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.

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Friday, February 27, 2009


Here are a couple more videos for you! =)

They played this one at my "International Student Orientation" this past fall...

This ones shows just HOW DIFFERENT Canada is compared to the U.S. =)

Live Long and.... be Prime Minister?

I heard about this on the radio this afternoon.

How about William Shatner for Prime Minister of Canada??

Russell Peters

Thanks to a classmate up here, this is my new favorite Canadian comedian! =)

ABCs of My Canadian Life!

Sometimes my fellow friendly bloggers come up with a good concept... which I, in turn, steal! =) But at least I admit it! This idea came from a friend of mine currently living in the UK with her husband... I thought it was a fun idea and a way to illustrated some basic cultural differences I've encountered in Canada.

ABCs of My Canadian Life!

  • Arabic... what some of the street signs were in when Jacob and I came up here to hunt for apartments.
  • Apartments... are called "suites" up here... they aren't any classier, trust me!
  • Air Miles... an incentive program in Canada where certain businesses participate in a "club card" sort of deal... you make a purchase at their business, you swipe your free air miles card and you collect airline mileage (and/or points toward other prizes)... I don't really understand how the airline benefits from this, but I have a card (that I think I've used once)!
  • "Aboot"... ok, so, for the most part Vancouver-Canadians don't really say this... they DO correctly pronounce it "about". However, they do have a bit of an accent when it comes to certain vowels. Process for instance is pronouced "PRO-cess" and resources is pronouced "re-ZOR-ces".
  • Buggy... shopping cart. I know they call them this in the southern regions of the US, too, but I was somewhat taken by surprise when I heard this phrase up here!
  • Burgled... this is what happens when someone break into your house and robs you... you've been burgled! =)
  • Burnaby Mountain... the mountain that my school is on in the municipality of Burnaby, BC.
  • BC Liquor... government run liquor stores up here in BC... can't just buy your wine at the grocery story anymore!
  • Canucks... Vancouver's NHL team. I love hockey! =)
  • Clan... my schools "mascot"... I was not too keen on this when I first heard about all the "clan activities"...
  • Day trips.... we've taken a number of these since we've been up here and have a few more to do before we leave! There is just so much to see in a very short distance from our home. So far we've made it to Bowen Island for hiking and dinner, and Whistler to explore the village there and check out the site of next winter's Olympic games.
  • "Eh?".... no matter what Canadians may say, this is NOT a stereotype! lol... the really do use this phrase, maybe not as frequently as the movies may show, but you DO hear it!
  • Fraser Valley... another name for the area that I live in (you can get pretty detailed when trying to describe my geographic area!). We are on the banks of the Fraser River and it can be absolutely GORGEOUS! Especially when it's sunny and the snow-capped mountain peaks are reflecting off the water (like it was today!)
  • Facebook... I've become somewhat addicted since moving up here... EVERYONE seems to be using it up here!
  • French... it's everywhere and pretty cool! I think my French is getting a little better just from trying to decipher things in the supermarket without turning the package around to the English side! =)
  • Garbarator... this is what "normal" people in the U.S. refer to a "garbage disposal"! =) Canadians have some funny words! Apparently these are illegal in in certain parts of Eastern Canada... though they get sold on the black market and only the rich have them in their homes! lol!
  • Google Maps... my best friend when trying to figure out where I'm going in this big city! I love the "search nearby" function and the "directions via public transit".
  • Granville Island Marketplace... kind of like Pike's Market in Seattle, this public market has all kinds of fruits, vegetables, flowers, crafts, musicians, etc. You can also take water cab rides from different shore lines in order to get there.
  • Granville Street... the center of the night life in Vancouver. It's amazing how many people are still walking around down there at all hours of the night, all days of the week!
  • Hong-couver... the somewhat derogatory nick-name given to Vancouver after the large immigration wave of Asian folks during the 80s and 90s.
  • Hydro... what electricity is called up here, as in, "rent includes wi-fi, garbage, and hydro"
  • The "Interior" all that space that's not on the coast of BC... pretty much no-man's-land from what I can figure. Small town sort of situation... think eastern Oregon for those of you able to pick up on that reference.
  • The Island... Vancouver Island, home of the capital, Victoria, BC.
  • Jolly Macs... the pub across the street. They have some pretty good chicken wings! (It's kind of our Thursday night ritual... work out at the gym, then gorge ourselves on 25 cent chicken wings).
  • Kraft Dinner... Mac and Cheese, I guess they're trying to class that up too!
