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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Thursday, July 30, 2009

I am NOT Going to Miss the Border

I HATE crossing the border. Even though I know that I'm doing nothing wrong, I still get this mini-anxiety attack when I pull up to their little window. They ask so many questions. I know they are trying to trip you up. Where are you going? What's in that bag? Where do you live? How long will you be gone? But the question that got me this last time that I crossed back into the U.S. was, "Do you have any cat food?"

I ALWAYS tell them when I have my cat in the car (the last thing I need is to get pulled over for trying to smuggle a life animal over the border), but no one has EVER asked me if I had cat food (in all actuality, I thought they'd have more problems with the kitty litter box on the back seat).

I told them that yes, I had cat food. How much? A couple cups. Is it in the original packaging? No... I pour it into a Tupperware container. By this point I am getting really confused. Then the guy sticks this orange post-it note thing on my wind shield and tells me to park my car and go see someone at the agriculture desk inside (and he TAKES MY PASSPORT.... this worried me a bit).

My mother was with me on this trip, so we park the car and the two of us head into the building... still not quite sure what's going on. We stand in line behind a large family that appears to be of some eastern European decent (and also appears very confused). There is no one at the counter helping them, though they appear that they have been helped and are waiting for someone to return. So, Mom and I wait. Finally one of the immigration officers tells us to step to the other counter where another office is working on something. So, we go over there. And, without a word, the officer that was there picked up and left... never to be seen (by us) again. And, we wait some more.

FINALLY this woman comes up and asked if we'd been helped. I was not happy to see this particular woman... she was the same one who tried to fine me $300 for an apple. She took my little post it. And told me that I wasn't suppose to bring cat food into the country because it may have lamb in it ( And then she just stared at me! lol I asked her what my options were and she told me that I could either turn around and take it home, or she would dispose of it. After sitting in line at the border for over an hour, I was most definitely NOT going to turn around and take 4 cups of cat food back home. So I told her to go ahead and get rid of it. Then she asked me which car was mine and where the cat food was. I told her and she told us to remain inside.

I could see her from the window... and she inspected my entire car. Even popped the trunk even though I'd told her that the cat food was in the back seat. My mother, somewhat naively, seeing the women poke around in my trunk asked if she should go out and tell the woman where it was. I told her NO. lol... the last thing I needed was for my mother to walk outside against a border officer's orders and get detained for further questioning! Finally the woman brought my cat food inside, dumped it out, handed me the container back and told me that she'd left the small amount of food that was actually in his food dish.

Wow... wasn't that nice? lol

And we were on our way again...

Fast forward to weeks later, crossing back into Canada...

The signs along the freeway said that the wait at the border would be about 10 minutes. I was very pleased about this as I had been driving for a LONG time. I stopped in Blaine, got some gas, and then drove a few more blocks to the Hwy 543 border crossing. Right before the lanes split cars were backed up. One by one border agents were letting cars drive through a check point; every 5th car or so they stopped and had their drug dogs sniff around. I was so worried that they were going to stop me and the dogs were going to freak out 'cause I had a cat in the back seat! lol (I know this is highly unlikely since they are trained drug dogs, but they thought still crossed my mind). Thankfully, I wasn't stopped and continued on to.

There were about 4 lanes open at the border, two on the right, and two on the left. Right in the middle (in a now-closed lane), about one car length from the window, was an RV... with a tow truck in front of it trying to hook it up! lol I would NOT want to be those people!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's Been Awhile

I've been neglecting my blogs recently... I blame this primarily on the fact that a lot has been going on in my life these last few weeks, and that I was rather upset by a comment that was posted on one of my posts a few weeks back. This comment was rather rude and insinuated that I was making too many generalizations about the Canadian population (however, at the same time turning their nose up at me and my Americanism).

I thought about this for a little while and I do not believe that I am making "generalizations" but rather "observations". I am not capable of meeting EVERYONE in Canada (or any other geographic area for that matter!). As a visitor to a country I make observations about the culture dependent on what I see on a day to day, random basis. My blog is not full of generalizations. I am not saying that "all Canadians like hockey", but rather, like any researcher, I have to come to some sort of conclusion based on a small, random sample. "Hockey is a larger part of life in Canada than in the U.S."... this is not a generalization, this is an observation (this is not the specific post that my commenter commented on, just an example).

So... yeah... that my little spurt of upsetedness. =) Now back to your regularly scheduled programming! =)

Monday, July 13, 2009


My mom is up visiting me this week... getting the chance to experience the Canadian way of life (more on her visit later).

She called back home tonight and talked to my 4-year old nephew on the phone. He, apparently, asked where she was, and this is how the conversation went (at least, the one side that I could hear):

Mom: We're up in Canada. Can you say Cana...

(4-year old babble)

Mom: Are there dinosaurs up here? I don't know... I haven't see any... but I'll keep my eyes open for them!

lol.... gotta love little kids, and their wonderful cultural perceptions =)

Saturday, July 11, 2009


As some of you may already know, last weekend my boyfriend, Jacob, asked me to marry him! We are so excited, and I'm very much looking forward to the wedding planning. As such, I have created ANOTHER new blog (I will try to keep up all THREE as best as I can!)

Sand Dollars and Sunflowers: Musings of a soon-to-be, barefoot on the beach bride!