Thursday, November 7, 2013

I'm a Big Kid Now

My office! Officially a big kid now

Welcome to your newest update from Nova Scotia Newbie! Over the past few weeks I have been pretty intensley working on my research, spending the majority of my days hiding out in the Library or my office (pictured above). The work is fascinating, but I do have to admit that no matter how much I read, I haven't really made a dent in the existing scholarship. I do have 181 single spaced pages of notes though, so at least I am making progress. Next week I have three meetings scheduled with academic professionals as I begin to move into the next stage of my research.

Despite that I have been doing so much research lately, some exciting things have still happened. This blog will look over all the exiting things since my last update. 

Parents Visit Halifax

On October 24th, my parents docked in Halifax for the day as part of a Fall Colors Cruise of the East Coast. We didn't have a particularly agenda for the day. In fact, the only plan was to pick them up at the boat at 9 and drop them off by 5. Our wonderful cab driver and I picked my parents up, at which point we decided to visit Peggy's cove, a rural community with a beautiful lighthouse located about an hour and a half from Halifax. We trekked out there and turned it into a photography trip. Some of the photos are below:

After our trip out to Peggy's cove, we stopped at some lakes to take pictures on the way back, as well as a local cemetery, famous as the final resting place of over 100 victims of the Titanic.

We stopped for lunch at "The Bicycle Thief" and got some of the best seafood chowder in existence. Okay, maybe not that good, but pretty darn good. We also explored Harbour Walk before venturing to Point Pleasant Park to see the Fall colors (always remember, we are from Southern California, there are no fall colors). 

It was wonderful to have them visit, even if just for a few hours. Always an adventure. Looking forward to visiting in December.

What visit is complete without a Father/Daughter jumping shot?

Canada's Sport: Hockey

One of the things that people learn about me as they spend time with me is that I have deeply engrained teams I root for in most sports, and yet I may not understand the greater details of how the sport actually works. There are far more times than I would like to admit where I had to stop and ask "Wait, what just happened," when watching a water polo game (or soccer, basketball, football. Pretty much anything but baseball and volleyball.) Hockey is no exception to this trend. Having grown up in Southern California near Anaheim I remember watching on TV as the Ducks won the Stanley Cup. I remember cheering for them through the years, but I had no concept of how the details of the sport worked.

At Fulbright Orientation, I participated in the Ice Hockey game, but I definitely had no idea what was happening, and was just content not falling down on the Ice.

However, recently "Speak Up!" at Saint Mary's had an informational session about how Hockey works (both for International and Canadian students) and a game for students to practice playing We were divided into teams and launched into a game of hockey on the field in the 35F weather. It awesome, and might I mention exhausting. Definitely a great way to get out and meet people, and start to develop an understanding of how hockey works.

Baking Adventures: How do I Feed Myself, a Lesson in Independence

I have never professed to be a good cook. I excel in pasta, grilled cheese, and eggs. Anyone who has lived with me can pretty much attest to those staples being how I have fed myself these past few years. It isn't that I have an aversion to cooking, just that between working, school work, sorority, friends, and clubs, I was much more likely to make a drive-thru run between activities than stop to cook a meal. Between dorms, my apartment last year, and living in Kentucky this summer, I have had a limited environment of having to cook for myself, whether it be a meal plan, a car to make food runs, or a roommate who is a champion at cooking (I am looking at you Stephanie). While I still have a meal plan at the university, I am trying to expand what I can make well. While chicken fajitas and salads are now staple meals, recently I have taken to baking (in addition to cooking) to break up the routine of studying, and increase my repeptiore for when I get home.

Thus far the kitchen is still standing, so I would note that all as a success. Below you will see some of my more recent experiments: Chocolate-Whiskey Cupcakes, Maple-Bacon Cupcakes, and Pepperjack Muffins.

Halifax Exploration Day!

