Friday, September 30, 2011
It's now been three weeks almost to the day since I arrived in Vancouver.
For those that don't know, I am here because I was accepted into the Faculty of Education's Professional Development Program at Simon Fraser University. There were other programs I was interested in, and even others that I maneuvered myself toward applying to in years past, but Simon Fraser seemed like the place for me for two main reasons:
1) It's a condensed one year program which allows me to return to Seoul in the late summer of 2012.
2) It's a program with a great reputation and one that a dear friend went through only a few years back with wonderful things to report.
I have to say that I consider myself very fortunate to be in the program. I'm humbled by it and by the people enrolled in it with me. I say this from the experience of having applied to 2 rather exclusive grad school programs (one in B.C. and one in New Brunswick) a few years ago and getting denied by both. I guess life takes you to a point where such things are finally possible.
I don't know how much I'll be saying in detail about the program, though I feel each day that I want to say a lot. It's only been three weeks on campus, but in that time, I can honestly say that I feel as though I know most of the 31 students and 2 professors much better than most friends, colleagues and teachers that I've known for years.
We've already become a tight-knit group, and dang - there be some very interesting people. There are 2 Natalies, 2 Stephanies, and 3 of us Daves. I am okay with being "Calgary Dave", there is also a "Vancouver Dave", and we are rounded-off by "Astro-Dave" who is significantly younger than I, yet only 2 years from obtaining his PhD in Astro Physics. Like I said, I'm humbled to be included in this program.
I don't want to say too much, also partly because I'm going to be journaling about program specifics in another format, but I will say that this is the most introspective group I remember being a part of. SFU really wants us to bring ourselves to our teaching. I think this is good. Each day feels like a gift to be able to head into school and engage with like-minded folk who just want to make education better, should we be so bold to aim for such lofty things.
The Simon Fraser Burnaby campus is located at the top of Burnaby Mountain, and on a clear day, one can see all the way back West toward Grouse Mountain and down into the Eastern part of Burrard Inlet. There was a notification on the university homepage the other day of a bear sighting on campus. So far, I have seen the following animals on campus:
a) Two deer behind the education building
b) A coyote crossing the road in front of the morning bus near the football field
c) A barn owl five feet from the road stretching its wings to take-off into the brush
d) A harbour seal (not on campus, but hiding between boats at Granville Island)
In winter time, the mountain top is nearly always shrouded in clouds, but I'll take the views while they're here. I've rocketed down the mountain hill at over 60km/hour on my Brompton a few times, but haven't yet garnered the energy to make it up the hill in the mornings. I might try it once on a non-school day just for poops and ha-has, but I think it might be best to leave the extreme mountain climbing on bikes to those with mountain bikes. Every day I watch guys on professional 28-speed road bikes climb the hill while standing in their lowest gear. I wonder if it would even be possible on my wee folder. A friend of mine has broken two chains already on his hybrid, so possibilities look grim.
I did manage though to take the bike out a couple of nights ago on a quick jaunt down to Stanley Park and the sea wall. I'm pleased to announce that from my house to Science World at the East end of False Creek is only 20 minutes by casual bike, and it's only 45 to English Bay via Burrard Street Bridge. I rode by the Lost Lagoon with a big fat grin on my face. I really want to make sure that I take advantage of my time in this city. I need to do my best to be by the ocean, to get in a kayak, and to climb some mountains.
Lots more to say, but for now it should suffice to report that I'm feeling lucky to live here, to attend this program, and to be taking the time needed to make this career a reality.