Enjoying Sports as A TCK

Hey everyone! In honour of the Tokyo Olympics coming up, I wanted to share some stories about international sporting events that I have seen in my life. People ask me questions about it, so here are all the answers! Please note, in this post, I refer to soccer as football, unless I specify that it’s American Football. It’s easier to say football in this case because it’s better known that way globally. But before I start, I wanted to talk about something important to know about TCKs.

Divided Loyalties:

This is a thing that is common with TCKs when it comes to cheering on sports teams or athletes. Sometimes, it’s hard to say who we support in sporting events because of our many cultures. There’s no rule that says we absolutely have to support certain athletes. I hear a lot from native-born citizens of countries that they feel patriotic when they see their athletes performing. I do feel that way, but with a twist. Some great athletes are just amazing to see and it warms your heart. When that happens, it doesn’t matter where they are from. You’re just happy to see them do well.

I don’t identify as Swedish or Romanian, but I absolutely love Carolina KlΓΌft who won gold for Sweden in the women’s heptathlon in Athens 2004. One of my favourite gymnasts is Catalina Ponor from Romania. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform live in the London 2012 Olympics. Other athletes I love include Usain Bolt, Russian pairs skaters Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Maranin, Svetlana Khorkina, and I loved seeing Chantal Peticlerc even before I became Canadian! Although it was conflicting with my support for Tanni Grey-Thompson, it was nice to see she and Chantal Peticlerc got along really well. I also LOVE American gymnast Shawn Johnson! I wasn’t the only one either. She was one of those people who gets to know everyone, even on the other teams and everyone loved her.

Additionally, thanks to the fact I trained in Russian ballet for years, I know why Russian and Eastern European gymnasts, skiers and ice skaters are so good. They train in the Russian ballet system, so they have my unconditional support! Okay, I already sense some future divided loyalties between supporting Russia or Canada in the Winter Olympics lol!

Funny and Amazing Divided Loyalty Stories:

It’s actually comical sometimes whenever I see two or more countries I identify with competing together in the same event. If it’s a football game in either Euro or the World Cup, I like to see things unfold first, especially if they are two very strong teams competing.

One time, I saw a women’s track final at the Olympic Games that 6 out of 8 of the runners were either British or American! I was officially beat! I didn’t know who to support! In the end, I was just happy to see the race and happy for the winners. In the 2006 Winter Olympics, I was supporting Lindsey Jacobellis of the USA in the women’s snowboarding final. She fell after she grabbed her board, and was beaten by Tanja Frieden of Switzerland. Wow! Divided loyalties I didn’t expect!

Additionally, there were a lot of Jamaican people where I grew up. When Usain Bolt won his gold medals, my neighbourhood ERUPTED!! I happily joined in the celebrations! If my friends support different athletes than me, I’m happy for those athletes too. I want to say more about divided loyalties in general, but I will save that for another post.

UEFA Euro Cup:

Before I start, I wanted to say that I don’t like football, but I do love seeing major international tournaments. I couldn’t understand why England was so obsessed with their national sport. I have never known Americans to be as obsessed with baseball or American football and Canadians are definitely not as obsessed with hockey. Even though football is popular around Europe, I found the obsession with football in England to be a little over the top. Then again, whenever I see something is over the top, I don’t get into it. I think that’s where I learned it from.

That realization of the English obsession with football hit me when England was playing in Euro 2004. It wasn’t as safe to go out when England was playing a game. Whenever I was out, I did my best to avoid the areas with pubs (not always easy in England). One time, England lost a game and there was a riot. As time went on, I realized that riots were normal if England lost a major football game. Whenever I was out at that time, I had to plan even safer routes than I normally would.

I would see things in the news about English football fans causing trouble if they travelled to a country hosting a major football tournament. Fans would get arrested or fined or held accountable in some way for doing the same crap they always do after a game, except in another country where it’s not acceptable. Any time I heard about football fans being disrespectful to another culture, I would roll my eyes! As a TCK, my number one rule is to always make an effort to be culturally respectful. It doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes, but I try to the best of my ability.

And Then Euro 2020 Happened:

Before 2020, I did continue to watch Euro until I repatriated to the USA. I checked the results of Euro 2016 online though. I hoped the most recent Euro would be broadcast on CBC. No such luck. Still, I found a way to see the match highlights and keep up on the news and support England, France and Switzerland! I was stunned to learn that Euro 2020 was at Wembley Stadium! I move from London, and then England gets to host it! Darn! I had some concerns though because there was already news of English football fans being culturally disrespectful to the other teams. They booed during the Italian national anthem and even physically attacked fans supporting other countries. Although my Mum and I were happy that England made it to the final, we suspected that if England lost, there would be a massive riot with a prejudiced twist.

Sure enough, England lost and racist English fans were blowing up social media. That was due to Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed penalties that could have won the match. Black people in England started being violently attacked for a couple of days afterwards. Mum and I hate that we called it.

Additionally, because I have close contacts in London, I am privy to more insider information there. A contact sent me this thing that was circulating around Snapchat that was a scoring game for committing certain racist attacks. I’m not going to share it because it’s the most unconscionable, diabolical thing I have ever seen! I have seen people make racist comments on social media, but this is above and beyond! Fortunately, people started to move on a few days later, but racism in England still has a long way to go. So NOT surprised by this!

