After the first difficult weeks filled with doubt and anxiety while trying to adapt to her new environment and the climate and being far from her children, Saoussen Ben Arbi is now firmly settled in Montreal with her family.
"I'm a Quebecer now," she says, laughing. "My two children don't want to go back to Tunisia! Our life is here; we have friends and projects, and we finally got used to winter."
A Difficult Arrival
Saoussen arrived in Québec in January 2020 to start her program in Secretarial Studies at the Centre de formation des Bâtisseurs, in Sainte-Marie, in the Chaudière-Appalaches region. Her husband, who only had a tourist visa, accompanied her on this journey before returning home to their children and work.
The young woman, who is in her thirties, struggled in the early days being so far away from her daughter and son, ages 5 and 2, respectively. Isolated because of the sanitary measures and the cold weather, the young mother cried a lot and feared she had made the wrong choice. "I finally decided to move to Montreal after the first month. Québec métiers d'avenir helped me get settled in the city; from there, things got better for me," she says.
"I focused on my studies at my vocational centre, my part-time job at the CIUSSS, and, in the spring, I was able to walk around and discover Montreal." Her family joined her at the end of summer in the Côte-Vertu neighbourhood, where she has an apartment.
Breaking the Routine
Saoussen Ben Arbi was born in Tunis. Like her father and mother, she started her career in a bank after obtaining a degree in commerce. "I have always been fascinated with anything to do with the financial sector, and I am an excellent salesperson." She worked there for ten years. After reading a classified ad in a local newspaper, she decided to spontaneously answer the call of a Québec hospital in need of personnel. "I had a promise of employment from a CIUSSS in parallel with my future DVS in secretarial and accounting studies, and I was selected," she recounts. To finance her project, she dipped into her savings and received help from her father.
But how does one make the leap? "I am daring and adventurous by nature - I have traveled all over the world - but I am also serious and ambitious. Above all, I greatly desired a change in my daily life, to live abroad."
Discovering Vocational Training
The Tunisian admits that she had some misconceptions about vocational training. "I thought that everything would be a repeat of what I had already learned, but I was wrong."
"What is my takeaway from vocational training in Québec? You really learn to be professional! "
"I was impressed by the variety of expertise and skills, the customer service in English, the marketing, the accounting, the prospecting, etc., not to mention the equipment. The organization is well established. What is my takeaway from vocational training in Québec? You really learn to be professional!"
Emigrating From Maghreb
Tunisia is a North African country bordering the Sahara desert on the Mediterranean coast. Independent since 1956, Tunisia is known for its beautiful beaches, culture and religion. Saoussen is of the Muslim faith. By coming to Québec, she confides that it was the first time she had the chance to meet other people from all over the world who practice her religion.
She has not experienced any instances of rejection or racism. Some people are surprised to learn that she is religious because she does not wear a hijab. This amuses her. "I think I am helping to reduce prejudice! Joking aside, since being here, I've learned to be more tolerant and to respect everyone."
Consult other videos related to the trade and training under the Useful links and videos tab on the Accounting program page.
Support From Québec Métiers D’avenir
Saoussen is full of praise for the organization that helped her come to Canada to study. "Pierre and Amélie from Québec métiers d'avenir were always there to answer my questions. They helped me step by step, naturally. For me, there is no doubt that Québec métiers d'avenir is the best of the best."
She also points out that in Québec, it is possible to undertake vocational training regardless of age. "Here, whether you are 20, 40 or 50 years old, going back to school is normal. Education in Québec is open, and the teachers are excellent educators. The hierarchy that I had come to know in Tunisia is absent here. Relationships are easier."
A Life Full of Projects
Although Saoussen Ben Arbi came to Canada to shake up her routine, she now wishes to stay and settle here for the sake of her children. "I thought I would eventually return to Tunisia once I finished my studies, but this is no longer the case. My daughter recently said to me, 'My country is Canada.' With her and her little brother in mind and their future, this project is now part of the plan. The quality of the schools, the free education, and the variety of jobs offered. Québec is a province of opportunities!"
Consult other videos related to the trade and training under the Useful links and videos tab on the Secretarial Studies program page.
Live From Montreal
In addition to her work as an administrative assistant at the Ministère de la Santé, she volunteers at Radio Maghreb in Montreal, where she discusses women's fashion and trends on social media. In the future, she plans to return to banking in the hopes of working at a well-known financial institution. She also dreams of buying a house.
"I have a Haitian friend, a Quebecer friend... You have to take advantage of this opening to the world. Also, don't hesitate to look for help if you need it. People from Québec are very welcoming. "
Since Saoussen came here, many of her former colleagues have followed in her footsteps, including her brother. What advice does she have for newcomers? "Socialize with everyone; avoid staying exclusively with people from your homeland. You won't regret your decision.
"I have a Haitian friend, a Quebecer friend... You have to take advantage of this opening to the world. Also, don't hesitate to look for help if you need it. People from Québec are very welcoming. Joining the Québec labour market teaches you a lot about people and the way of doing things. It helps you integrate and understand the host country."