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January 1st 2015
Published: January 2nd 2015
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Snow fallSnow fallSnow fall

Awesome picture of it snowing just outside where I am living.
Waking up to the beautiful white surroundings of snow is definitely something that is yet to bore me. I rush down stairs like a kid on Christmas day who is eager to open their presents just to see the snow. I rug myself up and can't wait to get out into the fresh air and admire its beauty as walk to and from different points of destination. This is when the year of 2014 had one last test, the test of frustration and uncertainty that lead to my next adventure.

One of the most important forms of communication in the world as we know it is a mobile phone. I woke up with one goal in mind and that was to get a phone or a new Sim card for Canada so that I could actually communicate with the locals at any time. Since I have decided for the short term that I am going to be without a car I dressed myself up and readied myself for the 25 minute to Walmart, where I had been advised to get my phone plan set up because it was cheaper. I hadn't taken into the consideration of this decision the sheer
The 'Groundhog Day' WalkThe 'Groundhog Day' WalkThe 'Groundhog Day' Walk

Although really beautiful I have walked this track so much since I have been here. Only been a week!
fact it was absolutely freezing outside. My first taste of minus 20 temperatures and I was suddenly in culture shock. I hadn't walked more than a few 100 metres before the layers of clothing I had provided myself formally made it known they were no match for this kind of climate. My fingers ached, the pain indescribable. It was like a slow torture test where the the gradual burning feeling through my gloves was only just bearable to put up with. I walked along the road where the cars sounded like airplanes taking off the runway. The roared past as their tyres crackled along the ice. My footsteps made crunching sounds with every step, giving me that feeling of someone scratching the nails along a blackboard. My predicament was unavoidable so I only had one choice. Run! I would never go for a run in Australia in trackies, thermal pants, four layers of clothing on the upper body, a beanie and a hood to cover my head and gloves covering my hands, but the pumping of blood through my body seemed to ignite my clothes into stealth warm mode. My boots were by no means the most comfortable shoes I
Tuscany New Years EveTuscany New Years EveTuscany New Years Eve

Just near where I spent New Years Eve.
have used to run in and with my calf strain, from running up a hill in Bourke Street Melbourne to get to a Chinese shop in time before it closed so my mate Griff could get his duck dish, was also in the back of my mind.

I managed to run all the way to the shops and get myself to Walmart only to find that I need to have what they call a SIN number and /or a Canadian Bank Account. A SIN is a social insurance number which they use for tax purposes over here. I was then advised that Virgin had a good deal and they could help me out. Ironic enough Virgin had recommended me to Walmart the day before. I took a deep breathe, blew out the air that instantly evaporated into steam and trudged through the conditions to the South Centre Mall. Again I approached Virgin and this time it looked like my new mobile phone SIM card was going to come to tuition. Sorry, can't hook you up because you need a SIN number. They, like the gym I had applied for the day before said you need a Canadian bank account as well so they could do a credit check. Now the Virgin guys are actually pretty cool dudes and were very polite and helpful but this SIN thing was driving me insane.

The next day, Mel dropped me off to a bank she recommended so I could firstly start up a bank account. It is 8:30 in the morning and the bank is located in a Super Store, very good for cheap groceries over here. I get to the bank area, opens at 10am! Off I walked back home and an hour later walked back, as I couldn't just twiddle my thumbs and dance through the isles of the shopping centre for an hour and a half. Now I have mentioned this before, but I always thought Canada had mainly Canadian people. I go to the bank and surprise, surprise, Asian people run it. Now whether its the fluency and speed of which I spoke or the sudden re-occurrence of a speech impediment I had as I kid, trying to have a conversation was near impossible. They were very nice people and again were very helpful, but once again I had issues with needing Candian photo ID and, you
Walking in -20Walking in -20Walking in -20

This is along the track between Southland and Anderson train stops. It was cold!!!
guest it, a SIN number. I also needed a phone number as well which had to explain to them my dealings with of the previous day. We managed to sort something out and I begin to set up my account with them. Then comes the question "What is my address?" The first thought that came to my head was my home address back in Australia, but then blank. What is my address here? We tried google maps and downloading zip codes for Southwood but that was not going to get them what they needed. So off I walked again, along what I call the 'Groundhog Day' Trail (as I seem to walk it 5 to 6 times a day -same walk every day) back home in freezing temperatures to get the address. I returned and finally I was set up for a bank account, not without issues with my password and trying to log on to internet banking. I also realised that when I returned the second time I had actually messaged a mate back home my Canadian address a couple of days ago and actually had the address with me all along!!!!!! I then went to purchase a prepaid card from Virgin which I successfully got. I finally got home and went to put the card in my phone. It doesn't work! I then try and register it or set it up on line, it asked me what the phone number was. I didn't know. I was given the card and told 'here you go, all ready for ya!' It was the first time I had started to feel along, frustrated by another country and their system and questioning what am I actually doing here. I could be on the beach at home getting ready for New Years but I was putting myself through seeming stressful moment.

The night did get better as I caught up with a girl who was a teacher in Calgary and we had a great chat over a Tim Hortan's coffee about education differences, her time in Australia, and even about Canadian remembrance day. Later that night, I also got to meet to teachers I would be working with at Fairview Junior High which made me feel a little more comfortable about heading there in a few days. They were easy to get along with, friendly and happy to help me out in anyway. It was Mel's last few moments in her home land before she headed on her own adventure so I didn't want to intrude to much on the gathering but was again great to meet some new people.

I woke up on, Wednesday, December 31st with one goal in mind. To get my SIM number. My friends were all asleep after bringing in the new year back home which again reminded me of what I left behind. But, on this day, in my new life, I had to move forward. I had to take control of the situation. I decided to read my Canadian exchange folder to see if there was any information about this SIN number. I had read it . . . when I first got it and didn't think I needed to do that again. The first thing they said for you to get was a SIN number. After a shake of the head and a couple of less than flattering comments for my own self esteem to myself, I researched where to get that SIN number and finally, after a short train ride, a forty minute wait I now am the proud owner of a SIN card. I felt so happy I decided to walk home (an hour walk) and actually enjoy 1 degree temperatures for a change as I also got my Canadian phone number and my gym membership. I also had a really awesome time bringing in the New Year with Jeff and Jaime who introduced me to more friends the importance of world Junior Hockey which is played at this time of year, and another tour of drinking with Jeff the tour guide. I also so a cracker hockey game between arch rivals the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers lead 2-0 early but Calgary managed to get back to tie the game 3-3. They then play overtime, a 5 minute golden goal and if no goal is scored its sudden death penalty shoot out. Calgary scored a goal in the first minute and a half of overtime and suddenly I felt like I was at the MCG cheering on the winning goal for the mighty Tigers. I was up with my fellow Calgarians celebrating the win.

In summary, if you come to work in Canada, the first thing you do is get your SIN number and a Canadian bank account. I have also found some form of Canadian picture ID is very useful too otherwise you have a few issues with getting a few things as well. I also have discovered that a lot of beautiful woman seem to walk around with blokes who are definitely punching above their weight. I thought this is definitely a good sign for me until I found out that those blokes were probably rich oilers. Apparently teaching is not a profession that women seem to get excited about when they ask you what you do and I have been told that is the first thing people say to you. If you don't sell them on that answer then they walk off. So I have now changed my working Visa to being an oil rigger!!!!! No, not really, but the thought has crossed my mind!!!


5th January 2015

Missing you already!
Hey Ben, was really lovely to read your adventures so far....I think I would have been on the first flight home after all of that debacle! Have an awesome time and just enjoy it. Look forward to reading lots more about your adventures in 2015. Cheers, Shaun W

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