Sixth Month Theme: Slow Spring and Time for Health. Plus, asking for Travel Recommendations

After I published my last post, I found out my stay in Canada got extended! Here was the surprising thing: I didn’t even need to apply to extend it. Apparently, because of COVID-19, the IRCC has been automatically granting extensions. At least they have my updated information though. Feel free to congratulate me on being in Canada for six months! My Mum and I are going to get some nice food to celebrate!

My next step is to get the entrepreneur’s visa. They aren’t being issued right now, but I am staying on top of updates.

Spring has Sprung!

Okay, it hasn’t been that fast. It’s quite pleasant to see spring creeping up on you. My Mum and I call it a slow spring. In California, it’s hot by mid-March. There’s a part of me that says, “Okay, too fast!” when that happens.

Last month, I saw these traces of grass. Now there is more grass! This past week, I saw a hyacinth outside my window! The deciduous trees are still bare, but I see buds there and on the bushes.

Another thing I did lately: I went outside with spring clothes and only a sweater as backup! I could tell by the fact I got two compliments on my shirt in one day that other people are happy the weather is warmer. Okay, we still get some snow and/or rainstorms, but it’s not too bad and they clear up fast enough.

A couple days ago, I sat in the warm sun at a war memorial behind a library

Now, I’m actually writing this when we’re getting a snowfall. That’s April Showers for you! Although, it is good that it’s the only one to happen so far.

I have been incredibly surprised and impressed about how sunny Calgary is! Yes, you get storms, but it’s amazing how fast the weather clears and stays that way for a while. When I moved back to the US, one update from the UK I could absolutely rely on was when it was sunny. I’m serious. ALL my friends in the UK posted on social media about sunny days! I was surprised, “It’s sunny in the UK!” wasn’t a trending topic on Facebook. Okay, I have posted about it being sunny in London too. Guilty as charged. Just goes to show how unusual sunny days are there.

Health is Wealth:

One reason why I haven’t posted as often is I am focusing on my health right now. I am getting gum graft surgery at the end of April. Plus, my Mum and I are doing our own personal lockdown (again)!

Eventually, you get to the point where you start to realize whether certain restrictions are enough. Restrictions tightened in Alberta over a week ago but it’s definitely not enough. I have been warning everyone I know about the B117 variant because I also know about how it affected the UK. The good thing is I think the new restrictions have been a wake-up call. Shops were busy when the restrictions were announced, but now it’s quieter. I live near a main road and the traffic is a lot less lately.

I was talking to my periodontist’s receptionist lately about the restrictions. She talked about how if she had her way, it would be a six-week lockdown. Plus, I told her how I learned to be extremely careful in COVID-19 prevention after living in the US.

Asking for Travel Recommendations:

Let me explain. There is word on the grapevine that our world-famous Calgary Stampede is going to be happening in July. If it does, it sounds like the city will have a major superspreader event. Alberta is planning to have every adult vaccinated by June 30. How realistic is that? I don’t know. Under normal circumstances, I would love to see the Stampede. It tickles a TCK nerve for me. However, I don’t want to sacrifice my health. So, we invited my Dad to visit and go on a road trip together.

I wonder how many Calgarians will have the same idea as me?

What I am Looking for in Travel Recommendations:

  • Either within Alberta or some interprovincial travel, as long as the regulations for that work in our favour.
    • Note: We already have Yellowknife in mind. Going north is definitely on the table.
  • A mix of touristy and non-touristy places. I figure if the Stampede happens, the tourist places might be busy. Jasper, Banff and Edmonton sound nice, but I wonder if people will bring COVID-19 there around Stampede time.
  • We don’t want to go to Ontario or Quebec at this time, for obvious reasons. That means we can’t go to the Atlantic provinces either. 

Looking forward to hearing your recommendations!

 

 

What I’m Looking Forward To

I have been saying lately, “I can’t wait to try my first poutine!” There have been a lot of stressors with moving, and it helps to have things to look forward to. After all, moving to another country is a whole new adventure and there are some genuinely exciting things to anticipate. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and emotional roller coaster, but I find thinking of new and exciting things are the best medicine. Here’s my list of things I can’t wait to experience!

