38. Starting to work

Vancouver, Canada, 24.03.2017.

As announced in the last blog entry, it will not make a lot of sense for me to continue writing this blog as frequently as I used to. The main reason for this? Well, I won’t be doing that many extraordinary things in the future anymore. Starting this Tuesday, I actually started working for the BC Liquor Stores and it looks like some kind of everyday life routine has returned to my life. Which is a good thing because I wanted it that way and it may be a good foundation for the next chapter in my life.

So how were my first days at work? Well, honestly? It was great and I enjoyed every day so far. I met a lot of interesting and nice people and I already learned a lot about the BC liquor market and the company’s procedures and policies. Quite a few things are very similar or even identical to the working environment I got to know in Germany and England so not everything is completely new for me. Today, my line manager, who was also one of the managers in my job interview, visited the store I’m currently training in and we had a good chat about a few things. I think I will get along with him quite well in the future so I am happy that he is my line manager. He told me that I will start working in my own store on April 10th and that surprised me a little. On average, a store manager at Lidl Germany will receive roughly 6 months of training until they get their own store. At Lidl UK, the training of a new store manager takes less than these 6 months but is very rare that someone gets a store with less than 4 months of training. Now as a former Area Manager who has trained store managers in the past, I feel that I don’t need that amount of time to be able to do the job properly but only having 3 weeks to learn everything is a challenge. However, I’m not afraid of this and I think I’m be okay with this time frame. Of course I will not be as knowledgeable and experienced as my fellow colleagues after 3 weeks of training but if I have any questions or problems I can always pick up the phone and ask my current trainers for advice. Still, it feels a little bit strange to be be given this amount of responsibility so quickly right away….

Beer
Even at work, I find a lot of traces of my German heritage…. “Home sweet Home”…. 🙂

Before I started working last Tuesday, I moved out of Dawn’s apartement and into my temporary AirBnB suite here in North Vancouver. The transition was smooth and it didn’t take me long to pack and move my stuff. However, I also noted that I have already accumulated quite a few new things since I started living in Canada in January. On April 1st, I will finally move into my own apartment in the very east of North Vancouver and then I hope that I don’t have to move again anytime soon. Dawn’s cat Whippcream seemed to be a bit sad about me leaving the apartment when she sat right next to the last load of my stuff. Also, Dawn phoned me and told me that Whippcream seems to be looking for me in the apartment. I really miss her too because she is a lovely and low maintenance cat and she was a great companion to me during my stay at Dawn’s apartment. That is one of the harder things in life: To say goodbye…

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Whippcream sitting next to my stuff when I was moving out of the apartment.
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The fuzzy little girl sleeping on my lap.

Aside from me moving out of Dawn’s apartment and starting to work, nothing overly exciting happened since my last blog entry. With regard to my application for permanent residency, I got my university degrees translated and I also already sent copies of it to a Canadian certification agency. Once I have their assessment of my degrees, I will be able to apply for permanent residency but I think that will probably take another 2 or 3 weeks. But that is okay since I have enough time left here in Canada and there is no need to hurry. And what else did I do in the past days? Well, just the usual stuff that I love doing here in Canada: Playing Board Games, climbing, jogging, you name it. I’m really looking forward to go hiking again but I think I will not start with that until I moved into my new apartment. This weekend, Verena and I will be at the YukYuk’s one more time and we’ll also go and visit the carnival at BC Place (the big stadium in Vancouver). That’s gonna be a whole lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to doing that!

The Networks
Nice little game: The Networks.
Rainforest
Preparing for the Vancouver Marathon in the nearby rainforest.
BG
Is this the place the Trump administration referred to??? It’s right in my Neighborhood…

As there is not much else to report in the moment, this blog entry is a lot shorter than usual but that is okay. Let’s finish with another music advice. The following song is a truly great metal balad, performed by one of Germany’s best Rock bands. Absolutely worth listening to again and again:

Scorpions – Send Me an Angel

37. Long-term decisions

Vancouver, Canada, 11.03.2017.