It came to my attention that I had been so focused on working that I hadn't really been around Halifax lately. Thus on Tuesday I headed back out into the city. I caught a bus and visited "Your Father's Mustache," which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. From there I walked the city for around an hour before ending up at Harbour Walk, which was practically deserted A. Because it is Tuesday, B. Because it is November. Harbour Walk has a little area on boardwalk above the harbor similar to a beach. I ended up staying there reading for a few hours before heading back to campus. Quite a relaxing day, but just what I needed as a break from research. 

Thanks for checking out the my newest entry. Stay turned for your next exciting blog entry from Nova Scotia Newbie!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Exploring Halifax

Above is a panography I completed of the facade of Saint Mary's Campus!

The past few weeks I have been alternating between living in the University library and archives, marathoning Netflix while sick, and exploring Halifax. It is quite an interesting time to be in Canada, with the seasons starting to change, as well as the United States government shutting down. This blog will cover a few of my exciting adventures over the past few weeks as well as a look at my experiences with the US Government shutdown from Canada. 

Geeks v Nerds

During my second week here in Halifax I ventured into town to observe something called Geeks versus Nerds, essentially a wacky comedy show when things from geek and nerd culture are pitted against each other in heated comedy debates. The October show included the match-ups of Sunday Scoobies vs Mystery Inc: Which gang more consistently saves the day, and Capt Jack Harkness vs Capt James T. Kirk: WHich captain goes to greater lengths to explore more territories? There were also two minute debates on Death vs. Taxes, Air guitar vs. Guitar hero, and Adam West vs. Christian Bale. I have to say that the show was absolutely awesome. It was hilarious, the people were passionate and dedicated, and it only cost $7. What is better than that? Each month they have different match-ups, so I will definitely be checking out future shows.

Explore Halifax

I am kind of in love with this city. I joke about it, but Halifax is pretty much a combination of San Francisco and Old Towne Orange. A few weekends ago I went to the Halifax Seaport Market which is a large farmers market in Halifax every weekend. However, the coolest thing about Halifax is the random events you can just stumble into. During that same trip to the Seaport Market I managed to just walk into Oktoberfest complete with keg bowling for charity, and the Alzheimer Duck Derby, where over 10,000 rubber ducks were raced in the Halifax harbor to benefit charity. All of the local restaurants here are fabulous. My most recent adventure was to "Your Father's Mustache" for Eggs Benedict. Excited for even more adventures in the city. 

Counseling JCP

Last weekend I camp counseled at Johnston Christian Park (JCP), a Disciples camp located in Digby, Nova Scotia. When I was a peace intern two summers ago I counseled there. Upon finding out I was now living in Nova Scotia, I was asked back to participate in the Fall Weekend.

My first task before I went was to find a sleeping bag, so off to Walmart I went. I bought the only sleeping bag I could find, which was for 40-60F because the weather report said it wouldn't be under 40F. That is a lie I can tell you, which I found out when the temperature was in the low 20s/high teens and I was sleeping in 3 jackets and shaking through the night. Why they sell sleeping bags that only go to 40F in Canada is beyond me. I made it through though! Last night I slept in my sleeping bag underneath the covers in my dorm room though. Adapting to fall...

Camp itself was amazing. The campers were great, and we focused on the idea of faith. I lead a session on Saturday afternoon during a canoe trip. Let me tell you, I cannot describe how badly I wanted to sing "Just Around the Riverbend" while paddling that canoe. I stifled it however, have no fear. Just for your entertainment here is the Disney version ( In addition to sessions on faith we also played Johnston Ball (photo below), cleaned the camp, had a square dance, and participated in a night game. Also, in a move of complete "southern californian-ness" the leaves were changing colors! Yay Fall!

Overall the experience was awesome, and I am incredibly glad I was able to participate in it this year. 

Wyndholme Christian Church

After counseling at JCP, I was asked if I would want to attend the Disciples church in Dartmouth on the next Sunday. Having worked for Disciples and traveled extensively through Disciples, I thought it would be interesting so I agreed. It was a small church, with around 20 members there and I was the only visitor. That being said though, I was full-heartedly welcomed. One of the things I love about Disciples churches is the idea of an open table. We have an open table for a reason, we do not pose limits to the table, everyone is invited and everyone is welcome.