More on Microaggressions in Sports:

After what happened in England, I wonder if they will be banned from the World Cup in 2022, or from future Euro tournaments. Their participation was already controversial because they left the EU. Although, Russia is allowed to participate in Euro and they aren’t part of the EU. Still, I would support UEFA if they banned England from Euro. Heck, they banned Hungary at Euro for racist and homophobic attacks. I admit I am glad that international sports organizations are catching on that they need to hold teams accountable for microaggressions.

As time has gone on, I have seen more and more athletes stand up to the rampant sexism in sports. I’m cheering on the Norwegian and Australian beach volleyball teams for refusing to wear bikinis. Beach volleyball was clearly instituted by horny old geezers in the IOC. Additionally, the Canadian Olympic team has been making accommodations for athletes who are mothers. It’s so amazing to see. I saw this series called Sports on Fire on CBC, and one of them is about the history of genetic testing in sports and discrimination against women who are XY or genetically different from the imposed sex and gender binary. I’m glad that there is more advocacy for change and the wheels are in motion for that change. It’s a stark contrast to when I started watching major sports in the early 2000s.

How It Used to Be:

The most memorable incident of violence I witnessed was in the Football World Cup in 2006. Zinedine “Zizou” Zidane of France headbutted Marco Materazzi for calling his sister a w***e. English newspapers claimed Materazzi called Zizou, “You son of a terrorist w***e!” Granted, both of those are disgusting and I’m glad Zidane headbutted Materazzi. But who got red-carded and penalized? Zidane. Super unfair. I think if it were to happen today, Materazzi would be more likely to be penalized. What’s more violent? A slur against someone’s sister, or headbutting the perpetrator who said it? I’m going with the slur. Plus, it says a lot about Zidane to stand up to toxic masculinity like that. One of my favourite movies is Bend It Like Beckham, and one reason it stands out for me is how they deal with slurs towards players.

I would advocate that athletes who play on the international stage need to have training on how to be culturally intelligent and respectful. Even the best of us make mistakes sometimes, but it’s getting to the point that when mistakes do happen, there needs to be culturally intelligent solutions. We’re just a day into the Olympics and I have already seen more Olympians who have multicultural backgrounds than ever before. Of course, not everyone has that privilege, especially if they are from countries that aren’t as open to other cultures. Bottom line: our world is more open and interconnected, so cultural intelligence is becoming paramount for everyone. One change I’m happy to see is that there is now a Refugee Olympic Team. Plus, whenever presenters talked about certain athletes’ backgrounds and said they had lived in different countries, I’m like, “Yep, possible TCK there!”

Anyway, I have some more to say about the Olympics.

How the Olympic Games Have Followed Me Through My Life:

I was living in France when the 1992 Winter Olympics were being held in Savoie. When we were in the US in 1996, the Summer Olympics were in Atlanta. Both times, we missed out on seeing them. Then, we heard London was going to bid for the 2012 Olympics, and in 2005, we waited with bated breath. The day we got the news that London would host the 2012 Olympics was amazing! Plus, we got the news within a week of the terrorist attack on July 7, 2005, and it felt great to have a boost like that. I found myself wondering how the city would change due to the Olympics. We decided it was worth making the effort to stay in London to see the Olympics.

There was a ticket lottery to see the Olympics. Okay, England didn’t do a good job with tickets, and there were definite problems with bookings. My parents and I decided to enter the lottery to see diving, Artistic Gymnastics apparatus finals, fencing, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. We thought the only one we were least likely to get was the gymnastics. We knew the Paralympic events would be easy to get because they aren’t as popular. When I got the email that we were going to see the gymnastics finals, I must have read over the email 5 times before I believed it!

Was it worth it for London to get the Olympics? I shall say that in another post! Meanwhile, “Go Canada Go!” πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Eighth Month Theme: Blogversary, Second Shot, and News

Before I start this post, I wanted to say that it’s officially my blogversary! Yes, my blog is one year old and I have 100 followers too! I keep thinking back to a year ago when I was preparing to move to Canada. It was at that time that I was discovering what it means to be a Third Culture Kid. This move has been a journey of self-discovery for me and I feel doing a blog has really helped with that. I’m not kidding, there is very little stuff out there that talks about being a TCK. Okay, I have to ask, and please be honest, how many of you knew what a TCK was before you read my blog? If you didn’t know what that was, how much do you think you have learned from reading my blog?

Anyway, I wanted to talk about what my experience was with my second COVID-19 shot. Plus I have an update on the virus situation in Calgary. I haven’t been up to posting as much because of my health. I am getting ANOTHER dental procedure soon and I am SO done with this! This dental procedure will mark my TENTH appointment at a dentist’s office for this past year. I know a lot of people who have postponed their dental appointments this past year or so because of the pandemic. I can honestly say there was nothing to worry about. They are super careful at dentist’s offices because they know patients can’t do masks and social distancing while in the appointment.