  • Loonie... One Canadian Dollar coin. Named after a breed of duck apparently.
  • Lower Mainland... BC is VERY large, and the lower mainland refers to the tiny little area in the southwestern corner which encompasses the greater Vancouver area.
  • Municipality... instead of having suburban towns, they have "municipalities". They have their own city limits/police force/politicians/bylaws/etc., yet they don't have total independence from the Greater Vancouver Metro area.
  • Mounty... you may picture a police officer dressed in red on a horse... but apparently they only dress like that for special occasions! The "mounties" are actually the officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)... kinda like our state police... only they work on a nation-wide level.
  • Nanaimo Beach... one of the many beaches along the coast of the lower mainland. However, for you Oregonians, beaches are like they are back home... more like, the city ends and then there's water. lol
  • Olympics... Whistler, BC (about 1.5 hours from Vancouver) is going to be the home of the 2010 winter Olympic games. Thus, the entire Vancouver area is going through a big, city-wide remodel. Roads are torn up, condos are being built EVERYWHERE, additional security measures are going into place in public areas... they are scrambling. If any of you reading this were in Eugene during the year or so leading up to the Olympic trials this past summer, picture that and multiply it by a couple dozen!
  • Pub... a bar, just sounds a little classier. =)
  • Prime Minister... The Canadian "president", currently Stephen Harper
  • Poutine... this is the true "Canadian" food as it originated in Canada... french fries, gravy, cheese curds... I haven't had the guts to try this yet (something about gravy on french fries doesn't appeal to me), but it's a pretty big deal here in Canada!
  • Parks... Surrey is the known as the "City of Parks". We live across the street from one park, we are a 30 minute walk from an "urban forest" (Green Timbers) and a 15 minute drive to another one!
  • Queen... technically, Canada is still under British "rule" and so Queen Elizabeth is also the Queen of Canada... however this appears to be simply a tradition, and not really much of an actuality as Canada has it's own government headed by the Prime Minister (though the queen has a "representative" in the Canadian government known as the Governor General).
  • Russell Peters... my new favorite Canadian comedian (not that I think I really had an old one...)
  • RCMP... the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (see "mounty" above)
  • Rasher... a strip of bacon.
  • Superstore... The name of the grocery store we use. It's kind of a combination between a Winco (somewhat discounted foods, and you bag your stuff) and a Fred Meyer (has clothes and household supplies and stuff in it as well).
  • Surrey... this is the municipality that I live in. It is the largest one in the area, and also, unfortunately, the one with the worst rep. One person I met compared Surrey to their version of 8 mile. I have to argue though that the entire municipality is not THAT bad (there are certain areas, but shouldn't be generalized).
  • Skytrain... one of the forms of transit that I take to school every day. Two different lines, 33 stops throughout the Vancouver Metro area.
  • Simon Fraser University... my school.
  • Sunflower Oil... no idea exactly what it is, but it's right next to canola oil and vegetable oil! =)
  • Stanely Park... An beautiful "island" park in Vancouver... love it! (The banner picture for my blog was taken there as well).
  • Toonie... the $1 coin is called a "loonie"... this shows the level of creativity used by Canadians when naming their $2 coin! =)
  • Telus... my cell provider. Plans in BC suck! Though, they don't rely on their cells as much as people in the US. Most Canadians still actually have landlines. I've been told this lack of sufficient cell plans is because Canada has so much open space with so few people living in large areas that cell reception is limited to the bigger cities. You would never see this in Canada (thanks Lauren... stealing this pic! I love it!)
  • Universities... the Vancouver Metro area has an incredible amount of colleges and universities (I just google mapped it and came up with over 9,000 results... I'm not saying they are ALL colleges, however, I got as far as page 23 and they were still legit...). There is a store front down the street from us that you can tell USED to say something-or-college... now it's the "Premier Bathrooms"!
  • Vancouver... the biggest city in the province and the third largest metropolitan area in the country with over 2 million people.
  • White Spot... popular restaurant chain up here in BC. It's pretty good, though it's one of the few places that Jacob and I are unable to compare to something more familiar back home.
  • Washroom... the general term for "bathroom", and what they are all labeled up here.
  • X-Ray... What I have to go throw every time I take a bus over the border.
  • Yam fries... When Davis restaurant back home opened one of their draws was there yam fries, and many places didn't offer them. Up here however, they are on almost every restaurant menu and generally offered as a substitution for normal fries.
  • Zed... the last "letter" of the alphabet.

