Saturday, 4 May 2013

Progress Report

Since this week has been rather more work than play, I thought I'd do a bit of an accountability post. I've been avoiding discussing real life on this blog for a while, instead writing about adventures and activities. But it's hard to have a blog-worthy adventure every week. I also feel like I should document the less glamorous (really, is anything in our lives thusfar accurately described as glamorous?) aspects of life in Vancouver. Also, since it's my blog, this progress report will me very me-centric.

I'm starting with this one since it's easiest. Since the Sun Run a couple of Sundays ago, I have been keeping up with the running, trying to turn the daily 3.1 into the daily 4 miles, with only moderate success. I'm aiming to do this 5 days a week, but only achieving 4 days so far. I've also been eating like a garbage truck since about January, so part of the incessant running in circles is related to damage control.

Last weekend, after the sweetest piece of raspberry-rhubarb pie I have ever eaten, I declared an end to desserts, and also declared it an endeavour to be shared with Matthew. Every evening last week, after dinner, there would be a half-hour gap in time where we would kind of wander around, try to make small talk, do some reading or hobbying, whatever, where dessert used to be. It was weird. It will take some getting used to. Also, since last night was Friday night, and we had cake, strawberries, and chocolate in the house, I decided that it had been a whole week since my last dessert so I would relent and make it a once-a-week dessert rule. So, progress is limited, but moral is medium-to-high.

On Tuesday 30 April, I finally submitted  my MA thesis prospectus and bibliography (which, no joke, I had been drafting since January, and reading for since September). It is a short document which outlines my research program, and which must be passed through the English Department and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

While I wait for that to happen, I have begun drafting the thesis, and I am at 11 pages so far, mostly of historical backgrounding, which may one day form a Chapter 1. On a good day, I roll into campus at 11am, and stay until about 6. On a bad day, I'll start at 12 and head home at 4:30. I'm obviously aiming to increase the hours-in-computer-lab aspect radically over the next fortnight, so that I am actually facing a screen for at least 6 hours a day. Progress: moderate, Moral: medium-high.

Since my teaching assistant contract expired at the end of April, I am now seeking employment. This blog is easily googleable for any prospective employer, so I will not be going into details about my search, but I imagine it will be a long one. So far I have submitted more than 15 online applications and met with two recruiters. I also have regular appointments with an HR consultant at UBC who specialises in transitioning grad students to full time career work. My resume has been overhauled about 5 times since March, and I have a LinkedIn profile, and I am learning the conventions and etiquettes (ever so slightly different) of Canadian cover-letter-writing.

The biggest challenge for me at the moment is marketing myself realistically and successfully. I am, I have recently been advised, too qualified for some administrative and customer-facing roles. But I feel like there is a spectrum of admin/cust service work, and I can imagine myself on it, perhaps in a junior managerial capacity. The second biggest challenge is wholly embracing the art of networking. We've been here long enough that I know lots of people in Vancouver. I just need to make it happen.

But my degree is my first priority until it is completed, so I need a work situation which will allow me the necessary hours and mental space to finish it before making a giant career leap. As impatient as I am to become a full time worker again, I need to remember why we made this huge life move to Canada: to study, reconnect with family, get healthy, travel, slow down. Progress: no job yet, but lots of effort continues to be made. Moral: medium-low (and may remain that way until I secure appropriate employment).

Things to look forward to
At the end of May, Matthew cousin Helen is coming to visit from Melbourne. We are beyond excited to be able to show her around town, and we have several city-and-periphery adventures planned. The very next day after Helen arrives, my mum Kath is also rolling in. I'm looking forward to catching up with her and taking her out for a belated-Mothers'-Day celebration. In August, we have another very good friend coming to stay as well, so it looks like another summer of tourism, sunshine, and friendship. A lot to be excited about, really!

So now I feel like I have been real, come clean, and demystified some of our life in Vancouver. As much as I would love for it to be one holiday adventure after another, that's not what expatriating is truly about.

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