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, 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!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Change of Address

As I packed up my life yet again, and get ready to say goodbye to Canada, I am trying to get all of my "affairs" in order. One of those things that you do when you move is fill out a change of address form at the post office. Back home it's not a big deal. You can even take it home and just mail it back to your post office. Easy easy. So, as such, I was expecting the same thing up here. I picked up a form at the post office, filled it out and was going to mail it in, however, I did not see any mailing address indicated on it. So, today, I walked over to the post office to hand deliver it.

To my surprise, changing your address is not the quick and easy experience in Canada as it is in the states. In fact, Canadians have to PAY to get their mail forwarded! If I were to stay in the province it would have cost me about $40 to get my mail forwarded for six months. Since I'm moving out of the province, it was going to cost me $110!!!

Forget that!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Holly Comes to Canada!

It is 8 AM and I have been awake for 3 hours.

The 5 AM wake up was well worth it however, and it meant that I got to spend 3 full days being a tourist in Vancouver with my good friend (and bridesmaid) Holly. I just wish I didn't have to take her to catch the bus back to Oregon today =( But, we had a FANTASTIC time while she was here (and now are very, very sore, and very, very tired! lol)

Day 1: Vancouver Aquarium and a walk/hike through Stanley Park looking for my "lost" car (only to discover I had a parking ticket =P).

Night 1: Partied it up at the Blarney Stone in Gastown. Danced to some FANTASTIC Irish, classic rock and Motown music... SOOO much fun!

Day 2: Woke up early after a late night out to go kayaking on Bowen Island. Parkade at the bay was FULL as were the other two parking lots... I parked in a 3 hour parking spot (for six hours) and prayed I wouldn't get my second parking ticket of the weekend... the Gods were smiling down at me! No ticket! =) And I FANTASTIC day out on the water!

** This is Boyer Island! lol I was so exited! I have my own island! =)

Night 2: Dinner at the Sushi Garden and then home to REST! lol

Day 3: Playland Amusement Park in Vancouver! I went on a number of rides and didn't get sick at ALL! lol Though, I was very sure to do the upset-the-tummy rides PRIOR to eating all the carnival food =)

Night 3: Freezing indoor pool soaking back at my apartment (don't know why the heater never seems to work when I want to swim), and then more relaxing... Holly's last night... had a blast! Gonna miss her and my stay-cation!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Summer Day in British Columbia...

Here I am on a cool summer day sitting in my apartment, grading final exam papers, listening to my neighbor practice the bag pipe...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nice to Feel Appreciated

This note from my student today could NOT have come at a better time for me. I've been alone up in BC for almost a week now and I'm starting to feel it. I have a ton of undergrad papers to grade, a paper of my own to write, and an apartment to pack up in the next three weeks... and no motivation to do any of it. So, it was nice to find this message in my inbox today:

Hi Brittney,

I just wanted to say thanks for a great semester and you were a great TM. The class was extremely interesting and you helped a ton with your responses. I think I would have just gotten way too confused with my own thoughts if you didn't clear things up.

Anyhow, I just wanted to wish you the best of luck in the future.