Ok... I could keep going and going... but I think I should probably end this now! lol... don't even know if anyone will finish reading it at this point!

How Things Have Changed!

One of my old classmates brought to my attention the other day that I was in high school 10 years ago.... It does NOT feel like that long ago! I started my freshman year of college almost 8 years ago now at SOU. Comparatively speaking, 8 years ago is not that long, however, as I sit in on the undergraduate lecture that I TA for, I am shocked at just how much has actually changed!

When my classmates an I entered a lecture hall in college we were looking for either a) a seat up front so we could see/hear the lecture without distractions, b) a seat in the back so we wouldn't run the risk of getting cornered to answer a question we didn't know, c) a seat near a friend who had gotten there before us, or d) a seat close to the exit so we could slip out if it got too boring.

What's the first thing my students look for when they walk into a classroom? A seat near the electrical outlet! I would say at least 80% of the undergrads in my class have lap tops. I'm use to having to look out for back packs when I walk across a classroom, but it is not in my nature to step over a maze of lap top power cords.

Additionally, I enjoy the sunshine. I loved sitting next to a window if possible, but, in today's electronic society, windows create a glare on computer screens, therefore, every window has a shade... which is often drawn shut to eliminate any of that obnoxious vitamin D. =P (Most of the laptops don't even have a file of class notes open! They're surfing the web via the universities wireless Internet access, updating their facebook status and checking their e-mail... if you're not even going to be working, GIVE ME BACK MY SUNSHINE!)

I can now understand how my parents must feel when looking back on their youthful days... these young whipper-snappers don't know how good they have it! lol

P.S. I still don't even OWN a lap top!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hard Core

Today, in my 2:30-5:30 lecture, we were discussing development of the human brain and how it can relate to aggression and violent behavior. We had all kinds of wonderfully color coded pictures, definitions of big biology words (like hippocampus and amydgala) and, at 4:30... the fire alarm.

Now, in a typical school situation, the teacher would get the class up and out of the building as quickly as possible. What do hard core graduate level class professors do?

Apparently they turn to the class and say, "I'm willing to work through it if you are."


So, he continued to lecture over the blaring of the fire alarm for about 5-10 minutes until our department's "Fire Warden" (it was really cute, he had a vest and everything), came to the classroom to tell us to evacuate.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I thought this first part was an interesting way to learn a little more about me... the second part is strictly for Lauren as she, apparently, really wanted me to do it! lol

(And, for all you Canadians reading this, please take note that I have not highlighted the gun question... even though I am American! =P )

Things Everyone Needs to do Before They Die
(I have marked the ones I have done in purple!)

