In September 1998 I graduated from Tehran University, and, naturally as breathing, without even thinking of other options, I began making plans for continuing studying overseas. In those days, there weren’t web applications- you had to write to the university you were interested in and ask them to send you an application form by mail. Plus, my transcripts were held by the Ministry- in Iran, state higher education is free, but your transcript and degree are held by the Ministry until you can prove you have worked an equivalent number of years, or pay a large some of money to them.

By sometime in 1999, my transcripts and degree were free, my applications for certain universities in Canada and Australia ready to be sent (Europe too expensive- America too much hassle with visa). In the same year, while I was at the ministry of foreign affairs to stamp my transcripts, my eye caught a small English vacancy ad in a local newspaper.

In 2000, I had postgrad admission from an Australian university in Brisbane (I think it was called Queens or something) and the University of British Colombia- both with partial funding. I had also started working with refugees, after answering to the ad which I had seen in the mfa.

After a lot of hanging around the embassies of these two countries, I was refused a student visa by the Canadian embassy. The clerk in the Australian Embassy told me not to bother applying- I wouldn’t get a visa- even though the Director of Studies there had faxed them and told them he wanted me.

The officer in the Canadian Embassy who rejected my student visa application told me I should immigrate- that was the suitable option for me and my family. So being the good girl that I am, I trotted off to Damascus and lodged an immigration application- that was early 2001.

Then we got our medicals for Canada in summer 2002. By then, I was five months pregnant, and still working with refugees.

In 2003, my husband, baby daughter and I became landed immigrants in Toronto.

in 2004, I applied for uni again, this time Public administration at Carleton university. Grace a working with refugees, I knew then I didn’t want to continue with English Literature, discussing whether Jane Austen had period pains when she wrote Emma, or whether Shakespeare was gay- I wanted to do something real. I had also completed the forms for Manitoba university, but for some reason I didn’t send them.

In 2005, I was rejected by Carleton. By then, I was pregnant again, and I didn’t care much.

In 2006, I did a refugee course in York university, Toronto. Seated in the cool lecture halls, I thought again- this is where I should be- I am wasting my time outside.

In 2007, I got admission from Dalhousie, Halifax, for International Development, and Ryerson, Toronto. But my son, born in Iran, had no visa, and I didn’t want to stay separated from him in Canada for an indefinte period of time.  so I wrote to Dalhousie and Ryerson and asked to defer my entrance for a year, citing family reasons. Ryerson asked for four hundred dollars, Dalhousie agreed with my request at no extra cost.

In May 2008, after a nerve-wracking six-month wait to get my son’s visa. we all arrived in Halifax.

Three days ago, I saw that OSAP had approved to lend me 350 dollars a week (slightly above the poverty line) for the duration for my study. They have not included the third semester, and I foresee another tedious bureacratic and administrative hassle with the OSAP officers before I get my full loan.

But anway, I am getting there. Slowly. Classes will start on 4th September. I don’t even know what International development is about, whether I will enjoy the classes or not. And still there is the prospect of separation with my son (but not indefinte) looming in front of me. But I am getting there. I`ll be there in September.


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