When I came to Canada in January, I had basically drawn up two viable plans what to do:

1. The Gap-Year plan: Originally, it was my plan to to just travel through Canada during my Work&Travel year, to get a break from work life and to just enjoy my life. I thought about spending a few weeks on Vancouver Island, to drive to the Rocky Mountains again, to go up north to Yukon and then to drive all the way across Canada by car to finally end up in Newfoundland and Labrador at the end of the year. Of course, it was also part of this plan to visit all the sights and parks that were on the route from western Canada to the east.

2. The residency plan: This plan focused on trying to get a decent job somewhere as quickly as possible, to move there and get my own apartment, to then apply for permanent residency and thus to gain a foothold here in Canada. Of course, this plan is the more “responsible” and “mature” plan as it satisfies the common view that you are supposed to work somewhere and be a “good member of society”.  On the other hand, this plan is also less fun and not so much different from what I have been doing so far in my life. So not a great change, really.

To be very honest, I was totally unsure what to do initially when I arrived in Canada in January. I had no real preference for a plan although I clearly saw their individual benefits and drawbacks. However, it was not at all easy for me to weigh them properly and make up my mind what I really wanted. On the one hand, the Gap-Year plan promised to be more fun and it would reward me with a million priceless impressions and great experiences. On the other hand, this Gap-Year would then clearly be a one-shot thing and I would have to go back to Europe at the end of the year and it would become increasingly more difficult after this year to try to gain a permanent foothold here in Canada. So what do you do if you don’t know what’s right? I solved this problem by prioritizing the plans while not discarding either of them. Upon arrival in Canada, I decided to follow the residency plan first and to try to get a job quickly. Then, in case of an unfruitful job search, I was prepared to discard the residency plan in favor of the Gap-Year plan by the end of April. Why not earlier than the end of April? Well, Canada is mainly a cold and snowy country. So leaving the lower mainlands around Vancouver earlier than May does not really make much sense if you want to go up north and see a bit more of the landscape than just the white layer. Also, most of the parks do not open that early in the year and hiking is not too much fun if you have to do it in the snow. So basically the residency plan was my primary plan and the the Gap-Year plan was my “Plan B” or backup- plan. Now why am I writing about all this now? Well, my current situation has significantly changed in the last days and it looks like my primary plan has worked out well. But before I go into details here, let’s take a look at a few pictures first.

Buch
The third book in the triology. Overall, three very good books with a great story line but “The Chess Men” can’t quite keep up with the quality of the first two books. Peter May is a great author, you’ll like him.
Shells
A few shells I found when jogging on the beach.

Last week, my future employer, the BC Liquor Stores, finally received the last reference they needed to take me on board. So now I will start to work as a Senior Store Manager for them in North Vancouver on the 20th of March. However, before I get my own store there, I will be trained in several other stores nearby. So it looks like my primary plan worked just fine and I can now try to apply for permanent residency here. And this is exactly what my next step will be once I have settled down in North Vancouver. Next Monday, I will take a look at a few apartments there and hopefully find a good place to stay there. But I think that will not be a huge issue as I am not too picky about my living places.
Despite the current development, I have not at all given up on my Gap-Year plan yet. And if all goes according to my grand master plan, I don’t have to give up on it anyway. In case I get my permanent residency, I can always do my all-around-Canada-trip at some point in the future. So nothing is really “lost” and by pursuing my current plan I keep most of my future options open. I feel I can always take a Sabbatical later in my life and still do the trip once I managed to acquire my permanent residency and worked for a few years here in Canada.
Interesting side- note: Last week, I also received an E-Mail from Parks Canada telling me that I was chosen for an interview for the site-manager position at the Banff Upper Hot Springs. How unexpected. Last time I heard anything from this application, I was just buying my car. Must have been late January I guess. But there was no chance I would go to that interview as I had already signed the job offer of the BC Liquor Stores. Still interesting to see how long a recruitment process can take. Six weeks in between the end of the application process and the decision who will be invited to an interrview. That is long! Also, I am quite thrilled to see the success of my applications. In total, I wrote just 7 applications, I got invited to interviews 2 times, attended one interview and got the job. Can’t say I am not a bit proud about that. 🙂

Now that should be enought talk about work and me drawing up strange plans. Let’s write a bit about the fun things I did in the last days. I managed to read a bit and I also continued to go jogging regularly (see both pictures above). Now that I know that I’ll be staying in Vancouver a bit longer, I decided to sign up for the Vancouver Marathon on May 7th and do the first full marathon in my life. Seems really fitting that I will do it here in Vancouver on a stunning course that will also lead through Stanley Park. You can check out the course map here. Just a really really nice course I think.
Also, I will get a year membership in one of the climbing gyms in Vancouver and start climbing regularly. Climbing is not only great fun but I realized that it trains my upper body and arms a lot and I feel that this really benefits me. Up to now, I only trained my legs by running and completely neglected my upper body. Possibly not the greatest choice.

When it comes to regular fun activities, I managed to attend some board game evenings in the store in Ladner and I also visited the CatFe again twice. They have three very cute Main Coone mix breeds there, all siblings. They are really friendly and curious and two of them ended up on my lap, enjoying my cuddles. I expressed my wish to maybe adopt them but after having checked the currently available apartments in North Vancouver, it looks like this is not going to happen. Most of the landlords do not want any animals in their apartment and those who tolerate cats will only tolerate one or two. That’s pretty unfortunate because I think this band deserves a second chance. However, I guess that many potential new owners will be deterred by their current age as they are already 10 years old. Now that does not deter me but I know that most of the people look for cats that are still young. That situation makes me a bit sad but there’s not much I can really do about it…

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Harvey (female) and me in the CatFe in Vancouver.
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Budddy (male), who sat on my lap for over an hour, enjoying my cuddles.
BoardGame2
Mare Nostrum Empires. I played the green Greece, trying to fend off the Romans and the Babylonians at the same time.
BoardGame1
Castles of Burgundy. Second time I played it. Thanks to Stephan Valkyser, I already had a good insight into this game.

Last week I also managed to make a few trips to downtown Vancouver and I visited the Vancouver Public Library, the Vancouver Museum and the Space Centre. The library resides in a very interesting Colosseum- like building and it has a truly large collection, including some German literature. Unfortunately, they apparently also bought crappy books in the past as I found a copy of a rather infamous German author whose views are much questioned.
The Space Center is a nice place to go and their shows are really entertaining and offer some stunning views. So I can only advise to go there if you’re a bit interested in astronomy or Space exploration. Not the biggest or most thrilling exhibition but it is still worth to go there and take a look at it. Now I wish I could say the same for the Museum of Vancouver but I really can’t. Verena and I went there and we both agreed that this museum is rather boring and that it did not really entertain us. I have seen many better Canadian museums and I would not recommend seeing the Museum of Vancouver if you’re only staying at Vancouver for a few days…

Library
The Colosseum- like building of Vancouver’s Public Library.
Library2
Very surprised to find a copy of THIS book here in Vancouver. Not the best choice to invest the library’s money.

Space1

Space2
A very nice saying, displayed at the Space Center.
Car
Magnificent Oldtimer in the Museum of Vancouver.

Now that I’ve chosen to settle down in Vancouver, I suppose that I won’t be writing that many blog entries in the future anymore. Of course, I will still write about the exceptional events in my life but I also guess that it will start getting a bit more quiet in my life in the future. But that is okay, life can’t always be a rollercoaster ride. Thus, you should not expect so lengthy and frequent blog entries anymore. But we’ll see about that…
Ah, one last thing before I conclude the blog entry with my music advice: I just received my Parks Canada Discovery pass (see cover picture at the top of the entry) so I can visit every one of Canada’s National Parks for free this year. Anyone can apply for this pass and it costs exactly zero Canadian dollars as Parks Canada gives it away for free this year due to Canada’s 150th birthday. What a great gift! I wish I could do both: work in Vancouver and travel to see Canada’s National Parks at the same time. Not possible though. And again, it is always about setting priorities and making (long-term) decisions….

