Thursday, May 25, 2006

The big announcement

First of all, this is my weblog. 10 points to me for stating the obvious.

Why do I have a weblog? Mostly, to allow people I know to read about what I have been doing. Occasionally I may stray into the territory that many bloggers do, waxing somewhat philisophical or political or just plain ranting. You don't have to read those entries (you don't have to read any of this if you don't wanna). I may just write for the sake of writing. I do possess the ability to write at *great* length about the most mundane of subjects.

So why would people need to read about me online to find out what I'm doing? Well, for those of you who don't know already, this is the "big announcement" that I refer to in the title. I'm going to Scotland in September. While I'm there, I will update people on my doings that are transpiring through this blog, instead of doing group e-mails like I did on my last European romp.

And now, to fill in the rest of the details, here's my Frequently Asked Questions about my move abroad:

Q: Why are you going to Scotland?
A: I visited Scotland for about 3 weeks when I went to Europe in June/July of 2002. I really liked the country. You could call it the atmosphere: the people, the land. Yes, I do know that it's windy and rainy there quite often. And I know it's not an exotic culture compared to Canada, but there's something about it that I like. Also, most of my ancestry can be traced back to Scotland about two centuries ago, so I've had an interest in the country for as long as I can remember. Pretty much everyone in my family seems to see an attraction in going to Scotland. My Dad's calling my trip "reverse immigration". I believe he may have said "Wagon's East".

Q: Where in Scotland do you want to go?
A: Ideally, I would like to live on the Isle of Skye for at least some of the time that I'm in Scotland. This is where many of my ancestors came from (the ship that brought most of my maternal ancestors to PEI left from Portree harbour in Skye). It's also a rural area, and since I'm a country girl I'm interested in living in rural areas, not just the cities where most people flock to for work. Of course, since it's a rural area work opportunities will be more limited than the city, but I'll try for something in Skye or elsewhere in the Scottish islands or Highlands. Plus, if you've ever seen Skye or seen pictures of it, you'll know that it has an incredible landscape of coasts and mountains. It's a very popular tourist spot for a reason. So its scenery (and all the landscape of the Highland region) certainly doesn't due anything to dissuade me from living there.

Q: What are you going to do there/Do you have a job yet?
A: I'm going to work, and travel around the country and other parts of Europe. It's certainly cheaper to visit Europe when you're living in it and you don't have to hop on a plane each time. And there's no better way to get to know a place than to live and work there. I don't have a job yet, but I've started hunting around on the web, and I can always find something when I get there.

Q: Are you crazy to go somewhere you don't know anyone and don't have a job and a place to live?
A: No more crazy than usual. I've moved twice to places where I didn't know anyone (Edmonton and Annapolis Valley) and that worked out fine: I met people there. As for the job and place to live - if I'm not fussy about what I work at (and I'm not) then it shouldn't be too hard to find something to pay the bills. There's always hotel and restaurant jobs, some of them are even live-in, and honestly I think I wouldn't mind one of those as a break from the physics and academics for a while.

Q: How are you getting a work visa?
A: There exists a type of visa called a "Working Holiday Visa" (WHV) It is essentially an agreement between two countries to allow young people (usually aged 18-30 years) to work abroad for some period of time in order to earn money to fund their travels in that country (hence the "holiday" part of the visa). Since Canada is so chummy with the rest of the world we have a decent number of agreements with other countries. For some you need to be a student, for others you don't. Obviously for Britain you don't, since I'm no longer a student. The visa allows you to work in the foreign country, usually for only half of the time you are there (they don't want you setting up shop and becoming a citizen on them).

In Canada, there's an organization run by the Canadian Federation of Students and Travel Cuts (the budget travel agency) called "Student Work Abroad Program" (commonly referred to as "SWAP") that will apply for a WHV on your behalf and also provides pre-departure and in-foreign-country support for things like setting up a bank account, filling out tax papers, finding a job, finding a place to live. I've decided to go through this program, largely because I hate bureaucracy and paying some fees to cut down on that was worth it to me.

Q: How long are you staying for?
A: The Britain WHV is currently a one-shot deal. You can only hold one once in your lifetime. So since I won't ever be able get another, my plan is to stay for the full two years that the visa allows, barring me discovering that I have a strong dislike for Scottish life and deciding to leave. I won't be allowed to work for more than 12 months, so the other months I will spend travelling, and I may try to pick up some volunteer work that would provide me with room and board, or at least room so as to minimize expenses.

Q: What are you doing with your truck? (Honestly, many people have asked this)
A: I don't know. I have yet to figure out which will mean less financial loss and less hassle: selling my truck, or storing her inside until I come back (yes, I did intend to use "her" instead of "it". Her name is Molly, if you're interested.). I wouldn't mind keeping her since I do love my truck (I really do - I even hugged her once when I got her back from repairs). But storing involves the hassle of having people in PEI look after her. I guess I have a few months to figure it out yet.

Q: How are you going to get by for two years without *all* or your clothes?
A: Ok, so only I have been asking myself this one, but it's the most frequent one that I ask myself. I don't have any worries about finding a job or a place to live or meeting new people. No, I worry about how I'm going to manage with only a backpack's worth of clothing options for a couple of years. Especially having to cover such possible diverse situations as outdoor work, office work, getting dressed up, doing athletic things. I know I will be able to buy clothing as necessary abroad, but I have clothing here already that I adore. So if you're going to worry about me, worry about how I will "survive" without my precious, beloved clothes.

Q: (actually, more of a request, so)R: Be sure to send me(us) a postcard.
A: Sure, just tell me your mailing address and thy will be done.

I can't think of anything else I haven't answered at length already, so I'll leave'er at that.