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Entering a new country: Customs & Immigration, Student Writing & Videos

Palm Springs Airport, California

Palm Springs Airport, California

Travelling by air from one country to another usually means that you will need to understand some English.  English is the international language of transportation, and it is used on most international flights, as well as in the airports.  Here are some of the stories that my students wrote about their air travel.

 

A Trip that you took by airplane:

I’m from Brazil. I came to Edmonton. The date of the flight was March 17, 2015. I departed from Brazil at 11:00 A.M and arrived in Edmonton at 3:00 P.M the next day (March 18). I bought a one-way ticket, because I’m staying in Edmonton for a long time. I had connections from Belo Horizonte to São Paulo, São Paulo to Toronto, and then from Toronto to Edmonton. I used a travel agency to book my flights. After I made my reservations, I needed to request a new passport and a visa to stay in Canada. It took 45 days to release my visa for a four-year stay. I needed to go to a doctor for an exam and send my documents to the Canadian Embassy. My immigration interview was in Toronto. I needed a new check-in and to have a conversation about why I’m staying in Canada. My permission wasn’t possible for a long time because I don`t speak English. This is important for immigration.   The pre-flight instructions in Brazil were the same as in Canada. When I arrived at the airport, I needed to take my baggage to the check-in counter and get my boarding pass with my passport. After that, I went through security and I wasn’t allowed aerosol, dangerous materials, or smoking on the flight. For security, we had to turn off all electronic devices and put on our seatbelts before departing from the airport.

 

1/My last trip that I took by airplane was last week when I went to Vancouver.

My departure was from the International Airport of Edmonton. For this travel, I took WestJet airline, and it’s a Canadian company.

I arrived early at the airport because I like to take my time. My flight was on time. I took my luggage to the check-in counter and I got my boarding pass. I ate something in the departure lounge.

When I arrived in Vancouver Airport, I took a taxi to the city’s downtown. During my visit, I took a ferry to Victoria city. It’s a very beautiful and peaceful city!

2/I travel a lot, and for me it’s in America where the immigration staff control a lot. So when I travelled to San Francisco for a road trip in California, I spoke to a customs officer and immigration. I showed them my passport and I answered all the questions.

 

I’m from Harbin, China. I left China and came to Edmonton on April 27 by myself because my husband had to work in Edmonton. At that time, I couldn’t speak English. I could speak Chinese in Beijing International Airport and the steward on the flight could speak three languages. I felt ok about that. However, when I arrived in Vancouver, I had to visit the immigration officer who spoke English. They had to ask me some questions, but I didn’t understand. They showed me some papers and I had some answers in Chinese. I showed them my passport, immigration paper and answered the questions. Luckily I was allowed to enter Canada, and I could go to my next flight to Edmonton. A friendly guy did me a big favour. He helped me go through security and I arrived at the departure lounge. I saw my husband when I arrived in Edmonton. I had good luck on my trip. I met a lot of friendly and helpful people on my trip

My trip to Marrakech, Morocco: I went with my friends for a presentation project at the University Cadi Ayyad competition of International Marketing Days. On Sunday, I departed, and we met each other at the airport. I took the train to go the airport. Before that, I got up at 6:00 because my flight was at 9:30. I arrived at the airport, and I saw my friends so we took our suitcases to the check-in counter. Then we went through security and sat down in the departure lounge. After the announcement at our departure gate, we got up, and we passed by an agent, and showed him our boarding pass.

When we arrived in Marrakech, after showing our passports to the customs officers, the school delegation met us, and then we went to the hotel.

 

My flight

In December when I went to visit my boyfriend, I took some planes, and my flights were from Guadalajara City, Mexico.

In Guadalajara my flight took off at 7:45 pm and I had to arrive two hours before, so that I could take my luggage to the check-in counter and pass through security. When the hour arrived, I went to the gate where my plane was departing from. Then I showed my boarding pass to the agent and got on the plane. I had a good flight but that night was very long, because I didn’t sleep in a bed. I was in the airport all night, I had to take my luggage to the check-in counter at 3:30 am for my other flight.

 

3 weeks ago, I arrived at Edmonton International Airport from Spain.

The flight attendant gave me the immigration documents. I wrote them in French because I don’t know English. In the airport, the agent spoke English and he asked, “Do you speak English or French? I answered, “No. I don’t speak English or French”.

The agent asked why I was visiting Edmonton. I answered, “Because I’m visiting my boyfriend”.

How much time will you visit Edmonton? “I will return to Spain on September 2”.

What is your job in Spain? “I don’t have a job, I’m studying”.

I didn’t go to immigration at the airport.

 

My flight

On June 25, 2015 I arrived at the airport in Gdansk, about an hour before my flight at 1300 hours. I had a flight to Munich, Germany. In the airport I received a boarding pass and I went to the gate. In the plane, the flight attendants were very friendly. I really liked this flight. In Munich, I didn’t have enough time. I had to go to the gate very fast. My next flight was to Toronto. It was a very long flight, but I wasn’t bored because I read my book. In Toronto, it was very hard because I had a conversation with an officer. I had to go to pick up my suitcase because next flight was a domestic flight to Edmonton. It was very bad because I sat next to an awful girl. The girl coughed and bounced around all the time. It was late and I wanted to sleep. I was very tired and she gave me no rest! I was very angry. When I arrived in Edmonton I went to arrivals to pick up my luggage. My aunt was waiting there already. She drove me to my uncle’s home. My uncle couldn’t pick me up because he was at work, about 800 kilometers from Edmonton. It was very late and I went to sleep.

 


 

When you fly to a new country, you will have to go through several interviews, especially with Customs and Immigration Officers.  This is often very stressful since you may not understand the questions you are being asked.  Stay calm and pay attention.  Sometimes, another passenger or officer can help you to answer your interview questions.  These videos will help you know what to expect.

This video takes you through all of the steps when you are entering the United States.  It’s not an ESL video, so some of the words may not be familiar.  However, they are words that officers may use, so it’s useful to check words you don’t know.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see an audioscript.  Repeat sections that are confusing.

This is a video by a Brazilian ESL teacher.  She speaks slowly and clearly, and many of the questions and answers are written on the screen.  The only problem was that she pronounces the word “customs” like “costumes”, clothes that you might wear for Halloween.

Here’s a short and simple set of questions and answers.

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