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!

Fifth Month Theme: Spring? What? Confusion All Around!

This is my weirdest month so far! Plus, I had some culture shock going on. Read on to find out more!

What is Spring Like?

How do I answer this? People ask me about spring, but I can’t give direct answers. The best I can do is send photos. The river started melting and I got snaps of its progress. I’ve included ones from last month to show the progress. I feel like sometimes I’m snapping the receding ice shelf in Greenland.

February 15:

February 28:

March 10, 13:

There was a big melt and we decided to call it the Canadian Slush Fund. Then it froze when the temperature dropped. At least the city cleaned it up so it wasn’t so slippery.ย 

After the big melt, grass shoots started growing! We were stroking them lovingly. I didn’t realize how much I was craving the sight of green, living things. Although, my favourite shirt to wear at the moment is green with flowers and paisley. Plus, when I went to get some clothes for warmer weather, I gravitated to ones with flowers on them. Now I know to get house plants next winter. Evergreen doesn’t satisfy my needs for seeing green, living things because let’s face it, sometimes it doesn’t look green.

What can I say about the temperature? It gets erratic. The hottest it’s got is just between 10 and 20 degrees C, which is typical for cold weather in California. Then all of a sudden, it’s subzero again. At no other time has the phrase, “Don’t like the weather? Wait 20 minutes.” been more applicable.

It makes me laugh how there’s “spring” here just like there’s “winter” in California. One minute, I am walking in the sun, getting warm weather clothes, seeing grass shoots and nesting birds. The next minute, it’s plunged into snow!ย 

How do I Feel About Snow Now?

This video sums it up. I’m going to watch comedy until spring comes back!

My feet are a mess after shoving them into boots for five months. I am glad I used to be a ballet dancer though because I know how to take care of my feet. However, I have had to change up how I take care of my feet and I am still learning. Does anyone have any tips for that? I am so glad I got a footbath for my birthday! Right now, I feel like I need a major pedicure. Recently, I saw a comedy skit that talked about winter foot. Okay, too much!

I have been making a point of staying warm during these erratic temperatures so that I don’t weaken my immune system. I will be getting the COVID-19 shot in either May or June. Yes, I have pandemic fatigue, but I keep telling myself I need to hold on just a bit longer.ย 

A few days ago, I woke up, saw it had snowed and said, “I knew it!” I said it while laughing but felt annoyed too. Sometimes, I am quoting the above video so I end up saying, “Oh F**K!!” I took a photo of the snow, sent it to my friends with the following caption:

I did not photoshop this!

And Now:

I am writing this when there are warnings for both high wind and a snow squall for the next 24 hours. I hope this is just March going out like a lion. One thing has made my month. I found Cadbury Creme Eggs! They made my Easter back in England and it’s been 8 years since I have had them! Sugar binge!

It helps to laugh at this situation though. I have heard this season being described as “After Winter” or “False Hope”. I have created responses to the question “Is it spring?” according to how certain politicians would spin it. It’s all in good fun. When you get a situation where you don’t know how to answer, it’s funny to remember people actually make this their existence. I heard this is the warmest year on record, so sometimes I wonder if I am in for a shock next year?

Some Things to Look Forward To:

Once my feet recover a bit and the warm weather stabilizes, I am going to get out more and enjoy nature. The other day, I was in NW Calgary near the Bow River. I don’t see as much of the Bow River as I would like. I frequent the Elbow River more. Anyway, I saw what I think was a hawk there! It was hard to see or get a good photo of it. Plus, I heard a lot of geese and ducks calling. The Bow looked really beautiful at this time when the ice was melting.

I want to explore more of the Bow River. Plus, I hear that bald eagles are starting to next at certain points of the Bow. Additionally, golden eagles will be migrating back to Alberta soon, and I want to see them too. Watch this space!

Immigration Was Weird Too:

I applied to extend my stay here this month. This is the first time I have had to deal with immigration paperwork completely online. When I applied for UK citizenship, I did it on paper. It was only a couple of years after the first iPhone came out. Life was just starting to go digital, but the Home Office hadn’t caught on yet. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer pen and paper.

Since my Mum and I were applying together, we had a joint online application. We had to apply to extend our stay 30 days before our status expired. It was over a month ago when we started preparing our documents. Then, all of a sudden, the system wouldn’t let me upload my application form. I tried different solutions to figure out what was wrong. I must have refilled my application several times and checked it over several times a day. Anyone who knows me knows nothing gets me testier and worked up like immigration paperwork. Every day, I reached an impasse. We tried to find out how to do a paper application, but the IRCC website was super cryptic. Plus, the IRCC has to grant you permission to do a paper application. It didn’t help to email them or call them either.ย 

I didn’t think to Google the answer. I assumed because it was a secure system that tips for applying online weren’t allowed to get posted on the internet. Then, the last day to apply came around and we were just about to give up the online application and send a paper application by courier. Out of desperation, I Googled it and realized I had ticked the wrong box on my form! The relief!

