Chronicles of a Canadian abroad

Well, as “abroad” as a Canadian living in the unofficial-Canada-adjunct that is Minneapolis gets, I suppose.

My first week in the Twin Cities was, as expected, a ridiculous flurry of activity. I think this is the first night I’ve had since arriving where I had no specific plans, and/or no specific plans-to-stay-home that went to hell. I’ve also spent a good deal of time helping my hosts get their upstairs bathroom set up, knowing that four people wrestling for one bathroom every morning is the kind of grating activity that might lead to ill will amongst us. So I’ve been plowing a good deal of my spare time into that project, in part to help pay my way while I’m still living on the charity of others. (In other part, because the end goal involves a gigantic clawfoot tub for awesome baths that I’m totally going to take!)

Jodi’s still in Nova Scotia. I miss her terribly. She’s finishing up her last week at her job, and working on getting the house and car sold and possibly finishing her courses — she’s taking chemistry and physics through correspondence via the local community college so she doesn’t have to deal with classes, only the proctored tests. However, she might end up having to withdraw come time to rejoin me, if she can’t get all her requirements done before leaving and if tests can’t be proctored here. Which would be a minor shame, but it would be like having had a practice run through the courses.

My first week at work started out with something like an explosion, with a hardware failure that let me prove I’m competent but didn’t really let me shine, since most of the problem was resolved by replacing said hardware outright. I’m making friends and influencing people though, which is nice. I figure at this rate, it’ll be at least another week before people start getting the impression I’m a decent steward of their digital dependencies. Have been making a checklist of things I’d love to accomplish while I’m there, and if I get through half of them in my first year, people will worship me, I figure.

I have a local bank account now, but spent a half day waiting in the social security office today only to be told it’ll be four to six weeks before I find out what my number is. Work’s trying to figure out what to do with me in the meantime. Looks like I’ll be cashing cheques manually. I’ve put a star in my phone’s Google Maps for easier navigation back to the place… figure I’ll be needing it soon enough.

Speaking of which, my damned iPhone 4 is now a brick. Well, not literally, but might as well be. I had gotten it through my last job, sort of — paid the difference in an upgrade cost from a Blackberry, and they kept paying the data package through Rogers. Rogers is unwilling to unlock the phone right now, until the next upgrade goes through and my old job has the new hardware. Anxious to get working, I tried to unlock the phone manually since it’s already jailbroken, and ended up accidentally putting it into a state where it’s deactivated and wants to be activated via a Rogers SIM card before I can get to Cydia to install SAM to “hacktivate” the carrier over to T-Mobile. Since that’s pretty much impossible at this point, I was in a situation where I could either wait several weeks then call Rogers and pay them $50 to unlock the phone, pay $140 to unlock it through some third party (YES, before you say it, that’s the cheapest you can get a Rogers phone unlocked anywhere!), or buy a new phone.

So I ordered a Google Nexus 4 and used a loaner phone until it arrived. I am in love with this thing. Gorgeous, slim, powerful, huge-ish. YOU KNOW, LIKE ME. Same form factor as a Galaxy III, but unfortunately can’t use the existing and ubiquitous cases for it because all the holes are completely wrong. So I have an Android case on order. Hope I don’t smash it to crap in the meantime. I’ll hopefully even get to blog from it sometimes, maybe, possibly. Swype isn’t exactly as good as a hard keyboard, but it does make typing significantly faster so far.

I’ve already eaten out far too often — four times — but have had excellent food each time. Mancini’s and Gasthof Zur Gemütlichkeit both stand out as amazing places worth a visit if you have the extra cash to spare for the atmosphere. Unfortunately, my gut is still getting used to the local fare and probably the water, so I haven’t had too pleasant a gastrointestinal experience lately. But that’s to be expected with my squirelly gut I guess. I’m on Omeprazole, so this is becoming second nature to me, I guess. But I’m by no means in as bad of shape as, say, Sarah Moglia, who’s in really rough shape lately (GO TELL HER SHE’S AWESOME U GUISE).

This hardly even covers half of what’s gone on here. But yeah. It’s been pretty life-changing thus far. Hope I don’t run out of spoons for it all. And I feel the need to do some catch-up blogging now, before the entirety of my list of things-to-blog goes completely yesterday’s news.

Chronicles of a Canadian abroad

13 thoughts on “Chronicles of a Canadian abroad

  1. 3

    Teri had issues with the water here at first to when moving down. She even had issues with bottled soda if it was poured into a glass with ice. We bought a Pur water pitcher and she drank primarily out of that for a while and slowly became used to the water here. I am glad things are going well so far and hope Jodi gets to join you soon.

  2. 4

    Yay you’re here and safe!!! I hope the food and water stop trying to kill you soon. Welcome to America, and here’s hoping Jodi’s here in no time!

  3. 5

    Gastof is good but I think the Black Forest is better.

    Also: hi!!!!!! I’m glad you made it and I hope Jodi’s here soon.

  4. 6

    Toughen up buttercup! Dats what bottled water is for, either that or boil it, or yourself, I’m sure one of those works. Allegedly.


  5. 9

    Welcome to Minneapolis. Gasthof is fun, but be sure to give Pyscho Suzi’s a try. Large, strong rum drinks, and a side order of kitsch. What could be better?

  6. 10

    Welcome to the Twin Cities!

    Restaurant suggestions:

    St. Paul:
    Fasika – Ethiopian
    Khyber Pass – Afghani
    Everest on Grand – Tibetan/Nepali
    Christos – Greek
    Babani’s – Kurdish
    Happy Gnome – BEER
    Muddy Pig – BEER

    Moto-I – “Japanese” they brew their own sake, which is awesome, food is ok but not all that authentic
    Fuji-Ya – Sushi
    Al Vento – Amazing Brunch (all you can eat, bottomless mimosas)
    It’s Greek to Me – Greek (obviously)
    Muddy Waters – Hipster joint, decent beer selection
    Ghandi Mahal – Indian, I have it on good authority from an Indian friend that this place is pretty authentic

  7. 11


    Just a slight warning. Stay on top of the government re your SSC. When I went south on a similar visa it took forever to get the actual card but I was able to get them to give me the number over the phone so I could get paid.

  8. 12

    When I moved to Louisville, KY from Calgary in 98 the company had me apply for a SSN number on a house hunting trip two weeks before I moved down. They gave me a piece of paper with the number right away. Have things changed that much since 9/11?

    TN Visa or H1B? I remember dealing with immigration people at airports and borders. Biggest bunch of aholes I ever met in my life. We rejoiced when we got our green cards knowing we wouldn’t have to deal with those f’s anymore.

    Now we hope to win the lottery or find an equivalent job to be able to go home to Halifax. It’s tough being a hard core atheist, pro gun control, pro single payer health care, pro choice type in this country. We are pretty home sick…..

    (Almost moved to Minneapolis) in 2000 but the hospital that offered me a job didn’t sponsor green cards)

  9. 13

    Glad the move has started off er, um, busy, at least!

    I’ve always admired people who can pick up and move far away from home. I hide that admiration with jealous mockery of their choices.

    “Gorgeous, slim, powerful, huge-ish. YOU KNOW, LIKE ME”.
    I laughed out loud.

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