Coronavirus has made travel in 2020 a challenge, Travel Bloggers like Jessica Ufuoma help us keep our travel dreams and goals alive. Our first blog feature for our InfoPlace Living in Canada Series (Infoplace LICS) is Jessica Ufoma. She immigrated from Nigeria to Canada as an international student for a master's program. She is now a Financial Communication Analyst and a reputable Travel Blogger. Dive into this inspiring interview with Jessica and dream of your first destination after Covid-19 Pandemic is over.
When did you come to Canada and why?
I came to Canada in 2014 to pursue a Master's degree in International Business.
What was it like studying in Canada and what major challenges did you overcome?
The education system is very different from the one in Nigeria. There's more of a focus on authentic learning and comprehension versus regurgitation. There's also a focus on people skills and how to adapt well and collaborate with others. One major challenge I faced was first, adjusting to the new way of life but also being an active contributor on my team. As a part introvert, I struggled a little to present in front of groups or even share my great ideas with my teams. I had to learn that as it was a major key to success. After I got the hang of it, the rest was history.
3.) What happened after school? Where do you work?
I got a job six weeks before my last semester in school so there was no sort of break. I went from school to work within a week. My first job was with a global technology company and I did that for about two years before moving on to another job in the Financial Services industry. I work as a Finance Communications Analyst.
4.) What was it like finding a job after graduation? It was definitely a combination of networking and putting my best foot forward. I had a few years of experience back home in Nigeria which I sold very well on my resume. Having that experience helped pitch me for my next role. I was strategic about the companies and roles I wanted, so I wasn't shooting blanks. I only applied to roles that I thought I was a good fit for. I ended up getting about an 85% success rate and I picked the role that best suited me at the time. I used my network as well - LinkedIn was also a great resource. 5.) What inspired @theufuoma? Travel really changed the course of my life in many ways than one. It gave me the confidence I needed to build my life here in Canada. It gave me an avenue to express my passions, meet new people and learn so much. Thanks to travel, I always know something about everything even when speaking to top leadership in my company or even talking to my peers. I wanted others to discover this gift of travel as well. The more I traveled, the more questions I got from people and the more I wanted to help them travel as well. So I started theufuoma as a way of lending a helping hand and getting people on their way.
The best part of being a travel blogger for me is not only helping my community realize their travel goals but also giving the tour guides and locals in places I visit, an additional income stream. Every time I visit a new place and like the tour guide or hotel service, I come back home and link it in my blog and people find them that way. It's such a blessing. My e-book was inspired again by my need to educate people on travel, the travel hacks and tips that can help them travel smarter and affordably.
How many countries have you travelled to?
I have so far visited 43 countries , 106 cities and Six continents.
What has been your experience travelling with a Nigerian Passport?
In a ‘perfect world’, I’ll have one of the strongest passports in the world, and save loads of money on visa applications. I’ll also be spontaneous enough to hop on a flight to anywhere I want without having to think about visa requirements. However, our world is far from perfect and I still tote around a passport that is considered, weak. Does that mean I get to sulk in a corner and toss all my travel dreams into a bin? No, I don’t and you don’t have to either. Since 2015, I have travelled to 26 countries during this time, I have only applied for visa to 9 countries! I was able to do achieve this by having the right visa in my passport e.g USA Visa and Schengen Visa.
As a Canadian Permanent Resident, how many countries can you travel to Visa Free? Has it also helped with visa applications to some countries?
Having a Canadian PR definitely helps with visa applications because it shows strong ties to the country. I was however already traveling extensively before I got my PR in late 2017. There are a lot of factors considered for visa applications but being a Canadian PR gives added confidence to the visa officer. As a Canadian PR I have traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos visa free.
You have achieve a lot as an immigrant in Canada as a professional and a business owner, what would you give an international student or a new immigrant in Canada? My biggest advise for you will be to dream big and don't settle for less than you deserve. There's somewhat of an immigrant mentality where it feels like people are doing you a favor but you end up getting the short end of the deal and not living to your fullest potential. Own your space and own the room you walk in. You deserve everything good. Apply for that high paying job. Negotiate your salary. Speak up in meetings because what you have to say is valuable. Don't be shy of your accent - that's what makes you unique. Don't be intimidated - you are more than enough.
Jessica is an inspiration and motivates us to think outside the box and impact lives with our passion and skills. Life is too short not to explore the world. Coronavirus literally shut the world down so If you have travel plans, when this is all over, GO FOR IT! For all you travel plans, guides, tips and hacks, pick up Jessica's highly informative E-boook - 100 Travel Tips and Hacks. You can also read more about what Jessica Thinks travel will be like post Coronavirus on her blog. Get prepared to travel the world once the Pandemic is over.