Seventh Month Theme: Mishmash

Hey everyone, didn’t know how to title this theme even though I gave it a lot of thought. It’s really been a mishmash!

Health is A Factor:

A week after I got my COVID-19 shot, I had gum graft surgery. Fortunately, the pain was FAR less than it was the first time I got it and I recovered faster! I have been super happy with the healthcare I have received in Calgary so far, and this was no exception. At least during my recovery, I was able to let my immunity develop after getting the shot without having to worry about going outside.How do I feel now that I got my first shot? Weird. There is a certain mental block I have after getting it. When the pandemic started, I got the attitude, “I’m not f***ing around with that s**t!” and I would overthink following COVID protocols. Now, even though I do still follow them, I don’t worry if I make a mistake. Even the best of us screw up sometimes, but the shot gives me peace of mind that I didn’t have before when I screwed up. Also, I read this New York Times article about languishing. Wow! Nailed it! There are lots of things I want to do, but I guess I have been locked down too long. I’ll get past it though.It doesn’t help that cases have been exploding in Alberta. I was recovering from surgery when new restrictions came in. My reaction was, “Fine with me! I’m home anyway!” I’m glad that vaccine eligibility has been expanded. Still, if you need tips, feel free to read my post about getting my shot!

Travel Update:

Thank you to everyone who gave me some travel recommendations last month! Word is that the Calgary Stampede is going to happen. Considering the current COVID-19 situation, it’s like “Oh no!” The plan is to definitely get out of dodge. I know how international events can take over cities. I was in London when the 2012 Olympics happened and there wasn’t a pandemic on top of it. Plus, there might be trouble if there are restrictions on the event because of COVID-19, so I feel it’s best to step away this year.So far, I am in the planning stage of a trip, and I don’t think anything will be finalized for a while. Restrictions keep changing all the time. At least I will be able to travel a bit (safely, of course) and hopefully, be able to see my Dad! Hopefully, next year will mean better times, and I will be able to see what the fuss is about with the Stampede.

More On Cultural Adjustment:

Normally, after the honeymoon period, there is a phase where you don’t like your new home. I found out I was going through that this past month. It’s one of those things I haven’t mentioned before in the past for various reasons, but I am breaking this cycle. There are many misconceptions about this phase, so let me clear some things up.

  1. As a general rule, this phase is really nothing personal against a new country. On the other hand, after this phase, if you STILL don’t like your new home, there is something more going on than meets the eye.
  2. You can tell when you’re going through the phase if your feelings are going to be temporary or permanent.
  3. This phase is completely normal! A country can be absolutely perfect for you and it will still happen!
  4. When you are feeling bad about your new home, it’s not necessarily what people say or do, or things going on in the country. Anything can set this off. Of course, things like the pandemic don’t necessarily help.
  5. You can get it with reverse culture shock too.
  6. A certain amount of homesickness contributes to it.
Case in point

I know I am going to get past this, and once I do, I am going to love Canada more! I saw the movie, Brooklyn recently. It’s so real about moving to a new country! My Irish side was saying, “I’m not crying! You’re crying!”

Some Other Cool Cultural Things:

Note the featured photo on my post. I find it touching how people are still saying “Welcome to Canada!” to me even after several months. I have also learned more about foods in Canada after watching the Great Canadian Baking Show. Despite my current phase of cultural adjustment, I am still trying to find hidden cultural gems!Funny story, I was with my Mum in Uber once and the driver asked us, “So where are you ladies from?” I don’t know if I have said this before, but TCKs have a weird relationship with that question. We can tend to dread being asked that. The general advice is to have a short version answer, a medium version answer, and a long version answer. What I tend to do is start with my short answer and if I get a good response, expand on my medium or long answer. I vary it depending on how people respond to me.This time, I gave my long response. My long response includes that I moved to Canada because the situation was getting pretty desperate in the USA. The Uber driver was very direct with how he felt about the USA and I took it. I said I completely agreed, but also added, “Having lived in other countries, I do understand those sentiments, and it’s okay with me.” I can’t believe I had never said anything like that before, but then again in England, there was a lot about American culture I didn’t know because of growing up there. Although I had some variation on that phrase, it fell flat.I think now that I have actually seen how American culture is after being away for so long, I can imply that it’s okay to say how you feel about the USA to me. I can also implicitly slide in the warning, “Don’t treat all Americans this way!”

