So What's My Story?

After 3 years of being a poor social worker (the work I loved, the pay I didn't), I decided it was time to go back to school and get my Master's! After weighing my options (school far away from home, or school in a different country that is only an 8-hour drive from home) I decided to try my luck in British Columbia, Canada.

For a year I lived in
Surrey, BC while attending Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. However, as the final component of my work toward my Masters degree in Criminology I have moved back to the states to complete an internship at an Independent Living Program for youth leaving the foster care system.

Here is the story of my adventures as a graduate student in a "foreign" country as well as my current work back in the states.

< > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < >

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Guess the City?

I didn't live in a "city" until I was 26... and now I'm living in another! I love it! =)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Making Everything "American" Again

It was kind of difficult for me when I moved up to BC as far as getting all those little things that a person needs to live in order (i.e. phone, apartment, bank account, etc.). Their system is slightly different than ours, plus I'd never had experienced the extra "fun" that's involved in moving from one country to another. Anyway... I didn't think that moving BACK to the states was going to be as difficult... but it is proving to be.

I received a Graduate Fellowship for the fall term, and I still had about half of my student loan money in a bank account up in BC. This money I was going to need to survive on for my first six months to a year back in the US until I was done with school and able to find a job. But, I did NOT want to withdraw thousands of dollars and carry it with me to my US bank. So, my thought process was that I'd just write myself a check from my Canadian account to my US one. It really shouldn't be THAT big of a deal. So, so, wrong... I didn't know why I didn't learn this after after trying to do the same thing in reverse in Canada.

The bank I went to in Oregon to deposit my check told me that they do about one foreign check transaction per year... thus, no one knew what they were doing. They kept giving me all of these alternative ways that I could transfer my money instead of giving them a check... but I'm one of those people that just get frustrated and confused when there are two many choices. I want either a or b (side note: I enjoy restaurants with SHORT menus... if the menu has more than 3 pages of possible entrees, I get slightly anxious).

Apparently with a foreign check, the US bank needs to send it to a collection agency, which then sends a money request to the foreign bank, who may or may not give up your money. I was told that the process for a Canadian check usually took 2 weeks to a month... but that they couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't take 3, 4, 5 or even 6 months... and, if the check bounced when it finally did get to the bank, there was another fee involved for that.

Now, the 2 weeks to a month thing didn't bother me. I was expecting this. However, the thought that my money could be somewhat "frozen" in my bank account for an undetermined amount of time DID make me nervous. But I didn't really feel like I had any other options. Taking my money out little by little via ATM was going to rack up the transaction fees, not to mention be a BIG pain. Driving up to BC to sign money wire paperwork just seemed ridiculous, and a paypal transfer has a lower conversation fee and other fees attached to it... so, I just went for it. I figured I if I didn't get my money in a month or so, I'd do the paypal transfer and just eat the bounced check fee (I figured it would be less than going to the ATM 20 times in order to get my money that way!).

In the end, let me tell you how EXCITED I was when I signed onto my bank account summary this money and saw that, EXACTLY two weeks later, the money was there, in my account! At a decent exchange rate! Woo hoo!! I can pay my rent now! =)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer Term Finally DONE

I have FINALLY finished my summer term paper, an examination of the path that leads foster youth to involvement in crime and how generally effective independent living programs are or may be in reducing the disproportionate number of former foster youth who end up in the CJS. My prof for my independent study extended the deadline since our original plan for a project didn't pan out. So... it is now DONE! (even though the term's classes were done almost a month ago).

I would REALLY love some other than myself and my prof to read it as I spent a lot of time on it and am quite proud of this. Hoping that someone out there will read it and give me some feedback, I have made it available online here, however, google has messed up all my graphics and formatting, so I apologize for that!

P.S. I have not done my final typo edit on this, but it has gone through about three different edits between myself and my prof, so I'm hoping it's good enough for viewers at this point!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Moving "Home"

Well, I'm back in the states and have moved into my new place in Oregon, but I thought I'd give you all a recap of my adventures in moving OUT of Canada... It was definitely not what I was expecting as the things I was anticipating to be troublesome (i.e. crossing the border) were not, and the things I thought would be easy (canceling my cable/Internet) were sooo NOT.

First things first, Jacob picked up the Penske rental truck just south of the border in Bellingham on Saturday afternoon. You cannot pick up a rental truck in Canada and return it somewhere in the U.S. Thankfully I had Jacob to help me with this, otherwise I would have had to take a bus across the border, pick up a truck and then drive it back across the border... ugh.

On Saturday Jacob and I did a little bit of packing and "staging" the apartment for the movers, who were coming bright and early on Sunday morning. We didn't have anyone to help us move out, so we decided to spring for movers rather than try to maneuver all the furniture out of the apartment, down the stairs, and puzzle pack it into the truck ourselves. Then we went out and had a nice dinner to celebrate our last night in Canada.

Sunday morning at 9 AM the movers showed up and got to work. They spoke very minimal English, which made the process somewhat difficult. Jacob and I felt kinda weird just sitting around while they moved everything, so, in order to help, and move the process along a bit (they were taking a little longer than I had financially anticipated) we started moving some of the easier to lift things down stairs for them.

