Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Run as fast as I might, I've been tagged by Isheeta in her latest entry so now, keeping within the Code of the Blogger, I must oblige and give you 5 Things you didn't know about me.

(I know I did something similar a little while ago, but I'm digging up more fun facts for you're reading pleasure. And I must admit, like Isheeta said, tags are cool because they make you feel special for being singled out and since we all crave attention in one way or another, I am blushing, but oh-so-happy [Thanks Isheeta ;)])

1. My first and only stitches were caused by an iron

When I was about 5-6 years old my cousins and I were jumping on my grandmother's bed and falling so that we'd land sitting down. All was well until I landed on the plug from a nearby iron in such a way that it got stuck in my lower back and I had to be rushed to the hospital for stitches. In the meantime, while the adults were trying to figure out if I'd need stitches or not, they thought they should put ice on it and unfortuntely we didnt have any more ice (these were the days before the automatic ice dispensers in the fridge - they were called ice trays - had to be manually filled with water and placed in the freezer *gasp*) so, the parents did the next best, and obvious, thing - the put a freezie on it [the flavoured, sugar-syrup concentrated, frozen ice pop in the plastic] and then drove me to the hospital to get a whole whack load of stitches. I was so traumatized (maybe still am?) that all I remember is that the doctor telling me they'll need to use a needle, and then everything went black...

2. My younger sister and I are 16 years apart.

Crazy I know. I recently met a girl who was 21 years apart from her brother so it made me feel much better. But despite the difference, she, my brother and I all get along as if the age difference was only a couple of years. She's starting to act much older and we've always been mischievous so it works out great. She's the most funniest person I know and the best thing is she doesn't really notice the age gap. Although now, as my brother and I are moving on with education and out of the house, she's getting a little more lonely...

3. I have a purse fetish

Yes, it is true. As non-materialistic as I want to be, when it come to bags and purses, some other force takes over and there's no control. It's come to the point where I am scolded by all members of the household (includinig the younger sister) when they see me with another new bag. So I work up ways to convince them that it really is a bag I've had for a long time and I just haven't used it in awhile (I say this while trying to distract their attention away from the tag I am attempting to yank off). I don't really care for designer labels but look for different details and styles...and yadda yadda yadda....blah blah...you've stopped reading at this point I believe.

4. I've been attempting to write a book for about a year now.

So some of you do know this, so it's a little cheat, but either way, it counts. I have the title, the idea of what it'll be able, a vague description of the lead character. And no, I'm not spending my time deciding what handbag she will carry. But it's hard to develop a character you know nothing about. Which sounds absolutely ridiculous to some when I've said that, since I am the one writing the character, but when I write I tend to add my own self into it too much and I don't like that. You know your faults too well and know nothing of your virtues. I'd rather set up a character who has her own flaws. Again...stopped reading three sentences ago didn't you?

5. If I weren't going to be a lawyer, I'd be a newspaper journalist.

Maybe work with world news, or arts & entertainment. Write the horoscopes? Obituaries? Or even just the retractions. Maybe a write like Vinay Menon (read his stuff if you need a laugh out loud morning)?I started to get interested in junior high, but my parents (love you) said that I would much prefer to be a doctor. Anything that didn't have to do with me travelling, especially to strange places with strange people who may influence me to do strange things. Yes, these are the same set of parents allowing me to go to Australia. Ironic, isn't it?

So now it's my turn to do that tagging! And for that we'll get....Pyari, Enyur, Ruby, Ephemeral Nature (that'll teach you to blog once every 3 months), Ahmed and Roohi.
I don't know how many people I'm allowed to tag, so I got a little carried away.... ;)

TAG! You're IT!
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Muslim voters required to remove face coverings

It was announced that in this Monday's election in Quebec, Muslim women who were a niqab (full headscarf that only shows the eyes) will have to come in showing their faces or will not be permitted to vote. Election officials tried to compromise by saying they could come with I.D. and someone who will vouch for their identity, but protests came from others that they will all show up in masks if this was done.