I do have to say though. I walked into the church and immediately the pastor headed me off and introduced herself. The next question was "You were the Disciples Peace Intern Right?" Yes... "You do public speaking right?" Yes... "How would you like to preach on Peace Sunday?" I was in the church less than 5 minutes before they had asked me to preach on peace Sunday in Advent. While I was initially shocked, I will now be preaching on the second Sunday in Advent. Better start mentally preparing for that. Good thing I have a few peace sermons in the repertoire I can adjust according to the Lectionary.

The service though was great. I think the pastor is hilarious and awesome. It actually reminded me of what services are like at FCC Fullerton. I am sure I will be back there in the future. Especially now that I will be preaching there in 3 months...

Canada during the United States Government Shutdown

I have heard the stories and seen the personal testimonies of what is happening in the US. Many friends have posted on Facebook about how they were among the people who were deemed "non-essential" during the shutdown or were asked to work without pay. Even simple things like being unable to access government websites for research projects have been a constant source on my newsfeed. In fact, the Fulbright Program I am a part of updated that they would not be updating their facebook feed, but will be working to ensure the safety of all participants through the State Department and other agencies. While that concern was not high on my radar here in Canada, I am sure it was critical for those who are studying and working in more remote parts of the world. 

My perspective on the matter is fairly well known, as discussed on Facebook or through other social media outlets. One of my littles posted on my facebook about how it is good I was in Canada now that the government has shut down. My other little participated in a protest in Washington, DC the other day. I am constantly on news sites or CSPAN looking up new information, speeches, or testimony on the shutdown.

Despite my own personal opinions, during the shutdown in the US it has been interesting to see the Canadian response.

"The government is supposed to represent the people. I think that often when people get elected they forget that purpose. They strive for their own selfish ideals, for re-election and media bits, as opposed to serving the people they were elected to represent"

That was one reaction I heard from someone at Wyndholme, and I do have to say that is accurate. In the past few weeks, the United States government shutdown has become one of the most common conversations I have had when people find out I am American. Many Canadian news outlets immediately broke the story about the potential impact on the Canadian economy. In fact, when the shutdown first happened and I searched for news results, google only revealed Canadian news outlets since my current location is in Canada. While sometimes a teasing comment such as "At least we have a government right now," may happen, there has been a real amount of concern expressed by those I have conversed with. However, people have also expressed that what is happening in the US is not unique. Canada also has a large amount of partisanship, voting strongly on party lines, which can result in gridlock and other heated issues. The Nova Scotia election was last Tuesday, and the discussions I have had on politics have been passionate to say the least. As we enter the third week of the shutdown, it will be interesting to see how a resolution can be reached. 

In conclusion, that is blog #3, stay tuned for your next super exciting update from Nova Scotia Newbie!

Friday, September 13, 2013


The above photo is me in front of the Parliament Building.

This past weekend I flew to Ottawa to participate in the Fulbright Orientation program. This program included all of the Canadian Fulbright Students (such as myself), Scholars (above PhD) and Killam Fellows (undergraduate exchange students).

I must admit that I was somewhat nervous attending an orientation such as this, where everyone had been selected by the Fulbright Committee. I expected an environment where individuals were more strictly academic, and was unsure as to where I would fall in the program. In short, I had no idea what to expect. The people I met at the Fulbright Orientation, however, were phenomenal. The staff was excited to be working with everyone, and while the participants had an academic focus, they were impassioned, lively, and interested in the work everyone was doing.

After arriving and participating in a Welcome Lunch where we met the staff and participants, we watched a panel on the "Challenges Facing Canadian Universities in the 21st Century." Panelists included the CEO of Fulbright Canada, the President and Chief Executive Officer at Canadian Bureau for International Education, the Vice President at Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Executive Director of the U15, a group of Canadian Research Universities.

Following the panel we took tours of Parliament (see above photo) and the Supreme Court of Canada. We rounded out Saturday evening with a dinner at the Empire Grill.

