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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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Making Everything "American" Again

It was kind of difficult for me when I moved up to BC as far as getting all those little things that a person needs to live in order (i.e. phone, apartment, bank account, etc.). Their system is slightly different than ours, plus I'd never had experienced the extra "fun" that's involved in moving from one country to another. Anyway... I didn't think that moving BACK to the states was going to be as difficult... but it is proving to be.

I received a Graduate Fellowship for the fall term, and I still had about half of my student loan money in a bank account up in BC. This money I was going to need to survive on for my first six months to a year back in the US until I was done with school and able to find a job. But, I did NOT want to withdraw thousands of dollars and carry it with me to my US bank. So, my thought process was that I'd just write myself a check from my Canadian account to my US one. It really shouldn't be THAT big of a deal. So, so, wrong... I didn't know why I didn't learn this after after trying to do the same thing in reverse in Canada.

The bank I went to in Oregon to deposit my check told me that they do about one foreign check transaction per year... thus, no one knew what they were doing. They kept giving me all of these alternative ways that I could transfer my money instead of giving them a check... but I'm one of those people that just get frustrated and confused when there are two many choices. I want either a or b (side note: I enjoy restaurants with SHORT menus... if the menu has more than 3 pages of possible entrees, I get slightly anxious).

Apparently with a foreign check, the US bank needs to send it to a collection agency, which then sends a money request to the foreign bank, who may or may not give up your money. I was told that the process for a Canadian check usually took 2 weeks to a month... but that they couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't take 3, 4, 5 or even 6 months... and, if the check bounced when it finally did get to the bank, there was another fee involved for that.

Now, the 2 weeks to a month thing didn't bother me. I was expecting this. However, the thought that my money could be somewhat "frozen" in my bank account for an undetermined amount of time DID make me nervous. But I didn't really feel like I had any other options. Taking my money out little by little via ATM was going to rack up the transaction fees, not to mention be a BIG pain. Driving up to BC to sign money wire paperwork just seemed ridiculous, and a paypal transfer has a lower conversation fee and other fees attached to it... so, I just went for it. I figured I if I didn't get my money in a month or so, I'd do the paypal transfer and just eat the bounced check fee (I figured it would be less than going to the ATM 20 times in order to get my money that way!).

In the end, let me tell you how EXCITED I was when I signed onto my bank account summary this money and saw that, EXACTLY two weeks later, the money was there, in my account! At a decent exchange rate! Woo hoo!! I can pay my rent now! =)


  1. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my "Sad Panda" blog entry. I really appreciate your kind words and I really like your suggestions. I'm gonna take them to heart. Thanks again, it means a lot! :)

    ~Jenn (Ex Hot Girl)

  2. Thx for pointing out your second blog. I hadn't realized that you lived in BC :)