Canadian Country Music In Time for Summer:

I stumbled on the following song and had to look it up!

How perfect that summer is coming and found the song. Killed the replay button! I’m starting to learn more about Canadian country music (hey, I’m in Calgary)! Is it different from American country music? That’s a big yes! I am listening to Dean Brody as I write this post. I like his song Canadian Girls as well. One of my biggest hopes is that I will see Dean Brody perform (hopefully at the Calgary Stampede)!

Spring!!

I can’t get enough green things now!! I have waited 7 months for blossoms to appear! Lately, I have gone crazy with the camera photographing flowers, baby bunnies, goslings, and other signs of spring!

I saw a bobcat!

I want to take the black bunny home!

Right now, Victoria Day weekend is about to happen, and the weather has turned. It’s now what I call snailing: a mixture of snow, rain, and hail. Only hardcore campers go camping this weekend. This is apparently the last gasp of winter and then June 1st is a whole different story!To my fellow Canadians, have a nice Victoria Day weekend!

Winter: London vs. Calgary

I get so many questions about what winter has been like in Calgary compared to London, so I decided to write everything about it down. That way, if anyone asks me, I can be like, “See my blog post!”

Did You Know?

London and Calgary are both 52 degrees north. I’m not kidding. The fact they are both so different just shows me how our world is unique and beautiful! It hit me that I was going that far north again when I was flying from YVR to YYC. The plane was flying north for more than half the flight and I thought, “Okay, this is real!” So, what are the differences in winter between London and Calgary? Read on to find out!

Sunrise, Sunset:

I looked up differences between sunrise and sunset times in London and compared them to Calgary. It just seemed a little off compared to what I knew in London. The sun rises and sets a half-hour later in Calgary. It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma why that is if they are both 52 degrees north.

Before I moved to Calgary, I mentioned to a friend of mine here how I struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder in London. My friend recommended buying special lightbulbs, aka SAD lights. It was like this moment in Legally Blonde.

I'm sorry. I just hallucinated.

How could I have grown up in London and NEVER found out about this?! I don’t think SAD lights are a thing there! Talk about a stiff upper lip. Lol.

During my quarantine period after moving here (see my Quarantine Diaries I and II), the clocks went back. There was no way I was waking up before 8 am! I then went to Canadian Tire (which I love more than Home Depot) and got some SAD lights. Voila! Cleared my fatigue right up!

As I got older in London, SAD got worse for me. It didn’t matter what I did (walks, Vitamin D, etc). Nothing worked. I got to the point I couldn’t stand another English winter and moved to Sunny California! My thing to say was, “Ask me if I miss London!” So, you can imagine how pissed off I was to know that the constant fatigue I felt in London could have been remedied with SAD lights!

Temperatures and Humidity:

Zero degrees Celsius in England? More like Absolute Zero. Yep, the humidity was such that I could feel the cold cut through me. I knew people in England who would buy cold-weather clothes from other countries because what they had in England was not sufficient. Don’t even get me started on shoes. When someone in England says it’s cold, believe it. I read Canada by Mike Myers, and he described the cold as bone-chilling. Okay, it says a lot if a Canadian describes English temperatures as bone-chilling. I knew people from other cold-weather climates think it was much colder in London than it actually was.

On the bright side, I became a big tea drinker. Nothing like a cup of tea to warm me from the inside out. No wonder that became a cultural thing! Here in Calgary, sometimes the heat in my apartment can be too much because it’s not humid. In London, it would be sheer bliss!

Dealing with Snow:

In February 2009, there was a massive snow dump of 8 inches in London (more in other parts). I kid you not, the city completely shut down. It was fun to get a couple of days off, but it made the UK look like a laughing stock to other countries. I mean, it’s not LA. You would expect the largest city above 50 degrees north to not shut down over a little snow, but it did. It snowed some more the following year and things were only slightly better.

That wasn’t even the whole story. People didn’t know how to shovel their front walk or said they wouldn’t do it because they were afraid of being sued for doing it wrong. So many people ended up in emergency rooms with broken bones because of it. My Mum ended up being one of them. She blamed herself because she didn’t grow up around snow. I don’t think she was to blame. It can happen to anyone. It’s even more likely if your country doesn’t handle snow properly. Our friends who were from northerly climates were the most sympathetic about what happened.

I reached the end of my rope with London when it came to snow. Plus, it knocked the confidence I had from living in snowy climates. Therefore, I was rather dubious about ever living in a snowy climate again. It took me a while to get my snow confidence in Calgary, but it did come back. If anything, I have learned more here than I did in other snowy climates, but that’s a whole other post. I will say this though, I wasn’t expecting to feel like hibernating when the temperatures were the lowest in February.

Staying Physically and Emotionally Healthy:

I didn’t know what it was like to be really sick with a cold or flu until I moved to London. After that, I just accepted the fact my immunity was bad. Even though I did everything I could to boost my immunity, it didn’t work. It wasn’t until I moved to California that I realized my body was feeling like it was constantly fighting infection. I don’t know what it was about England that made my immunity worse, but I know I wasn’t unusual. I knew other people who moved to England and felt it impacted their health. The most famous example is Srinivasa Ramanujan who died of tuberculosis after living in England. It’s not usually that extreme though and everyone is different. In contrast, I felt like my health got better in Calgary.

I have noticed big cultural differences in other factors like obtaining good quality fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods, and winter activities. It almost surprised me how good produce is readily available in Calgary. Plus, I feel like the level of food quality is higher overall than both the US and UK. Even though I haven’t participated in winter activities in Canada just yet, I am excited about doing so! I noticed that in London, there weren’t any activities that I could label as “winter activities” like they do in more Arctic climates. It makes me wonder how that impacts well-being too.

Overall, I would say that Calgary winter is much better for me. My tricks for combating SAD work. I have had to get my mind around the fact that it’s actually really sunny here. I don’t think I am really built for England. What do you think about what I said about my winter comparissons?

COVID-19 Shot #1: All Pfizer-ed Up!

I got the COVID-19 shot! Get my pun about being all Pfizer-ed (fired) up? I thought of it while I was waiting in line. And yes, I got Pfizer.

I am writing this because I believe my experience is applicable regardless of the country you live in. Disclaimer: I know vaccination is a sensitive topic, but please keep comments respectful. Please see my page My Site is A Safe Space for more information.

Pre-shot Information:

I initially thought I would be one of the last people to get the shot. Then, as things started to progress with the vaccine rollout in Alberta, things changed.

I knew some people who got the shot early on for various reasons. I know it’s normal to have vaccine hesitancy with this COVID-19 shot because it was developed so fast. However, I do appreciate there has been a lot of information out there to dissipate people’s fears.

Then the Rollout Changes Happened:

On March 30, Alberta started Phase 2B of the vaccine rollout. It includes anyone between ages 16 and 64 with eligible health conditions. I disregarded it. I want to mention by then, I knew that systems about being contacted for when it’s your turn to be vaccinated were useless!