By chance, I stumbled over this interesting piece of music last week. And I simply put it on repeat and listened to it again and again and again. Until I got fed up with it at some point. But it is still a very good song so I happily share it with you here:

Aesop Rock – None shall pass

36. Canadian Entertainment

Vancouver, Canada, 02.03.2017.

Again, over one week has passed since my last blog entry and quite a few interesting things have happened. Although there are also job- related news to write about, I spent a lot of time enjoying my life in the past days so I had to choose the title for this blog entry the way I did. Okay, let’s start with the job news to get that out of the way first.

Last Thursday, the BC Liquor Stores sent me a job offer for the position as a Senior Store Manager. That was really quick and I was both, surprised and happy, about that offer. Of course I signed the job offer and I also prepared all the necessary documents for them to employ me. Now there are two more things that they will do before I actually get a contract: Firstly, they will check my criminal record and see if there are any entries at all. This should not be a problem as I’ve not yet committed any crimes. And secondly, they will contact my former Lidl superiors (=references) and ask them about my general performance and the situations I described in the job interview and the written assignment. Now of course I don’t know what my former superiors will tell them about me but I am pretty sure it will be a fair assesssment. In the end, there was no conflict at all when I left Lidl so I don’t expect my former superiors to be mad at me for any reason. But in the end, it is really up to them what they will tell the HR manager at the BC Liquor stores and I can’t really influence that. So now I will simply have to wait until they contact me again and then they will either offer me a contract or not. We’ll see about that. With regard to jobs, there is also another interesting development to talk about. BC’s government has finally posted its job advertisements for the Park Ranger and Senior Park Ranger positions. However, these positions are all seasonal so this does not really help me in the long-run. Still, I think it would be nice to work as a Park Ranger for some time and be paid for being outdoors in BC’s beautiful parks. Well, you can’t have it all, can you? The deadline to apply for these jobs is March 8th so I suppose there is still time for me to wait for a response from the BC Liquor stores before I need to do anything here. They should be done with their checks by then and if they choose to not take me on board after all, I can still apply for the Park Ranger job. We’ll see and I will keep you updated.

Now, let’s talk about the main topic of this blog entry: Canadian Entertainment. Yesterday, Verena and I finally went to an Icehockey match of the Vancouver Canucks at the Roger’s Arena. Originally, we already wanted to go to another game earlier this month but the ticket situation online was pretty confusing and ordering tickets through the official ticket center did not work at all. Also, the prices for weekend- tickets were much higher than the prices for yesterday’s match during the week. Still, we had to pay a little more than 60 dollars per ticket for seats of a rather lower category. That was quite the amount but the money was not wasted at all. It was a good experience to watch my first Icehockey match and to see how a sports match is presented here in Canada. Lots of entertainment, lots of commercials and in between that, you just watched the game. 🙂 As a foreigner, I was a little intrigued by the two national anthems that were played prior to this “ordinary” league match. As far as I know, this only happens in Europe if the country’s national teams play against each other. But I may be mistaken here… It was also interesting to see that there was no separation of the opposing fan groups, neither inside nor outside of the stadium. In European soccer matches, this would be unthinkable. Then again, European soccer fans seem to bee much more involved with their club, the team and the match. In contrast to that, there wasn’t much cheering or loud enthusiasm in the stadium yesterday. The people just seemed to be there to relax, have a good time, drink a beer and talk a little while watching the game. Just a very different attitude that also created a completely different atmosphere than the one I got to know when I occasionally watched European soccer in different stadiums in Germany. It feels like the Germans take the game a lot more seriously and they treat it more like a fight that must be won than an entertaining event. However, I have never been to a German Icehockey match yet so I guess it is not that easy to compare these situations. In the end, the German soccer fans are known to be very involved and emotional at times and I don’t know if the same holds true for the German Icehockey fans. Anyway, it was a good experience yesterday and I am open to seeing another Canucks match in the future if the ticket price is acceptable. In any case, I don’t think that it is worth paying a lot more for the so-called “good” tickets as we still had a pretty good view on our “cheaper” seats. Finally, is it worth mentioning how the game ended yesterday? Well, the Canucks lost 2:3 in the overtime against the Detroit Red Wings and it wasn’t overly exciting. Both of the teams do not have a chance anymore to go to the play-offs so I guess the outcome of the game wasn’t really too relevant to anyone in the stadium anyway. At least I did not hear a lot of complaining on our way out of the arena.