I love maple syrup! I have it with buckwheat pancakes every weekend! I hear that you can get candy from maple syrup by pouring it on ice and that sounds really cool! 

When I was working as a chef back in London, the place I worked at used Canadian Bacon. I would sneak little bits of it when no one was looking. It was among the best bacon I have ever tasted! I wonder if the Canadian Bacon that’s imported is different from the local kind. I guess I will find out! Generally, I’m a vegetarian, but I appreciate good quality meat and I’m happy to break my norm if I’m eating ethical meat.

Food: I’m all about the food in the culture! I love experiencing the authenticity of the taste and ingredients and preparation! When I was about 7 or 8, my Mom got a recipe for Nanaimo bars from a Canadian friend and we made it for Christmas. After that, we made it every year without fail! When I was in the hospital with appendicitis over the Christmas season, we had a post-Christmas celebration and my Mom made Nanaimo bars! That was the first year I hadn’t made them with her since I was so sick, but my Mom made sure I didn’t miss out! (I love her! 💕) Christmas isn’t Christmas without Nanaimo bars. 🎄

Nanaimo Bars from a few years ago. One of my friends said he would gladly turn himself in to terrorists for a slice of Nanaimo Bar!

I have heard about a lot of other foods that I’m eager to try, like Montreal Bagels. I have never tried bagels cooked in water with honey, so that should be cool! I know Tim Hortons is like the Starbucks of Canada, and normally, I don’t go to Starbucks. I am willing to try Tim Hortons and see what it’s like. I heard that it got taken over by Burger King, and I am a little dubious because I learned about the pros and cons of multinational corporations when I took a class in international finance. 

These are just a handful of foods that I’m looking forward to. To be honest, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with the love of ketchup, because I avoid eating it! The reason I avoid it is because I am a trained chef and I find ketchup to be food terrorism. Okay, I like good quality ketchup because it doesn’t have as much sugar in it. I really have a problem with too much sugar with tomatoes. But hey, I can’t be the only weirdo! I know people who don’t like poutine!

I have learned a lot about popular Canadian foods from the following websites:

17 Traditional Canadian Foods You NEED To Try

47 Of The Best Canadian Dishes – Traditional Canadian Food

10 Must-Try Canadian Dishes (and the Best Places to Find Them)

18 Traditional Canadian Foods and 10 Places To Taste Them in Canada

The 15 Best Canadian Foods You Need To Try

Canadian Foods 

Basically, I am a foodie and can’t wait to expand my cultural culinary horizons! Plus, the excessive amount of stuff I have said about food is my French side talking!

Holidays: I love learning and participating in public holidays in another country! Guy Fawkes Day was my favorite UK holiday because I was fascinated with its historical significance, and I loved the fireworks! I didn’t like that fireworks were illegal in the USA and you only got them on the Fourth of July, so I would watch fireworks any chance I got! It did become a problem though when people started setting off fireworks a couple weeks before and a couple weeks after both Guy Fawkes Day and New Year’s Eve. Animals were suffering from all the noise and veterinarians were petitioning to only limit fireworks on those holidays. People who lived in the UK all their lives supported that petition because that’s how it was when they were kids. Plus, if they had animals, they wanted to help them. Last Fourth of July, there were way too many fireworks going off in the month before. It was worse than the fireworks going off before and after Guy Fawkes Day because they would go off in the middle of the night and I would have to sleep with earplugs.

I have had some good Fourth of July celebrations, but now, I don’t want to celebrate it again. I have gotten despondent about it the last few years and the last Fourth, no one in my household wanted to do anything. We did watch fireworks though, but only because they are cool. There are a couple memories about the Fourth that will never leave me. When we were in England, we had a Fourth of July celebration, and my Mom went to a local shop to get some food. She told the cashier that we were American and celebrating our Independence Day from England. The cashier was Indian and he was fascinated about our holiday. He asked her questions such as, “When did your country get its independence?” It was so cool!

