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: