Hi everyone! I am a 26-year old new graduate nurse. I am Asian-Canadian. No, I wasn't born in Canada. In fact I moved from Asia in 2005. I come from a very traditional male-dominated culture (which is now starting to change, thank God!) and my father decided to move the whole family to North America. I had just finished my first bachelor of science degree. I won't get into specifics, but it was pre-med. I pride myself in my academic acheivements (translation: i am a nerd, and proud of it). I graduated with honours, mainly because I spent all my college life burried in books. I missed out on clubbing, partying, drinking- all the fun stuff that 18 to 20 year-olds do just so that I can get into a top medical school in my home country. By Spring 2005, I did just that. I walked across the stage, graduated with Honours and qualified for a scholarship to one of the best schools of Medicine.
Less than a month later, I left it all behind and caught a plane to a place 6000 miles away, a place I know nothing of, other than that it was 10X colder than where I am from. I cannot deny that I felt a sense of regret. After all, four years of hard work, and 3-hour-sleep nights down the drain. But that's how it works in my culture. The head of the family decides for everyone. You are always your parents' children until you marry- only then do you leave the house, and make your own decisions. Need I say that I am not going to raise my kids that way? I want them to be strong, independent, able to critically think and advocate for themselves. Yes, I have taken in the North American culture immensely, but not without challenges. I am in what sociologists would call "in between two cultures" and yes, it's confusing most of the time. I am in constant conflict of whether I am Asian or Canadian.
Anyway, I digressed. So, I moved to Canada, tried to look up medical schools and saw that most universities will not accept my pre-med degree because I come from a third-world country and the level of education is not at par with first world education. At that time, I felt discriminated against. I mean, my university was recognized abroad- at least that's what the Canadian universities told me during my numerous trips to the registrar's office to get information- but here's the catch, I need to re-do three years of my pre-med degree and then try to get into medical school. So basically, they wanted me to repeat most of it. That was probably the lowest point in my life. I had always wanted to help people, make a difference in their lives. I wanted to heal and not just find cures. I felt that it was in my heart and destiny to be of service to other people. Being brought up as a Christian (and yes, I am still practicing), it's not uncommon to want to follow the ministry of Jesus- to be selfless, to love those who are poor, and outcasts of the society, and at that time, I felt that I ca only do that as a physician; or a missionary but my dad would never allow that.
Anyway, knowing that I had to basically re-do my pre-med, I had to consider my options. Not to mention that the cost of medical school in Canada is so much more than how much it would cost in my home country. My father (a single dad) also told me that he would not be able to help me financially because the money we had saved was barely anything (with the conversion rates and all). We had nothing in Canada. We had no house, no car, and a little bit of money- that's it. We had to start from scratch. It made me appreciate all that I had back in Asia- mind you, we weren't wealthy. We were pretty much middle class, but I never realized the value of money until we immigrated.
Med school was definitely not a possibility- at least not in a few years. It was a depressing first year in a new country. It was very humbling. I had to find a job in retail, any job at all. I got one that paid $6.50 an hour. The minimum wage at that time was $8.00 but because I had no "Canadian experience," and because I needed to start earning right away, or we wouldn't have enough money for rent, food, and bills, I took the job. My sister and I worked in retail and paid for half of the rent and my dad shouldered the rest. We survived.
In addition to financial stress, there's cultural stress as well. Like I said before, the culture I was born into did not value individuality, confidence and independence- three essential things for success here in Canada. I was in total shock- culture shock. It was a terrible transition. Probably one of the most difficult things I had to go through in my entire life. Sleeping 3 hours a night for four years seemed like a piece of cake. I learned things the hard way. I had to get out of my shell, try to be confident and take risks. Our family experienced a lot of conflict while we were all adjusting. My father saw our independence as defiance. My sister and I secretly blamed him for all the hardships we encountered in this new country. I cannot count the times I said to myself, if we hadn't moved, then I would be in med school, I'd still have my boyfriend (we didn't survive the long distance relationship), and we didn't have to be so miserly.
Eventually, I decided that blaming won't do anyone any good. I decided to take a big risk and say that I am now changing my career path. I am going to be a nurse. It still is in-line with my passion for being of service to others. It needs hard work, patience, passion and humility. Now that I think of it I think I was meant to be a nurse. I'll get into that....
Because I only had a part time job, I had lots of time on my hands. The daily bus I ride on my way home passes by a nursing home. My aunt and uncle (our only relatives here) advised that in order to adjust better, and get Canadian experience, volunteetring is recommended. I did just that. I volunteered at the nursing home. That is when I fell in love with gerontology. I decided that I want to become a geriatric nurse. By the end of the year, things were starting to get better. I have applied and have been accepted to a renowkned nursing program, and at the same time I was offered a job as a bank teller. I also got approved for a student loan. Yes, finally the difficulties are lifting.
I met my now hubby at the bank. He worked in the sales department. We didn't start dating until over a year after because I just wasn't ready to give up on my LD bofriend... but he gave up on me. I started dating shortly after that- my first experience of dating haha! I drove my now hubby crazy. See, we don't date the same way where I'm from. The guy pursues the girl and he has to remain faithful to her even when they aren't officially together yet. Courtship usually lasts 6months to a year. Anything less than that is frowned upon. Strange, I know. But where I'm from that's just how things are done.
In March 2007 he proposed to me. I was in my second year of nursing school and loving it! He put my ring on the collar of the puppy he got me for my bithday. It was the sweetest thing~ I still remember that moment vividly. We tied the knot late 2008, and it has been a great adventure ever since. It's definitely not easy since we come from totally different backgrounds. Everyday I learn something new about him that makes me fall in love even more. But at times I just wanna strangle him hahaha! He's reading over my shoulder and laughing! But hey, at least I'm honest right? :)
Earlier I mentioned that I was meant to be a nurse. Yes, I believe I was. I work with the sick, the mentally ill, and the elderly. I am living the ministry of Christ. And I'm proud of it. I love my job. I genuinely care for my patients. Mind you, tt can be difficult sometimes and people can push buttons that you didn`t even know you had. but being a nurse is all worth it because it is my calling and I'm glad I found my niche. I took a detour but in the end it all came full circle.
So why am I writing? This blog is meant for journalling purposes. I want to have a chance to reflect on my day-to-day life as a nurse. And to have something to look back at when I want to remember the journey. Great if you guys find it helpful, but it's generally just my story :)