We’re off to Vegas, yes we are! But before that happens, I had to take care of several things. This week’s entry is brief, with several sections going on hiatus, and details events leading up to the start of the trip. The trip itself will be covered in future blog posts.
Don’t expect Diary #029 until after I return home though. I’m not sure what I’d even write about while on the trip otherwise.
Entry #028 (Oct 31 2021)
So, I almost made a fatal mistake this week. As I mentioned the previous week, I had kept on putting off the Study Abroad application because a lot of it was basically already done, and I just had to reupload them. There were a couple things I was aware of that I had not done, in particular the eClass course on going abroad the UAlberta side of things, but I actually sat down and got this done over the weekend as well — it was basically about things to watch out for while going abroad, and was very simple.
I finished reuploading everything on the uAlberta site, and then started doing the same on the Sophian site, but found out two huge issues. Firstly, the official transcript that I had uploaded the last time had my Winter 2021 grades still listed as Pending. They had accepted it then because those classes did not have their final grades posted yet, but this obviously wasn’t the case by now. And secondly, my health form required a chest X-ray done within the past 6 months before the application deadline. Due to the cancellation and re-application, my x-ray was now 7 months old!
At this point, it was late morning on Monday. I was flying out Thursday morning, *and* I had incoming Amazon packages I needed to sort of be at home for, that were coming on Monday and Wednesday. The Office of the Registrar at the University (where one could go to get same-day official transcripts printed before) had somehow either not reopened from COVID closures yet, or was no longer offering that service, and requesting an official transcript to be mailed to me would take 5-10 days. The deadline was in mid-November, which normally would have been fine, but I couldn’t exactly receive mail and process (scan and upload) it while I was travelling abroad!
I had also forgotten the procedure for getting the health certificate done. Thankfully, this blog saved the day here, as I looked up my previous post to find out what I did then, and it was apparently just a matter of me calling the University Health Centre, picking up a requisition form the same day, and then going to get my X-ray done the next time I was free two days later, and stopping by the doctor’s office the same day to get the form filled out. Easy right? Except when I called the University Health Centre, the lady on the phone said they were no longer issuing requisition forms like that (it was apparently a COVID-specific shortcut measure at the time because all in-person University services were suspended back then), though I could come down to the UHC, as early as the same.day, to pick up the form.
i decided I could afford to miss Monday’s Amazon package if need be, because I would still have two more days to retrieve that package from wherever it would end up if need be. I went down to the UHC in the afternoon, picked up the form from the doctor, and still made it home in time to receive the package. I could, technically, have made it over to the X-ray place before they closed as well, and only have the doctor’s visit left for the next day, but it would have been a moderate detour, and i wanted to get home to finish some of my leftover work before group watch. Plus there was the package that was still supposed to be incoming that day (it arrived in the evenin!), so I left the X-ray and the return to the clinic for Tuesday instead.
That, again, almost got in the way of my application. I went down to the X-ray clinic bright and early on Tuesday, but ran into a rather distressing “this clinic has no X-ray facilities, please try one of our other branches instead!” sign outside the clinic. It was the same place that I had done my x-ray last time, so I guess the machine was busted or something, but the entire clinic was closed so I had no one to yell at and had to take a half an hour bus detour to another branch instead. That worked more or less flawlessly, except that the technician said that the results would be available to my physician by the next day. Next day?? I couldn’t wait that long but stalled for time by hanging around for a couple hours for lunch and a rapid antigen test that I needed to be able to enter the States anyway, before going back to the clinic. One urinalysis test later, I sat before the clinician that I had seen the day before again, and he said the X-ray results indeed had already come in. Paperwork successfully get!
Incidentally, while my usual clinician is Dr. Cheng, the clinician that I saw this time on both Monday and Tuesday was Dr. Malhotra, and he was also the doctor that had filled in my form seven months ago for my first application attempt. I usually ask to see Dr. Cheng in person when I go there for some sort of a medical checkup, however requesting to see a specific doctor incurs a longer waiting period than just being put in the general queue, and I figured any doctor would do for this form, so I opted for the general queue on Monday. Anyway, we bonded over this being the only other time that I’d ever been his “patient”, and how we were both leaving on Thursday for some time — me to go to the USA, and him because he was becoming a father and had some paternity leave queued up. And at the very end of the paperwork on Tuesday, he waived the $70 fee that the UHC usually charges to fill out forms, and said that it was on the house! Huzzah!
That was quite the adventure. Comparatively, resolving the transcript part was a lot simpler — my University is part of a new program called myCreds (local) and I was able to sign up for that and use that to generate a digital copy of an “official” transcript within hours. You can view and download it for free but sending it with a digital signature costs a few dollars. I uploaded the (one-time offer) free version however, and it was accepted, so I avoided fees here as well.
