Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Farewell, Saudi Arabia...Hello Canada!

Time to Say Goodbye
Well, the time has come for me to bid "adieu" to Jeddah, the place I've called home for the past two years. I’ll be visiting every five or six months, but it's no longer my real full-time residence. Of course, as long as DH is there and I can visit our apartment--the first place where we created a home for ourselves together--Jeddah will feel like home, but Toronto is my more permanent nest again.

Goodbye, old neighbourhood...

Hello GTA! 
Leaving Jeddah
I am kind of trying to block out my departure from Jeddah. It was chaotic and stressful to say the least. Well in advance of my departure, I had consulted my ticket (which noted a two 23kg baggage allowance), and also visited the airline website to make sure I could carry an additional overweight bag. When we finally arrived at the airport (after missing the right entrance more than once because of terrible signage and construction and having to drive over 30 minutes to get back to the right road), the check-in agent wouldn’t accept more than ONE bag even though my ticket CLEARLY mentioned two, and the website described additional allowances for international flights. Alas, after some struggle it got sorted out. DH literally saved the day, and without him, I doubt I’d have been able to bring the 2/3 of my luggage that was finally checked in back to Canada with me. DH knows quite a bit of Arabic by now (he’s been in Jeddah for over 4 years), and was able to have an exception made about my luggage (with, naturally, a significant price tag). I still don’t know exactly what he did, but I do know that all I lost were 10kgs of luggage and I was able to bring along three 23kg suitcases. Everything arrived safely in Toronto. *whew* THANK YOU, my love! I really don’t know what I’d do without you!

The luggage that made it!
Moving Forward
I’ve been back in Canada for just over a week now. It’s been nice catching up with my family while I stay with them for a couple of weeks while I wait for my new place in Toronto (I move in August 1st). My sister and I have been going on lots of long walks in the beautiful summer weather, baking, drinking lots of Starbucks, and laughing our eyes out together. I missed her so much! My brothers, of course, have been making fun of me and my great interest in the royal baby (CONGRATS to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: their baby boy was born on our second wedding anniversary yesterday—what a wonderful gift for DH and I!), and my parents have been keeping busy helping me go out to buy furniture for the new place (and have been kind enough to let me store it all in their now overflowing living room!)
Baking fun!
Starbucks. Mmm!
I am so, so happy that DH has been helping me to decorate and furnish our Toronto place (even though I'm the one who will be living here alone for now). It makes being apart feel so much more temporary when we're planning the next phase of our life here together. It's a very different experience (so far) from the past when we've been apart for long periods of time when we've not known when we'd see each other next, and couldn't really make solid plans about where we'd be living. Heck, his schedule was so unpredictable the last time we were long distance that we had to change our wedding date a couple of times. Needless to say, having some sense of the future together is a really nice change!
Our future living room?
We have been consulting online catalogs and sending photos and images of room set-ups back and forth to each other. Once we find an item we agree on, I head out with my dad--who is an amazing heavy lifter!--to make a purchase. My poor parents--their living room is quite overflowing with our furniture, and it's still another week before I get the new place in Toronto. THANK YOU, Mom and Dad! (And sorry for the eye sore!)
My generous parents living room. 
And again...
Our Anniversary
It was kind of sad to “celebrate” our two year wedding anniversary alone yesterday, but DH and I had a nice chat on Skype and exchanged e-cards. We’d already exchanged gifts before I left, and I’m loving my new Michael Kors rose gold watch!!! (He, I imagine, continues to enjoy his fancy silver pen, too!)
Anniversary gift from DH!
Looking Ahead
As soon as I get settled in Toronto, I plan to get right to work on this coming year’s funding applications (one of which is “SSHRC,” or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council application). I already feel behind not having started them as I usually try to get on top of the tedious editing and form-filling by early July. I’m trying to give myself a bit of a break this year in waiting until August to begin. After all, it’s not every summer I move home from abroad, and I need this time to catch up with my family (and hopefully friends before too long!) Sometimes I wish I had a more easy-going personality. But then again, I guess the way I do things is what brings me academic success and recognition.

friend, SSHRC (official logo)
Source: http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/home-accueil-eng.aspx
This past year in particular has been full of challenges, and I have worked so hard at my two jobs. I really enjoy teaching, and, after finishing my PhD, would love to combine that with more rigorous research in an academic position, whether here or abroad! At times, I didn’t think I could make it through the past year. I was getting up at 5am most mornings, and not getting home from work until after 8pm. Between PhD and funding applications, organizing reference letters, perfecting writing samples, ordering transcripts, writing statements of intent for individuals schools, holding a full-time teaching job, marking papers, organizing college events, attending faculty and staff meetings, tutoring three nights a week, keeping up with the housework, and doing even more grading on weekends, I barely had a single second to myself. Looking back, I have no idea how I got through it, but I did and I am so proud of myself! Sometimes it’s when we put ourselves in challenging situations that we realize how strong and capable we truly are! After all this, a PhD sounds easy! Haha (Well, maybe not “easy,” but easier to manage!)
The work that never ends
Source: http://www.tekkaus.com/2011/01/you-may-not-see-me-that-often-anymore.html
I can’t wait to start my new courses and re-connect with my supervisor, who has also been assigned to be my faculty mentor for the first year of my program. Lots of changes coming up in the next few weeks, and I’m usually so resistant to change. I can do it though!

Here’s to new experiences, changes, and embracing life’s new possibilities with positivity and smiles!

Attitude is everything! :)

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