And Another Thing About Immigration:

I know six-month cut-offs for certain visas are a common theme around the world. Here’s why I hate it. It’s like governments know that around the six-month point, you’re likely reaching a low point with adjusting to a culture. Therefore, they require you to apply to extend your stay when you’re already under a lot of pressure. I knew in February that I was going to hit that low soon. It hit me when we were struggling to apply to extend our stay. Fortunately, it’s not the first time I have been through this, and my Mum was supportive. She let me vent, cry and have some time to chill. Then, the next morning, she asked me, “What happened?” That question was a great way to unpack everything. I’ll be doing the same for her someday.

Right now, I’m not ready to say exactly what happened, but I will do a post on how to survive that culture shock dip. In the meantime, I’m going to eat some Cadbury Creme Eggs and watch Canadian comedy while waiting for the weather to pass.

Crossing A Border? Here Are Some TCK Pro Tips!

Who has had a supremely pleasant experience crossing a border where the officers are kind, welcoming and let you in with no problems? No? Me neither. Let’s just say, there’s a reason comedians make fun of border patrol and airport security. I included my favourite comedy routines on the subject in this post to help lighten this heavy subject.

I grew up between two of the most hostile countries when it comes to border patrol and security. So, I got really good at dealing with it. My parents said France and Switzerland border patrol care the most about paperwork. As long as you have that in order, they are usually okay with you. That sounds mild compared to my passport countries. Okay, Napoleon, I don’t appreciate the paperwork headache, but as long as I don’t get a hard time at the border, thank you!

Whether you are crossing a border for travel or immigration purposes, it’s helpful to know how to deal with border patrol. I will include tips on dealing with airport security too. Border patrol and airport security is a content warning in its own right. However, I want to mention I will include some examples of stories that people may find disturbing.

Before You Leave:

Do any necessary paperwork. I know that doesn’t sound like fun, but it will save you an enormous headache later. Make sure your passport is still valid too. If it isn’t or if you have less than 6 months on it, renew it! Being born in Switzerland and living in France, it was my birthright to learn how to fill in paperwork properly. It was one of those cultural things my parents made sure to teach me. That served me well when I moved to England and I expect it will serve me well here in Canada too. I remember when I was old enough to do paperwork, and my Mum gave me practice forms to fill in. She made me practise… and practise… and PRACTISE until I was almost tearing my hair out.

My Mum was sympathetic but also strict about the fact that I needed to know this. She told me stories later about how she learned how to deal with paperwork in France/Switzerland. This was before the internet really took off too, so hey, I learned paperwork from a master!

This is why I love Roz’s character from Monsters Inc. Every scene with her makes paperwork and border patrol a little easier to handle.

It really helps to think of border patrol officers like Roz, or even like in Life is Beautiful, Guido and Joshua call the concentration camp guards, “Mean Guys Who Yell.”

One More Thing:

Check the laws, regulations and rights when you cross the border. I’m serious. Anyone can get stopped at the border and you have to be prepared in case it happens. Additionally, if you are arriving in a country that has questionable (or dare I say abusive in some cases) human rights practices, you have to be even more prepared. More on that later.

Check requirements for airport security and customs too. If you’re in doubt about taking something with you, either don’t take it or ask at security or customs if it’s allowed. I heard a story once about this elderly German guy who was flying into the USA. He brought baking soda with him to brush his teeth. He was detained for hours while security tested it. They came back and said, “it’s baking soda.” Um, they could have figured it out by pouring apple cider vinegar on it and creating a mini volcano!

Case in point: what happens when you take fruit across the US/Canada border.

Now that you’re prepared, here’s are my tips when you are going through security or crossing the border.

Golden Rule: Do NOT Use Humour!

Just DON’T! When I was younger, my Mum told me this story to remind me not to use humour. Groucho Marx said that he was a smuggler when he went through the border. They detained him even though they knew who he was. Plus, the previous video with Leland Klassen conveys that message of not using humour too.

One time, my Dad used humour with Border Patrol. We had just got permanent residence in the UK, and my Dad was arriving back in the UK after a trip to the US. He was having his papers checked at Border Patrol and they asked him how he got permanent residence. Side Note: One of our family discussions at the time was about this guy who gave ยฃ1,000,000 to the Labour Party to obtain UK citizenship.

