My mood is sometimes a bit down and I think it is due to the lack of light. I have lived in a seasonal country for years now. I discovered that Vancouver is actually at the same latitude of Paris. But for some reason, I feel there is less light… I am living in a basement, half underground and this is probably why.
Once more, here I am as the international errand, and I have to face administrative process and times. I am using the word errand, referring to my experience in Australia. Find the right information took me some time. It is not the first immigration website I am looking at but they have some slight differences. But after information sessions, sharing with other French-speaking migrants, I think I have found different options. I have initiated the process for the Education Credential Assessment (only one diploma as it is expensive). My school sent the required documents and now, it needs to be checked. Expected time: 20 weeks maximum! If I am lucky, it should be quicker.
And then, I will be able to submit an application for the Express Entry and it should take 3 to 4 months… Patience is a virtue!
It is not that cold in Vancouver. We do not have negative temperatures and meters of snow like inland Canada. But I am activating old habits about clothing learnt in Paris. I think I was suffering less of the same temperatures in Australia and New-Zealand but cold was probably dryer… About clothing, I would like to share a tip that a kind person taught me because I know I have some readers from warm overseas areas not used to this kind of weather. I fell, like others, in the trap of the ‘onion’. Yes, you have to layer clothes but not any kind of clothing and the proper way. The most important ever is the first layer. Once, a lady (that I really do appreciate) told me: ‘Wear silk if you can.’ Of course, silk is quite expensive but no need to be totally wrapped in it. Today, we can find affordable thermals, which could work as well. Then, on top of this, you can dress ‘normally’.
I want to highlight the topic of temperature after interesting observations. I was already intrigued by Australians about to wear thongs during the Austral winter but Canadians created a category by themselves and compel admiration. I saw people in shorts, tank tops, t-shirts and even a half-naked man (but this one probably drank too much of anti-freeze because even Canadians looked surprised). Not even red marks, usual sign of the cold bite on their skin…
I am trying to keep good food and lifestyle habits. Zero waste preacher, I am getting information about recycling practices in Vancouver but it is not always easy to know which plastic item is going where in Vancouver. But I am hopeful as they made a game out of this. I went to the Farmers Market, something that I was usually doing in Adelaide. And I am searching for different alternatives to the big industry. I am also looking for organic but as usual, it is more expensive. So I went on Main Street, one of the hipster places (in France, we would say bobo). I went in a store selling bulk. Of course, I was delighted because I thought I had few, almost no alternatives to the supermarket, full of single-use containers (that I am trying to re-use as many times as I can). However, the charm disappeared when facing a bland and almost nosy attitude of the staff. I had the feeling to enter a very confidential store without knowing its codes and that I almost needed to be co-opted to have the right to walk into this store. I am trying not to have hard feelings and I will go back to them but if I do feel the same shiver going down my spine, I will not hesitate to switch for another store… According to me, this attitude is a disgrace and it should be about sharing and respect, respect of the environment but also people. But it is true that it is possible to be environmentalists and racists or Nazis…
I am trying to do sport but it is difficult to go back to the ‘cold’ chlorine-perfumed swimming pool after having the ocean, to fear a little run when bronchitis is waiting for me everywhere after having all equipments, the freedom to run outdoor (in a nice temperature) and to finally give up and run indoor. However, I should not be that blunt. I am walking. Well, it is a urban environment, it is around a golf course but squirrels are as surprised than me and make this rare journey nicer. Once again, I must be patient and wait the sun and the warmth to come back in order to _finally_ hike.
I always tried to give my time for causes and convictions. I have a list of actions that I would like to do as a volunteer. But sometimes, I find myself caught in thousands of projects because of my overflowing ideas (and honestly adventures and meetings: life is not a straight line). However, I was thinking back of my experiences as a volunteer in Seychelles, Australia, France…
I am waiting to get a work permit and I feel very fortunate so I decided to be a volunteer for two institutions during this time, after my arrival. I was volunteer for the Chambre de Commerce Francophone de Vancouver (French-speaking Vancouver Chamber of Commerce); I just gave a hand to set some food, serving a bit and meeting some hospitable members. I must admit I have not met anyone really aggressive for now.
I also had been volunteering for OpenTable, a meal for people in need. I was a great experience, I always wanted to try it. I do remember the friend of a friend, working for a good company in Paris, talking about his experience at the French soupe populaire (meal served to people in need in France) for years and I found it so inspirational… Serving this brilliant beef curry, I was questioning myself about my motivations and my answer was that I am feeling truly loved and that I would like to share this feeling with those who are less fortunate in doing something very down-to-earth, cooking. I participated to three editions for now: two regular and a special one for Christmas. It was really beautiful for Christmas: there was music, great food and lots of love. OpenTable is about sharing food but also support.
I was challenging the viability of volunteering for the society back in Australia because it seems overused to me. Here too, it seems to be the ultimate way to get in, even if you could be left aside after years of loyal service. It sounds to be as difficult for the volunteer as for the body having volunteers to be able to commit for a long time.
Anyway, in the end, everything is about the intention.
It reminds me of all the strikes (and finally progress) about internships in France. I had never been paid for any of them (except once, few cents by a rock magazine). Some played with the laws, refusing to take me longer as they would have to pay me… In the end, I should have been paid but whatever.
The first semester of my second year of Masters is over and it was not that easy. The workload was big and the coordination and intensity of online meetings with my classmates in Reunion island, Serbia and Japan turned me into a zombie for few weeks (but it looked like months). Sometimes, I was not even leaving the house for few days.
But I have absolutely no regrets as I travelled via the intellect, discovered treasures and had fulfilling personal and professional exchanges with my classmates. I was delighted to read about intercomprehension and francophonie, something that I do see for real, here in Canada. I was a bit disappointed by some grades but I am very demanding toward myself… But I passed my semester, which is great news.
I had a great pleasure to work on intercompréhension with a classmate sharing the same point of view than me about integrating disabilities in the global curriculum. Intercompréhension is an approach promoting the exposure of many foreign languages at the same time in order to understand the general structure of a language. In a nutshell, understanding the concept of a language thanks to a wide selection of them. This topic was fascinating by itself. But we had to analyze it with the help of another lesson plan. I more or less randomly picked one about comparing languages and Braille. We also had a glance at another one about sign language.
When my mood was down recently, I went to the Alliance française library for a good dive and I got a book that my mom was reading at that time, David Foenkinos’s Le Mystère Henri Pick. I love graphic novels so I got one called ‘La différence invisible’ (The Invisible Difference). I was intrigued by this title. It was about Asperger syndrome, not very known in France yet. I also got one for my Masters about francophonie.
I also went to the Vancouver Public Library downtown and I literally fell in love with it. The building is huge and very nice. They even have a audio and video recording studio and editing computers. I got few books: Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last. I want to explore the Canadian literature so I picked a big name. I heard about her via the Handmaid's Tale but I have not seen it yet as I hate the media buzz around it.
I love words so much. I love to play Scrabble (in French). I browsed Facebook, looking for partners for a game in February…
I will also be back as a journalist and I love this idea! I will write for the bilingual newspaper The Source. You will be able to read my first articles from January 2020!