Second Month Theme: Hot Mess and Confusion

After the euphoria of the first month wore off, some things went upside down for a while. Here’s what really stood out:

Meltdown:

Even if everything went perfectly with the move, I still would have had a meltdown eventually. It happened when I moved before and I know different things have the potential to set it off. For me personally, it’s normal for me to have a meltdown after a month or so in a new country. I can’t speak for other expats though. I think there should be more transparency about the are ups and downs in the process because immigrants aren’t robots.

My first post-international move meltdown was two months after moving to England. I was in school and I hated it because I was being bullied for my accent. I didn’t expect to have a meltdown after repatriating to the USA because it was my home country and I wasn’t expecting to go through culture shock. Soon after I wrote my post about the theme for my first month here in Canada, I had a meltdown.

The thing that set me off was: a toxic American. It hit me that Trump has brought out the absolute worst of Americans. It takes different forms, but the fact of the matter is, it’s been traumatizing dealing with it for the past four years. I got to the point it’s been hard to distinguish rhyme from reason. I have lost friends who I initially thought were good people, but then it was like they had turned bad almost overnight. People aren’t who they say they are. That’s what you get when you’re part of an entire culture of people who are hurting for one reason or another.

I’m not saying I’m perfect though. I have lashed out too. Generally, I like to be low-key and get on with life. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. I have forgiven the people who have hurt me though, and even though I wish I could be forgiven for my mistakes, I have accepted it might not happen.

It hurts me to see a country I used to love imploding. I asked my Mum, “Why does this hurt so much??” And she said, “Because you care.” I never thought of that before. Even so, I’m not going to put myself in a situation where I have to deal with toxic Americans. I have put up my own personal boundaries and I. AM. DONE.

The most important thing I can do when I’m having one of those meltdowns is to listen to what my intuition is trying to tell me. For example, when I was in England, my intuition was saying to me, “I don’t want to stay here forever.” When I repatriated to the US, my intuition said to me, “Maybe this was a bad idea.” Now, when I had a meltdown, my intuition said to me, “I CANNOT go back to the USA! I just can’t!” And get this, my intuition has ultimately been right. I didn’t stay in England forever. It was a bad idea to repatriate. And now, I have been thinking about what I can do so that I don’t have to return to the USA. While I was going through the meltdown, I didn’t have the room in my feelings to say that I love Canada. Once I felt better, I was able to express the fact that I genuinely love it here and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to stay!

I was also incredibly lonely. It’s not like I can go out and meet people because of the pandemic like I used to before. I missed my friends and just being around people.

Getting Settled:

I’m going to be real with you. It takes a MINIMUM of two months to get settled in a new country! I kid you not, it took almost a year to feel settled when I repatriated to the US. Of course, there is more to getting settled in a new country than meets the eye.

Getting settled goes faster if everyone involved pitches in and helps. If you have a job or have to study, it goes slower. Even though getting physically settled makes a difference in how you feel settled mentally, there is a mental side to adjusting to a new country that takes a lot longer.

I have been taking advantage of counselling services this time while I’m in transition. I have never done that before, but I knew I had to this time. Since I’m new to Canada, I am still trying to figure out what services to find and where. I was able to find crisis counselling where you get six free sessions. My counsellor has told me how I can find expat resources and other important information that citizens use too.

When you’re getting settled in a new country, there is a considerable amount of running around and doing chores. During our mandatory quarantine, we had to buy everything we needed online which was less tiring but also had its disadvantages. Once we got out of quarantine, we were going outside almost every day. We were feeling under pressure to get things done because we had no idea how COVID restrictions were going to change. Even the days we’re at home, there are still a lot of chores to do online.

My Mum and I have been efficient at getting chores done, but we also realized we burned ourselves out. We’re deliberately going to have a low-key, quiet Christmas and make a point of taking a break for a while. COVID restrictions have tightened in Alberta anyway, so we think it’s best to lie low for a while.

Additionally, I have had some issues going independent on my blog, so I’m going to take some time to improve it when I’m laying low. I’m hoping I can do some posts and also work on the book I hope to publish in a year! We’ll see though. I need to do some improvments.

COVID-19:

Speaking of COVID, if the pandemic situation in Calgary was as bad as California, it would have taken a lot longer to get settled. Since starting my pain treatment, I have had to go out a lot more, and my treatment plan has been switched up so I am seeing more healthcare providers. I don’t worry about COVID when getting treatment. It’s just that usually we stop at stores to get whatever we need. Although, I am happy that I will be getting a bit of a break for treatment soon. In some ways, these restrictions are going to affect my treatment, but I’m okay with that.