During this time I took a break to return my cable and Internet stuff (modem, cable box, etc.). When I called about 2 weeks ago to schedule the cancellation of my services I was told that the local office in Surrey was open 7 days a week from 9-5. I SPECIFICALLY verified that they were open on Sundays. I was told that they were. Then, just to be clear, on Saturday I signed onto the cable's website and checked the hours again for the Surrey location. And, again, I say Sunday 9-5. So... on Sunday at about 10:30 I drove over there only to find a sign on the window that said "Sundays- CLOSED".

Not sure what to do at this point (as we were driving the truck over the border that night and I would not be available to return the stuff on Monday). I called the company, explained my situation and told them they had better change the listing of open hours on their website. They said they would pass that info along (lol.. yeah, we'll see), and then gave me the address of a UPS store in Burnaby where I could drop off the equipment (Burnaby is about a 30 minute drive from my then-apartment). I was told that this store was open from 12-5.

At about noon I set off for this UPS store. I called before I left to try to get better directions but I got the answering machine message, which said their open hours (and I verified 12-5 on Sundays), and the name of the shopping plaza they were in, but said that they were currently with a customer and to leave a message. As I had received the information I needed from the message, I did not leave one and set out on my way.

Half an hour later I show up at the UPS store and, lo and behold... the store is under renovation and closed!

SOOO not my day at this point. I tried calling the cable/internet company again, but the automated message said that they had an excessively high number of callers (probably other pissed off, misinformed customers) and to leave a message with my name and number and they would call back in the order that messages were left. So, I did. And I waited. And I got lunch. And I waited some more. And then I got really annoyed. And then I got a plan.

I hopped back into my car and drove back to the post office that is across the street from my then-apartment. Post offices are open on Sundays... go figure. I boxed up all the equipment and MAILED it back to the cable/Internet company with a rather long note expressing my disappointment in their services and my ordeal. Cost me about $12 in postage, over two hours of wasted time on moving day, and about 30 miles on the road. They had better damn well accept this! Bah!

So, that was out of my way. The mover's finished at a little after noon and Jacob finished loading the truck with the little things, then we started the cleaning process.

When I moved up to BC we were told that an apartment would be available for us on the 1st of Sept. And then we were told that it wouldn't be ready until the 8th. I made a stink about this as I needed to start classes and needed to have a place to live. So, they allowed to let me stay in a "loner" apartment for that week. I slept on the floor and had my computer and a collection of TV dinners to my name. The place was a sty. I don't even think that the carpets had been vacuumed after the last people moved out. It smelled funny and I was altogether grossed out and scared for our apartment (which, fortunately, was in a bit better condition than that one).

I take this side not to explain why we didn't clean to the best of our abilities. lol Don't get me wrong, we thoroughly cleaned things. The fridge looked fantastic after Jacob was done with it. But, we did NOT pay to have the carpets or mini blinds professionally cleaned as was "required" of us upon move out. Nor did I scrub walls, etc., etc. The place was clean. We left it looking very nice, but I"m going to be quite annoyed if we don't get the security deposit back. Especially since I KNOW that the apartment I stayed in temporarily was rented out that way as I had about an hour to move out of it into my new place before a Russian family was scheduled to move in.

By about 5 o'clock we were officially out of the apartment. I dropped off the keys in the office drop slot and we were on our way. We stopped for a quick DQ dinner and then headed for the border. This is what I was really concerned about. We've had such issues with the border in the past I didn't know what to expect. But they let us right through! They didn't even LOOK inside our truck! I was pretty shocked! By 6:30 we were at the gas station in Blaine, WA ready to REALLY start our drive home after saying our final goodbye to life in Canada.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Year in Canada

The last time I drove up back into BC I spotted a U-haul truck just across the Canadian border hauling a car from Oregon. I was reminded of my own move just about one year ago.

Living in Canada and going to school up here has definitely been an interesting experience, and, while I'm looking forward to being back in the states, I have appreciated the new experiences that I've had and people that I've met up here in BC.

As of tomorrow I'll be packing up that moving truck yet again and heading south back into the U.S. (I'm a bit anxious to see what happens at the border... I'll be sure to let you all know how it goes!). I'm still a student at SFU, but I'll be completely my degree program from "abroad". So, this blog may "end" in the next few weeks, or I may continue it as a "Canadian Student in America"... lol

Friday, August 21, 2009


Well today was the last day of my summer contract as a teaching assistant. Which means that I am currently unemployed... and sooo happy to be so! lol No more dealing with students who are upset that they got an A rather than an A+ or asking for extensions on their assignments because two classes have assignments due on the same day. And, especially, no more reading 12 page papers on prostitution, drug legalization, and pornography!!! YAY! lol I commemorated this by deleting the icon on my computer desktop for the classes website... YAY! =)

In about 3 weeks time I'll be starting the next stage of my Masters program by commencing my practicum placement at an independent living program for young adults. I'm VERY excited about this!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pipe Band World Title!

SFU apparently has one kick ass pipe band. =) On August 15 the band won its 6th world title (second in a row) in Glasgow, Scotland. Read the press release here and see the video below!