I've had a mixed reaction with this. While I understand the purpose of the niqab, as well as the frustration that others feel with rule changes, I think there's another way around this. Women wearing the niqab could possibly request a female employee from Elections Canada to be present while she presents her ID without the niqab behind a curtain of some sort, rather than just show up niqab-less. People have a difficult time accepting change, and as increasing issues arise with the mix of religion/culture with laws in Toronto, and globally for that matter, there will be more disputes.

On the one hand you have people worrying that all these 'disruptions' in the voting process are unfair to those who are not practicing Muslims because it may slow up the voting and inconvenience them. They also think that too much is being done in terms of leniency of rules to allow for people of different faiths to be included in activities. It's a "follow along or leave" attitude, which I don't agree with, but understand all the same. For these people, one exception will lead to another and another until it feels like the entire system of rules is bending over backwards to make room for the few people who need exceptions.

On the other hand, this is Canada. Back in the 70s the gates of immigration were opened and people flooded into the country, bringing with them a host of beliefs and traditions. You may not like it, but you have to at least accept it. Canada needs the population. Just recently Statistics Canada released a report that two-thirds of Canada's population growth over the past five years was fuelled by immigrant newcomers. The population has increased about 5.4% (highest of the G8 countries) while Canadians themselves continue to have a low fertility rate. This means that Canadians aren't have enough children to support the economy in the future.

Cue the immigrants, please. So - when it comes down to it, immigrants are a necessary part of a countries growth, Canadian or not. But it's foolish to accept that people will convert to Canadianism completely once they step off the plane (though I still think they should be handed a cup of Tim Horton's as they land, as part of the initiation). There will be many part of their faith/culture, something that is a part of them, that they inevitably will bring with them.

Exceptions to rules are hard because someone has to draw that chalk line somewhere. Whether it being elevators that stop at every floor in hospitals on Saturdays for the Jewish day of Sabbath or serving certain types of meals on an airline to accomodate travellers with special diets we need to make room to show respect.

These women who wear niqab may very well be born and raised Canadian citizens as well as immigrants who later earned citizenship, and to deny them practice of their faith is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They have a right to vote as well as to wear the niqab and to deny either is unlawful leave alone immoral - these women are being asked to choose between their religious beliefs and their political and democratic beliefs. They are involuntarily being subjected to a Catch 22 situation: if you want to vote, remove the niqab; remove the niqab then you violate your beliefs.

It comes down to whether the election officials now want to help the situation or back away as briskly and calmly as possible. They are being threatened that if they allow and exception, other people will show up in Halloween style masks. But this hard-headed and misguided thinking is just what stems discrimination. If they met with some sort of compormise to allow women to wear their niqab but not "disrupt" the voting process, there should be no issues. Voters would come and go as they expected to without even knowing that a woman in a niqab was even in the room. But again, it's all a matter of wanting to help or being forced to.

What's your take on this?

As I continue to tell friends and family of my upcoming move, I'm getting a myriad of reactions and questions. Everyone has been more kind and supportive than I deserve and that includes all the wonderful comments in my last post. I thought I'd answer questions that I've gotten all in one shot...in case you yourself were wondering

1. Are you kidding me!?!?!

No, I assure you that I am not kidding you. Although, sometimes I feel like I'm kidding myself when I realize how far I'm going and what kind of career I've decided to take on. Will I be any good? What if I do all this, start working and realize my true calling was to be a name-giver to cosmetics and ice cream!? (Which, by the way, is an actual job that people have - saw it on Oprah. And she doesn't lie.)

2. What did your parents say?

Well, they sort of just stared at me than say anything when I told them. As if creating a mental map of the world and digesting the fact that Australia hasn't somehow floated up around to the Atlantic coast. I think they may have had a better reaction had I said Austria. But, then they stopped turning blue, began to breathe and actually listened to my reasoning. They knew I wasn't happy and I had already talked to them about wanting to do international law and that I couldn't transfer back home.

My mom knows a number of people, including South Asian/Muslim girls, travelling to Australia, the UK and other places for their education so she began to take solace in that. But then immediately started staring off into space, thinking out loud about how I'd be so much farther away from her and wouldn't be able to see her for months at a time. My wonderful parents have always been supportive of my education. When I first applied to law school they said that I could go wherever I got in (of course, they assumed I'd be in North America). I know many friends whose parents have barely let them travel to an adjacent city for post-graduate schooling or work.