Since the end of our quarantine, my Mum and I have had a couple of scares where we thought we might have been exposed. My biggest scare happened when I went to the post office. The guy at the desk said he didn’t normally work at that branch. He had been called in because a couple of days before, the post office had to close because one of the regular staff had contracted COVID. I was glad I had my KN95 mask on. When I left, I went to the nearby mall and practically washed the skin off my hands!

Now, we’re prioritizing our outdoor chores more carefully. We decide if we both need to do them and we spread out the time between them.

I will say this about dealing with the pandemic in California. My family had some emergency N95/KN95 masks on hand long before the pandemic because we’ve been getting once-in-a-generation wildfires every year! Who wants to breathe that crap from the fires or contract the virus? Not me!ย 

I have noticed my bandwidth has been a lot lower overall from getting settled. Someone hacked one of my social media accounts because I didn’t spot the warning signs. Normally, I don’t fall for scams, but I guess this was a clue to how vulnerable I was. I found myself checking the weather forecast a lot during this time because I kept thinking, “Where’s the snow? I need something beautiful!”

Last week, we had a chinook that broke an 81-year-old temperature record! Did I bring California winter with me?

And then we finally got a bit of snow! For me, that’s a better end to a rough month! Will there be a White Calgarian Christmas? Watch this space!

First Month Theme: Is This A Thing?

Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 1

Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 2

Self-Care

Flying Internationally and Locally During COVID-19

I decided not to tell the whole story of my trip to Calgary from California via Vancouver in one whole post. There are certain points that require their own post, and right now, I have decided to share my experience of flying during COVID.

Before deciding to fly to Canada, there were some things about flying during a pandemic that I couldnโ€™t ignore. I looked up as much as I could about how to fly with a lower risk of infection. In terms of risk, flying was deemed the highest risk activity you could do, but there were some other things that made me not so sure. Eventually, I found an article that detailed what you could do to minimize risk and planned the trip from there.

Back when the pandemic first started, there was all this stuff in the news about US airline companies filing for bankruptcy to get massive government bailouts, while US citizens only got a measly $1200 check! What a joke, especially since the airlines were able to operate with social distancing measures a few months later! Additionally, US airlines werenโ€™t enforcing their mask policy with customers who refused to wear it. That made me think, โ€œWell, you just inspired me to fly with Air Canada!โ€ My thinking was that international airlines have a vested interest in keeping their country safe, so they will have better safety procedures. Fortunately, my Mum was absolutely on the same page with me!

Iโ€™m so done with US carriers anyway. Iโ€™m only flying with international airlines from now on. Besides, at the time, I learned that Canadians are really into supporting their homegrown brands, and local businesses. I honestly love it and Iโ€™m embracing it! I plan to write a post about the importance of that someday!

So, hereโ€™s how my trip to Canada went:

The story starts the day before flying. I was trying to do online check-in for Air Canada and it wouldn’t let me because I was a foreign national. That was a new COVID rule back then, which was okay. I tried contacting Air Canada but found out we had to do the check-in at the airport. ย When you do the check-in, they check all your papers that you will be presenting at Border Control, so it’s best to be prepared.

There weren’t any delays with the process at SFO. When youโ€™re checking in, going through security and boarding, you have to lower your mask for identity purposes, but thatโ€™s okay. I noticed that all the airports I went through seemed to turn the temperature up from a comfortable โ€œI-Can-Relaxโ€ level to a muggy, sweaty, breathless โ€œItโ€™s-Unbearable-To-Wear-A-Maskโ€ level. Were they trying to weed out the people who werenโ€™t serious about wearing a mask or something? I donโ€™t know. I deliberately had to seek ways to cool off! I wore a mask for 12 hours straight that day. I had to throw it out after that, but it kept me safe in the end!

Airport Temperatures

If you have brought your own food with you, ask at security if there is someplace where you can go eat. Airports have set spaces aside where you can eat if you aren’t buying food, so I was happy about that.

I had to admit itโ€™s weird that the boarding process goes so fast since airplanes are operating at a lower capacity. Iโ€™m so used to crowded planes and super long boarding times that there was some cognitive dissonance there.ย 

On the flights, I was ecstatic to see and hear French again in the announcements and also from the flight attendants. One of them called me Madame, which was amazing! (I like that or Mademoiselle better than Miss or Ms). I really liked that everyone was reminded that wearing a mask is conditional on travelling on Air Canada. They also handed out COVID care packages. And get this: wearing a mask on a plane is SO NOT a big deal because they circulate the air and the temperature is steady! My Mum and I both got window seats at the back of the plane because they are a lower risk of catching COVID. The flight to YVR was about 10 or 15% full and YYC was almost twice that. At least we were able to take more baggage!ย 

The views en route to YVR were mostly cloudy until we got closer. I wouldn’t say the views were breathtaking, but I did get this sense of awe I get when I see a new city from the air!