Second Shot Logistics:

If you didn’t read my post about my first shot, here it is. Due to supply issues, Canada was prioritizing first shots over second shots, and extending the time between the doses. I wasn’t expecting to get my second shot for 3-4 months. At first, I was concerned about the time frame. Thankfully, my Dad is a scientist, so he knows how to read and interpret scientific studies and can cut through the crap. After I consulted my Dad, he said it’s okay to extend the time between doses. I did research too and agreed with that too. He taught me well!

On June 1st, Alberta opened up second doses to anyone who had their first shot in March. It was in March when the province announced they were stopping second doses, and my Mum got her first dose right of AstraZeneca right after that. At the time, I had to wait until June 14th to book my shot. Canada had just announced that you can mix and match shots, so my Mum decided to get an mRNA shot for her second dose. She got Pfizer at the TELUS Convention Centre.

A Word About Healthcare Here:

I got a surprise right after that. My periodontist’s receptionist contacted me because the local pharmacy had got a supply of Pfizer shots. She wanted to know if Mum and I were interested in getting an appointment. Here’s where it got awkward. When I gave her our information to pass onto the pharmacy, she asked for our Alberta Health numbers. I told her we have temporary ones because we haven’t qualified for healthcare yet. Even though we have temporary healthcare numbers, we couldn’t get the shot through the pharmacy. Our only option to get the shot was booking through the Alberta Health system. We were really bummed out. Still, it was super kind of my periodontist’s receptionist to try and help us.

I have certainly found some things can be awkward when you haven’t qualified for healthcare yet. We’re in a weird situation in terms of qualifying for healthcare. Even though we have lived here for over 6 months (which is one requirement), we’re still on visitor’s status. The other requirement is to have certain work visas to qualify for healthcare. Okay, I completely understand why Canada has the 6-month residency requirement. A lot of Americans travel to Canada to get cheaper healthcare and/or prescriptions, so of course, Canada’s going to have a residency requirement for healthcare. At least I haven’t heard any propaganda here that immigrants are bankrupting healthcare as I have heard in other countries where I have resided. Healthcare eligibility requirements for immigrants aren’t perfect in a lot of countries, and that needs to be changed.

My Mum’s Experience:

When my Mum got AstraZeneca, she didn’t feel any side effects at all. Adding the Pfizer shot 8 weeks later was a different story. I had heard of the second shot causing a lot of fatigue, but my Mum slept for 21 hours with a few breaks in between! I was able to talk her through the other side effects because I had already had one dose of Pfizer. It took her a few days to feel normal again, but she has been keeping up on sleeping.

I wrote my post about the first Pfizer shot very shortly after getting the shot, so I didn’t include the fact that something happened to me four days after the shot. I don’t want to say what it is, but I do want to say that I couldn’t ignore it. Seeing my Mum go through the side effects reminded me of what happened to me. I realized I needed help with getting the second shot. I’m not kidding, I was THIS close to saying no to the second shot!

I went to my doctor about my concerns and he assessed whether it was too risky for me to get the second shot. In the end, he said it was minimal risk, so I was happy about that. When I was studying econometrics, I learned about this study a university did on their students to assess how to boost vaccination rates. The study compared a group who were given leaflets about vaccinations versus a group that got a vaccine consult. They found the vaccine consult group had a much higher vaccination rate. Seriously, if I was in charge, I would incentivize doctors’ offices to prioritize vaccine consults for patients. There is no shame in needing a consult.

So I Booked My Shot:

Alberta opened vaccinations to people who got their shot in April four days earlier than they originally said. I booked mine as soon as possible because the first shot rate was pushing 70%. Once the vaccination rate reached 70%, it would start a two-week countdown to full reopening in Alberta. My goal was to be fully vaxxed (antibodies kicked in and everything) by the time reopening happened. I went to the TELUS Convention Centre for my shot again. I thought I was going to have to wait in line for an hour like I did last time. Appointments for second shots were increasing like crazy, but it didn’t affect waiting in line at the TELUS Convention Centre. My Mum wasn’t allowed to come in with me, for some reason. It probably depends on who is the security guard at the door.

Waiting in line to book my shot

I had the best nurse that I could have asked for with this shot! I was honest with her about the problems I had with the first shot, so she did the shot in a private area in the clinic. Lying down while getting the shot was a new experience. I highly recommend it! The nurse stayed with me for the 15 minute period after the shot as well. When I said Canada is the fifth country I have lived in, she said, “I’m curious now! Where have you lived?” I gave her the long version of my TCK story. She had some cool stories too. She had been travelling around to different vaccine clinics in Alberta and told me about a bear in the clinic parking lot in Banff.

Side Effect Time!:

I was feeling happy after my shot. I’m glad that even though the TELUS Convention Centre is a mass vaccination site, they take care of patients who have problems with the shot. After an hour though, I started to feel it. I went home and slept it off. Before I got my shot, I took two ibuprofen. It helped immensely because the nausea wasn’t so bad and it stopped my arm from hurting so much. I have never had a shot hurt my arm more than the Pfizer shot. The other side effects lingered for about 36-48 hours, but the fatigue stayed. At first, I thought I was okay, and then I had to SLEEP! It took me NINE days to feel normal again!

