Supervision–Will it make you or break you?

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Do not underestimate the power of supervision. If you get a shit supervisor, you will have a shit experience.

Starting off as a Social Worker in a new country comes with many challenges and I had heard so many different things about the work ethic in this country. I heard that people are constantly in a rush and are constantly being worked to the bone. So when I started working in frontline, I was appalled at the expectations of a Social Worker and the tasks that my supervisor would spring onto me. I didn’t know if that was just the norm and I was just supposed to put up with it or if it was just over the top and ridiculous. Fellow colleagues would say ‘that’s just how it is’, ‘they want your blood’, and ‘they expect you to devote your life” to this work. I couldn’t believe it. I had never experienced this amount of slavery in all my years of social work. Add to that a supervisor that’s not supportive…well that’s just asking for trouble.

There was a reason why I never went to my supervisor for support, and instead went to colleagues and other Assistant Team Managers. I was not getting the support that I needed. But I did not know if that was just me or just the way it was. I needed clear and concise direction, but how was I supposed to tell my supervisor that? How is a new Social Worker, who is new to the country, who is on probation, approach her manager and say ‘hey, you talk too much, just give me a clear and concise answer’. I just didn’t have the guts to do it.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I only recently had come to realize that I was actually being bullied by my previous supervisor when SW photothere was a change in supervision. She never offered me any praise or told me I was doing a good job. And I didn’t realize how much additional stress this was adding to my life and in turn, spilling into my personal life. I didn’t know if I was doing ok or if my practice was adequate. I just didn’t feel confident. My reviews were tainted with expectations I didn’t meet and concern as to whether I would pass my probation. And the worst part is…that I conceded. I caved and said that I was disappointed in myself, when in fact, my supervisor played a large role in not fostering my skills and not helping me to become successful.

A good supervisor should foster an atmosphere of growth, learning, personal reflection and respect of the mentor-mentee relationship. So when it comes to supervision, be clear on what the expectations are of the supervision meetings and what you want out of them, and be honest. Make it known that you want some time devoted to getting to know your cases. I can’t stress this enough. I thought I had advocated for this, but I should have been more persistent because the more you know your cases, the more prepared you are for CP Conferences and LAC Reviews. Speak with your colleagues and ask them about their supervision and what it was like when they first started. Ask for help. And also speak with your Team Manager. I have a Team Manager who is incredibly supportive, empathetic and positive and I wish I had gone to her sooner.

I finally feel like I am now moving forward and progressing in the role and feeling confident. It is really unfortunate that I didn’t have this current supervisor with me from the very beginning because I would have had a much more positive experience. It’s amazing how much of an impact the previous supervisor had on me and I wish I had said something earlier…but I just didn’t know any better. Being a Social Worker in a new country was very intimidating and I didn’t want it to come across like I couldn’t handle the job. But I can handle the job and I do have the skills and I will make mistakes. I have learned to be gentle with myself because it is a very steep learning curve and of course, I am only human…and so are you.

 

Pressure is mounting…

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I’m not keeping up with my blog as much as I would like to and it’s not necessarily because I don’t have the time or don’t have anything to write about (ok so maybe a little bit is about lack of time). In reality, I have so many things to write about and tweet about–whether it’s reflection of something happening in practice or with my colleagues in the office…but I am incredibly nervous of writing about them! I don’t think I’m going to write anything damning about my LA or colleagues, but I’m still trying to work out how to express myself while maintaining my anonymity.

As for work…well I’m definitely starting to feel the pressure. I’m slowly getting to know my families, but it’s overwhelming to go into complicated situations where not a lot of progress has been made, and then having to make an assessment on whether a child is at risk of significant harm. There are so many factors at play and I’m slowly trying to wrap my head around everything.

I sometimes question whether this role is for me…I do think that the experience I gain in this role will be highly beneficial for me in my career and even in my personal life. But the question is…will I enjoy it? There are days where I want to pull my hair out and throw my computer out the window because the documentation is endless. The timescales are endless. The conflicts are endless. The phone calls are endless. The emails are endless. It’s enough to drive anyone mad no matter how organized you are. What keeps me going is that the team I work with is highly supportive and will pitch in to help each other out…and that’s not something that is very common. I’ve had days where I have been so overwhelmed and I have been able to talk to colleagues about it and they are quick to lend an ear and ask how they can help. And much to my surprise, the manager, whom I thought was not going to be helpful has actually turned out to be the opposite. She often talks about having a work life balance and doing what I can to achieve this…which also includes not taking your work home with you…which I am trying so hard to avoid.