After we landed, we went through customs, which was a breeze since I had downloaded the ArriveCAN app and filled in our information before we arrived. We also thought we had to wait for our baggage, which turned out not to be the case. We were at the carousel and there were two sniffer dogs there: a black lab and a yellow lab. Anyone who knows me knows that I am so crazy about black labs it’s not even funny! Then, the black lab came up to us to inspect us. I have noticed black labs seem to know I’m crazy about them, and this was definitely true of this dog, Jake. He suddenly started acting all lively like labs do even though he was working. I said to his handler that if Jake wasn’t working, I’d be making a fuss over him and he thanked me graciously.

I was sort of lost as to what to do next, but I saw an immigration office though and went to check if we had anything more to do. This French Canadian guy was really kind and polite and he said “Welcome to Canada!” about 4 times. He told me I had to go to Border Control, and gave me directions, so I thanked him and went back to tell Mum.ย 

As a Third Culture Kid, I have had more than my fair share of bad experiences at Border Control or any business to do with immigration or citizenship. This experience was no different. I understand why though. All I want to say about it right now is that I read an article that said the US is losing its passport privilege, and it couldn’t be more true!

I think the IRCC relaxed a bit after they called us to check we were complying with quarantine regulations. My confidence increased because of all the bad experiences I have had with immigration, I know how to deal with immigration officers. I will do a post about my personal tips for that! Hint: Honesty is the best policy.

Then, it got dramatic:

Because of being at Border Control for a long time, the officer said we had technically missed our plane to Calgary and said to go talk to Air Canada. We tried to find the Air Canada desk and then I noticed we had half an hour until our plane left! I thought if we legged it as best we could, we could make it. I didn’t know we had to go through security again! I don’t know if this is a thing in Canadian airports to have to go through security again when you have a layover. The last time I was at a Canadian airport was over 20 years ago and I didnโ€™t have a layover then!

By then, I was running on pure adrenaline and sweating profusely thanks to the aforementioned uncomfortable airport temperatures for wearing a mask, and being dehydrated. They had to confiscate my water bottle that they gave me on the flight to Vancouver and had to open my bag to check my scissors! I had a book about TCKs in that bag and I saw the lady do a double-take when she saw it! She let me through when she asked if we had to catch a plane! I wish I had been reading that book while waiting around at Border Control. I think it sends the message I’m an experienced traveller and immigrant! My Mum can’t run, so I went ahead to see if the plane to Calgary was still there and it was! I got to the gate and the lady there said she was just about to call us on the speaker!ย 

By the time we got on and by then, my entire body was feeling weak and shaky as an after-effect of being at Border Control but I had to get our bags into the overhead bins. The stewardess couldn’t help me because of COVID, which didn’t make sense because the stewardess on the other flight had helped me! My Mom’s bag was super heavy with books and I was saying to my body “Please don’t give out!” Someone was sitting under where I was putting the bag and I didn’t want to hit him with it. I couldn’t have handled it then. It worked out though and my Mom asked if I was okay. I said I thought I was going to throw up. I didn’t, but still.ย 

I was able to enjoy the views though. There was snow on the mountains and in Calgary! I noticed on the interactive flight map that we were about 30km from Banff, so now if someone asks me if I have been to Banff, I can honestly say the closest I have been so far is 30km! Someday though! ๐Ÿคž

YYC is a lovely airport! Mum said it reminded her of Oakland airport in the 1970s. I’m used to massive airports like Heathrow, so it’s nice to see a smaller and more personal international airport like YYC. I noticed that the plane approached the airport from the north and didnโ€™t fly directly over the city. Ever since moving here, I have noticed that itโ€™s rare to see planes flying over, but then it depends on which part of the city youโ€™re in.

Mum noticed Timmies right by the gate where we got off! It was cool, but we were exhausted and just wanted (and needed) to get to our new home ASAP. Someday though! After I got money and called the landlord from the airport phone, we got on Uber. It was 2ยฐ out with snow on the ground. It was a crisp cold, not the bone biting cold that I had to endure in London. I stepped out of the airport and thought, โ€œI could live here!โ€

Mum and I were exhausted in every sense of the word and were asleep by 8 pm. By morning, I checked my messages and my best girlfriends from my university had sent me messages and I started crying because I suddenly missed them and I’m so worried about them being in the US! I can’t explain the bonds I have with my best friends from university but friends at women’s colleges are something special. I called them and just had to talk and have a cry about what happened. I encouraged my friends to share my story with others because this seems like a reality for US expats.

Well, that’s my story of moving and flying during COVID. It wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it!

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?

What I’m Doing While I Wait to Move

Yes, I have chores to do to prepare to move. However, this time, I have had a lot more free time than I did before. Maybe thatโ€™s due to the pandemic, but also I think itโ€™s down to experience. I love that though! That means I get to do more Self Care because this pandemic is mentally draining.