I have a theory why the fatigue lingered though. I have had a major viral infection before, as well as a major bacterial infection. When I was at university, I got hand foot and mouth disease at the time when outbreaks were happening on university campuses. Plus, I have had appendicitis. Both those things took a LONG time to recover from! I get impatient when I’m sick and when I got impatient with the above health issues, I physically crashed. I’m pretty sure my body remembers that, so it was telling me to sleep off this shot. Am I glad I got the shot? Yes! Am I ecstatic that I got through a pandemic without getting sick? I can’t even describe it!! Am I enjoying the amazing wifi thanks to the 5G implant from the shot? Heck yeah! You know I just trolled a conspiracy theorist there right?

A Reflective Time:

Now that I’m fully vaxxed, I have been reflecting a lot on what I want to keep from the pandemic and what I want to reject. On June 18, Alberta announced that it hit the 70% first dose rate, and it’s now in the two-week countdown to reopening. The announcement went like this:

I wish that had actually happened though!

How do I feel about that? Well, cautiously optimistic. The Calgary Stampede is happening as scheduled from July 9-18 and who knows if the vaccination rate will be enough? The Delta variant has already hit Calgary. As far as I know, it’s under control, and cases are still going down. Even so, experts are saying it’s too early to have the Stampede. One singer who used to be a pediatric nurse said he won’t perform at the Stampede until it’s safe.

What’s the best thing about being fully vaxxed? I can now explore Calgary more! In fact, I am doing a challenge. My idea for this challenge came from a talk about how Calgary was designed for walking. Parks and green spaces are a point of pride here. When I looked at the city of Calgary website, it said there were 73 parks in Calgary. So, my challenge is to see a new park every 7-10 days. I am going to randomly select (when possible) where to go next and once I have done the walk, I will do a post about it. I just went to a new park and I will be posting about it soon! Watch this space!

Cultural Adjustment Update:

Remember how I said in my post about my seventh month that I was going through the phase where I don’t like my new country? Well, it went on for about two months. I did what I could to help myself through it and gave myself space to think through things. Even so, there was only so much I could do. So, I was waiting for a moment that would let me know that things would be okay here. I kept waiting and trying to be patient. Then, when I helped those goose parents reunite with their goslings after they were stuck, I realized that was the moment that made everything okay.

The bench where the geese were

Additionally, I saw this comedy routine from comedian Darryl Lenox that really hit home for me. As someone moving from the USA to Canada, there were some things that were just so real! I can’t find the routine on YouTube though, so I have to tell you what it said that was so relatable.

Darryl Lenox was talking about how he learned this calmness that Canadians have. He saw this news story in Winnipeg about this young guy who was raising dangerous snakes. One day, a snake went down his plumbing and ended up in the toilet of this guy who was about 65 or 70 years old. The reporter asked the older guy what he did when he saw the dangerous snake and the guy replied, “Close the lid”. Darryl Lenox talked about how that phrase became a metaphor. Sometimes you just have to close the lid. He also did a story about how things would have been completely different in the Bible Belt of the southern USA.

What I Learned:

I keep watching that comedy routine whenever I need it, but even before I saw it, I started closing the lid. I don’t engage with trolls or any insulting or spamming comments on my blog or my IG page anymore. You want to unfollow me? Bye! I’m just going to close the lid. I got to the point I can’t live in this state of constant anxiety anymore and I had to detox from that as well.

Darryl Lennox describes how this NFL player got hammered drunk at a Kenney Chesney concert and started a racist rant. He said thanks to his new prairie found calm, he was able to think through how he felt about it more clearly.

Even though there are tough things going on in the world, sometimes the prairie calm is the best thing to do. The important thing to ask is, “At what point do you just close the lid?”

Latest News from Canada:

Before I proceed, here’s a heads up. I am going to talk about finding these mass, unmarked graves of Indigenous children from residential schools. So, don’t feel like you have to read about that if you don’t want to. That’s a content warning in its own right. Additionally, please keep comments respectful on this subject. We’re talking child victims of cultural genocide who died of grievous abuse here.

Last month, a mass, unmarked grave of 215 Indigenous children was discovered near a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. Since then a few more mass, unmarked graves have been found. The latest one was in Saskatchewan of 751 children, which brought the total to 1,323. After the Kamloops discovery, there were vigils around the country and flags were lowered to half-mast. Plus, there were lots of other calls to action.

There was a vigil site outside Calgary City Hall. My Mum and I went there to pay our respects. We agreed when we were there we would do a two-minute silence as we do on November 11 at 11 am. There were poems, signs and 215 pairs of children’s shoes. The report said the kids in the Kamloops grave were between 2 and 15 years old, and the shoes fitted that typical age range too. I thought the shoes were a good touch. When you looked at the shoes, you get an image in your head of children running, jumping or moving around like kids do. It was like seeing the ghosts of children who never met family members in their community and parents that never got to see their children doing kiddy things. I didn’t take any photos of the vigil site out of respect for the situation.

A Seismic Cultural Shift:

I have experienced enough cultures to know that Canada is in the middle of a seismic cultural shift here. Usually, cultural shifts happen gradually, but sometimes, they can happen like a volcanic eruption. The eruptions happen because the country has been suppressing something for too long. Ergo, when it explodes, it EXPLODES! This is like Krakatoa here.

Last I heard, the International Criminal Court has taken a case to investigate Canada and the Catholic Church for cultural genocide of Indigenous people. I guess we’ll find out soon how this will go. Additionally, Canada Day is coming up on July 1st. A lot of areas have cancelled their celebrations out of respect for this time of mourning among First Nations. Other people are planning a day of reflection out of respect, and that’s what my Mum and I are doing too. There is a certain amount of resistance to cancelling or changing Canada Day celebrations. At first, I didn’t know what to think because this is my first Canada Day and I am still learning the norms, but the culture is changing, so I decided to roll with it. It’s not the first time I have had to adapt to something like this.

Thanks for reading and remember to close the lid!

Women’s History Month 2021: One Letdown After Another

Hi everyone, I have been feeling the need to vent about gender inequality of late. The pandemic has exposed rampant discrimination towards women and there have been SO many failures especially during Women’s History Month.

One thing I wanted to mention is I changed my site from UCan2 to Third Culture Kid Can in case you got confused. It’s still me!

Note: I am going to share my own personal experiences of discrimination, particularly as an expat.

Content Warning: Gender and racial-based violence.

Harry and Meghan Interview with Oprah:

After living in England for 13 years, I could write an entire post about the Royal Family. I can say where I was when (insert here) happened. Let me give a summary here. The interview confirmed what I already knew about the Royal Family. Combine Wallace Simpson with Princess Diana. Add a dose of racism. Voila! The racism part was only new in the sense that it’s a new tune than it’s been. After all, no person of colour has ever married into the Royal Family before.

In case you missed the interview, here’s a link: http://box720p.com/play.php?movie=tt141172ttttt88

I was able to see what my friends in England were posting on Facebook about the impending nuptials. There were articles that weren’t making it into international news. My friends were commenting on how disgustingly racist and xenophobic those articles were. The bottom line of our views was, “It’s the 21st century! Stop this crap!” I hope someday, racist and xenophobic media lose their credibility. This interview exposed what media sources we shouldn’t trust. Look for the temper tantrums and ignore the source for good!

My American friends know that I am seriously disillusioned with the Royal Family. One of my friends told me, “I watched Harry and Meghan’s wedding.” I said, “Okay.” That was the end of that conversation. I don’t mind hearing about the Royal Family per se. People know that I only talk about them if I want to talk about them. It’s a mixed bag for me. I do keep up with what’s going on in the UK because it is my passport country. On the other hand, you can only hear so much about the Royal Family. Although, these days I feel it’s important to have these conversations, especially after the interview.

Sexual Harassment Statistics in the UK:

UN Women UK released a statistic that 97% of women in the UK have been sexually harassed. I’m one of them and I certainly believe it when they say how rampant it is. Please note, the following is my own personal experience, but I honestly believe I am not the only one who has experienced these types of harassment. I am talking about this because this is NOT okay!

I was a pre-teen when I moved to London. Within my first year, I had to be careful of what I said or did. I could just be minding my own business, and somehow that showed a guy I was into him and he would totally hit on me! This happened so frequently and it confused me terribly. I was going through culture shock at the same time. I found myself wondering, “Is this normal in England? Or is it normal everywhere?” I didn’t tell my parents what was going on because the shame was overwhelming!

Fortunately, my Mum figured out what was going on. One time at school, this boy in my class called me a “Stupid American Bitch”. I didn’t even know what that word meant at the time. My Mum called the school to yell at them and eventually pulled me out! Later on, she noticed guys would make eyes at me and she would give them dirty looks.

I went to a girls’ school for a while because I didn’t want to deal with boys. It wasn’t any better because they were bullies in their own way. Plus, they just accepted sexual harassment from boys and men as normal and I didn’t. I developed the attitude, “I don’t care if this is culturally acceptable! This is not okay!”

It Never Got Better:

As I got older and began to look more like a woman, the harassment came thick and fast. Guys kept making eyes at me or whistling at me whenever I was out. I was walking down my street and I got hit on SIX TIMES by SIX DIFFERENT MEN! I turned around and went home ready to punch any guy that hit on me again!

One time, I was at the pharmacy picking up medicine for my Mum and the guy serving me hit on me! I refused to go to that pharmacy again. Another time, this homeless guy grabbed me after he asked me for money. Fortunately, I broke free and ran away! There were a lot more incidents where that came from.

The only support I could rely on was my Mum. My friends told me I should be flattered that I get hit on so much. I developed my own survival skills. If anyone tried to stop me in the street, I would either outright ignore them, or yell, “NO!” before they had a chance to say anything. I know now that sometimes, it was rude because the person meant no harm. On the other hand, I was traumatized. I developed my “DON’T MESS WITH ME” look and used it all the time when I was out.

Then I Started Working As A Chef:

Sexual harassment got absolutely brutal once I entered the workplace! Plus, being in a kitchen where there are hot and sharp things, you fear for your safety if you speak up. One time, I used physical force on a guy who was sexually harassing me at work, and who got disciplinary action? Me. By now, I was on medication for panic attacks. The trauma from harassment had compounded after several years. I eventually stopped working as a chef because I learned sexual harassment and assault is an occupational hazard for female chefs.