I have noticed that some social workers can be critical when it comes to various situations. Maybe I feel this because I’m too new in practicing social work in the UK and maybe because most of my career has been more of a supportive and counseling role or perhaps this is more of an assessment tool which allows the social worker to place the children’s needs first.

I am not sure what 2014 has in store for me and have not made any resolutions other than being happy and really understanding what being happy truly means. One thing I know for sure is that if I am not happy, it will be time to make some changes!

Have you made any resolutions or goals this year with regards to your career? Maybe penciling in a little bit more time for self care perhaps…since social workers are so good at preaching it and not practicing!

Whatever your goals are…I wish everyone happiness and peace in 2014!

My First Taste of Social Work in the UK

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I have officially been at work for a few weeks now and it was quite an exciting, overwhelming and frustrating experience full of meeting various team members, signing up for training, learning the computer systems and learning the policies and procedures of social work. Oh and also, I have now developed an allergic reaction to the word “timescales”.

I was looking forward to working until my supervisor told me in my first meeting that I would either “sink or swim”. In that one second, I went from feeling optimistic to a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. Now, I am under no illusion that this work will be easy. I know it will be hard work, but I did not expect those to be the words that I hear from my supervisor. Needless to say, I began to question just what kind of supervision I was going to receive. To add to this feeling of dread, all of the social workers of the team told me that they spend many of their evenings and weekends writing court reports to meet timescales. I was not happy to hear that this job is going to suck my personal life. I have been very fortunate in my social work career to work 9-5 jobs (with the occasional late evening where there is a crisis) where I can leave work at work. My evenings and weekends are MINE.

I also began to think about some of the issues that plague social work in the UK–the lack of qualified, trained social workers who work in child protection. One of the reasons has to be due to a lack of training on the job…based on my experience. And it could just be particular to my local authority. During the orientation/induction period at all of my previous social work jobs, there is always structured training where various aspects of my training have been scheduled for me and I am shadowing various social workers on the job. Not in this case. I had to figure out and arrange pretty much everything on my own…which to me was such a waste of time. I’ve had limited opportunities to shadow other social workers on visits because either they don’t have visits I could attend…or they have actually forgotten that I was supposed to shadow them! This perhaps is a testament to how stressed and overworked many of these social workers are in their jobs—but also frustrating for me as the new social worker. My co-workers have been supportive and helpful whenever I ask questions but there is a definite lack in the importance of training, especially when we are seen as the “professional expert” in child protection. Luckily, there are other new social workers to the team, so we are able to vent to each other.

Over the next several weeks, I will be getting my caseload. I am already trying to find good organizational techniques to keep me on the ball! If you have any helpful tips on staying organized and managing time…please let me know! I want to make sure that I stay on top of all these timescales and never ending meetings.

On top of this stress, I have also had a few lessons on driving a manual car from my SO. Word to the wise…you must have to really love each other to teach/learn driving from your partner!!  For some reason, I was incredibly petrified, but I think that did have a lot to do with the fact that my SO put me on some back road where only one car can get through…clearly his standards were just a little too high! And we definitely have different definitions of yelling too ;) He claims that he never yelled, but I beg to differ. Eventually we found a quiet road with a small roundabout at each end and I just drove in figure 8′s shifting from first to second gear. I felt much better!

Thinking about doing yoga and meditation to cope with the demands of my job…just thinking about it….

I Made It!!!

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I arrived in England just over a week ago with my Tier 2 work visa and it only took me a year to get here! I’m also happy to report that I had absolutely no hassle from Immigrations at the airport. I sent off my HCPC application in October 2012 and arrived in the UK with my work visa in October 2013. Now, that’s not to say that it will take everyone a year for the process because it may happen quicker for others. Maybe you are on the Tier 5, or you were able to do a job interview via Skype from your home country, or maybe the council you interview with is on the ball and very efficient, or maybe you had a smooth application with HCPC.

In the last week or so I have opened up a bank account, sent off my Canadian driver’s license (eek!) and passport off to the DVLA in exchange for a UK provisional driver’s license, requested application for a National Insurance Number (NI Number) and registered with a physician. I am still using a pay as you go SIM card, but will apply for a more financially feasible phone plan once my bank account details are in place.I won’t get my Canadian driver’s license back, but my passport will be returned. I have to wait until I get my passport back before I can post my NI Number application because although I took photocopies of the ID page and visa of my passport, it also asks for a copy of the entry stamps I have had to previously enter the UK.