On Sunday Morning, the Fulbright Scholars, led by a selected Fulbright Student participated in panel discussions relevant to their field. The panels were History, Arts and Education, Social Justice, Health and Environment, and Public Policy. Due to my past work in Social Justice, I was selected to moderate the Fulbright Panel. It was a phenomenal experience, and not one I will soon forget.

Following the panels, a group spent the afternoon at the National Gallery of Canada, and preparing for the evening.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the Fulbright Orientation was spending Saturday evening at the Carleton Ice Rink. For those that know me, ice skating is not my forte. I like to blame coming from Southern California (what is snow?), but in reality, it probably comes down to my complete lack of grace and balance. However, deciding that I wasn't going to let my klutziness hinder me, I strapped on some ice skates and a helmet, and  went to work for the "free skate" section of the evening. I rarely got too far off the railing, but hey, I didn't fall so that is improvement.

There I was, happily skating in my circle when Michael, the CEO of Fulbright Canada, handed me a Fulbright Jersey and told me to line up for the Hockey Match. My plan for the evening had been to just participate in the "free skate" section, but I figured, "why not?" I lined up with the rest of my team (the Fulbright and Killam students) and faced the Fulbright Scholars. We sang the American and Canadian National anthems, and then the game began. I went out on the ice once, and I was absolutely terrible, but hey, I had a wonderful time. After I got off the ice, the next thing I know, Michael skates up to me again and says, "We are going to put you in the goal for about ten minutes." My immediate reaction was , "You are kidding, right?" Alas, he certainly was not.

Soon I was put in goalie gear and placed in our goal. Needless to say, my respect for hockey goalies went up ten-fold. It was incredibly fun, but again, not my skill set. I joke that Michael should have guessed my skill level when they handed me a helmet and my reply was "Guess I need to take off my rhinestone headband."

After our time at the ice rink, we had our closing dinner at Colonnade Pizza. At the end of the dinner, they gave out hockey awards to "Most Spirited," "MVP Scholar and Student," and "Most Improved." Fulbright Awarded me the "Most Improved" Award, and gave each of us a children's book called the The Hockey Sweater. I wear this badge with pride.

Overall, the Orientation program for Fulbright was amazing. I am still working on trying to figure out my place at Saint Mary's, but after the Orientation program it really allowed me to see that I do belong in this program. Here's to a great year as a Fulbright Student.

Below are photos of the book that I won for "Most improved" and me dressed up in my Hockey gear.

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Now what?"

Today marked the first day that I am officially living at Saint Mary’s full time.

Excitement. Joy. Fear of the unknown. I have a lot of different emotions swirling around which I am sure will settle in a few days.

My mom has said for years that when her parents dropped her off at college she sat on her bed and wondered, “Now what?” I don’t think I really had that experience at Chapman, since it was only a few miles from home, but tonight that hit me dead on. After spending a few days in Halifax and helping me move in, my parents headed back to the United States today (In fact, they are on a plane right now. Fly safe Mom and Dad!). And so the question remains, “Now what?”

Saint Mary’s starts classes tomorrow and I am sure the campus will be a-buzz. I am excited to see what the campus is like on a regular schedule. It is odd to think that despite living on a college campus, I will not be taking classes this next year. Instead, I will be conducting research full-time on my own schedule.

This year will provide a new amount of challenges and opportunities that I look forward to encountering. How do I meet students, gain friendships, and get involved without having classes to aid me or a program I am enrolled in? How do I conduct an intensive research project on my own time and pace over a 9 month period?

Overall, I am incredibly excited for the next 9 months. I look forward to the opportunities awarded to me this next year through Fulbright and settling down more into the campus. I am also thrilled that this weekend I will be in Ottawa for Fulbright orientation and have the opportunity to meet the other Fulbright scholars and students.

Cheers to a great year.

Today’s quote of the day I pulled from “The Optimism Revolution:”
Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s more like a cha-cha.

Below are some photos of my room: