Exactly one year ago, I arrived in Calgary.
I can hardly believe I’ve been here for a whole year. It really does feel like I just got here and I still tell people I’m new to town. I guess it’s true what The Magnetic Fields say: “Days go by too slowly and the years go by too fast.”
It hasn’t always been an easy transition, there were roadblocks, wrenches thrown in the mix, and some hard time blues. But, as I look back and reflect, It has no doubt been worth it.
What has happened:
(+) Classes, 1 year down!
I finished up the first year of my masters with a 4.0 and some confidence in myself. For me, I thought the assignments, course load, etc was pretty easy. Which was surprising. Going forward into my second year, I am expecting some more difficulties as the courses get more specialized and my practicum gets more intense.
My depression resurfaced for a bit in the past year and it was difficult to get a hold of. It resurfaced for a variety of reasons which I think are fairly average- feeling alone, feeling stressed, shitty relationship, shitty people in general, regretting the move, regretting the choice of school, etc. After losing about 30 lbs from stress and being unable to eat because of anxiety, my absolute best friend in the whole world stepped in. She encouraged me to get to the doctor and gave me some easy ways to tell the doc what was happening. That was a lifesaver for me and the moment things really started to turn around. That was about 5-6 months ago.
(+) New friends
I’ve made a bunch of new friends, which is strange for me. I’ve always found it difficult to make friends. But somehow, in the last 6 months, I’ve got a solid squad and they are all amazing people. I have beer friends, I have vinyl/audio friends, I have music show friends, I have bitch about school friends, brunch friends. I’m lucky to have such cool, supportive people in my life who actually like having me around and want me around.
When I got here, nothing seemed to go right. I was denied EI, my apartment was a mess, my student loan took forever to come in. It was just one thing after another and it really frazzled me. I wish I had handled it better and it made me really negative about the move and the city. I felt like I had no one to lean on. But, I powered through as I always do on my own. Trying to not ask for help. However, some help did come in of its own accord and I’m grateful to those folks who decided to swoop in.
(+) Getting Back to the Things I Love
In the last six months, I have really enjoyed diving into the Calgary (& area) music scene. I saw some of the best concerts/shows I’ve ever been to in this time- Joel Plaskett in Canmore, New Bomb Turks at Dickens, Bob Log III at the Palamino, By Divine Right at the Ship, and Stars in Banff. Not to mention getting out to Bengough for Gateway Festival once again only to fall in love with Mo Kenney’s music. I’ve been to so many more shows, but these are the standouts.
When I got to Calgary, I had zero jobs. Now… I have three! (1) I’m currently working for the City of Calgary as a social researcher. It’s just a summer term, but has it ever been a lifesaver as far as finances go. (2) My practicum supervisor asked me to stay on until next summer to complete my project. The project ends up with me having an academic article published. (3) I’ve become a sought after dog/house sitter. I started doing this for my brother’s girlfriend who has referred me to others, and I also gather clients just by chatting about my adventures in dogsitting. This income pretty much sustained me during the school year. I love dogs and I get to stay in fancy houses usually… it’s perfect.
My practicum supervisor sent me to Montreal for a conference that I usually would go to if I was working at the time. I got to see all my lovely young professional friends and hear about all the great things they are doing. I love those people and wish we got to see each other more often, maybe one day we will work together more closely.
When I got to Calgary, I had to come to the realization that no one knew who I was like they did in Winnipeg. It was humbling. But, I was determined to get my name out there. I made a significant cold call to a PhD in the faculty and sent her my CV. She instantly recommended me for 3 scholarships (one of which I won), made connections in the sector for me, and offered me a TA position (which I was unable to accept).
So… things have been looking up… WAY up over the last 6 months or so. I no longer hate Calgary. I actually kind of like it and I keep discovering new things and places that make it a bit more interesting. I do that through the help of a few people and a lot of curiosity. No more just sitting around watching Netflix and going to the SAME places over and over again! Change has been a good thing and there has been way more changes than I could have predicted. I thought my life would look a certain way when I got here, but it looked nothing like what I was hoping for. But, where I am right now is pretty excellent.