Here’s one of the biggest ironies I learned. The most significant change I had made as a teenager was to dress in bulky clothes and look ugly. Okay, I know now it’s an outdated view that women’s clothes provoke men. I thought the people who were slut-shaming me were right. I’m not saying they were right, but I will say this. Dressing down definitely reduced the number of street harassment incidents I experienced. I was willing to do it as long as it happened less.

Trouble is, I HATE wearing bulky clothes all the time! It makes my body hurt and sometimes, I just wanted to wear a dress or take my sweater off or something. I mean, come on! Just let women wear what they want! Their clothing is NOT their consent! When I moved to California, I started to relax more with my clothing.

After I was sexually harassed at work, I knew the clothes assumption was wrong. I wore chef whites like everyone else and I was still harassed! Now, I just wear what I want. I have my own style and I’m proud of it!

When I Repatriated:

I learned the hard way how American guys were toxic. Culture definitely influences toxic behaviour patterns in people. I was used to how guys were toxic in England. Guys in America seemed to have a more violent side to their toxic behaviour. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that guns are legal in the US.

Additionally, it was surprising to me to learn that women in the US are far more supportive of each other than in the UK. It was hard for me to develop close female friendships in the UK. Plus, I feel women in the US are aware of how toxic men can be, and they know they have to stick up for each other. I was in two abusive relationships after I repatriated. It was out of the frying pan and into the fire for me. Fortunately, I learned to develop close female friendships and that helped me heal. I don’t like Madeline Albright per se, but her quote that I used for my post is so right!

I decided to apply to go to Mills College in Oakland because I needed a safe place to continue healing. It worked! It was the best decision I could have made and it has set me up with a lot of skills for life. That was why I was so upset when my senior year got cut short because of the pandemic. See my previous post, COVID-19: One Year On. What’s My Story?

And Then This Past Week Happened:

Last Tuesday, there the shootings in Atlanta happened where six Asian sex workers were killed. When the domestic terrorist blamed his violent actions on his sex addiction, uh no. Just no! Other people deal with addiction and they aren’t out and about shooting people. Also, yellow fever much? I thought this was about the worst it could get with Women’s History Month. I was wrong.

The next day, I got an announcement that my beloved Alma Mater is going to close. I was inconsolable. I know that universities have been suffering because of the pandemic, but Mills was suffering financially even before the pandemic. The amount of information I have about why Mills is closing is a whole other post. Basically, Mills was in financial trouble a few years ago. Therefore, the vultures descended and finished the school off. I have been getting information the last few days that makes me angry and sad and hurt that the president and Board of Trustees have killed Mills. It’s like in Guardians of the Galaxy when Rocket yells, “You killed Groot!”

I am working to fight against this along with other alums. To me, Mills is forever! Plus, after all the crap that has happened during Women’s History Month, Mills’ work is FAR from done! Mills closing is just another reason why I never want to live in the US again. Someone said to me that it’s super expensive to live in the Bay Area now and he doesn’t see how any school can survive there long-term anymore. I definitely agree. Income inequality is through the roof there and it’s hard to see it getting better any time soon!

Okay, rant over. What are your thoughts on Women’s History Month this year and progress on women’s rights?

Fourth Month Theme: Okay, It’s Cold! Wake Me Up in Spring!

I just lived through temperatures in the -20s and -30s for the first time ever! How did it go? Read on to find out.

My Winter Project:

People have told me to start a project in the winter because there is a lot of time to work on it! It does help to get settled in a new country during a long winter. I decided to start thinking of a business idea during the winter. One reason I wanted to move to Calgary is that it’s an entrepreneurial city. When I got here and saw how popular small businesses are, it made me want to get in on the action. It took a while to find an idea for a business though. Eventually, I found something! Right now, I am in the creative process and I need to get through some roadblocks with immigration. All I will say about it is it’s a business to provide a service to expats. I am SUPER excited about it!

Personal Anecdotes During The Cold Snap:

There was a cold snap for about 10 days where it stayed in the -20s. Windchill was in the -30s. The first day of it was a blizzard and I had to go out! It actually went better than I thought, but I was glad I wore a minimum of two layers of everything! Kind of funny that there was talk of double masking at that time too because of the new COVID variants.

I didn’t take many photos during that cold snap because I refused to take my gloves off! Although, here’s one that I managed to get.

Windchill was -35 C ish! No outdoors for me!

Yep. I made a point of “hibernating” for a while. There was a point where it felt exhausting to go out, and I didn’t see much point in going out if it was for less than 20 minutes. I discovered it takes a LONG time to layer up for these conditions. That’s why I decided not to go out if I was only going out for a few minutes.

Another day that I went out in these temperatures was when I had to go to my physiotherapist. At first, I thought about going on public transportation because I’m a Londoner (wink!). Then, I decided to Uber, and I was glad I did! I had my gloves off for two minutes to get Uber and my hands got PAINFULLY cold! That wasn’t the first time I misread the signs. I was taking the garbage out and I didn’t take my gloves. The bins had a HUGE amount of snow on them, which I had to wipe off with my bare hands! I almost doubled over trying to warm my hands up. The night before, we had got the cold weather warning that said the words “frostbite” and “hypothermia” in it. When I saw it, I admit I did get a little cognitive dissonance about it. After the garbage can incident, I thought, “Okay! They are NOT messing around here!”

Here are the only photos I was brave enough to get with my gloves off for a couple of minutes.

Frozen River with Footprints

Facts About Extremely Low Temperatures:

I was glad to wear a mask (or two) in these low temperatures. It kept my face warm. Plus, using logic and a little common sense, I figured that if there was any risk of getting COVID, it would be during a cold snap if I didn’t keep my immune system primed. I had heard all about breathing in and your nose getting frozen shut at -30 or below, but I figured that wasn’t going to happen this year. Then, we absolutely HAD to open a window because our apartment was overheated. I put my face near the window, and guess what? My nose practically got frozen shut! At least I was able to get the idea of it in the privacy of my own home and I wasn’t weakening my immune system.

One thing that surprised me was when it wasn’t snowing, but still freezing, cars were driving at pretty much normal speeds. It wasn’t like getting a big dump of snow and cars getting stuck all the time. Also, when you put salt on the pavement, it doesn’t melt the snow when it’s in the -20s/-30s.

Now I can expect to feel sluggish and SAD-y when it’s an extreme cold snap. Still, I would rather deal with that here than in London. Overcast, high humidity, no snow AND cold? No thanks! I’m definitely happy about the sunnier, drier, snowier climate. Honestly, Calgary has surprised me with how much sun there is. Whenever it’s sunny, carpe diem!

I did take some other photos to illustrate how cold it was.

YYC Hot Chocolate Fest:

I discovered another thing that is super cool about Calgary! During the month of February, local businesses sell hot chocolate as a fundraiser for Calgary Meals on Wheels. It’s called the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest.

This is the 10th year this has happened and there were over 40 small businesses participating. I suggest following them on social media too. If there wasn’t a pandemic on, I would have gone to a lot more businesses to try their hot chocolate. Next year! I did get hot chocolate when I went to my favourite patisserie though because I know they really try to keep customers safe. It had passionfruit in it and it was to die for! They also had a gift card giveaway every week, and I won one of the gift cards! Can’t wait to use it!

To die for!

Note to my readers outside Canada, YYC is the airport code for Calgary International Airport. It’s a thing here to refer to cities by their airport code. I have never seen a country do that and I am learning the airport codes for the different cities in Canada so I don’t get confused when I see YVR or YEG. I know, it’s weird to me too. Would I see something in San Francisco referred to as SFO, or London as LHR or LGW? That would be a no. And if London did do that, how could they decide because it has more than one major airport?

That’s all for now.

Third Month Theme: Rest, Reflect and Observe New Things

I’m about 80% settled here! There’s more time to relax! I can reflect more on how the last three months have gone. It was kind of been a blur up until Christmas. This is the point where I can observe and absorb my new country now.

Calgary Baptism of Fire

Here’s another weird Calgary weather story! I had to go out at about 8 am in mid-January. I checked the temperature on my phone and didn’t see indicators of the previous day’s forecast of snow in the morning. It was still, clear and looked like it would be sunny later. Yes, in mid-January, the sun STILL rises late! It wasn’t too cold, so I was on the fence as to whether I needed my down parka. I decided not to wear it and left my hat behind too…

Ten minutes out the door I was suddenly hit with this bone-chilling Arctic wind and hail! “HOLY S**T!!!” was my first thought! It was too late now to go home for my parka! Fortunately, I had a cashmere sweater that I pulled over my head as I walked. The blast didn’t last too long though. Calgary had JUST avoided a blizzard! The temperature dropped too. In other words, I saw an immediate barometric pressure change firsthand!

Okay, what just happened? Was this a baptism of fire for living in Calgary or something? What did I learn from this? Check the radar map too if I’m going out! Checking the current forecast, temperature and windchill are not enough! Weather reports are never entirely reliable, especially on a cell phone. Regardless, I need to know how much to layer up. I learned the phrase, “Don’t like the weather? Wait 20 minutes.” within my first month here. You can replace “don’t” with “do” in that sentence too. I laughed before. I have actually lived it now! It’s VERY real for me!

Everything Else is Boring by Comparison

Just kidding! The temperature is dropping more. We’re in the -10s and sometimes the windchill makes it feel in the-20s at this point! I hear a lot about the -30 degree temperatures but haven’t experienced it yet. Watch this space! Walks help me learn what I should wear at what temperatures before I have to go do chores. One example was when I took the photos for this post. It was -14 degrees with a windchill of -18 and it was hard to leave my gloves off for more than a minute or two! I tried buying gloves that had a grip on them for your cell phone screen, but it was a rip off!

Recently, we got a dusting of new snow along with hoarfrost. I can’t imagine anything more beautiful! When I walked by the river, there was a stretch that was completely frozen. The river gets more frozen by the day. I have never lived anywhere where the river freezes before. I was tempted to walk on it but decided not to. I’m not fully Canadian yet, so I don’t have the intuition to judge ice thickness.

I see SO many geese flying over every day to congregate at the river! It’s crazy! Why haven’t those birdbrains flown south yet?