So, slowly but surely, everything is coming together. I start work pretty soon and am really looking forward to it. The past year has been such a roller coaster of emotions, because on top of getting a work visa, I was trying to work on my long distance relationship with my SO where we went from being 5000 miles away to all of a sudden living together!! Definitely some growing pains happening there!! But I’m beginning to feel more settled and attempting to establish my identity here. I have joined a few social groups on www.meetup.com which is such a great way to meet people. As I’ve moved around, this site has always helped me in creating a social circle.

I’m excited about Halloween and have already carved my pumpkin. I’ve heard that trick or treating is growing in popularity here so it’ll be fun to experience this in the UK. Also, I’ve been hearing a lot about Guy Fawkes Day where people light fireworks and gather around bonfires which celebrates the fact that King James I in 1605 survived the attempt on his life…and that attempt was made by Guy Fawkes. So this day celebrates that plots failure. Apparently, people in Britain burn effigies of Guy Fawkes. Should be an interesting night!

And as usual…I will continue with posts about my experience of living life as a Canadian and a Social Worker in the UK!

Happy Halloween!!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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I get a lot of great feedback and questions from readers (which I love to get!) and so I wanted to compile a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions. I will continue to update this post as I get more information, and please do not hesitate to tell me if any of the information I posted is incorrect!

What was your experience like with HCPC and what information did you provide?

I have written a blog post specific to my experience with HCPC entitled “Registration with HCPC” which outlines my experience and what information I provided. You should provide any and all information, which combined, shows how you have met the Standards of Proficiency outlined for Social Work that is listed on their website. Many of the SoP’s were satisfied with the Bachelor of Social Work course outlines I provided.

Would HCPC accept someone with a Bachelor of Social Work degree or someone who is finishing up their degree in Bachelor of Social Work?

To my knowledge, a student who is in the process of obtaining their Bachelor of Social Work degree cannot apply for HCPC. You do not need a Master of Social Work to register. A Bachelor of Social Work should be sufficient, provided you can meet the Standards of Proficiency for Social Work.

Should I apply to HCPC once I have been offered employment?

If you definitely know that you want to move to the UK and have the financial funds to do so, then don’t wait. It is up to the employer whether they are willing to wait the 4+ months it can take to register and also go through sponsorship and visa process. I say the more you have prepared, the better position you are in.

What is the job market like for Social Workers in the UK? Are there only jobs in Child Protection?

There are many jobs all over the UK for social workers; it’s just a matter of whether you have the skills and qualifications for the job and the appropriate visa. If you are applying under the Tier 2 Visa, it is limited to social work jobs in a “Children and Families setting”, so I solely focused on the area of Child Protection. I never explored what “Children and Families” entails other than Child Protection. But I have noticed many jobs in Mental Health and Adult Care. If you are applying under the Tier 5 visa, then you can work whatever job you like and recruiters can assist you in this aspect.

Which visa did you have when you were in the UK and applying for jobs?

I went to UK as a regular tourist where I could stay for a maximum of 6 months. I have shared my experience with the Immigrations officer at Heathrow airport upon my arrival in the blog post entitled “My Lovely Experience with Immigrations”.  I had to return back to Canada to apply for Tier 2 when I got a job. You cannot switch from one visa to another while you are in the UK. You have to go back to your home country. I did not qualify for the Tier 5 because I am past the age limit for it.

Please refer to the UKBA website for accurate and up to date information on visa requirements.

The job applications ask if I am eligible to work in UK? I need a visa and sponsorship…how should I answer this? 

I always checked that I was eligible to work in the UK…because I was…even though I needed a visa and to be sponsored. Usually the application does ask if you need a visa and/or need to be sponsored. Even if it doesn’t ask, I would right it somewhere in the application.

Can I volunteer while I am visiting the UK?

No, legally you are not allowed to volunteer if you are visiting the UK as a regular tourist/visitor. When I explored this, various organizations wanted to check my status in the UK. You are not even allowed to babysit, but people still do it.

Do I have to go to the UK and apply for jobs? Are employers willing to interview via Skype?

I never explored this option, but I am sure that some employers would be willing to do this.

How did you arrange for accommodations when you got to the UK?

My SO is a British citizen and resides in the UK. So I did not have to arrange any accommodations for myself.

The UK is so big, how did you choose where you wanted to work and live?