Anyway, Border Patrol asked my Dad, “How did you get your permanent residence?”

He joked, “I gave ยฃ1,000,000 to the Labour Party!”

The woman questioning him looked blank and said, “Good for you.”

Okay, that worked out in the end. Still, I don’t advocate using humour. Border Patrol has NO sense of humour! They just get on with the job.

Honesty is the Best Policy:

If you are familiar with typical questions you are asked, I suggest you practice your answers if you have ANY uncertainty of what you are going to say! Border Patrol may try to throw you off with an atypical comment or question. It’s normal to freeze when that happens. I don’t have any right answer for when that happens. Just be kind to yourself, especially if you say something that you feel like you shouldn’t have said in retrospect. Frankly, I get panic attacks when that happens. Sometimes, I can come up with a good save in answer to an awkward question, but it takes practice. It didn’t happen overnight for me.

Here’s something people don’t often tell you. Sometimes, you have to tell the border officers which law(s) is/are applicable to your case. Border officers have to keep track of MANY different laws. I had a situation once where I had to tell the border officer the law that applied to me. Sometimes, you wonder if they really don’t know that law, and it’s true that it can be the case. Other times, it can likely be just needing to know all these different laws and it’s hard to recall them at the drop of a hat.

I’m glad Trevor Noah makes the situation lighter in this video.

If You Make A Mistake, Own It:

You might make a mistake in your paperwork or answer a question wrongly. In that case, admit the mistake. Don’t try to flatter the officers, like how Mike Wazowzki tries to flatter Roz. Yes, there will be consequences. I made a mistake once. I thought one regulation applied to me, but it turned out there was a new one. Because I was preparing to move I didn’t check for updates. It takes a while to go through those regulations, and it’s one of those things you only want to do once when you move.

Decide Which Information is Important to Share and Which Isn’t:

To be clear, I’m NOT saying you should hide information! Far from it! What I am saying is you should prioritize what information you should share. When I got dual nationality, I learned that I have to decide on a case by case basis whether I should disclose it. I don’t say I’m a dual citizen if I am entering one of my passport countries. They don’t need to know that. They just need to see my passport. I disclosed my dual nationality to Canadian immigration when I moved. When you look at immigration forms, they ask if you’re a dual citizen. Canada’s the first country I have seen who does this! That makes me very happy that they are recognizing that a lot of people are dual citizens.

When I repatriated to the US, my Dad sat me down and had a serious talk with me about being careful who I tell that I’m a dual citizen when I’m in the US. Basically, if anyone asks me if I’m a US citizen while on US soil, I have to say yes. You’re considered a security risk if you’re a dual citizen in the US. Honestly, I find that completely disgusting and backwards! There are more TCKs in the world than ever before because of globalization and more people are getting dual nationality than before! Frankly, the US and other countries need to catch up!

Know Your Rights:

This is where it can really get ugly. Your rights can still be violated if you’re a citizen of a country that you are entering. My uncle re-entered the US after a trip to a country in South America that the US deemed a security risk. They threatened to do something that would have violated his rights as a US citizen. He said, “I’m a US citizen. You can’t do this to me!” It worked because my uncle knew his rights. If you don’t know your rights, it’s easier for border patrol to exploit you!

Here are two more tips I have. First, check if you can ask to speak to a lawyer at no extra cost to you before you leave. Certain countries are legally required to provide you with a lawyer at no extra cost upon request. Check if that applies to the country you’re entering. I only recently learned about this. I had problems entering Canada. My Dad said, later on, I should have asked to speak to a lawyer. Glad I know that for future reference!

My second tip is to find out their discrimination laws. If you can find a reason why they can’t discriminate against you, use it!

Other Stories:

After 9/11, border patrol and airport security in the US got even scarier. I vowed to myself that I would visit there as little as possible. This wasn’t something that would calm down after a few years either. There were a lot of personal stories going around of US border patrol and airport security being more abusive overall. Things only got slightly better because of people complaining about their experiences.

I have heard of UK citizens being stopped at the border if they are naturalized citizens and questioned about the legitimacy of their citizenship. That’s one reason why I am leery about entering the UK again. Additionally, I have heard stories of Canadians who are Muslim being stopped at the US border because of Trump’s Islamaphobic travel bans!

Take Care of Yourself Afterwards:

I’m serious. In my post, Flying Internationally and Locally During COVID-19, I describe how I was feeling after going through Border Control. My Mum and I had to make our flight to Calgary right after that! Adrenaline was pumping SO hard then! I thought I was either going to throw up or pass out! I had to use the flight to Calgary to recover from that ordeal. The airplane views were beautiful, so I watched out the window.

