, the EILTS general course is based on the common language you will be using day to day and a little more complex phrases.
First thing to do is getting the IELTS preparation guide. It gives you a better understanding of what to expect of the exam.
If you want to practice a little bit every exam’s module you can take a couple of times spaced some week between each or, you can search some papers, articles and posts all over the internet to practice your skills to sum up, quick searching and reading. For the speaking module all you have to practice is your pronunciation and consistent ideas over your speech.
The non speakers of English should prepare very well for the examination. For example my wife took a full year course (her preparation was two months before taking the test) not just for the examination, it was also getting ready for the big change when the time comes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Believe it or not, the IELTS is one hell popular exam. The day before the reservation, my wife and I planned to wake up as early as possible to get to the British Council (Caracas) before the exam runs out of vacancy. We woke up at 4am almost dressed, got a light breakfast and jump out the apartment searching for a cab or maybe the nearest bus in the streets. We were hoping to get to the British Council one quarter to 6am.

Several minutes after we arrived the building just to hear an unpleasant “oh, you too are going to the BC? Boy the hall is full of people and I think there aren’t room left for you two, want to wait somewhere around here?”… My wife and I exchanged looks a little shrieked and worried, is not possible that at 5:45am the British Council were fully crowed…

Then the elevator doors come to a full opening…

As the security guard told us, there were people everywhere. Nearly 150 persons asking who was in charge and how could they made it to take the test. It was essential to take it quick in order to advance with their processes for migration, study, career, etc.

Then, among the crowd a woman spoke at loud leaving a couple of whispers between every now and then… “Please, pay attention… there are not more spots for the upcoming exam, if you are gentle can all of you leave the institute?”

Wrong phrase… little light in up a match in the gunpowder room. The people were yelling, some others were expressing a mixture of hate, dislike and chilling sensation. The manager popped out from the woman’s back trying to find a way to deal with the massive request. It was the very first time in Venezuela that more than 100 people wanted to take the test at the same time. The solution was asking for more exams and rent a place big enough to fit in 250 people.
As you may read, our situation wasn’t normal; the massive request was product of a modification of migration’s policies and those with a very low level of English wanted to remove this obstacle as fast as possible.

My advices are,

  • Call the institute where you want to take the test to get as much information as you can about reservation and exams demand.
  • Find out if there are online procedures to reserve a place or if you have to make it the hard way.
  • Remember, the institute is always going to request enough exams to cover the normal case of use. If you think you’re in a not common situation better take actions before the day.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shortly after signing the contracts to start the migration process with the agent, you must get all kinds of papers. I thought it would be less time consuming but this government takes 3 to 4 weeks to give you a silly paper as the birth certificate (that’s the revolution inefficient power… but I won’t keep talking about the retarded Chavez or this Venezuelan government). I was asked to get the following documents and items:

  1. Valid passport of both applicants (simple copy would be fine, all they need is the passport number and info to check your status).
  2. Document ID (certified copy) of both applicants.
  3. Some passport size pictures (white background – watch out the nasty looks. Hehe)
  4. Birth Certificates of both applicants (originals or certified copies).
  5. Wedding certificate (in my case, but aren’t necessary, if you are living with your couple since a couple of years you can ask for a certificate to prove you are a couple).
  6. Main Applicant’s curriculum vitae. This document is required as detailed as possible, in my case the document was asked as the Australia Computer Society specifies which includes everything you have done to contain much grained detail. Here in Venezuela de curriculum is a very resumed and short paper where you remark the most important things you have done. I had to remember everything in a range of 4 years to the present and write it all down.
  7. Main applicant’s bachelor degree (computer science bachelor degree in my case, certified by my alma mater “Universidad Simón Bolívar”).
  8. Degree’s certified grades (again, signed by the institution).
  9. MIA contact signed (Migration Institute of Australia).
  10. Some forms which may change from year to year but you must signed it.
  11. Some other contracts (the “Viva en Australia” contract).
Next step to take is the IELTS.

See also:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The month of October, 2004 started and very strong candidates to migrate to were in the list.

  • Canada. Excellent place, need young productive people but very cold. Wasn’t a problem at all for me because I could find a place to have a growing career, but her career is a little difficult to develop and implement. Plus, none of us speak French and if we wanted to migrate to Canada, we had to start having a French course in order to get the visa.
  • Spain. Not so excellent place, but is economical steady and in almost every sense I good for planning a family and a future. The country has history and culture but isn’t growing so much, not to mention some people denigrate Latin-Americans and doesn’t matter so much your formation, if you come from South America you probably learned how to get dressed yesterday and surely you don’t know how to behave or to think…to be part of the society drop every believing and behave/talk/walk/eat just as they do, otherwise you are the nasty foreign trying to steal their jobs… uf, Spain out of the list..
  • Australia. We knew very little about it. Researching was a must; find the must we could to know more about Australia. Soon, the nice weather similar to Venezuela in some cases, growing economy, excellent education, awesome security and plenty of work became an outstanding rival of Canada. The only con was the distance, so far of everything was something to get used to if Australia was meant for us.

With just two paths the only thing to do was pick one. Distance Vs Career and language limitation. A friend telling us tons of good things of Australia made the final touch. The next step was choosing the agency to help us with the paperwork and experience to obtain with success the residential visa. At this point, 2 years had pass, January 2007 was on and the contract was signed. The process will be handled with a agency named “Viva en Australia” (South Cross Alliance).

Doing some calculations, July 2008 is the deadline. Australia get ready because am going.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Early in 2004, my wife and I started to think about the security, economical and political issues bothering my natal country, Venezuela. According to Chavez everything is great here in Venezuela, but oddly (for him of course) everyone I know, have left the country to find a new, peaceful, rewarding and better tomorrow.

And so our searching begun in the first quarter of the year, meanwhile we were finishing our university studies. At first Canada was my only choice…

Why? Because I was in Quebec for a while and it was wonderful… Peaceful, beautiful, secure and the people take good care about things near them. At that moment I just could remember the memories when I was kid, running and looking everything for me was another type of society. Somehow, I wanted deeply in my heart to belong there, because the people really wanted to have a better tomorrow with their sacrifice and effort.

But then, my wife (at that time, my girlfriend) told me to consider other paths. We set some points of evaluation to determine which country and city will be the best to migrate to. Those points are:

  • Benefits for raising and planning a family.
  • Higher quality education for our kids and for us.
  • Health in every aspect.
  • Good environment.
  • Security.
  • And economical stability.

And so, the dreaming began… Dreaming a better tomorrow for us. Someday, the dream will be made true, no question about it.