Since I would be living with my SO, who was already established, I chose to work close to where we would live-near South London. Do you want the busy city life or the countryside life? Look at the cost of living of various areas. How long would your commute time be? London is your best bet if you don’t want to get a car for your job. Every other area will require use of car. There are many LA’s who are familiar with the sponsorship process and are willing to sponsor. Look at OFSTED reports on the various LA’s to see how they are performing.

How do I contact Local Authorities?

Every local authority/borough has a website with a job section.  If you google London Boroughs, you will get a list of all the boroughs in London and then you can search each borough website. Many job posts will have phone numbers of managers that you can talk to about the position.

What were the interview questions and what did you study?

I have shared my interview experience in my blog entitled “Post Interview Meanderings”. I was asked very typical interview questions regarding my experience with various situations. I did a lot of research and inquiring about the relevant legislation/procedures and reports important to social work to show that I was familiar with their lingo. I was not asked any specific questions about legislation. There are many websites that provide helpful information in preparing for interviews.

Were there any UK agencies that assisted you with the transition of moving to the UK?

No. I did everything on my own and it required a lot of hard work and motivation. Recruiters are only helpful with obtaining locum positions (which is great if you are working under the Tier 5 visa!) but they do not help with the visa. They were of no help to me and only told me to apply directly to Local Authorities. I did a lot of googling!

How did you use Social Media?

LinkedIn and Twitter allowed me the opportunity to connect with Social Workers in the UK, but Twitter was especially helpful in keeping on top of current issues that affect social work. I love my Twitter network! Please refer to my blog entry “Making Connections in the UK”.

Can you suggest any resources for moving and practicing Social Work in the UK?

Google really is your friend here. I took information from bits and pieces of various sites and started putting things together…don’t worry…it will eventually start to make more sense! There are many, many recruitment agencies for social work but I will not list them here because I do not want to promote any of them. You just have to start contacting them if that’s the route you want to take.

http://www.canuckabroad.com/ 

http://www.meetup.com

http://www.basw.co.uk/

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/

http://www.nspcc.org.uk

**Please note that I am only an expert of my own experience and the information I have provided is based on my own research and knowledge. Please contact the appropriate authority for verification**

Visa approved

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I’m excited to report that I have received my Tier 2 work visa! What a relief…and it happened quite quickly. I completed my application online and was able to set up an appointment at the Worldbridge visa office a few days later in Canada. I went into the office and was advised that the application process can take 10-15 business days. I had paid extra for priority and was then told that it would then take 7-10 business days. They went through my application to make sure it was completed and I submitted current and previous passports, bank statements, passport photo and letter of offer from my employer. They also took my fingerprints and photo. Here’s what happened…I went to the visa office on a Monday and had my application and documents couriered to the office in New York on the same day. Tuesday I received an email saying that my documents were received. Wednesday I received an email saying that my visa was issued. Thursday my passport was returned to me via courier with my visa which is valid for 3 years. Voila! So quick. The visa cost 815 US + priority fee + courier fee, so that is mucho $$$. But I have booked my flight and am returning to England in 3 weeks. I was not able to fly back right away because the visa has a “Valid from” date.

I can’t wait to get back to the UK and to my SO where I can actually feel like we are starting our life together…although I know that the journey is not over yet.  Even though I have been issued the work visa, whether I am permitted to enter the country is at the discretion of the immigration officer at the airport. I am fairly positive that everything will be alright, but based on my past experience with immigrations…it ain’t over until I pass their test!

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy my time at home with family and friends…and also enjoy the luxury of long hot showers and a dryer!!

I’m Leaving…on a Jet Plane…

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Don’t know when I’ll be back again….

Yup, that’s right. I don’t. I finally got word that my sponsorship application was approved. Thank God. Now I can finally apply for my Tier 2 work visa. I had reviewed the paper application before and thought that I could just apply for the visa online and then book my appointment at the visa office in Canada to submit my additional documents and biometrics. Turns out there are some slight variations on the online application and I have to account for the past 10 years of travelling. Oy. I roughly know where I have travelled, but I’ll need to confirm dates via the stamps on my current and previous passports. I’ve done many quick trips over the US land border and I don’t know how the hell I am going to account for those ones. Oh yeah. I also have to account for my previous passports and luckily I do have them all (thanks dad!). Also I don’t want to actually hit the submit button while I am still in the UK because God forbid I have any issues with where I applied from. I am travelling home this week so will be able to get the process moving. It’s incredibly nerve wracking making sure I have all the accurate information on my application.