Finally, I emailed the Sophian coordinator to make sure I had all the documents in place. She had an inquiry about my current courses (I had none) when she replied on Wednesday, but we cleared it up, and the overall application submission was accepted!
Ultimately, I’m extremely thankful I got all this out of the way before the trip, since all the deadlines would have passed by the time I wandered back home to Canada, if all goes according to plan. These last couple parts did make me regret not doing it earlier, but everything worked out in the end. The next phase is to see if Sophia University re-accepts my application (I attached my old acceptance letter from this semester as a supporting document), as well as seeing whether the University of Alberta allows outgoing exchange students to study abroad. The first one is tentatively due end of November, while the second is supposedly due right away, at around the end of October. An official announcement didn’t actually come right away though, and we instead got this email from our UAlberta coordinator:
I’m writing to provide an update regarding the viability of your desired exchange, tentatively still scheduled to happen during the equivalent to UAlberta‘s Winter 2022 term.
You may have already heard of last week’s news that the Government of Canada is no longer making an across the board recommendation to “avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice”.
This is an incredibly positive step that brings us closer to the point at which UAlberta might be able to allow your exchange plans to proceed but more work remains to be done before that could happen:
1) UAlberta‘s Public Health Response Team (PHRT) is currently reassessing UAlberta‘s travel policy for students, staff and faculty in light of the federal government’s advisory change and it’s my understanding that they plan to have a new policy in place sometime next week.
2) After the release of PHRT’s revised travel policy, a final decision regarding your exchange program viability will be made and communicated to you.
3) The final decision may have to be country-specific.
I will update you as quickly as I can. Thank you for your continued patience in the meantime and let’s continue to hope for the best!
Oh well, we’re in a wait and see mode I guess! I can’t imagine that they will unilaterally cancel all outgoing exchanges or anything like that since we’re having a ton of incoming exchange students this semester already. I know Japan’s government will be proposing some sort of return to normalcy road map in early November, as right now they do not allow incoming international students, so whether I do end up going to Japan or not probably hinges on that.
Due to aforementioned exchange application shenanigans, and the actual trip itself, I didn’t get a ton of work stuff done this week, but I did my share of tickets. The most significant thing that happened at work was that we learnt the identities of the three people joniing our team on Thursday. I only got one of the three right, and he was pretty much a shoo-in since he had already worked on the team in the past and everyone liked him. The second person was also a former team member, but from oh, 5 or 6 years ago, who had been seconded along with someone else to join the ServiceNow (ticketing system team from our team way back then.
He’s an interesting character — he’s known for being headstrong and argumentative, and I’m not particularly close to him, but I do like him and I do believe we share similar viewpoints on a lot of things. and he’s extremely hardworking on top of that. But really the exclamation point in this whole thing is that because they let our other former team member — who was the only other person working on ServiceNow together with him — go a couple years ago during highly unpopular budget cuts, the department now has no one left on that team.
It’s a highly ballsy, “middle finger” sort of move to the department because he often gets dragged into the middle of a lot of bureaucratic red tape and higher-ups trying to circumvent processes and making dumb decisions and stuff due to the ticketing system being very central to a lot of teams’ day-to-day work, and he hates that kind of stuff. In addition, as part of a budgeting review, the department had been also looking at other, cheaper ticketing systems to replace ServiceNow with, and regardless of what they were planning or had decided to do, he saw the writing on the wall there after what happened to his other friend and teammate.
I don’t think there’s an appreciable difference in salary either, so with all that, I laughed when I heard that he applied and was accepted because it makes so much sense in hindsight. The IT Service Management team in our department really doesn’t like that he wants out of being the go-to person for the software anymore, but they also refused to redo his job fact sheet to reflect a more generic role to do with ticketing systems, and instead insisted on leaving it as a ServiceNow specialist or something, So why would he even stay put once they started an RFP to look at replacements?
Anyway, the third member was extenal to IST (but internal to the University), which was a bit of a surprise. Kind of exciting, but at the same time, I was hoping a couple people form our junior team, the tier 1 Service Desk, would manage to pass their tests and join us, but only one person applied (most of them are 2-3 months new only, so they weren’t going to apply anyway) and they didn’t make it. Disappointing. Looking forward to meet the new guy though!
The last thing of note was that while I took Thursday off due to travel, I did my first day of my “working vacation” on Friday, basically going through the morning until just after lunch. It worked out fine and I finished all my work, though I didn’t have the time or willpower to completely keep up and on top of all the team’s incoming tickets like I usually do at home. In addition, I usually dole out tickets in the late night, sometime between 10-11 pm and 1 am or so, but I found this difficult to do because I was so tired by the day’s walking by then that I just started to nod off instead. Hopefully I’ll get more in sync with this over time!
A lot of what would normally qualify as stuff that goes under my “Life” section this week belongs on the Las Vegas blog post instead, so this section only covers Monday to Wednesday — and a lot of that was already covered under the School section above.