  • Started your own blog
  • Slept under the stars
  • Played in a band
  • Visited Hawaii (I'm counting this one as I have a trip planned on April 28th!)
  • Watched a meteor shower
  • Given more than you can afford to charity
  • Been to Disneyland
  • Climbed a Mountain
  • Held a praying mantis
  • Sang a solo (Believe me... you don't want me to! lol)
  • Bungee jumped
  • Visited Paris
  • Watched a lightening storm at sea
  • Taught yourself an art from scratch
  • Adopted a child
  • Had food poisoning (three times... all by my own hand =P )
  • Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (I've walked as far up as a person can now, so I'm counting this one!)
  • Grown your own vegetables
  • Slept on an overnight train
  • Hitch hiked
  • Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
  • Held a lamb
  • Gone skinny dipping
  • Run a Marathon
  • Seen a total eclipse
  • Watched a sunrise or sunset (used to watch the sun rise every morning on my way to work... gotta love those 6 AM work shifts!)
  • Hit a home run
  • Been on a cruise
  • Seen Niagara Falls in person
  • Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (recent ancestors... lol.. I've been to small town Idaho on a number of occasions!)
  • Seen an Amish community
  • Fired a rifle, shotgun or pistol
  • Seen Michelangelo’s David in person
  • Sung karaoke
  • Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
  • Bought a stranger a meal
  • Visited Africa
  • Walked on a beach by moonlight
  • Been transported in an ambulance
  • Had your portrait painted
  • Gone deep sea fishing
  • Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
  • Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (again, counting it because that's what I'm going to do in Hawaii!!)
  • Kissed in the rain
  • Played in the mud
  • Gone to a drive-in theater
  • Visited the Great Wall of China in person
  • Started a business (sell books online... taking a brief hiatus while doing the Canadian grad school thing)
  • Taken a martial art class
  • Visited Russia
  • Served at a soup kitchen (technically not a soup kitchen, however I worked at a place for a year that, part of which, consists of serving meals to the homeless)
  • Sold Girl Scout cookies (Not GS cookies, but I was a Campfire kid... we sold cookies too!)
  • Gone Whale Watching
  • Got flowers for no reason
  • Donated blood, platelets, or plasma (I would not be a good candidate for this and be more of a trouble to the techs than a help to the public, I think... if you know me, you know why!)
  • Gone sky diving
  • Visited a Nazi concentration camp
  • Bounced a check
  • Flown in a helicopter
  • Saved a favorite childhood toy
  • Visited the Lincoln Memorial in person
  • Eaten Caviar
  • Pieced a quilt
  • Stood in Times Square
  • Been fired from a job
  • Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
  • Been on a speeding motorcycle
  • Seen the Grand Canyon in person
  • Published something
  • Bought a brand new car
  • Walked in Jerusalem
  • Visited the White House
  • Had chickenpox
  • Sat on a jury
  • Met someone famous (famous in certain circles. lol)
  • Joined a book club
  • Lost a loved one
  • Had a baby
  • Seen the Alamo in person
  • Swam in the ocean (REALLY looking forward to swimming in a WARM ocean in HI!)
  • Owned a cell phone
  • Been stung by a bee
  • Seen Mount Rushmore in person
  • Learned to play an instrument
  • Held a tarantula
  • Touched an iceberg
  • Changed a baby’s diaper
  • Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
  • Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
  • Had a food fight
  • Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
  • Ridden a roller coaster
  • Visited all 50 states (this is my goal... but I'm only about half way there)
  • Taken a road trip
  • Milked a cow
  • Been in a movie
  • Crashed a party
  • Made cookies from scratch
  • Gotten a tattoo
  • Rafted the Snake River
  • Performed on stage
  • Been to Las Vegas (Four times now)
  • Eaten shark (nope... ate alligator though)
  • Bought a house
  • Been in a combat zone (after working in a residential treatment facility with 10 teenage girls with emotional disturbances, I am SOOOO saying yes)
  • Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Touched a sting ray
  • Broken a bone (I'm fairly certain I've broken toes)
  • Ridden a horse
  • Eaten sushi
  • Had your picture in newspaper
  • Gone back to school
  • Eaten fried green tomatoes
  • Killed and prepared an animal for eating
  • Dyed your hair
  • Caused a car accident
  • Saved someone’s life (In a conceptual way, I hope I have)

A--Attached or Single: Attached
B--Best Friend: I have a handful of really awesome friends
C--Cake or Pie: Depends... give me Sweet Life cake any time, but if there's a chocolate peanut butter cream pie there might be an internal debate! =)
D--Day of Choice: I like sunny Saturdays
E--Essential Item: Chapstick and a hair tie
F--Favorite Color: blue
G--Greatest Accomplishment: Graduating HS and college with top honors, being accepted to a competitive master's program.
H--Hometown: Junction City
I--Indulgences: Chocolate and Travel
J--January or July: July
K--Kids: Just my cat as of now!
L--Life is incomplete without: my family
M--Marriage Date: some day =)
N--Number of Siblings: 3 little brothers
O--Oranges or Apples: Apples... not as messy
P--Phobias or fears: Veins
Q--Quotes: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world"-Ghandi
R--Reason to Smile: Life
S--Season: Early fall or late Summer... I love the warm weather but I'm also a sucker for the color change.
T--Tag 5 Friends: If you're reading this and you want to, do it. =)
U--Unknown fact about me: I went to a super-max state prison by choice.
V--Very favorite store: Probably Target
W--Worst habit: Nail biting
X--X-ray or Ultra Sound: Um... either?
Y--Your favorite food: pizza, chocolate, ice cream. pork chops, fried chicken, mashed potatoes =)
Z—Zodiac: Virgo

