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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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Seven Months... Sweet Deal!

Today I had my LAST CLASS EVER! This is very weird for me seeing as I only started my master's program in September, and I still have a full year left until I have completed my degree requirements... but for that next year I am, pretty much, working completely independently and never have to attend another class again.

So weird!

Refried Beans!

I had Mexican food this weekend! lol.... this may not seem noteworthy to most of my friends and family back home, but Mexican food isn't a staple of Canadian life like it is in the U.S. There is not a Taco Bell/Time on every street corner, and you can NOT find refried beans in the supermarket! So, when a group of friends/classmates decided that we were all going to go to UBC to hear Robert Hare give a lecture on psycholpathy Saturday night (yeah, we're hip like that!) and I saw there was a Mexican place in the trendy, Kitsilano vicinity of Vancouver (on the way to the lecture), I suggested a little "south of the (two) border" cuisine. We went to Las Magaritas... and it was GOOD. I didn't get my refried beans (I'm not obsessed with these, I swear, you just don't realize how much you actually enjoy something until you can't find it anywhere!), but I did get a good quesadilla, sangria, chips and salsa and guacamole! Woo hoo! I feel so much better now! =)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Molson's Canadian "Code"

One thing I have noticed about Canadian television and commercials is how patriotic they are. Everything is "Canadian this" or "Canadian that"... I don't know if they are just VERY proud of their heritage or trying to prove to that they are NOT American. Either way, the following commercials for Molson's Beer are good examples.

I am not a fan of beer, but these commercials and their "Code" for being a Canadian are pretty funny!

Code #1

Code #2

Code #3

Monday, March 16, 2009

Is It Really Not Getting Any Better?

I just had the most depressing experience at the grocery store this afternoon. I had just turned into an aisle when I heard a man talking to this woman about his elementary aged son and some upcoming sports season. He said that his son was going to be "nasty" this year, and the woman made some comment about how you always have to look out for the quiet ones. And then the father said that they would definitely be looking out for his son has long as he didn't run like a "fairy" and the woman turned to the kid and said, "You're not going to run like a fairy are you?" They were having this conversation like it was completely normal and not the least bit offensive and disgusting... I really thought civilized society was getting better then than this... but what I just experienced today is discrimination being passed on to the next generation...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Trip to Hope

I want to see Hope...
British Columbia that is.

When we first moved up here I'd see the signs on the freeway all the time "Hope 130 km"... maybe that's part of the reason that Vancouver appealed to me so much... it's proximity to Hope.

** Which, in all actuality, has a lot of truth to it.

Since my time in Canada is coming so close to an end (I should be back in Oregon this September) I've decided that I really want to take the 2 hour drive to see what Hope is all about. I've checked their website and looked at pictures of the area... beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I think i want to wait until the summer though (or, at least until I can be sure it won't snow on me) and go camping... I'm having a craving for camping recently...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beautiful BC Day

Today was GORGEOUS! Still cold as F***, but just beautiful to enjoy in a nice warm jacket, gloves, hat and scarf! I had to take a trip up the "mountain" to my school this afternoon... here's some photos I took along the way (I took them with my phone, most AS I was driving, so please forgive some of the crappy angles!)

This is the view from my campus

Coming off the mountain... I just like the rearview shot of the forest behind me

The mountains looking over "my river".... (Fraser River)

Monday, March 9, 2009

My School is Famous!

Apparently SFU is a favorite for filming locations... Cool. =)

Curling... For Canadians Who Find Hockey Too Violent

So I was at a pub tonight having a wonderful burger with all kinds of great stuff on it, watching the Canucks vs. LA Kings hockey game on the big screen, and I happened to notice a curling competition being broadcast on one of the other TVs. I knew this activity existed, I've heard of people participating in curling before... but I don't know that I've ever actually seen it... nor do I think, even after watch a bit of it, that I have any idea what they are doing! lol Looks like shuffleboard on ice...

Apparently Canada won the world championship in 2008 for curling though (both men AND women's teams), so it must be a pretty big deal! Here's a video of part of the men's 2008 championship match...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Elk Crossing!

