Friday, September 10, 2010

Getting Settled

Apparently this blogging takes more discipline than I'd first anticipated!

It's been a whirlwind since my last post. I'm now in Santa Monica and just finishing up my third week of classes. It's been a pretty steep learning curve from start to finish with a LOT of unexpected road bumps along the way. Living alone - really, really alone - without anyone within a few thousand miles - after so long has been challenging. It really isn't easy to meet people in a completely new situation, but early days yet, and if nothing else, this is proving what an actually social being I am at heart. And truly? Thank God for technology and the Internet - it's been a lifeline!

It seems that nothing about this trip/adventure has gone smoothly. Getting the Visa was an exercise in itself.
How to Get a Visa
As a Canadian, this was a relatively painless task - except that no one was able to tell me the entire process. First, you get an I-20 from the school you are attending. Then you have to go online and pay a fee. Then you go to the airport and fill out an I-94 before going through customs. You have to bring the I-20, the receipt, and all the documentation you needed for the I-20. Then you get a little square of paper stapled into your passport and you get your passport stamped.

How to Get Mail
Now. Here's something you never would have guessed to be a problem. Getting mail in the US. And you would be like me - bereft of all mail delivery. I had 3 parcels full of law texts, notes, dvds, and bits of home sent. ONE of them arrived. TWO were sent back to Canada. And I have received NO mail. Why, you may ask? Well, apparently, the US addresses things differently than Canada - and no one at the post office here has ever received a letter from Canada before... In Canada, you write Apt #- Street # Street Name, city, zip. In the US, it's Street #, Street Name, Apt #, city, zip. But why, oh mail Gods, did I receive ONE parcel and not all THREE when all THREE were addressed the same way and arrived on the same day????

How to Get a Phone
Getting a phone should have been easy, right? No. Apparently, they've never dealt with a Canadian either. Four hours. It took four hours for me to get a PHONE!! First of all, even though I have a social security number, I don't have an American credit rating - which meant a $400 deposit. Even though part of the Visa process involves getting a document from your bank declaring that you have enough money to be here in school for the year! *sigh* And then it wouldn't except my credit card, even though it was from a US funds account, because the mailing address for the bill had a postal code instead of a zip code - don't even ask....

How to Get Sick
Should you decide to go to school in the US - do NOT sign up for their health care. Go directly to Blue Cross. Sooooo much cheaper. For me - $1200 cheaper.... But you do HAVE to have health care....

Ok. Here is where the good stuff starts! I'm taking five classes - Trademark Law, Mass Media Law, Financing and Distributing Independent Films, Video Game Agreements, and Women and the Law. So far, I'm finding them all fascinating and engaging. They are either totally practical - FDIF & VGA, of a great blend of cases, discussion, theory.

I am still working out the kinks of how the program actually runs - like I thought I was supposed to take 10units for fall and spring and then finish up in the summer, but apparently, some think maybe I should have spread the requisite 24 units over 2 semesters??? I think this problem is solved....

Santa Monica
Is a great town! It is UBER-clean. Everything I need is within walking distance - including the beach and the pier! And a GREAT comic store and the third street Promenade AND a great candy store. The weather is a little cooler than I'd anticipated - who knew the Pacific was COLD??? But that means I can comfortably jog every day! I am a bit taken aback by the number of homeless people here. By and large they are very polite and it's just personally distressing. I want to do something, but I haven't figured out what I can do.

I've got way too much of it, so me being me, I'm getting nothing done. I'm hoping to sign on as a student editor with one of the school's legal journals. I'm hoping to pick up some casual work - for free - no worky on the Visa!! - to get some practical experience. I'm joining every school association that looks interesting. The problem with being a poor, non-working student is that I have the time and no money... so I need to fill the time. And of course, I'll be trying to work a couple of fan conventions - just got back from one in Vancouver!

Work in Progress
I'm currently beginning research for a paper looking at Women and Pornography - comparing the law in the US and Canada, so look for some thoughts on that coming up soon.
We had a great class in Mass Media about Privacy - so I'll likely be thinking and blogging a bit about that - I have an old paper I'd really like to re-work.... actually a couple in the mass media field.

I am intrigued by the Privacy issues currently being stirred by the proliferation of cross-posting social media. In particular, the current brouhaha on LiveJournal over the crossposting that anyone can do with supposedly private posts. This is causing quite a bit of upheaval at that site for people who actually use the site for private journalling.

I'm also going to be working on two humanities-focused papers. Re-working the conference paper I did in Dallas in the summer on the Apocalypse in Supernatural and writing a paper (already accepted for publication) on the treatment of the disabled other in Supernatural. So you may see some thoughts on those topics as well.

And that's a wrap for now....


  1. Wow -- that is a lot to deal with just to go to school. And the credit thing? *shakes head* It's stupid even if you DO have a credit rating. Don't even get me started on the health care system. We in the middle of being screwed over by our own insurance. Again.

    I know what you mean about the homeless situation being personally distressing. Even in a little town like Lawrence there are a lot of people homeless and some are mentally...not all there. It breaks my heart, but the most I've been able to do so far is work at "Links" which is the equivalent of a soup kitchen that hands out free meals to anyone.

    I'm really excited to hear about the different papers you're working on -- especially the Privacy one. I agree the ruckus on LJ is a bit worrisome.

    Thanks for keeping this up! It's so fun to be part of your adventure -- vircariously.

  2. About time I commented after you letting me know about the blog, huh? ;-)

    I had no idea it would be so difficult for you and all that mess! I think we have this idea in the US that Canadians can come and go as they please, without the usual hassle. The most I ever worried about was my student Visa in England for 4 months, and I just lived without a phone, ever going to the doctor, even though I was constantly sick with sinus issues, and didn't work. I also lost 5 pounds (of weight, not money) from having to budget to EAT. Ah, memories.

    At least Santa Monica itself and classes sound great. I loved Santa Monica the brief day I was there with my hubby. I'm sure he would be especially fascinated by your Video Game Agreements class. He had wanted for so long to break into that industry.

    I'm ready any time to read anything you have to send me *cough cough*, and sounds like I'll have to bug you more if you have so much free time. :-)

    P.S. I should hear back from Three Ravens Books by October 15th. I am writing like a maniac!