My Mum was eligible for Phase 2D, which include people between 55 and 64. We initially thought she would get her shot in May and I would get mine in June. Then, the AstraZeneca shot came on the scene. They started booking by birth year in late February, so I was on standby for news for them booking my Mum’s birth year. I read COVID-19 updates for Alberta every morning. One day in early March, I saw on the news that people of my Mum’s birth year could book the AstraZeneca shot! So, my Mum had a choice of AstraZeneca immediately or Pfizer/Moderna in May. She chose AstraZeneca immediately. And no, she didn’t get blood clots. Do you know what the sad thing is? My Mum never got an email notification saying she could book a shot. I only knew about it because I saw the news update.

Meanwhile, I understand that the US was in a similar situation. My Dad had signed up for vaccine alerts, but they never happened. It got to the point that friends my age were getting vaccinated there and he wasn’t. We had to tell him to keep calling about a vaccine appointment. My Dad got the Johnson and Johnson shot at the end of March. It wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t told him to be proactive about it.

Then, I had An Idea:

I was concerned about getting gum graft surgery without getting the shot. My Mum and I started talking about upping our game with hygiene protocols during my recovery period. I decided on a whim to email my periodontist’s receptionist to ask if it was possible for me to get the shot before my surgery. 

As a bit of a backstory, my Mum always told me to get to know receptionists and show them appreciation. Receptionists carry around SO much information and they can pull strings for you! I have worked as an office assistant during my university career, and I can verify that if you’re nice to people who have a lot of information at their fingertips, they help you. If you aren’t nice to them, well, let’s just say revenge is a dish best served cold.

My periodontist’s receptionist had helped me a lot with all this crap of getting my dental records from the US. So, I gave her some macarons from my favourite patisserie to say “Thank you!” I love talking to her when I am waiting for my appointments at the office as well. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask her if I could possibly get the shot before my surgery.

Surprise, Surprise:

She told me I was eligible under Phase 2B. I don’t have a full-blown condition, like the ones listed. But I do have a problem that is a precursor to one of the conditions though. I never thought having precursors to eligible conditions that you have to medically manage qualified. This is why you ask the receptionist!

One tip my periodontist’s receptionist gave me was to try going to a pharmacy after about 8 pm. She said that pharmacies may have spare shots at the end of the day. Vaccine vials come in packs of 10 and they have a finite time on them once the pack is opened and kept at refrigerator temperature. So, some pharmacies have some spare vials at the end of the day if people don’t show up for their appointments.

I tried going to my local Shopper’s Drug Mart and they said they don’t have spare shots at the end of the day. It was fairly recently when pharmacies started booking appointments for shots. Now, they are so swamped that they don’t even create waitlists. I tried to get onto the waitlist for my local Shopper’s Drug Mart, but I couldn’t. My periodontist’s receptionist encouraged me to keep trying to go to the pharmacy after 8 pm. I guess the strategy is to wear them down. In the end, I decided to book the appointment through Alberta Health Services.

Ethics:

I can’t write a post like this without saying something about vaccine rollout ethics. I noticed that there were articles and social media posts questioning whether people were just jumping the line to get the shot. Vaccine shaming was becoming more of a thing, and in the US there were vaccine shortages. One important thing to remember is that the majority of disabilities are invisible, and it’s important not to judge people for that. Actually, what I said about my eligibility before applies in this situation. I don’t look like I have a precursor to an eligible condition because I am managing it medically and it works beautifully.

Additionally, you can find from a Google Search how there have been distribution issues. The trouble is so many shots go to waste when there are problems with distribution. You know the thing I mentioned about going to a pharmacy after 8 pm to see if they have spare shots? Well, that’s how Millenials and Gen Z over 18 have been getting shots, even if they aren’t eligible yet. Deena Henshaw, the doctor for the government of Alberta has said people shouldn’t do this. Um, if you have a distribution issue that is causing vaccines to go to waste, sort that out first! You can find a lot of news articles about how medical professionals realized vaccines would go to waste if they didn’t use them up so they found a way to do so. I say good for them! Healthcare workers have seen the havoc this pandemic has wreaked.

