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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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Country DOES Exist in the Vancouver Metro Area! =)

After my biking expedition through Stanley Park a couple weeks ago, I sought out other bike friendly areas to ride in interesting locations. I found a number of routes that I want to take, but one that looked the most intriguing with Barnston Island.

Barnston Island is located in the middle of the Fraser River with no direct road access to the mainland. If you want to get over there you have to take a small "ferry" across the water (really just a tug boat pulling a 3-car barge). According to Wikipedia, the Island's population is about 155, 40-some of which live on the small Native reservation on one corner of the island.

View Larger Map

The island is primarily residences and farmland, though we did see a small dairy and there is also a picnic ground/park, however, because there is no "reason" for people to come to the island, there is no public parking available, so if you don't live there and want to explore, the only real way to do so is by bike or on foot. The single road that goes around the island is about 9.8 kilometers (a little over 6 miles). As you ride/walk, you have the river on one side and farm land on the other. I saw farm animals (in their "natural" habitat) for the first time in MONTHS! lol.

There is also a small reservation on the island of the Katzie First Nations. It was kind of interesting riding through this area. It didn't appear to be any different than the rest of the area, with the exception of the skin color of the residents we saw walking around, the loose dogs on the street (I got chased briefly by a chihuahua... if any of you know me, you know that's likely to give me a panic attack! lol), and what looked like a very small, very dilapidated school house and playground.

The island also has a small park on the west side. You can tell the water is low right now, which lent itself to a sandy beach and lots of exposed logs. I was surprised at how many people were at the park... after not really seeing anyone the whole time (except for a few kids on the reserve and other cyclists), we saw a couple and their dog on the beach and then another half dozen or so gathered in the wooded area. Jacob guessed that they were gathering mushrooms... maybe it's just the criminologist in me, but when I see half a dozen people gathered in a wooded area out of direct sight from oncoming foot traffic... I get a little nervous! lol

If I was staying in Canada longer and wanted to own property, this is the place I would do it. It is SUCH a cute, quiet community... incredibly peaceful... yet only 10 minutes from the freeway into the big city. Or, you can take the ferry over the "mainland" and it's just a little over a mile to a bus stop! I could SOO do that! lol

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Did It!

I did it!!

Cooked my first turkey EVER!!! AND it was edible! =)

Thursday, April 9, 2009


It's been a bit of an adjustment getting use to holidays up here in BC... very few of them are scheduled the same time as those back home, and some that we have at home just don't exist in BC. I have been forced to take a four day weekend this week for Easter. The good people of BC observe Good Friday and "Easter Monday"... I say I'm forced because I actually did have stuff I needed to do tomorrow, and, as Canadians are less consumeristic than Americans, practically EVERYTHING is closed on government holidays... including grocery stores apparently. I knew about Easter Monday, but I was unaware that Good Friday is a government holiday up here, so I'm just hoping our grocery store is open sometime before Easter 'cause I'm cooking my first turkey and I need to buy stuff for it!

Here are some other government holidays I've had to figure out ...

Victoria Day... celebrated May 18th this year
Canada Day... July 1st
BC Day... August 3rd this year

The Canadians have the same Christmas, New Years, Halloween, Easter... and they have equivalents to our Labor Day, Veterans Day... though no Memorial Day, and because Thanksgiving is more than a month earlier in BC, my mom had to reschedule our Thanksgiving for me since I HAD CLASS on that day! lol They also don't celebrate their independence on July 4th as we do, but they have plenty of fireworks on their other "days" (Victoria, Canada and BC)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Beautiful Vancouver Day as a Tourist!

I had a FANTASTIC tourist weekend in my own neighborhood! =) The weather was wonderful, and there was finally a few days without snow/rain in the forecast so Jacob and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to explore a bit. We're going to be crossing the border again in a couple weeks and we're not sure if he'll be able to come back over when we return in May (we've had some border crossing issues recently), so we wanted to do some of those things that we (read "I" lol) have wanted to do before we leave Canada for good.

Saturday we got together with friends to bike along the seawall at Stanley Park. It was a still a bit chilly (it is April after all), but the sun was shining and the view was fantastic. It only took us an hour and half from start to stop (with lots of stops for snacks and photo ops along the way). This was NOT long enough! I wanted to keep going! lol But no worries, when I got home I browsed around online and found a bunch of other bike routes I want to take this summer! =)

Sunday Jacob and I decided to take a trip out to the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Van. The bridge is only a few minutes outside of downtown Vancouver in the West Coast Rainforest. The bridge spans about 450 feet across and 230 feet above the Capilano River. I've never been on a bridge like that before! I did NOT particularly like the bridge swaying beneath me! I kept blaming Jacob for making it move... but he was quick to point out the dozens of other people walking across the bridge as well! lol

Added to the fact that Jacob surprised me with a spontaneous date to the movies last night AND I have finished all of my schoolwork for the term and took the weekend to relax before I start marking undergrad papers... I had a WONDERFUL weekend!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Superheros Take Vancouver!

OK, so this news is a couple years old, but it came up in one of my classes this term and I thought it a humorous story. =) This is, apparently, how dads in Vancouver, BC prove that they are *responsible* citizens and capable of having custody of their children....

P.S. Apparently there's been MULTIPLE instances of this country wide...

Fathers 4 Justice Canada in Action