If I hadn’t had to catch a plane, I would have taken care of myself. First, I would have gone into the bathroom to come down from the massive panic attack I was having. Then, I would have drunk a lot of water and maybe had some food once I felt better.

My point is that your body is going to respond to the stress of going through border patrol. It’s important to do whatever you need to do to manage it.

Laugh About It:

At some point, I can’t take what happens too seriously. I also remember that these border officers are people too and sometimes, you can see their human side. Then, it’s almost comical when something is way too easy. Listen to this last comedy routine to find out why!

What do you think of my tips and stories? Do you agree? Disagree? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

First Month Theme: Is This A Thing?

I have been here a month now, and the most common question I ask myself is, “Is this a thing?” I ask myself that because it’s surprising to me, not because I think it’s good or bad. Then, I try and find out if it is a thing and I withhold judgement until I have more information! Here are some things I have experienced living here that have made me ask that question and the answers I have got. I’m probably going to be asking myself that question a lot for a while at least. So, if anyone has anything to contribute to my possible “things” please let me know in the comments!

On a different note, I have been making changes on my page because I’m going independent. If you’re having problems with my interacting on my blog, please let me know either in the comments or through my contact page. Bear with me please with this transition!

Canadian TV:

Once things got a bit calmer, my Mum and I started exploring streaming services on CBC Gem. A friend recommended that to us, and it looks really cool so far! I found Schitt’s Creek on there. I heard my friends in California say that it was a funny show, so we thought of giving it a try. Little did we know how much that show would resonate with us because of the whole moving situation! We’re almost done with the last season and we want to watch it again and take notes! Initially, I didn’t know it was a Canadian tv show. None of my friends told me it was, and I don’t have Netflix, so I’m really not up on the shows on there. Before moving here, we were actively looking for Canadian tv shows, and we came across Slings and Arrows, which I featured in my post about Rachel McAdams. Slings and Arrows is another one that I have watched about 3 times over.

What I have noticed about Canadian TV shows is that they are very real and don’t have that in-your-face that US TV shows and movies have. Every country puts its stamp on their TV shows, and I like the personal and transparent aspect of Canadian TV shows. I fell in love with English comedies while living in London. They will always have a special place in my heart!

I was pleasantly astounded that Schitt’s Creek put LGBTQIA+ representation front and centre of their show! No wonder they have won several awards for that! As much as I would love to see that happen with US TV shows, I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon, since conservatives have quite the grip on media.

I have got some good recommendations for other Canadian shows, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the future! I have found TV shows and entertainment are an excellent gateway to understanding a culture. Plus, right now, I can learn a lot about how people speak and spell words here in Canada. At this time, I am a little overwhelmed with that considering I am already fluent in both American English and English English and I’m trying to figure out how and when to relate to which dialect or when to abandon the rules with both dialects completely with Canadian English.

Currently, I am watching movies from the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival, which I can do for free through my local library. I will write a post on that later. Right now, I’m still trying to find out what’s a “thing” with Canadian TV and movies, but I’ll get there!

Another “thing” I discovered is whenever there’s a big snowfall, the internet gets funny. The last time I lived in a snowy climate, the internet wasn’t nearly as big a thing! Streaming does get a little weird around that time too and I have to refresh the page. I have tried 5G though, and I understand why the transition is happening now in Canada. 5G is definitely better quality than regular internet when there’s a big snowfall. That, and I know from being a data science major that transport fleets of the future are being designed to run on 5G, so there we go.

Quality of Food:

I’m in love with the food here! I discovered the joys of the Co-op and Cal & Gary’s my first day out of quarantine! Still exploring what they have to offer at this point, but I’m hooked! I’m really into organic, local and ethically sourced foods since I’m a trained chef, and it appeals to my French side. I know this sounds crazy, but it doesn’t feel like the food is slowly killing you here because corporations get away with putting SO much crap in it! I know a few things about Canadian laws on food and trade with the US, but I’m still learning about it. Frankly, I think the fact that the US just lets corporations do whatever they want makes the population more unhealthy, even if you personally take care of yourself. Plus, giving corporations free rein strips people of their livelihoods, and that’s one of the things that has lead to that orange baboon being in the White House for four years. I told my Mum that and she hadn’t thought about that, but she thinks I’m right.