canucks-1
In the stadium: “Canucks are for everyone”- campaign featuring the rainbow- colors.

And what else happened entertainment- wise? Well, Verena and I had a great night out in Vancouver and shared one of the craziest “drinks” I ever had in my life. The “Checkmate Caesar” is a roughly 0.6 liter big drink that has the following ingredients: Vodka, Tomato juice, clam broth, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Also, the glass had celery salt around its egde. I gotta say that was one of the most ugly drinks I ever tasted. But the food “garnish” that came with this drink was really good: A grilled chicken, a big hamburger, a small hamburger, a sandwich, a brownie, some onion rings and five chicken wings. Take a look at this crazy piece of food/ drink:

ceasar-checkmate
The “Checkmate Caesar”, served at the “Score on Davie” bar/restaurant, West End Vancouver.
score
The “Score on Davie” bar, West End Vancouver.
west-end
Rainbow crosswalk in Vancouver’s West End: The citie’s LGBTQ- quarter.

After having eaten, we again went to a show at the YukYuk’s (this seems to become a habit) but this time the show wasn’t that good, really. No need to mention the Comedian’s name here but the 20 bucks per ticket were not at all well invested, unfortunately. Well, as everybody’s humor is different, this was likely to happen at some point I guess…

And what else happened in the last days? Well, I bought my own climbing gear (harness, shoes, chalk bag and belay device) and tested it already in our current favorite climbing hall. It all fits well and it wasn’t that expensive, really. So now I can save the money to rent the gear from the climbing hall and I also have my own shoes which is a definite plus on the hygiene side. 🙂

At the board game evening last week, I got to play a new game: Zombicide. Well, as the name suggests, the game is basically about killing Zombies and escaping from them after having completed a certain task. It is a cooperative game and although it is more about slaying Zombies than strategy, I like it and we had a lot of fun playing it.

floyd
One of the items belonging to my new climbing gear: The chalk bag “Floyd”.
zombiecide
Zomicide. Notice all the grey miniatures (= Zombie horde) on the board.

Finally, I also visited the CatFé once more because a friend of mine tolf me that she had seen Main Coons there. Now I have had Main Coon cats myself and I really like a lot about them: Their thick and fluffy fur, their high pitched voice, their size (they are the biggest cat race!) and most of all their friendliness and gentle behaviour. So I went to the CatFé to take a closer look at them. On that day, however, most of the present cats in the café had already found a new home so even if I wanted to adopt one, there was no chance to do so. Maybe an opportunity will arise for me in the future at some point to have pets again, who knows?

cat2
Maine Coon- Mix “Marshall” at the CatFé Vancouver.
cat1
Marshall’s brother.

Oh my god, over 1500 words again in this blog entry already? Time to quit writing I guess. But finally, as always, let’s have today’s music advice. In honor of the “Zombicide” board game, I choose to present to you:…. A rather strange Hardbass- song. Did I mention that I have a weird music taste? Probably…

Dr. Rude – Apocalypse