Usually, when I speak or write about my work and education history, I start from when I transferred into UBC from my second year in university. I don't often go into the times before that because the story gets too long and personal. So I thought I'd write it here, and you can read during your free time while sipping a cup of coffee... or tea... or hot chocolate... or wine, or scotch? A beverage of your choice :)
The Story of Two Gap Years
It was right before finals season in my first year of university. I get a message (on MSN Messenger - how nostalgic is that?) from my mom that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This happened shortly after my parents had divorced. I was the only child. My mother was in Tokyo and I was in Boston. To me, it was just wrong to not fly back and be there for support (for... I don't know, chores? Shopping and cooking and stuff?) so I flew back to Tokyo. At the time, I decided to put a hold on pursuing my university degree.
My first year back in Tokyo was one of support and determination. My mom and I were both determined that we would get rid of this thing. (And we succeeded! More like my mom succeeded - I was just shopping and cleaning and cooking and folding 1000 cranes and stuff.) The treatment lasted for approximately a full year and consisted of chemotherapy (to make the cancerous growth shrink in size), an operation (to take it out), and radiation (to get rid of every last bit). Fortunately, it was nearly the best case scenario where there were minimal side effects from the chemotherapy (hair loss was the only thing, and watching it grow back is fascinating actually) and the surgeon who did the operation was one of the best in the field. So we were extraordinarily lucky. Except...
Money became a bit of an issue. The treatment bill was certainly not something to sneeze at. And in addition to that bill, my tuition and boarding costs were very hefty (even with a scholarship) because I went to a private school. So my circumstances had changed over the course of a year: going back to school had to be reevaluated because of the associated costs (I ended up withdrawing from university as a result).
My second year in Tokyo didn't have a goal compared to the first year. I felt lost at this time in my life. I worked part-time for two English-teaching jobs so that I don't just end up being a money sink. I was thinking of things like "I should've put in more effort into all the assignments and studied more for the exams and actually went to class" and "Would I ever go back to higher education again? What career opportunities have I missed? Will I be teaching English like this for the rest of my life?" I had lots of regret and anxiety. It was at this point where I stopped using social media because I couldn't bear looking at my high school peers move onto second year and eventually third year (and going to career fairs and doing internships and whatnot). It felt too much like only my clock had stopped and everyone else's kept on going, and I was going to be "abandoned". This may have been one of the reasons I lost touch with a good chunk of my childhood friends.
But life is weird. Long story short, circumstances changed and we suddenly had funds again. My mom encouraged me to go to school. We thought more carefully this time. That was when I had a flashback - back when I was still in high school and talking to friends and acquaintances about where to go for college, I remember hearing some people say: "Canada is pretty cool."
I was done with the East coast weather (disturbingly hot in the summer, blizzards in the winter) so naturally my eyes went to British Columbia. I found UBC. There, I found the Cognitive Systems program. When I read the description I thought "Yup, that's what I'm going to major in." It was love at first sight.
And so I applied, got accepted (yay!), flew to Vancouver and did just that.
I'm Candice and I doodle with the intensity of the doomguy.