Care of my friend Holly... gotta love this! =)

If You Build It, THEY Will Come....

This is the actual turn-off From Banff, Alberta, Canada to the #1 highway to Calgary .

Great picture isn't it? They had to build the animals their own crossing (especially the elk) because that was where the natural crossing was and after the highway was built there were far too many accidents.

It didn't take the animals long to learn that this was their very own bridge!
And then you have some people saying'Animals are stupid.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tax Time!

So after figuring out my U.S. tax returns (hallelujah for tuition credits!) and I had to figure out Canada's tax returns, too... I really didn't sign up for all this added hassle when I decided to go to school "internationally"!

Thankfully, Canada has their own free version of Turbo Tax for students, too, so once I found that it wasn't incredibly difficult.

Here's what I found odd though... I didn't have ANY taxes taken out of my paychecks since I've been up here... yet, I still got a $200 refund... and, on top of that, because I'm "low income" I get non-taxed quarterly payments directly deposited into my bank account to help offset the costs of local sales taxes... this is something we need to look into for back home!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Wonder... What Was I??

I am currently 18 papers into my pile of 50, 12-page undergrad papers on the concepts of harm reduction, why it may be a sound drug policy, and how supervised injection sites encompass these ideals (or do not... depending on their stance).

This is my second term marking this course, which is entirely based on written essays (no tests of any sort) and I have come to recognize a few different kinds of students...

The Overachiever
: This student includes a table of contents with their term paper. They send me e-mails asking if its ok if they go OVER the word count, and include pages of references when their required reading list for the unit was less than 10. These students argue with me when they get an A and feel like they should have received an A+.

The Underachiever
: This is obviously, the opposite to the student stated above. This student only signs onto the web site once or twice a term... and only when an assignment is due. They only read (if anything) the abstract/conclusion of an article, not caring about the information that led the author to such. This student continually hands in work that is only 50-75% the required length for the assignment, with less than half of the readings included in their references, and lines like, "criminal prohibitions on drug use don't work", in their papers... without any sort of reason why or additional information. They don't bother to read over their paper before turning it in, so I see things like, "Marijuana prohibitionis notworking", or "Boyd said that ". It's ridiculous.

The Underachiever trying to LOOK like an Overachiever
: These students are fun to spot. They are the ones who write a horribly philosophical paper that, in the first reading makes you feel stupid for not understanding all the big words and complex lines of reasoning they are using... but, after a second reading, you realize they are not saying anything, probably are best friends with a thesaurus, and only used support from the course materials (or any material for that matter!) only once or twice per page!

The ESL student who cares
: There are a LOT of Asian students at SFU. Some of their families have been here for generations and they are just as "Americanized" as their peers, and some are first generation and still struggling to conquer the language. I have a number of these students, and sometimes their papers can be quite difficult to get through. However, there are some who care about their writing and appear to try really hard to get the translations right. Occasionally you can tell that they missed something important in the readings, or mistook the definition of a word, but, for the most part, their papers are clear and (somewhat) easy to get through. I assume that these students ask for help from their native English-speaking peers.

The ESL students who do NOT care
: They students are (excuse my French), a pain in my ass. Their papers are jumbles of words put together in sentences that have no foreseeable meaning. I have to read lines over, and over again correcting grammar, spelling, and punctuation as I go just so that I can understand what they are trying to say. I make comments on their papers that they should find someone to read over their papers so that they don't lose marks for clarity and grammar, but, time and time again I get the same, jumbled papers... and they never come to me asking for help.

The Middle of the Roaders
: I think these are my favorite students. They are the ones who generally get Bs and are o.k. with it. They read the required material, write the required papers at the required length, and, if they have a question, they ask. Occasionally they through in a little humor or personal anecdote... they are not worried about the academic consequences of such (some professors don't like this sort of thing), but rather they want to make the paper more enjoyable and entertaining. Believe me... after hours and hours of reading the same arguments over and over again (because MANY people never steer TOO far away from regurgitating the information in the reading material), I look forward to these anecdotes and a little bit of entertainment!