Random People Pictures

I LOVE taking candid pictures of random people... who knows, maybe I've taken your picture! lol I think taking pictures of people enjoying their environments tell some of the best stories (or leave you to imagine the story behind the picture). Here are a couple of my favorites... check out this link for the album that I just created.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Jacob and I took a trip up to Whistler today... we were on a secret mission. ;) According to the fine print I'm not suppose to tell anyone why we went, but let's just say that we got paid to go on a date at a nice restaurant! lol.. doesn't get much better than that! Oh... and we were FORCED to buy alcohol. lol (maybe it does get a LITTLE better!) =)

We had a good time. The weather was kinda sucky, rainy on the way up, cloudy and snowy when we got there. I need to go back up on a clear day, I bet the view is FANTASTIC.

I was pretty surprised at the village they have up there. I'm not a skier, the last time i went was half my lifetime ago. I think we went up to Willamette Pass and I just remember driving forever out into the middle of nowhere on a snow-covered mountain with a big lodge and a bunch of chair lifts. Whistler was nothing like that... big gondolas (not just boats in Italy!) carried people straight from the village up the mountains (there were two peaks to choose from with LOTS of different routes). Skiers could take a lunch break at one of about 50 restaurants in the village and leave their boards and skis in racks on the street (kinda like bike racks). I thought it was pretty cool! =) So many people shuffling in and out of shops with their ski boots and goggles still on, and boarders waiting to catch the bus to and from the village. I was impressed.

P.S. I won the gold while I was up there... I have the photo to prove it! =)


Canadians watch a LOT of hockey. It seems that no matter what night of the week I go out, there is a hockey game on the TV in the restaurant/bar/coffee shop. Luckily for me, I greatly enjoy a good hockey game. =) It's one thing that suits me well up here in Canada.

I know nothing about hockey. I don't understand the specific fouls. I don't understand why sometimes it's o.k. to plow a guy into a wall and sometimes it's not... but.. I don't really care... I love watching it! I find myself reacting with the plays (clapping hysterically, saying "OHHHH" when one of the bad wall-shoves happens, and calling for fights... lol.. though, the last one I generally only do in my head or to Jacob next to me).

I went to my first hockey game a few years back. A friend took me to see the Generals, Eugene's hometown team. Up here, I would really love to see a pro game and check out the Canucks but they are WAY too expensive, so, I stick with the SFU hockey team, and, I have to say, they are pretty much fantastic!

They are 14-1 this season and played their last home game last night. Jacob and I went to see it. It was tied 4-4 going into the 3rd quarter... still tied with only 12 minutes left in the game. Suddenly something happened and SFU scored 3 goals in the next 10 minutes finishing the game 7-4. FANTASTIC! I enjoyed myself. =)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chocolate Axe Man!

I saw this on TV the other day... pretty much a WTF sort of moment...

From Way Up High!

I told y'all that my school was on a mountain! lol

(Sometimes I have to pop my ears on the way back down!)

SFU as seen from a plane

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sins of the City

So I just discovered that Vancouver has a police museum! lol... I am probably a little too excited/intrigued by this fact. I am a criminologist after all! =)

Not only did this building use to be the coroner's facilities, but now it hosts birthday parties! Their website says that the parties are only intended for kids 4-12, but I want the forensics one! lol

I definitely need to check it out this summer when they start up the Sins of the City Walking Tour again... I wonder if I'll be able to find anyone to go with me! =)

Friday, February 13, 2009


Do you know the fine is $300 if you're caught bringing a single apple into the U.S.?

I do now.

P.S. I talked my way out of the fine this time, but apparently the infraction is going on my "record"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Joys of Undergrad Papers... NOT

I just finished reading/grading an undergrad paper in which the student compared sex with children to beating chickens... if my brain wasn't dead already, it certainly is now...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


So yesterday I had an adventure on transit! lol... I had to go downtown to pick up my train ticket down to Oregon this weekend and then head over to campus (grand total of 5 trains and 4 buses by the end of my day... not to mention that I saw/stopped at 23 different skytrain terminals... there are only 33 total). Anyhow... I got to sit at the front of the skytrain! lol... I've never done it before and I may sound like a little kid, but it was pretty damn cool to get to see everything rushing at you head on! So... I took video... *sheepish grin*