I have been getting in touch with my French side since discovering the joys of Yann Haute Patisserie! I get bread there regularly because no one does bread like the French! Plus, on my first trip there, I decided to try a Paris-Calgary, while my Mum tried a lemon tart. We were celebrating our end of quarantine, and the food was ABSOLUTE ECSTACY!!! Anyone who visits Calgary HAS to try Yann Haute Patisserie!! Trust me, your trip will not be complete without it!! I have since tried their croissants and sausage rolls, and they are just as incredible! I feel like I’m in France again or back at Le Cordon Bleu!

Cold Water Pipes and Furnaces:

It was a weird thing to realize that you can’t get completely cold water from the cold water tap! I have lived in Colorado, where the pipes would freeze sometimes, but you could still get cold water. I joked with my Mum that the tepid water from the cold tap is like the tepidarium in Roman baths!

Winter Infrastructure and Lifestyle:

I used to take my water bottle everywhere with me back in California. It helped with getting my required 2L per day of liquid to carry it around. Now, there is no way I can take it with me without the water freezing, so I have to drink as much as I can before and after I go out! I also started drinking 2.5L of water a day because of the dry climate. Additionally, I have been using lotion and chapstick a lot more! Every store I go into has Burt’s Bees chapstick, and I can see it’s for a good reason.

I can tell if it has snowed during the night because someone comes by with a snowblower at about 6:30 am and it’s loud and stinky! Worst alarm clock EVER! It makes me pull the blankets over my head and hope I fall back to sleep!

I’m doing fine acclimatizing to subzero temperatures, and so far, I have learned how to deal with -10 C ish pretty well! I come alive whenever there is snow! I have missed that feeling after living in California and London. Lately, I heard that California is getting “cold”, so I created a meme. Basically, no one in the US is getting any sympathy from me when they say it’s cold! There are a few exceptions, but this meme sums me up pretty well.

I become like Roz!

Most of all, I love taking walks in the winter weather and seeing other people taking walks and enjoying the outdoors. Life seems more deliberate here, unlike the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley, which is a recipe for burnout, and why people are doing a mass exodus of the Bay Area.

I could write an entire post about winter lifestyle here (including what I see when I take a walk), but so far, I just want to mention those few things. More later!

Remembrance Day:

I wanted to say a few things to follow up on my post about Remembrance Day. First of all, I noticed on Remembrance Day a nearby flag was flying at half-mast. I got this feeling that I have only ever had in England whenever I saw Armistice Day customs. It’s a feeling of realization that it really was world wars you’re talking about here.

Additionally, I was outside the day before Remembrance Day. When I passed the monument to an unknown soldier, I noticed a flame burning and people laying a poppy wreath. I smiled respectfully to myself and lowered my head as another memory of England cropped up. I went to that memorial again when I visited a local library. I saw the eternal flame burning and took some photos of the memorial with the poppy wreaths. I definitely felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for England, and also a realization that Canadians really love their country!

The US doesn’t fly the flag at half-mast on November 11. The US used to call November 11 Armistice Day, like in England, but they changed it. My Mum remembers when that happened, and my grandparents were really upset with the name change. To them, it was a slap in the face to get rid of a name that signified the termination of The War to End All Wars. It’s like changing the name made the US forget about the sacrifice during the World Wars and isolated themselves further from the world. My Mum told me to NEVER forget that the US did that, and I promised her I never will!

COVID-19 Response:

After my mandatory 2 week quarantine upon arrival, it was weird for me to go outside and find out how many places have successfully reopened with COVID measures in place! I avoided stores like the plague back in California. I only went to Costco a few times in the seven months we were on lockdown. I trust a lot of stores here in Calgary since they are transparent about what they are doing about COVID procedures.

When I was in Safeway and found that they have arrows on the floor to indicate where to go, I was like, “Wait, WHAT?” ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. It was just inconceivable to me that stores would do that. I have had to get used to that though and be conscious about it. I was at the Co-op the other day and it slipped my mind briefly to check the arrows, and I got told off before going down an aisle in the wrong direction. I deserved that. Now, my Mum and I keep reminding each other to watch the arrows until it becomes routine. Lately, there have been some more restrictions, so I can see businesses are being more careful, and I’m completely willing to respect that!

Additionally, when I found out I could subscribe to updates to restrictions on the Alberta government website and there’s a contact tracing app, it blew my mind! ๐Ÿ˜ฎCan you blame me after coming from a country whose COVID response is nothing short of pathetic?

