Trip Start Jul 17, 2014
10Trip End Aug 06, 2014
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Once upon a time, many moons ago, a young maiden explorer landed on the shores of the great British Columbia. Surveying the landscape around her, she liked what she saw. She wanted to stay. She knew that to survive this particular Northern escapade, however, she must find gainful employment. You know. To have money for Caesars and Poutine.
It's tough finding a job in Vancouver. When I moved here, I spent many a sleepless night stressing about the prospect of running out of money and having to go home. Here, my qualifications meant nothing. My work experience meant nothing. I felt useless. I felt stupid. I felt like a failure.
My saving grace came in the form of a phone call from the most Western point of Vancouver. On a peninsula out by the ocean. The endowment lands. UBC. The University of British Columbia.
On the other end of the phone was a young Irish lass. She was very interested in meeting me after reading my resume. My experience sounded like just the ticket, she said. My diverse degrees didn’t confuse her. Nor did my varied work experience. This was my place.
You won’t find someone more grateful to UBC than this little Beebee. In fact I feel so sentimental about the place that you’ll find me rocking around Canberra in my Thunderbirds hoodie on the regular. And I’m almost never without my Thunderbirds drink bottle. UBC 4 LYFE.
My first two weeks at UBC I landed at the Work-Life and Relocations Service Centre. There really could not have been a better place to land as a newcomer to Van. My boss, JB, is one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met, and I’m ever grateful to the wonderful MG who really took me under her wing. It was the office’s job, really, to 'sell’ Vancouver to prospective faculty. The other part of that job was to assist staff moving from all over the globe with things like housing, schooling for their kids, spousal employment, moving, places to visit… you name it. What better place than this to land? In this treasure trove of information for every newcomer to Vancouver!! Aka meeeeee!!
I was only filling in for two weeks at this office, but enjoyed every second. I also took full advantage of campus life, finding the best lunchtime walks, the best sushi and the best coffee. This, by the way, is at The Well Café at Regent College – where I still sorely miss AJ’s sunshine, chats, smile and latte art every morning. What a way to start the day.
I had no promise of further work following this posting, but was lucky enough on my last day to find I’d been picked to start work at a UBC office attached to Vancouver General Hospital the following Monday. Having just lost dad that year, it sucked major balls to have to walk through the ICU floor to get to and from lunch every day. To walk past that waiting room. See those faces. See my face. My mom’s face. My sister’s. It was also the strangest office I’ve ever worked in, but my saving graces were Ciara, Alisha and Margaret, and this view from the office window…
Around December, however, I received a phone call that I was being moved. An urgent position needed filling over at the Office of Graduate Programs and Research, back on campus. It was one of the more complex assignments, but they were confident I could handle it. Over I went, and I had a day and a half handover before being left to my own devices. I was scared. But oh I was stoked. I was back on campus. For the very first time in my life I had my own office. And this, by far, is one of my favourite places I’ve ever worked.
I loved all the people in this office, and how inclusive they all were. We did a bunch of social things together while I worked there… one of my favourites being Panini Monday. What’s Panini Monday, I hear you ask? So I hate sweet breakfast, right? Hate. It. I also hate having breakfast at home. What a time suck. I like to log on to my computer at work, scan my emails and the press clips while chowing down on a piece of warm, buttery Vegemite toast. The one thing OGPR lacked, however, was a toaster.
One fateful day, digging around in the kitchen… I came across the Panini press, at the back of a cupboard. Oh, joy of joys! I Panini pressed toast in the mornings. I Panini pressed sandwiches for lunch. Panini, Panini, Panini. Soon, others joined me. Sometimes in Panini making solidarity, at times in friendly Panini competition. And from those humble beginnings, Panini Monday grew. My OGPR buddies even included me in Panini Monday for months after I left Canada, virtually, via viber. Because they’re awesome.
Imagine then, my pure, pure joy and elation at having the chance to attend Panini Monday again in person. Early Monday morning I trotted up Commercial Drive, stocked up at the local Safeway, skipped over to the number 99 bus and made my way to campus. And oh, what a Panini Monday it was. Buffalo chicken and blue cheese, blue cheese margherita, and chicken-crispy-bacon-all-kinds-of-deliciousness Paninis. Free Chinese food from one of the classes downstairs. Cheese dip. Cherries and chocolate. NUTELLA FRUITSPLOSIONS. And I got to catch up with some of the best, best people.
I followed up my serving of pure lunchtime joy with a bit of exploring campus. I’d never made it inside the Museum of Anthropology or the Japanese Garden before, so I took advantage of the good weather and did so. I had a lazy afternoon catching up with my old housemate Kyle on the Drive, and spent the evening with Steve watching the sun set over Trout Lake. What a blissful, blissful Vancouver day. Nothing too out of the ordinary, just lovely.
That night I drifted into a peaceful, contented sleep, feeling more at ease than I have at any time in the last few months. To dream happy dreams. For "many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese--toasted mostly." – Robert Louis Stevenson.
Your B. xx