I have been on lockdown for almost SIX months now and Iโ€™m reaching the point that I donโ€™t want to have to stay at home so other people can be reckless about their safety. This isnโ€™t just me complaining that life is unfair. This situation really IS unfair because people being reckless means the good ones have to lock down for even longer. I have to remind myself that if I donโ€™t get COVID-19, it will all be worth it. I think my previous post Pain, Fire and Other Movingย Upheavals summed it up pretty well. Also, since my last post, it is still smoky from the fires. Iโ€™m still safe though, thankfully. I got another couple photos of the sunset from last night, and the smoke still gives it a certain redness.

Another sunset during fire season

Lifeโ€™s not all bad though. I have found some fun things to do, like games. Cards Against Humanity has been the most cathartic game during the pandemic because sometimes, I have been downright frustrated with the world! I have been playing some other games online, and they are Minesweeper, Mahjong, and Scrabble Go!

I have been on and off with reading right now because my books are packed. However, I will always love the feminist poetry of Lang Leav and Rupi Kaur, and I hope to take their books with me. I love that they write about immigration as part of their poetry. Women are affected by immigration in a different way than men. I will do a post about their work sometime and what it means to me.

Iโ€™m continuing to watch movies with French subtitles where possible to brush up on my French as well. I am also learning the differences between French French and Canadian French. Watch this space for a post about French dialects, because itโ€™s not the first time I have had to contend with them! I’ll do another post about English English, American English, and Canadian English sometime soon too.

The best thing of all is I can pursue the things I have wanted to do. I have been wanting to write a book based on my life with immigration and growing up in different cultures. Now, I can start doing that. The pandemic has shown me that I really love writing and I want to pursue it wholeheartedly. I also want to turn my passions into my profession and have the money and freedom to be able to pursue my life goals and deal with any problems that arise. The Dalai Lama once said, โ€œMan surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.โ€ He has many great quotes, but this one resonates the most with me.

Additionally, certain things depress me about the world. For instance, I donโ€™t want to work someplace I have a moral issue with. I have become more of a conscious buyer lately. I love to support businesses that have certain values I believe in. Whether they are green, black-owned, sustainable, feminist, LGBTQIA+, to name but a few, I love knowing that my money is going someplace with shared values. Also, as a woman myself, I am aware of the struggles women face in the workplace, mainly because I have experienced a lot of these myself. The idea of getting a job and facing these issues again feels like a drain of my resources. Donโ€™t get me wrong, I know I will need to get a job at some point until I can finally be my own boss, but I intend to work part-time so I can put the time and effort into my own enterprise. Writing my book is a part of growing my own enterprise. I donโ€™t want to give away too much about the rest of it, but watch this space!

Since I am looking to do my own enterprise someday, I wanted to learn more about leadership, particularly for women. So, while I am waiting to move, I am doing a course called Womenโ€™s Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change. Itโ€™s very informative and gives me a lot of hope. Women are typically subjected to a lot of double standards in this world, thanks to bias, both conscious and unconscious. This course has shown me there are ways around these double standards, and how you can make things work in your favor. Thereโ€™s a long way to go to break the glass ceiling, particularly for women of different ethnic and racial groups. To all the women fighting these injustices, particularly those from different backgrounds, keep it up! I believe in all of you! A rising tide floats all boats and someday, I believe women will rule the world!

Just wanted to shout out to all my supporters and followers at this time! You are the people who make me feel like being my own boss someday is not only possible, but it will be worth it! Love you guys and big hugs!

I make a point of finding joy and/or hope in the most random things. Last weekend, I made a lemon chiffon cake with my Mum. I made some raspberry jam to go in the middle. The lemons and raspberries came from my Mumโ€™s garden and they were to die for! My Mum decorated the top with rosemary flowers and our remaining raspberries.

Lemon Chiffon Cake with raspberry jam and Rosemary Flowers

When I look back on this time, I think what I will value most is my burst in curiosity. I have been exploring my TCK identity a lot more with writing for this blog, my column, and starting a book. Curiosity leads to creativity and Iโ€™m glad to see where that has taken me. Additionally, I need to be patient for moving because I really canโ€™t wait to leave! I want to stay long enough so I can vote. Hopefully, it will be enough to change who is running the country!ย 

Let me make it clear though. I donโ€™t believe in Biden or Harris. I think there could have been a better Democratic candidate. Itโ€™s hard to believe in the Democrats when they keep running the same old same old middle of the road candidates that kiss up to big businesses and screw the population. Okay, rant over! I just hope that there will be more public pressure to make lasting changes to the US. I especially hope more and more people pay attention to the Black Lives Matter movement!

How has the pandemic changed life for you? Feel free to share in the comments!