There are some spare details I can throw in though. For example, my Amazon packages from Monday and Wednesday were for these items: a 26800mAh power bank, a 4-port fast charger adapter, and a 256GB memory card. All three to support my DJI Pocket 2. I needed the power bank in particular as I had noticed during my trip to Calgary that my old one, which I’ve had since July 2014, was losing its charge really quickly now.
Also, I did take a rapid antigen test at a Shoppers Drug Mart just off of Whyte Avenue, and received my negative result for it, on Tuesday. This finally gave my vacation plans a green light and allowed me to start booking flights and hotels, as there was always the chance before this that I would be asymptomatic but actually afflicted with the virus. It cost $40, but the real cost was in the short timeframe that it needed to be done in before taking off, since that meant I couldn’t book anything concrete until a couple days before leaving. This did also encourage me to more or less try an unplanned vacation though, once I watched and saw how Las Vegas hotel prices fluctuate so and more or less dropped to a low about 48 hours before check-in time.
And finally, my paper proof of vaccination arrived. It still wasn’t really a card, more like a big coupon I had to clip and fold up, but that’s okay. For lunch on that day, I stepped into a random restaurant next to the Shoppers Drug Mart that required proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to dine in at. I had both with me since I had just come out of testing, and I was shown to a seat right in front of a really weird noodle sculpture that bobbed up and down (at least, the noodle and chopsticks part) in front of me the entire time that i was eating.
Lastly, I was hoping to get the 4th Dunman High yearbook scanned before I left for the USA but this was not to be. It’s still sitting at 3.5 because it takes soooo long to scan each one. Hopefully I survive and can come back to finish this, though.
Due to the impending/started vacation, dreams this week were basically nonexistent. This is likely to remain the case until I arrive back home. The vacation itself is already the dream!
Oct 25 2021
- I had a school related dream, and while I don’t remember the exact details, I remember feelings of yearning from being a final year student and, as part of the graduating fourth-year class, entrusting an event that our school held each year to the care of the new incoming first-year students. It made me wish I was a first year student again.
- There was also another event that had a photography device with three different parts or aspects to it, one for each of the existing school years (2nd-4th), where each aspect would automatically take pictures of the students in each year that participated in the event as the device walked around the venue grounds.
- There should have been a fourth aspect that was supposed to take pictures of the 1st year students too, but for some reason it was missing or not yet built. Being new, they had no idea anything was wrong of course, but we had to improvise the event and use one of the other existing aspects to overlap and handle the first year students, and this improvisation involved me hastily installing some video cameras on the device that was walking around.
Oct 27 2021
- I had a dream about booking hotels, where I was confused and had to unbook and rebook a hotel at some point because their name kept flipping back and forth between two names that were basically one letter off from each other, and I didn’t realize it was the same hotel at first.
- Besides that, I don’t remember much other detail about the travelling portion of the dream, except that the booking and possibly trip were for two people and not one, and I likely shifted back adn forth between both people’s perspectives at different points in the dream.
- There was also a map or book that we could enter, and that loaded five different versions of a small grassy map that basically fit on one monitor screen. I wasn’t viewing the scene through a screen however, I was actually in the scene itself. There were animals on each page (or at least on some of the pages) and they responded to my voice, and I had an objective to guide them somewhere or lure them into a particular formation.
Oct 30 2021
- About all I remember is finding a different coloured penguin plushie from the three that us siblings have at home in real life. The three we own have different coloured hats, and in my dream they were part of a collection of seven, and I found and acquired #2 in the set, a penguin with an orange hat.
Oct 31 2021
- I remember a girl standing on stage with a guitar slung around her body, singing a song called “One More Come” into a mic in front of her for an unknown audience. She had a nerdy look going for her, between her short hair, her thick-rimmed glasses, and her outfit in general.
- Later on in a separate dream, I dreamt about sharing a dorm building (different rooms) with some people I disagreed with. In particular, I saw two guys whom I disliked playing a version of Twister with two girls that were newer to the building. Instead of everyone sharing the same floor mat, the floor mat was divided up into four sections so each player had their own personal rectangle they needed to find a colour in, however interference was allowed, and so the boys would try to use their hands to block or swat the girls’ hands as they tried to find the right coloured circle to touch, or use a nail to try to hurt the girls’ hands.
- I called them out on it, then shrugged and said that as long as everyone was consenting, I guess. I said I liked the game too but wouldn’t play with such asinine rules. Also for some reason all the colours looked to be various shades of brown and so that didn’t seem fun.
- I went out, and later on the way back, i noticed policemen outside the door ready to break in, and I assumed that they were after some of the people I disliked because a complaint of some sort had been lodged. That door was also a vehicle exit door, and they stood back a bit with shields at the ready to watch as first a bus drove out the door, and then a large truck or cement mixer.