There was another Fourth of July I will never forget. I have a friend from college who is from Shanghai, and her mother was visiting her in California. My parents and I invited my friend and her mother to spend the Fourth with us. It was wonderful! My friend’s mother brought some pork dumplings she had made and they had some ingredients in them you could only get in China! Her mother didn’t speak English, so my friend translated. However, she and my mother were able to communicate in their own way, since my mother said that Mom Code is a universal language. One thing I found touching was this mutual respect we had for each other’s cultures. My parents and I appreciated the dumplings and did our best to communicate and make our guests feel welcome. My friend’s mother was fascinated with how things are in the US, and we had a good discussion about the differences between houses in the US and China. Also, we asked her mother if she wanted to use chopsticks to eat, but she said no, because she wanted to eat the way Americans do on the Fourth of July. There were a lot of fireworks that evening, and we all enjoyed them, but I think frankly, the Chinese outdo the Americans when it comes to fireworks. I just think about how polarization is happening in the world and it makes me sad that people are disrespecting each other’s cultures. I think the more people make an effort to understand and respect each other’s cultures, the better off this world will be.

There are some things I miss about holidays in England. Since I grew up in a multicultural neighborhood, I have had the pleasure of being invited to celebrate holidays with people from other cultures. I have experienced Russian Easter and Christmas quite a few times. In England, Easter traditions are observed more broadly. Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, is celebrated nationwide, even if people aren’t observing Lent. Additionally, there is a four day weekend off work from Good Friday to Easter Monday. I remember talking to a friend from Romania about cultural Easter traditions and my friend said she misses celebrating Easter in Romania. She said she has to remember that Easter is not as big a thing in the US.

I was ecstatic to learn that in Canada, there are Bank Holidays. I loved Bank Holidays in England and I miss them so much here! Bank Holidays are a great lull in the hustle and bustle of life and remind you to take a break. I think it’s very telling how some countries have Bank Holidays and some don’t. It can say a lot about how much rest and taking care of yourself is seen as a priority in different cultures. However, London has expanded a lot and self-care priorities seem to take a back seat. The term “London refugee” is real. People move away from London for a more peaceful life, and yes, I did that too. I can only hope there will be a cultural shift back to self-care, considering the number of London refugees.

Travel: Whenever I have moved someplace new, I make a New Year’s resolution to see more of my beautiful, new country. I caught the travel bug at a really young age. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t get to travel as much as I would like, but I feel blessed for being able to see some really beautiful things. 

I plan to get a good pair of hiking boots when I move to Canada. I want to take nice long walks on the weekend. Whenever there is a long weekend, I want to go visit some other region and take a look around either the city or countryside.

Sometimes, I will have to come back to the US to sort out business, but I plan to have some fun too. There are places in the US I haven’t seen, so if I am ever passing through some cool area, why not stop and look around? It’s hard to go back to the country you came from sometimes, and it would be nice to take a break and go someplace cool.

Thanks to the pandemic, I am yearning to travel overseas too. I tend to go stretches of years without traveling to another country, and I want that to stop. There’s a world out there to see and I want to milk it for all it’s worth, but in a good way, not an exploitative way.

Winter: Yes, I’m moving from California. No, I’m not freaking out about snow. In fact, I love snow! There was snow a few times in London, but it was hard to enjoy because people didn’t know how to handle it! The first time the snow happened when I was there, the city practically shut down. Even after that, people didn’t know how to clean the streets properly, and you would have to tiptoe around to prevent falling on black ice. Pretty embarrassing for the largest city above 50 degrees north if you ask me. Additionally, the winters in London would chill me to the bone and I would get depressed from the dark. People didn’t cope well with the winters there, so I didn’t learn how to cope well with it either. After 13 years, I couldn’t wait to move to California! I see that Canadians seem to have certain skills to help them through the winter and I have friends who have given me good advice for staying physically and mentally healthy. Someone once told me that winter in Vancouver is like Hawaii compared to London. Thanks, Delusional Bubble! I do have a recurring mountain theme in my life though. Climates don’t worry me. It’s the culture that surrounds climates that can worry me.

I did find this hilarious meme about Canadian winter on Facebook once:

Source: Facebook meme going around

There are still annoying things going on that make me wonder if I’m ever going to get to Canada, but it helps to look forward to these things. Watch this space for more stories!