3. Where in Australia?

I thought about whether I want to post the answer to this or not. And in the end, I though not. I cyberspace is an odd place where you can find out most anything. My school may become easy to locate once I name the area/city so it just hits a little too close to home. I'll put pictures up once I'm there so some of you may even be able to figure out where I am from that.

4. Do you know anyone there?

As far as good signs go, would you believe that I found an old friend from undergrad that is at my school right now?!

God bless Facebook! And the way it happened was completely random (another sign?). I was searching for "groups" on FB for my new university when I found one for law students there. So I click on it, hoping to send a message to someone in that group to see if they will be kind enough to answer someone questions for me. So I scroll down and I see a girl who mentions somthing about a "Canadian Law Students Association" there and so she seemed like the perfect person to ask questions since she must have gone through the same immigration/travel process that I was about to embark on. So I click on her name and am brought to her profile page. Side note: pretty much everyone on FB has set their 'privacy' settings such that if you're not added as a friend of theirs, you cannot see their profile, but can still send a message - this girl had not set her privacy settings this way so I could see her whole profile. There's also a 'mini-feed' on your profile that shows a person what you've been up to on FB - who you've added as a friend, who's page you've left a message on, ie pretty much keeps track of all your activity (a wonderful stalker feature). And lo and behold her mini-feed was accessible and it showed that someone had recently "tagged" her in a picture (meaning that someone had uploaded some pictures on their profile and labeled with with their name). They also add a small thumbnail picture of the picture that has been tagged and this, plus the name of the tagger (the girl was the tagee) caught my eye and I froze.

The name and person was someone I had taken a number of courses with in univeristy during undergrad (we were in the same major) and had talked to a lot out of school, on MSN, etc - a friend/acquantaince whatever. We went our separate ways after graduationg a couple years ago and pretty much never talked afterwards - I had lost my contacts for MSN and so didn't even have him on that anymore for a long time. So I clicked on his name and saw that although I couldn't access his profile, his network (another crazy FB invention - it shows what school/company/city you have affiliated yourself with) was set to the school I am going to! I couldn't believe it. We had both talked about applying to law school way back in our 3rd year but after graduation, we didn't really keep tabs on anything. But there he was, 1 year into the same law program I'm heading into. I still can't believe the coincidence...luck? Kismet? Still don't know... I wasted now time in firing off a message to him, hopefully somewhat coherent, and thankfully he e-mailed back saying it was nice to hear from me and that he would definitely help out with any questions I had. How cool is that!?

Prior to undergrad-friend, I had only one other contact in Australia though she doesn't live anywhere near where I will be let alone go to my school. My friend and I met about 10 years ago when I moved to Malaysia and was attending a private international school. She'd just come from Australia and we became fast friends. Though I moved away a year or so after, we managed to keep in touch and ironically enough, in the past year, she's been planning to move to Canada.

5. Living on or off campus?

On. Lived off-campus in Michigan and it didn't give me a chance to meet people and there were a lot of other issues.

6. How long will you be there?

At least 2 years to start, maybe adding another one year for my Master's.

7. Seriously, you're not kidding?

*sigh* no dear friend, I am going. Knowing my somewhat quiet temperament, most people assume I'm a homebody. Truth is, I love travelling and new places. I find it's really cool how some people have lived in one place since they were born, but I've never known that consistency. I've moved about 9 (soon to be 10) times in my life changing homes, neighbourhoods and schools so it's really a part of my life now.

8. "Will you bring me back a koala?" - Shazia

Since I don't think they're that easy to smuggle in past customs, right now that'll be a "no". But as I said before, I will dress up my little sister as one and you can have her.

9. Are you happy?

Yes. I can honestly say that though the distance from friends and family will hurt, I am happy.

I have to admit, it's been kind of fun seeing, hearing and reading the reactions I've gotten from people who have found out about my move. Not that I take some twisted pleasure in your shock or anything like that...

My cousin's reaction has had to be the best so far:

Her> WHAT!?!? Oh. My. God. But...Huh? Wait...What!?

Me> Hahahahaha...yup, it's true

Her> Huh? I don't...when? But, I-I-I, uh. What??? Seriously? Noooo...you never - I never...I can't belive it. I-ohmygod.

Me> Seriously. It's all done. I would've told you sooner, but-

Her> What?! Australia-Australia? THIS May? But...what about...since when...

Me [while listening]> hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Her> I don't get it...wow...but...I'll call you back. *click*

Me> Hello...?
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Enyur did this Visual DNA on her blog and it seemed interesting so I thought I'd do one for myself...surprisingly much of it all is true. And this whole time I was trying to find the "real me" and on this conquest to find out who I am, and all I had to do was click on some pictures..!?

Friday, March 16, 2007
(I originally planned to post this all later but I can't take the poking on Facebook or the nudging on MSN - the virtual abuse has gotten to me and I'm afraid I've caved under the pressure... :P)

It's set. Thanks to all your prayers, good wishes and coin throwing into mall fountains (thanks G), everything for seems to be ready for my departure.

Oops, I let it slip...departure... ha...ha? Ok not funny since you don't know what I'm referring to. Agreed. Let's move on.

So kids, as you may know since August last year I've travelled from Toronto to Michigan (MI) to start my law school career. I was dubious from the start. For many reasons, I've never liked MI to begin with. I've always been dragged there from when I was a kid to visit family that I've never liked and who aren't very keen on me either - don't let me start. But the place itself just seemed odd to me and I just never felt comfortable there. But when I got the acceptance, I was happy about law school itself so cast my skepticism aside and went along with everything. School started up and I got into my studies, but the surroundings seemed to be dragging me down. Where I was going to school is a very quiet and desolate place. Not to mention ghetto and gloomy. By nature I'm more of a quiet person who tends to keep to herself and doesn't need a big group of friends or companions - I've always preferred independent work instead of group. But this place got to me in a bad way. Being away from home for the first time didn't help matters much. School itself was tough since many people aren't helpful because they're afraid you'll get ahead of them and the constant scare that people will be graded poorly against the other students in order to balance the number of A's in the class due to the large enrolment rate in the school (though I did meet some very nice people). So I started getting very depressed and had trouble accepting my situation - that I'd be there for 3 whole years in pursuit of this degree.

First term came and went and with me doing better than even I expected too, but it still wasn't enough. I wasn't happy. It wasn't regular old stress - I've had that, and so did all the other students in my year. But this was something more deep rooted. Everything just felt wrong there. If you're a person who believe in 'signs' then I have plenty for you:

  • I had trouble getting the paperwork through for my student visa - it got lost the first time they mailed it to me and I finally emailed the school and had to rush to get everything completed before I had to move there. I ended up getting it about 2 days before I was supposed to leave home
  • I had a hard time finding a good place to live. My apartment was in the downtown ghetto, nearby a not-so-friendly motel. Ok, so I could have simply moved, right? Let's keep going...
  • I needed a car and so went to lease one from there (calculated to be cheaper for lease + insurance compared to Toronto); the lease papers had to be sent in because the finally realized my Social Insurance Number (Social Security for my US peeps) was Canadian - though I had written specifically that it was and was assured by the dealership that it was ok.
  • Had to apply for a US SSN - took a week longer than they said it would to arrive and I couldn't get my car until I gave them my new number.
  • Two months after getting said car, I managed to hit a bright yellow post near a parking ticket dispenser and brok the headlight unit on the front of the car and scrathed up the bumper. Dealership quoted $1400 to fix the damage. (And I thought all they had to do was replace the lightbulb and glass...turns out it became an electrical problem)
  • I went and applied for this special student loan especially for Canadian students studying in the US. Applied August 2006. Lost my supporting documents - sent me notice MID OCTOBER 2006. Once I sent another set, they send me a letter in NOVEMBER to say that the application I filled out was wrong because I filled out an application for undergraduate students and not graduate students (mind you, I was the one who requested this form from them, I didn't pick it up myself AND there is no bloody different between the forms except the word "graduate" vs. "undergraduate"). Correct form sent again. Cheque (or "check") for my first term tuition was finally mailed to the school this past January 2007. I haven't even mentioned the number of times I called this student loan facility and how many hours spent being put on hold and trying to explain my situation each time around to each representative.
  • I got my first ever traffic ticket - I've never even had a parking ticket and I got one for speeding. I was taking a friend home and we were heading straight down on a 35mph road. After an intersection I didn't notice that it turned into a 25mph street because the friend was (ironically) showing me some different apartments. Next thing you know bright red, white and blue lights are flashing behind me. Silly me thought the car was after someone else so I pulled over to the right and only when the cop also stopped did it hit me. He said I was doing 37mph in a 25mph zone and after making me wait for what seemed like forever, he came back and said he'd let me off "easy" by charging me for a civil infraction for doing 30mph in a 25mph road. But, as I suppose he must, he wrote down "actual speed 37"). I was planning on fighting it but that in itself was a whole issue because here in the States (I dont know if it's the same back home) students must report any and all tickets and other charges to the Dean to be put on record for when you graduate and take the bar. I thought it would get worse if I fought it, especially not know how the traffic courts worked in the U.S. so I paid the US$145.00 ticket. Is that a normal amount!? Anyone..?!
  • I was followed home by creepy, seemingly homeless, man the one time I decided to walk home from school. I didn't venture out for 4 days until my next class.
This was all in the span of 6 months. Say what you will but this was enough for me to realize that I didn't belong there. So where did I belong?