So, I Booked My Shot:

I do want to say when I booked my shot, I did worry about whether I was jumping the line. My Mum assured me that my periodontist’s receptionist thought I was well within my rights to get the shot, or she wouldn’t have told me the information I needed to get it. I made sure to have paperwork on me about my eligibility, just in case. Early in April, the TELUS Convention Centre opened a clinic in its building for mass vaccination. At first, not a lot of people showed up there. I booked my shot at that location, and when I double-checked my booking, I was able to bring the appointment forward by 3 days. Pfizer was the only shot available for my age group, which I was happy about.

The Day of My Shot:

I was more worried about having my paperwork in order than I was about the shot. I got to the TELUS Convention Centre right before my appointment time. There was a long line outside, which I was happy to see. I realized I had underdressed for the weather because it snowed a bit when I was standing in line. I felt so Canadian!

Then, I got inside and I realized there was another big part of the line. We had to zigzag between two or three large rooms and then go upstairs. The stairs were for people who could manage them and the escalator was for people with mobility issues. I don’t know if there is an elevator for people in wheelchairs though. Once we got to the second floor, we had to cross the pedestrian footbridge, zigzag again and finally, we could get into the final zigzag line!

One of the people doing crowd control said it takes less time to get through this line than to wait at Disneyland. Never been to Disneyland, but sounds very helpful. Conversations in the line were cool. In the final zigzag line, we sanitized our hands, changed our masks, and sanitized our hands again. 

The nurse did check my eligibility, but I didn’t have to prove it. It took longer to do my paperwork because I’m not on Alberta Healthcare yet. The nurse who checked me in said that they don’t refuse people shots at the TELUS Convention Centre after they have waited in line for an hour. I didn’t even feel the needle when the nurse injected me. That was a first! So, after waiting 15 minutes, I left. I grabbed two bottles of complimentary hand sanitizer on my way out! All Pfizer-ed up and ready to go!

Technology Stories While Waiting In Line and Some Other Things:

There are some tech things I should note about getting my shot at the TELUS Convention Centre. There was a playlist you could download to listen to while you wait. I didn’t take advantage of it, but I kind of wish I had. 

Inside the building, I saw these posters on the wall with these factoids about the world. I have to say, I do admire how TELUS is creative. For my non-Canadian readers, TELUS is a cell phone provider in Canada. TELUS has a building in Calgary that has a light show every night. It’s amazing to see what they come up with for the light shows. Now, I can remember my shot with facts about the world’s shortest novel and also that turkeys blush.

Another thing they did tech-wise was when you were waiting, they had you scan a QR Code to do your pre-shot questionnaire. So I am glad I didn’t forget my cell phone!

I noticed the majority of people there were probably between 18 and 50. Right before my appointment, Alberta lowered the eligibility for AstraZeneca to age 40 and now bookings are going like hotcakes. I don’t know how much that had to do with it though because I had to wait 2 weeks for my appointment. The day I was there, 5,000 people had been vaccinated. Word in the line was, they don’t check your eligibility. Not entirely true, but okay. As I said, I am among those who have invisible eligibility in Phase 2B. If other Millennials and Gen Z are jumping the line, so what? There’s a mass vaccination site now. I could tell the nurses there were just happy to get shots in arms.

How I Felt Afterwards:

I had a sore arm for about 36 hours. I made a point of resting for a couple of days and kept drinking water. One thing I regret doing is making a shopping trip to Safeway the day after my shot. It wiped me out. On my second day, I took a long nap. How much of the fatigue was emotional though? I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I posted on IG that I got my shot and have been encouraging people I know in Calgary to go to the TELUS Convention Centre for their shots. 

Oh, and you know how Brazil’s President Bolsonaro said people turn into crocodiles with the Pfizer vaccine? Well, it happened. This used to be me, and now I’m a crocodile. At least I’m friendly.

How do you like my trolling?