Overall, I feel I can relax a bit here when it comes to COVID. Cases have been going up in Alberta recently, so we are still careful when we go outside. When we left California, we figured out that you basically can’t go outside without being borderline paranoid anymore. So, I had a bit of paranoia at first when I went out for the first few times in Calgary, but a bit of perspective has helped. I go out more often than I did back in California, especially since it’s more of a necessity as a preventative measure for Seasonal Affective Disorder. I still have no idea how it’s going to affect me yet since I had it really bad in England! Plus, it’s a nice treat after being among the good people in the USA who have been sheltering in place for seven months and staying disease-free! Note: I’m NOT getting complacent though! The last thing I want is COVID!

Wildlife:

If you have seen my Quarantine Diaries posts, you will know I was amazed to find black squirrels here! I have seen more city wildlife since then, like rabbits and magpies. Whenever I go for a walk in the park, the rabbits come right up to me! I have noticed people feeding them, so I get why they are tame. One of our friends did warn us that rabbits are pests in Canada, so I’m not so sure about feeding them until I know for sure that it’s a thing. The rabbits kind of remind me of the squirrels at UC Berkeley. The squirrels there are just as tame and they know the students give them nuts. When I did a summer class there, I always had nuts on hand for the squirrels. Plus, those squirrels are the subject of many UC Berkeley memes, beside bears.

I haven’t seen so many magpies since England! There’s a superstition on how many magpies you see, “One for sorrow. Two for joy. Three for a girl. Four for a boy.” I gave up on that superstition though because I see so many lone magpies here, I’m just like, “Whatever!” Still, there are three magpies that frequent the front and backyard. We call one of them Belle and the other two are clearly a couple, so we call them Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie since they strut around like they’re a celebrity couple!

We have started putting birdseed out for the birds since we know from living in England that not a lot of animals make it through the winter, and England’s climate is less harsh than Canada’s.

The other day, I was walking home and it was snowing, and I saw SO many rabbits out! It makes me wonder if they go and grab as much food as possible when it starts snowing! Thing, or not a thing? ๐Ÿค”

Healthcare:

Disclaimer: This is just my own personal experience so far!

I have successfully resumed my chronic pain treatment and it’s been going so well! One of my observations is that there are so many chiropractic centres around here. Clearly, chiropractic has more recognition as a healthcare profession in Canada. In the US, I have had some bad experiences with chiropractic care, and even the good chiropractors aren’t at the same level as chiropractors in Canada. Legally, chiropractors can’t diagnose your problems in the US. Additionally, even though I have had some good chiropractors in the US, the care didn’t provide any more than just occasional pain relief. My treatment and care recommendations have been sticking more than before, which is great!

Additionally, I went to the dentist since I needed a check-up and a problem that needed attention. It was the most thorough appointment I have ever had! The hygienist saw me before the dentist did (it’s the other way around in the US). I got some excellent oral care tips from the hygienist, which was also a first! The dentist explained possible steps in my care very well. I understand that a good dentist is a good dentist, and maybe that would have happened where I was getting care before, but who knows?

Diversity and Representation:

I grew up in a multicultural neighbourhood in London, and the diversity enriched my life like nothing else! When I repatriated to the USA, I wondered if I would ever have that again. I got some diverse, multicultural experiences in the USA, but it wasn’t to the same extent as London. I guess one of the defining factors for me leaving the USA, was not just that lack of diversity in my life, but also living at a time of terrible polarization the last four years. Someone who was your friend before, could become your enemy overnight.

Before I moved to Calgary, my friends told me Alberta was rather white, so I was kind of bracing myself. I’m white myself, but because I identify as multicultural and multiethnic, I’m not white by US standards. If anything, white Americans have explicitly said to me that I’m not American if I have spent any part of my life overseas and ostracized me in other ways too. My reaction is, “Fine. I would rather be an expat anyway!”

I was pleasantly surprised to move here and find it was more diverse than I thought it would be! I have connected with other immigrants, and I have already met another Third Culture Kid this past month! (Doing a little dance right here!)

Another thing I noticed is there is more representation overall. Since I have had to buy some good winter clothes, I have been looking at clothing websites a lot. All these websites I have visited have racially and ethnically diverse models. Plus, I have seen some ads from time to time and they have diverse representation, and minoritized groups are portrayed in a positive way. I can honestly say I’m impressed! Go Canada! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

Recently, this Japanese anime artist created samurai warriors to represent different cultures that will compete at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The designs are brilliant, of course! I read some comments from Canadians on Reddit and they said their anime warrior doesn’t represent their diverse culture. I understand why Canadians said that but on the other hand, maybe the artist didn’t know too much about Canada’s diverse culture, so I can forgive that.

Overall, I am really loving my life here! I didn’t realize that I was depressed before I moved, but suddenly, I have a boost in my mental health!

Please let me know what you think of my “things”!

Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 2

Quarantine is done and my Mum and I are officially healthy and cleared to go out and explore! The first thing we did when we got out was to start our treatment for chronic pain. Not exciting, I know, but anyone who has dealt with chronic pain or a serious illness knows that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have ANYTHING!

Still, our first appointment went very well, and we have a treatment plan in place. I explored the area where my new chiropractor is, and got a cool introduction to Canadian co-ops! We also went out for a walk to find our nearest Canadian Tire that night and we officially LOVE how Calgary is at night! More on all of that later though.

I wanted to say that I’m SUPER grateful to the people we have met so far who have been so welcoming and friendly! We have a few friends in Canada, who have been so happy to share their country with us and guide us through the bumps, and that’s the best! We weren’t sure how we would be received since we had moved from California, and Election Day just happened. One of my friends has affectionately referred to the US as “that shitshow down south” and I couldn’t agree more! When I meet people, I say that I moved from California, but this is the fourth country I have lived in. If they want to know more, I elaborate. I think it helps. The people at our new chiropractic office were really cool and welcoming. We had to stop at Best Buy to pick something up, and the guy who helped us talked our ears off about the climate and weather!

I finished my last post Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 1 on a dramatic note! Will I get my mattress? And from where? Read on to find out!

On our eighth day of quarantine and sleeping on the floor, we were anticipating our mattress delivery from Amazon that I had ordered the night before. I had paid for 2 Day Shipping, but anyone who has had a bad experience with it knows that even if you pay for 2 Day Shipping, there’s no guarantee Amazon will keep their word. Another reason to hate them. ๐Ÿ™„

Additionally, there is NO WAY IN HELL I’m ever getting Amazon Prime! John Oliver did a show about Amazon Warehouses and that turned me off Amazon Prime for LIFE! The way I see it, there’s ALWAYS another option out there!

By now, Mum and I had learned our lesson with ordering from US companies. Now, we’re ordering from Canadian companies, or, if necessary, international companies where the delivery does NOT have to come from another country! Okay. Rant over.

I am thinking of doing a post about international trade sometime. It will be both my perspective as an economics major mixed with my expat experience, so watch this space!

By now, the snow was definitely melting and I saw our front yard for the first time! ๐Ÿ˜„ I felt kind of sad though, like I used to feel whenever snow melted ๐Ÿ™

I lived in Colorado a long time ago. We used to get this kind of “fog” sometimes if it wasn’t snowing. I saw it again here in Calgary and it covered the tops of the skyscrapers I can see from my window that make up the Calgary skyline! That was nostalgic!

Calgary Skyline Not Visible

When I took a nap, I was HOPING it was my last time sleeping in the bathtub!

I found a 10-second video of Justin Trudeau talking about COVID, saying “This sucks… etc” and at the end, he gave a smirk! It made us wonder if he knows whether Trump will be defeated! We thought that before Election Day though. Now, we’re not sure.

Okay. Yes, I have a celebrity crush on Justin Trudeau! But 1. Can you blame me? 2. Who doesn’t? Of all the politicians who run the countries I have lived in Trudeau and Obama are tied for my Best Looking Leader award!

I’m not saying I idolize Trudeau though. I don’t like that he did blackface when he was younger, or that he has supported oil companies and pipeline expansion. However, there is a lot of good stuff he has done, and I can see he has tried making amends for his blackface scandal. Ultimately, I feel like he’s a good leader and we’ll see what he does in the future. Plus, as I said in the photo, it’s nice to have a leader who I can healthily disagree with, instead of finding everything he does utterly repulsive.

Day 9 meant waiting for deliveries because it’s easy to miss them in our situation. By now, we were positively ACHING for mattresses!

It was a nice wait though. We observed the magpies that have been stopping by our yard for food. Suddenly, we had a surprise!

I didn’t know that grey squirrel species evolved extra melanin further north as an adaptive quality! I read an entire Wikipedia article on them while waiting for the deliveries and it was fascinating! I think this squirrel is one of the rare jet-black squirrels the article talked about because I saw a squirrel that looked more mixed and it was lighter than this squirrel! I got a video of a magpie chasing this squirrel, but it’s not letting me post it.

We were expecting other packages as well as the mattresses. At one point, I got a text from Purolator saying that they tried to deliver the packages, but I wasn’t there! What a load of tripe! We could see the delivery guy didn’t even TRY! I rescheduled the package deliveries for the next day, and still kept an eye out for the mattresses.

By the afternoon, we were still waiting for the mattresses. We were also doing an Instacart order (our 3rd one since we’ve been here) and I kept my eyes peeled for a same day delivery slot. Instacart was busy that day, so the slots didn’t appear right away.