I do want to be a little more clear on the visa situation…I initially when to the UK as a tourist/visitor…the same as when we go to many countries just to do typical travelling/touring/visiting family and friends. You fly to your destination and go through immigrations at the airport as a regular tourist who is visiting the country. Although there is no paperwork involved, you get a stamp in your passport which is essentially the “visitor’s visa”. Typically you only have 6 months to be in a country as a tourist as is the case with the UK…the same applies when people visit Canada, they can visit for no more than 6 months. You cannot switch from one visa to another while you are in the UK. So essentially you cannot switch from a visitor’s visa to a Tier 2 visa while you are in the UK. You must go back to your home country to apply.

I wanted to speak to someone at the Worldbridge office in Canada because the UKBA website is not user friendly, and I wanted to be sure that I was submitting all the necessary documents. Worldbridge is the affiliate agency to UKBA that handles visa applications in Canada. They charge a whopping $3.20/minute to speak to someone in their call centre!! $3.20!!!! Totally ludicrous. So I emailed all my questions to Worldbridge instead, thinking I was smart. So they replied back only with links to the UKBA website for each question. Yah thanks…not helpful at all.

My bags are somewhat packed…well I have one suitcase inside another as I plan to bring even more stuff back with me to the UK. I have no idea how long I will be home for, so packing is a bit tricky. I do still have some clothes at home, although I can’t remember which ones, but I will take a chance and hope that they are weather appropriate. I’m really looking forward to seeing my family and friends and picking up some work shifts as well…and hoping that I’m not away from my SO for too long.

In addition to that, to date I’ve had a total of 4 invitations to interview, 3 of which I attended and was offered 2 positions. I did consider forgoing my current job offer and going with the one in London, but it just does not make any economical sense for me at this time. It’s just that…I love being in London! And I thought since I am not living there, the closest thing I could do is work there…but I would pay through the nose for the rail and I would literally have no life because my commute would be too long. I’m actually very happy to know that I am marketable and if I don’t end up liking where I am working, I do have the option of applying elsewhere.

Jeez…is this going to be over soon….???

Patience. Patience. Patience.

Road Trip!

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SO and I are off on a road trip to Scotland tomorrow for 10 days…mixing in a bit of remote island life with the hustle and bustle of the city life. We have the first 5 days planned and then the rest is up in the air…left to the universe to devise a plan for us. I am looking forward to the peace and quiet surrounded by wildlife and beautiful nature. Our wifi will be limited, but I’ll be taking my laptop just in case I feel inspired to blog while I am there.

So if you don’t hear from me for awhile…it’s because I’ve lost myself in tranquility…

Waiting…and more waiting…

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and I wanted to provide a quick update on my happenings! I have officially signed my contract with the Local Authority and they have applied to sponsor me with the UK Border Agency. This process will likely take a month and then I will fly home and apply for my work permit. So it seems like I won’t actually be working until October.

I was feeling slightly anxious about the position because I will doing long term work with children who are in care and so I met with my new supervisor to introduce myself and to find out more information. He was very friendly (which was a relief) and quite transparent and I felt at ease with him. The work sounds very exciting and will cover a whole range of areas with the children. My one main concern is that I will be attending court which sounds so scary! I was assured that I would be provided training and that once I have done it once…it won’t feel as daunting because I’ll know what to expect. Still…I am not looking forward to that because it is my biggest fear…being interrogated on the stand! But I am going to have to look at it as a learning experience and an opportunity to face my fear. If I can accomplish this feat, then I will feel like I can do anything!

The supervisor and the team seemed supportive, but one never knows if it’s real or it’s just the façade of a team that is just trying to welcome the newbie. I will not know until I’m actually there. The only unfortunate part is that I will likely have to get a car. It was not stipulated anywhere in the job description so I can’t be forced to buy one…but it will make my job and life difficult if I am reliant on public transport and the trains to visit children who are potentially all over England. If I had been recruited on to a different team, then I wouldn’t need a car because the assessments would only be conducted on children and families who live within the boundaries of the local authority and the public transport system is very efficient to assist with that effortlessly.

Buying a car is just another added cost that will significantly dip into the already low salary I will be receiving. In comparison to Canada, social workers here get paid significantly less…so that was a shock to me. Buying a car means learning the roads…and possibly taking the manual test…aaaahh!!!! So many new things to learn!