In Summary, My Personal Tips For Getting A Shot Are:

  1. If you’re having trouble getting a shot, ask a receptionist you have a good rapport with.
  2. Even if you have a precursor to an eligible condition, you’re still eligible.
  3. See if you can get a spare shot leftover at the pharmacy.
  4. If the pharmacy doesn’t work, go to a mass vaccination site.
  5. Don’t do anything unethical to get your shot.
  6. Drink lots of water for the next two days.
  7. I forgot to mention this in my post, but if you’re a person who has periods, try not to get your shot the week of your period. It can make your symptoms worse, but the research is inconclusive on that. I have mainly heard about this from other friends of mine.
  8. Be proactive about getting your shot. Don’t rely on email alerts or pharmacies.
  9. Troll President Bolsonaro with a photo of you turned into a crocodile.
  10. Take care of yourself after your shot physically and emotionally.

Have you got your shot yet? How did it go?

Weird Winter in Calgary so far. Um, what? Normal, hey? πŸ€”

I wonder if this post will bust some stereotypes about Canadian winters. So, here goes!

Before I Moved:

Okay. I admit it. I fell for certain stereotypes about Canadian winters. Living in California for seven years after living in London didn’t help me to challenge those stereotypes. When I did tutor training, I watched this TED talk called The Danger of the Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I watched it again after I moved because I knew I was going to have experiences that challenged my preconceptions about Canada. What really resonates with me is how honest she is about the times she has fallen for the Single Story. She also talks about how she has been treated because other people had a Single Story in their minds. Here’s the video of The Danger of the Single Story below if you’re interested.

What I initially thought about Canadian Winters:

Okay, a disclaimer before I show these photos! It doesn’t help stereotypes to always have snow in memes when you’re talking about Canada!

Expectation:

Expectation of Canadian Winter
Source: Facebook

Cold right? It’s also funny!

Reality:

Source: Buzzfeed

Okay. 5 degrees isn’t exactly shorts and sandals for me personally. I can go out wearing a down jacket and carrying a sweater with me just in case it gets colder. There was no need to layer up though. I was rather proud of myself for taking the garbage out in my hoodie at -10 degree weather during my quarantine period and I wasn’t even cold! My friends in California balked when I told them! I did think that winter was going to be constant sub-zero temperatures. My imagination told me I would need to layer up every time I go out, and that there would always be thick layers of snow. Boy, was I wrong! 😱 One good thing is that I have friends in Calgary who did tell me a bit about the winter before I moved. They didn’t tell me everything though, which I appreciated because I wanted to discover some things on my own. I knew about the need to layer up when it was subzero though. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos on the subject. My friends talked about chinooks too but didn’t say too much about them. I learned more after moving. Read on to find out what I have learned so far this weird winter!

October Weather:

As many of you know, I arrived in Canada in mid-October. You can read my first impressions of Canadian winter in my following posts:

Flying Internationally and Locally during COVID-19

Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 1

Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 2

First Month Theme: Is This A Thing?

After I arrived, it snowed for 3 days straight! I was just pissed off that I couldn’t go out for a walk to enjoy it because I was in my mandatory quarantine period! I figured there would be more big snowfalls later on, BUT so far, there haven’t been any other snowfalls as big as that! If you have questions about driving in the snow, I can’t answer them right now. I made the decision to not drive this winter. First of all, I have to figure out the process of getting a driver’s license. It’s dependent on your immigration status. Second of all, the only time I drove in the snow was when I spent a Christmas at Yosemite. My plan is to get used to driving in Canada in the “summer” (such as it is)πŸ˜‚. That should give me time to learn about things I need to do before winter hits again.

November Weather:

After my Mum and I were done with quarantine, we had to pick something up at Best Buy. The guy who helped us noticed we had US government I.D. He welcomed us, asked where we moved from, and then asked how we liked the weather. I said it was beautiful! He said, “You like our weather? Wait 20 minutes.” Now I know that’s a common thing to say in Calgary. He ended up talking our ears off about the weather and climate in Calgary and Alberta! The main points were that he has seen it snow in July, and people sunbathing in November. This was the first time we found out that chinooks can give you migraines because of the sudden change in barometric pressure. I got him talking about the weather in Alberta when I told him about this reel I found on Instagram!