I don’t normally do same day Instacart orders, but since moving, I have done it twice because we really needed stuff! Anyway, I eventually found a late afternoon delivery slot, and figured it might come at the same time as our mattresses.

In the middle of the afternoon, I checked Amazon and found they had changed the delivery day to the next day! We were FUMING because we had paid for 2 Day Shipping! We called Purolator though and told them we needed the mattresses because we had been sleeping on the floor for over a week! Fortunately, the woman who helped us was really understanding and said she would notify the driver.

We waited about an hour after the call, and then… OUR MATTRESSES ARRIVED!!! They happened around the same time our shopper for Instacart was shopping, so we were disinfecting things and organizing our space for the mattresses. The mattresses were vacuum sealed, so we had to unroll them and let them gain their shape. We had planned to eat after getting our Instacart delivery and then go to bed.

I could feel myself getting tired as I was dealing with the above and the Instacart notifications that kept coming up. It felt like all day, I was chained to my phone! I have definitely been umbilically attached to my cell phone since moving here because of the deliveries, etc. That’s why I’m so responsive on here right now! Lol. I couldn’t WAIT to put the phone down and have a good night’s sleep on my new mattress.

After getting our Instacart delivery, disinfecting everything (including ourselves), and dinner Mum and I were like:

Source: Google

We crashed about 6:30pm ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด.

I woke up from the most wonderful sleep on Day 10, but still knew I had a certain amount of fatigue to sleep off.

We got the rest of our deliveries without a hitch, which was another relief.

I had to find out what was going on with our internet service because we hadn’t had many updates on it. After a few live chats, we realized we didn’t have Wifi and we needed a new router from the one they sent us. Since it was a Friday, we knew we weren’t going to get anywhere, and by now, I was SO sick of contacting customer service, regardless of the reason! I managed to unwind by taking a long nap though.

Day 11 was Halloween, but no celebration for us. We didn’t even get candy to hand out, since it’s not a good idea if you’re in a mandatory quarantine period after travelling. We did watch a few YouTube videos on Halloween stuff though.

I needed a Me Day on Day 12. Mum and I have had to set rules on privacy in this small apartment. I’m glad we did, because I hadn’t had a Me Day for a while now.

Spoiler alert: It reminded me of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot when Kim has to get out of Kabul after ditching her boyfriend. It was so relatable when she said to Fahim, “I need Me Time, exactly! I told you that Oprah magazine would increase your understanding of women!”

It was the first day of the time change. In general, those days are a royal pain for me! So, I tend to make an easy day of it anyway.

Day 13 was a nice, warm day and I SO wanted to go outside! I asked, “Are we allowed to go out yet????” It was a rhetorical question I knew the answer to, but the point is, I was tired of quarantine. By now, I was emotionally exhausted from dealing with customer service. Had to call the internet company again and then I took a LONG nap on my wonderful mattress!

It’s getting dark around 5pm now, and it reminds me of London. So far, I’m just tired, but I used to have bad Seasonal Affective Disorder when I was living in London. It made me leary of moving to a sub-Arctic climate again. I’ve learned from my mistakes though, and I plan to do better now. I’ll write a post comparing my experiences with SAD sometime.

On Day 14, I woke up and was elated that I have had NO COVID SYMPTOMS AT ALL these past two weeks! Same with my Mum too! It just goes to show that if you take every precaution you can while you’re travelling, the only thing that can possibly derail it is if you are in contact with someone who has COVID! We did it! We are officially cleared to go outside, but still taking appropriate precautions, of course. We celebrated that evening by going for a short walk because we hadn’t seen our neighbourhood yet. We also had some junk food on hand because it was Election Night. Even so, we were feeling pretty good about it.

I remember Election Night in 2016 vividly! I felt sick that afternoon and asked my Mum if it was normal to feel that way on Election Night. It was my first presidential election as a voter while living in the US, so I didn’t know if that was a thing. Mum assured me it’s definitely a thing! In 2016, one of my friends said she nearly threw up after voting because she said, “Both those candidates suck!” That made me feel better that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

I didn’t feel sick this time, but I wondered if it was because I am not in the US. There was only one way to find out, and I didn’t want to find out right away. I stayed off social media and news sites all day. I know some people did that too. My plan was to find out by accident what the results are. Even so, before I signed off, there were a lot of tips going around for election self-care and staying safe, which was nice. I think people now realize they shouldn’t underestimate a time like this.

Coming up: New Calgary adventures! What will they be? Who knows?