Today I was supposed to be writing the final post in my series on Victoria’s biggest employers. I was going to focus in on the venerable Empress Hotel and try and outline to potential job seekers what they might expect to find at the hotel in terms of opportunities, wages, working conditions, paths to advancement and general esprit de corps.
But I was finding it hard to get interested in the topic and that’s because my own ‘routine’ is going to be completely broken in just under four weeks. So let’s back up a bit and see how this whole chain of events got started.
For a variety of reasons that seem completely trivial in retrospect I never went to University right after highschool (Mt. Douglas Senior Secondary for any of you that are interested) all those many years ago. I finished school early – having skipped a grade somewhere along the way – and was 16 when I graduated and turned 17 that summer. At that time in Victoria jobs were few and far between and so it was with little regret and no small amount of anticipation that less than 2 years after graduation I took the train to Calgary, where I knew absolutely nobody.
Less than a week after arriving in Calgary I had a job as a bank teller and I did all kinds of other work, mostly all in the clerical field, during my eleven years there. It was an amazing time to live in Alberta for someone of my age (late teens/early twenties). It was like a continuous party and I certainly did my fair share of celebrating. In my mid-twenties I returned to school obtaining a diploma in electronics technology at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). I was one of only three women in a class of over 300.
When I finished school I went, more for a lark than anything else, to interview at that era’s tech giant – Northern Telecom. I say that I went on a lark as my ‘subdiscipline’ at SAIT was Telecomputer Engineering Technology – a kind of hybrid between telephony and computer technology – and the acknowledged wisdom was that Northern Telecom hired only ‘pure’ telephony grads. But that wasn’t strictly true and I ended up working there for three good years. It was thrilling – we were on the cutting edge of all kinds of telephony advances although if I were tell them to you now you’d laugh as they seem so antiquated (it was over 25 years ago after all).
I gave up my Northern job when I went traveling and after that first trip, when I was gone for 7 months, I returned to Victoria rather than to Calgary and I’ve been here ever since (just over 20 years). And it’s time to move on.
Back to the story – sorry about the rather convoluted path. I decided that I wanted to get a degree by my 50th birthday and I accomplished that although not without changing horses midstream a couple of times. I began at the University of Victoria in Health Information Science (which I may still return to at some point), toyed with the idea of going to Royal Roads and doing Communications and then ended up in Anthropology at UVic which I finished at the end of 2010.
But I knew that this wasn’t enough to get me where I wanted to go eventually – into a job (or perhaps even a vocation if that’s not too lofty of a goal) that would see me make a contribution – no matter how small – to improving people’s lives. Health/medicine has long been an area of interest (I’d actually wanted to go to nursing school on graduation from highschool – why I didn’t is another story) but I knew I also wanted to leave Victoria (perhaps permanently).
There are some amazing schools in Canada but I wanted to go further afield. Great schools in the States but, if I could get in, the tuition would likely be way beyond my means. So then I looked at Asia – specifically India since I’d been there so often but nothing really stood out. I Googled ‘public health masters programs in English in Europe’ and was clicking through the options listed on a page that somebody had set up detailing such programs and came across Swedish offerings that said they did not charge tuition for EU citizens.
Since I was born in the UK, I have gone to the trouble of obtaining an EU passport but didn’t know whether this would be sufficient to qualify me for free tuition. As it turns out it is enough and thus schooling in Sweden began to look very attractive. I applied to three schools (Sweden has a very efficient application system – you apply once by submitting documents and choosing the schools you are interested in) and was admitted to one (Uppsala University), turned down by another and remain on the waiting list for a third (Karolinska Institute).
Although school does not start until September 3, 2012, I am leaving Canada July 5, 2012, since the major obstacle to studying in Sweden is finding accommodation. It’s not that housing is that expensive (it looks to be about the same price as here in Victoria) but rather that it is just terribly hard to find and involves getting on waiting lists and being lucky and persistent. The earlier that I get there the better so I’m anticipating getting to Uppsala on July 14, 2012 (I’m spending a week or so in England visiting friends and relatives).
Next week hopefully I’ll get back on track and I’ll wrap up my series. If you are a fan of YYJWorks I hope you’ll stop by and say ‘Hello’ tomorrow (Saturday, June 9, 2012) when I’ll be at 1186 Monterey selling most of my worldly goods in Oak Bay’s Garagellenium.