He said Lake Louise gets much deeper snow than Banff. I am hoping I can experience all of that and more in the winter soon! The snow that fell during my quarantine stayed for a long time, and we did get a bit more snow in the second week of November. Here are some more snowy November photos, but they weren’t taken all at once.

My favourite time was when I was taking a morning walk and the trees were covered in hoarfrost!

What I really love about Calgary is it’s sunny! I wasn’t expecting that as much because Calgary is 51 degrees North. It’s the same latitude as London and I would describe that city as anything but sunny. If the temperature is low, it doesn’t really have an effect on melting the snow. I was at the Co-op once and I saw this bit of clever advertising from Cal & Gary’s. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Later in the month, I was kind of curious why we weren’t getting as much snow as I thought we would. My Mum and I went through a rough time in late November. It would have been super nice to have had some snow to make things beautiful!

December Weather:

The month changed and I was still incredulous about the weather. Were we going to get snow soon? I felt like Calvin and Hobbes when Calvin is simply desperate for snow! I read this article about speedskaters practicing on a lake in Alberta, and I thought, “What?” There was no sign of it snowing in Calgary, much less the river freezing!

Then, I remembered that Calgary has its own microclimate that has actually been significant in its history. The Blackfoot and the MΓ©tis would hold gatherings where the Bow and Elbow rivers intersect. If you think about the rest of Alberta’s climate, you begin to understand why they chose this nice little microclimate!

In the first week of December, we had a chinook! I’m not kidding. I used to think they happened in the spring, but apparently, there were some warm temperatures around Canada that week. The temperature broke an 81-year old record. I heard that in general, Calgary gets 2 or 3 chinooks in a winter. Last year, I heard they got about six chinooks. I feel sorry for the people who get migraines! I personally don’t get migraines, but my Mum does. I get ear pressure though, which is pretty painful! During the chinook, I popped my ears and got a nosebleed. I kid you not, AccuWeather has a migraine monitor. I find it useful to look at even if I don’t get migraines because I can plan for ear pressure too. It did eventually snow, but it wasn’t a long snow shower. The overall temperature is colder now though.

Final Thoughts:

A friend of mine told me there are four seasons in Calgary: Almost Winter, Winter, After Winter and Roadworks. I would say after December’s chinook that we went from Almost Winter to Winter. There is a standing joke here about only being able to tell what the weather is going to be by looking out the window. Okay, I don’t really get it right now, so bear with me, please!

I got some weird questions about life in Canada during the winter after I moved. I never miss a chance to nicely tease my California friends for asking me those questions though! 😏 One of my theories for this weird winter is that I brought some California weather with me to hold us for a while! To my fellow Calgarians, you’re welcome!

I have learned not to say anything about future weather predictions, particularly for snow. No jinxing for me! Any time someone says we’re expecting some kind of weather, I say, “What are you talking about? What… (fill in the blank with either chinook or snowfall)?”

A Word on Canada Geese:

I thought when I moved here that the geese would have migrated and I would miss seeing them. Not true. There are still some geese here who haven’t flown south yet. Don’t believe me? The photos below were taken this month! The reason why I thought they would be gone was that in the movie Fly Away Home, they go south with the geese in late October.

I often take walks along the Elbow River, so I see geese congregating there before they fly south. What’s really strange is I hear them going south when it’s dark out, and I’ve only ever known them to be diurnal.

I love seeing the city wildlife here! I’m actually doing an Instagram series of photos and videos of what I see. Follow me @winteroseca or follow my hashtagΒ #discoveringcalgarywildlife you can see them!

So, there you have my weird and wonderful Calgarian winter! What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments!

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!Β 

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