I feel that seeing as I stumbled into it unprepared, and got rather a shock, I should explain to you all the strange and confusing process that is applying to become a Canadian citizen:
Step 1. Use an online calculator to figure out how long you’ve been in the country to see if you are allowed to stay. This means finding old passports (if you still have them) and frantically trying to remember when the hell you went somewhere, which is then followed by mild depression that you haven’t done enough travelling.
Step 2. Fill in a rather simple form with relief that you don’t have to justify your existence (cf. application for permanent residence)
Step 3. Pay. Submit. And wait. A lot.
Step 4. Receive a booklet full of random facts a few months later, called “Discover Canada”. Browse through it briefly, get bored and/or terrified by the amount of information, and promptly put it away for safe keeping.
Step 5. About 12 months later, just when you are about to go away on holiday, expect a friendly letter from the government telling you to appear at an obscure time (10.17am to be precise, in my case), ready to answer questions on Canada.
Step 6. Take “Discover Canada” with you to … discover Canada, as you drive around BC and Alberta, through the Rockies and the Prairies.
Step 7. Don’t open it once. Feel mildly guilty, but justify it by feeling that you’re actually exploring the country.
Step 8. Come home, and realise with panic that you have three days to cram. Do as many online practice tests as you can. Get mad if you get any wrong.
Step 9. Carefully figure out where the test location is.
Step 10. Leave early for said test, but get held up by: a delayed Skytrain, construction, and no easy way to actually find the building.
Step 11. Ask several strangers, one after the other, in an increasingly panicky voice with an increasingly disheveled appearance and sweaty brow, how to get onto the correct street.
Step 12. Arrive at the building, breathless, with a few minutes to spare, and follow the foreign sounding gentleman into the elevator.
Step 13. Find your way to a strange room, already 3/4 full with people diligently seated on wooden school chairs, nervously clutching clipboards. Have flashbacks to Grade 8 school entrance exam. Suppress urge to have palpitations.
Step 14. Present documents and get ushered to a seat. Realise that test is to be filled in on paper, not on computers, as you naively assumed.Look around furtively to see who you think will finish first.
Step 15. Discover that you will not, in fact, find out your results immediately, but must wait another 2-3 months for notification of this.
Step 16. Receive plastic bound test booklet.
Step 17. Write test. In anal Virgo fashion, stress over every answer. All 20 of them.
Step 18. Hand in paper,and necessary documents.
Step 19. Follow instructions to waiting room. Avoid angering security guard who is very adamant about where people must sit.
Step 20. Strain to hear name called over general hubbub.
Step 21. In typical, wonderful, ironic Vancouver fashion, get interviewed by someone whose 1st language is clearly not English. Watch while she checks all stamps in passport. Smile inwardly as she gets distracted by company logo on business card and wants to know what a meerkat is. Discuss the weather (how very Canadian).
Step 22. Head for the nearest coffee shop to inhale caffeine in order to decompress after what was arguably one of the weirdest experiences you’ve had.
And wait some more…