I wasn't allowed to transfer from a US school to a Canadian law school because the differences in the legal systems (civil vs. common law) so transferring back home wasn't an option - I'd have to reapply to Canadian schools and start as a new student in the Fall term. Transferring to a different school within the US is also tough in and of itself, not to mention that I don't know where I'd get in and it just may be so far that I couldn't go home on weekends like I wanted to and it just wouldn't be worth it. I like the US well enough but going further away also meant being somewhere where I had no connections. Even though I have a strained relationship with the family I have in Michigan, they would, if the emergency arose, attempt to help me for my dad's sake, that I know for sure.

I started to think about what I wanted in my law career. At first I thought it would be mediation and arbitration but it didn't seem like something I would want in the long run. Then it came to me, I wanted to do international law. I love learning of different countries, and policies between them. I have always had an interest in human rights and poverty issues. Maybe I could work for the UN? Or go into international trade law and work for the WTO? Or work for the WHO and international health issues? You get the idea...

A lot of research later, some e-mails back and forth, and I found a school that was willing to grant me credit for some of the courses I had already completed, offered me fully serviced and safe residence on-campus (I was off-campus before), and has an awesome International Law Master's program. Instead of spending 3 years on my J.D. degree in the US, I could do the same degree in 2 years and so finish the same time I had originally expected to, then add on a year to do my Master's if I so wished.

, I could potentially complete 1 year there and then apply to transfer back to a Canadian school, which many students had already done. The school has a small population, with small teacher to student ratio. Since there were already a high number of Canadian students there, they offer some Canadian-based law courses, making it easier to move the degree back home after graduation (if I don't transfer before). And, to top it off, the school is located in one of the most lovely places I've ever seen.

So what's the problem?

It's all in Australia. And I'm going. This May.

And yes, I am happy :)

I'm going to post another FAQ, please feel free to ask me any questions you have. I'll try to answer as best I can, keeping in mind that I want to maintain some privacy. And on another note, thank you so much from the bottom of my blogging heart for all your wonderful prayers and concerns through the comments and emails - it really means a great deal. And whether I know you in the real world or not, I'd like to hear any positive and negative feedback.
Saturday, March 10, 2007

So, things on my end are getting quite crazy. And it's not to do with just school alone - but a much bigger and life altering change is in the final stages of being decided and completed, but until I have things in order I don't want to say anything more.

I know I haven't posted every single day but I might be away from my blog for another week or so, busy with arrangements. This event that will be happening soon is huge for me so I'm becoming increasingly irate (and irritating to others) but also prickly with excitement. I don't know if I decided right, but I prayed as much as I could and can do nothing more from this point. All I ask is that you pray/cross your fingers/get a rabbits foot/sacrifice a ------/throw a coin in a well (or the mall fountain)/wish on a star/start an online forum/find a four-leaf clover (not one from a Lucky Charms box) for me - compliance with any or all of the suggestions would be much appreciated and virtual high-fives and/or hugs will be distributed in abundance to show my gratitude.

And no, I'm not getting married (admit it - it was the first thing that popped into your head, wasn't it?).