Week 1

Stuck In Toronto

After saying goodbye to my parents at the airport in Vancouver I took the 4 1/2 hour flight to Toronto with the expectation of transferring to my flight toward Raleigh North Carolina. But after being grilled by the customs official and being sent to Immigration for further processing I felt it was unlikely that I was going any further.

Sure enough I was denied entry because I needed the proper entry visa. This was a surprise to not only me but also to those at CRA and Duke. I found my way to a hotel and tried to get some sleep. Good thing I brought ear plugs. There was a sports team on my floor and a party outside my window.

Toronto Day 1 - Try number 2

You know there might be trouble when the title states Day 1. Today I worked on waking up at eastern time. Yikes it felt early even though it was 8am. I was able to print off a letter of invitation that Susan Rodger (Duke Professor) emailed to me in the morning. We decided it would be worth trying to get through with just this letter as Air Canada had rescheduled me for the same flight for this day.

Well it didn't work. I met the same immigration officer who wondered why I had not waited until I had all the right documents, but seemed to understand why I had tried again.

It was interesting as I met five of the same people today that I had seen the day before, and they all remembered my situation and helped me out... well except for the immigration officer. The Air Canada employee was able to reschedule my flight (again), the airport information guy called my hotel to find out when the next shuttle was to arrive, the shuttle driver was the same, and the lady at the hotel desk was able to get me a nice room on the first floor this time. (There is no elevator and it was a little awkward with two bags, a laptop and purse).The attached picture is the view from my hotel. What is extra nice is that the weather in Toronto has been warm and sunny.

Toronto Day 2 - Working on a Visa

Today I spent the morning working on the "paper work" that was needed for the visa. There have been so many people helping out to get this both at CRA and at Duke. Jewel, from the computer science department at Duke, was on holiday in Texas but that didn't stop her from helping me through the process, answering my questions and making sure I knew what was going on. Unfortunately the papers did not get fully processed today so I won't get the visa until Thursday.

Toronto Day 3 - Waiting for the Visa

Today was a day of waiting. I did not find out until 2:30 that the visa papers were on their way to my hotel. After reading through the papers and figuring out what I needed to do I was off to the airport to change my airline ticket to tomorrow. I decided to make an event out of it so I found a nice place to have dinner as well. One thing that I have learned about this process is you need to be patient. There is a lot of waiting. Waiting in line for the flight change, waiting in line for my dinner, waiting for almost an hour for the hotel shuttle. I left the hotel around 4:30pm and didn't get back until 9:00pm. Next was to work on the online payment and getting the receipt to print. After a few tries it finally worked.

Toronto Day 4 - On my way to Raleigh

The courier package came today just before lunch. I decided to try for the earlier flight so I left for the airport right away. I was able to change my flight so I could arrive 4 hours earlier. There was no lineup at customs and I got through without any problems. As soon as I was on the US side I made some celebratory phone calls to let Susan and my family know I finally made it through.

Susan picked me up from the airport and brought me to her house. I stayed at her house for the first night and met her family.

First Day at Duke

Today was a day for running around and getting settled in. Check in here... sign this paper there... pickup key, get photo taken, walk around campus several times... didn't I see that building before? me at my deskSusan was great! She was very organized and we had the whole thing settled by lunch. By 3:00 I had some groceries, visited my new bank, and had my laptop up and running. My room is a little bare so I will have to get creative. But there is time yet to make it more homey.

I am staying on campus in a 3 bedroom apartment. Two of my house mates are working in the computer science department, so I expect I will be connecting with them a lot this summer.

Memorial Weekend

I spent the weekend getting oriented with Duke and Durham. I checked out the swimming pool that is just steps away from our apartment. This will be a great place to cool down and get some exercise. Played a little tennis with my roommates. (Women's tennis is big here at Duke; they won the NCAA national title this year.)

Memorial day was spent driving around in a rental car to get some of the necessary living supplies that did not fit into my suitcase. Later there was a potluck in our apartment where about half the football team and various other friends and new friends of my roommate came together. The place was packed and everyone had a great time.