I Admit That I Wished for Snow

Be careful what you wish for, hey? In Calgary, you’re more likely to get it! There was a reason I wished for it. I had a flashback to a time in London that was an incredibly stressful and miserable time in my life. I feel like I can heal from it now that I’m in Canada partly because there is snow that makes everything beautiful. My Mum said it says a lot about Canada if I feel safe enough to think through this garbage and heal from it. I agree with her on that.

Additionally, I was exhausted for a few days, so I stayed in bed. It was due to my move. There comes a point after moving overseas where I have had to sleep it off! It doesn’t happen right away. It creeps up on me. There are some stressors that don’t end for a long time (if at all). Once there’s a time to breathe a bit more, the fatigue hits! It was time to press the Reset button! I was so tired I didn’t give a crap about Inauguration Day in the US!

A Word on How I Feel About US Politics

Honestly, I’m still numb. I still have this strong part of me that says “I do NOT want to talk about it!” When I moved to Calgary, I had to be strict on that boundary. I broke that norm when I did my post Storming the Reichstag 2.0. My personal boundaries on talking about it still stand. I’m feeling more emotionally resilient than I was when I first moved here though. I am in a new country though and I want to respect their own cultural norms when it comes to politics.

Had Another TCK Moment about US Politics

I was 10 when I moved away from the US for the first time. Politics was boring adult stuff for me. 9/11 happened and I learned of ripple effects from the US around the world. Then, I came across a challenge that many TCKs face.

Politics didn’t come up a lot while I was living life outside my home in London. UK politics doesn’t get discussed nearly as much. I didn’t fully understand how UK politics worked, frankly. News shows were cryptic and I gave up learning it after a while. When I studied for my citizenship test though, it finally made sense to me!

My Dad has always talked about US politics incessantly at home. It gets so tiresome! Because of the cultural conflict between my home and life outside in England, I didn’t understand it. When you’re having a conversation in the US, sooner or later, you will start talking about politics. I didn’t realize that until I repatriated to the US. There is an unhealthy obsession with politics in the US. People from other countries really don’t understand that. A friend of mine pointed out that the US stands out in the world as an exception to the norm. She’s so right!

I think other cultures making politics a taboo topic can be healthy under the right circumstances. People have been taking breaks from politics because of the amount of depressing stuff going on. Cultural structures can act as pre-imposed boundaries on the amount of political discussion. I am breaking my habit of talking about US politics because I’m not there anymore. I do feel peer pressure from other Americans to talk about politics sometimes. My response is, I am in another country, and we aren’t obsessed with politics. Being a TCK can be a powerful thing.

Push and Pull between Cultures

When I move to a new country, I get this push and pull effect between my last country and my current country. As a TCK, I need to reconfigure balancing all my cultures now and then. Moving to a new country is one of those times to reconfigure.

Here’s one example. I have been loving the winter SO much! There are different things that are new to me about a sub-Arctic winter! There’s a push from the US and a pull towards Canada. That feeling is strong and deep! I am bracing myself for someday needing to go to California. I have to sort through a room full of stuff that I left behind. When will that happen? No idea. People I know have false hope that I’m returning for good. I have to squash it.

Sometimes, you get updates from your loved ones in your last country that make you wish you were there. That’s the biggest pull of all. Problems can be increased in severity by a factor of 10 when you’re overseas. Other times, people from your last country can say things that feel like peer pressure to return.

A Note on Peer Pressure

A word to the wise: if you know someone who is living overseas, please don’t ask, “when are you coming back?” They either might not know, or they may not want to do so, or both. Additionally, please don’t say, “when you come back”. I have had people do both to me and I hate it!

I am understanding of people who do this because they haven’t lived overseas. They don’t know how things work. Things can get complicated or plans can change for whatever reason. Take my situation about needing to go to California someday. I thought that was going to go back in April. Now, I know I can’t, and I have to apply to extend my stay. I don’t want to go to California until I know for sure that I would be allowed back into Canada. I told people in California that I would be there in April, but I didn’t know my situation would change.

What I hate though is people being unsupportive. I can tell the difference between someone not knowing how things work and them being unsupportive. The best example I can think of this from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Okay, spoiler alert: Kim Baker breaks up with her cheating boyfriend. He blames the fact she’s been in Afghanistan. That hits home! I saved her line of, “Go to (insert something bad)! It sucks! You’ll fit right in!” It’s EXACTLY how I feel at moments like that!

People who have been the most sensitive are the ones who let me talk about my situation first. If they ask questions, they do it respectfully. If I mention that I might be visiting, we can randomly say we can do some fun things when I do. That is the best!

A Word on Getting Settled in A New Country

The question, “Are you settled yet?” is rather disconcerting for me. I’m going to do a more detailed post about what getting settled in a new country really means to me. I will probably stay at 80% settled for a while, frankly. There are circumstances beyond my control that will keep me from being 100% settled. Additionally, if my immigration status isn’t what I call solid, it’s hard to feel 100% settled.

That’s it for now. What do you think of what I said about my expat/TCK life here? I’m open to discussion! Any further tips on sub-Arctic winter would be welcome!