But all I can do for now is enjoy the rest of the summer while I’m not working (I know…cry me a river right?) before it’s time to fly back home and then fly back just in time for the cold weather :)

The Lovely French Countryside

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We recently went on a four day trip to the area of France called Carhaix, along with a few other couples. OneDSCF0101 of our friend’s has a family cottage in the countryside and was so kind to invite us along! I was expressing my excitement of “popping over” into France to which my friend replied “It’s only France!”. Well…see he is speaking like a true Brit who doesn’t appreciate the luxury of having Europe as its next door neighbour. In Canada, flying from one end of the country to the other is about 8 hours! All we have at our doorstep are neighbouring provinces and the US. Well I wasn’t going to let him poo poo on my excitement!

Our journey began on a 12 hour overnight ferry ride from Portsmouth to St Malo where we indulged in the amazing food at the buffet. We spent hours in the buffet eating prawns, crab, pasta, and the main course of roast beef along with drinks and eventually we shut the place down. We even had some champagne to toast to a few celebrations, including my successful interview!

The beginning of this trip pretty much set the scene for our whole trip…amazing fresh food and good qualityDSCF0111 wine!

We were so exhausted by all the good food and company that it was time to head to bed. We had a cabin for two with a bunk bed. Other than feeling a bit claustrophobic in the room, I was pretty impressed because it had an ensuite shower!

As we arrived in France and embarked on our two hour drive to the cottage, I was a bit weirded out on the roads in France because my SO was driving his British car on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the right. It was strange but it felt so much more comfortable and I was noticing that I felt more relaxed…finally we were on the right and proper side of the road and the motor way was so spacious!

What we experienced was four days of bliss and it’s amazing what a little peace and quiet does for the soul. The weather was in our favour and it was blistering hot. Minus the day we made it to the beach and the storm approached an hour later! French bread, wine, cider and crepes…oh the crepes!!! Our friend had described his cottage as “rustic” but he slightly underplayed it. The photo of the cottage I have shown is the original cottage they bought and it really is just one big sitting room on the main floor with a massive fire place. It was DSCF0103beautiful. The top floor was another plain space which they had filled with beds. The larger cottage (which you can just barely see in the photo with the garden) was more spacious and had a very relaxed and homey feel to it. We relaxed, laid out in the sun, went to the beach and even went to a French music festival. Elton John was supposed to be playing at this festival but he had cancelled due to illness. Many people were saying that he would never had showed up anyway. It was mainly French singers and shockingly the drinks were reasonably priced. It was also my first exposure to one communal urinal for the men. Yup…it was one long continuous trough, and while the ladies were waiting in line to use the loo, the men just came and did their business all around us.

I had learned basic French in school because I am from Canada, ofDSCF0105 course. I attempted to communicate in French, which was fun, but the difficulty was when they spoke back in French. They talk just too damn fast! I could pick up a few words here and there and got the gist of their response, but I really wished I was more fluent in it.

We really didn’t want to leave but everyone had to go back to work and well…I…had to go back to doing nothing! Before we boarded the ferry, we had lunch at a restaurant called Les Bruyeres…the food was amazing and so was the service! And I actually tried the escargot which was delicious! We didn’t manage to get any grocery shopping done although I desperately wanted to take some pre-made crepes home with me.

We came back on a different ferry that was a 6 hour journey from Caen to Portsmouth. I really didn’t think about dealing with immigrations when we came back, but as soon as we hit the immigration line…I became incredibly nervous. The officer went through my passport page by page and asked if I had been questioned at Heathrow upon my arrival in April. We had to pull over so that he could ask more questions. I was so nervous and was recalling my traumatic experience at Heathrow! This differenceCidre between this experience and the one at Heathrow was that this officer was actually nice and transparent. He told me not to worry but that he has to ask me questions to understand what I am doing in the country. What he explained to me was that I had been granted a 6 month visitor’s visa in April, but since I left the country and came back, I would be issued a new 6 month visitor’s visa. The concern was that many people leave the country to extend their visitor’s visa and end up staying in England continuously and illegally. I hadn’t even thought about that and just assumed that I would carry on with my original visa. He expressed concern that I had done a lot of travelling in the past (as shown by stamps in passport) and could possible keep extending my stay in England. I was asked if I was working in the UK, how I am beinThe Storm's a-brewing at the beachg supported etc. I explained that I have interviewed for jobs and am well aware that I have to leave the country to apply for my visa. I had provided him with a copy of my return flight for September and was advised that my passport has been flagged and that I had to be on that flight back to Canada in September. This might have been a scare tactic but I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize my stay in England. The unfortunate part is that it means we likely won’t be travelling outside the UK before September because again, I don’t want to risk anything.

So here we are…back in England…and we can’t wait to go back again! I’ll be dreaming of other fantastic places to visit in Europe…once I start working…and start getting paid…

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