Ex Pat Mamma

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Financial Woes, Visitors and a Well Deserved Holiday

Yes, I've been gone a while. Life, busy as always, became rather overwhelmingly stressful last week. On Tuesday, I arrived home from yoga, all calm and relaxed and looking forward to a quiet night, opened a letter from University of Toronto to discover... a bill for 5,470.01 dollars! Yes, that is correct, five and a half thousand dollars!! For a degree from which I graduated in June last year, a degree I completed over a year ago. And if my balance isn't cleared by the end of April, they will send it on to debt collectors. Meanwhile, they would withold my records, meaning should anyone bother to ask, I couldn't prove I had ever set foot in UofT, let alone earned a doctoral degree.

I knew it was a mistake, but it is one thing to know it is a mistake and another to convince bored, generally untrained and mostly discourteous administrators on the other side of the Atlantic of the fact. "But it says on the system...." I emailed. I emailed again. No reply. No reply. By Thursday, I was getting so anxious that I called, to wait on hold and my great expense and then finally talk to a very rude woman who said I should check the system in a week to a week and a half to see if had been fixed. I asked her for her direct phone or email and she told me to just use the general information lines. To which, of course, no-one replies to the email and the phone bill costs a fortune for someone abroad. Well, gee thanks. I asked for her name, which she reluctantly told me was "Mrs Vince" but a quick search of the University directory showed no such person and frankly I believe she was lying.

Still, I received an email on Friday to say they had sorted out the mess and that my balance was again at zero. It read, I quote the entire message:

Your student account has been adjusted and the balance on the student accountis $0. Disregard the invoice.
xxxxxx xxxxxxx (name concealed to protect her job).

NO APOLOGY!!! No explanation. Simply shocking.

I took the opportunity to order some copies of my records so that if they screw up again, I can at least prove that I studied there. My balance is in fact at 0.02CAD credit because of yet another administrative error (a typo in this case, I believe). I await the cheque.

Some friends of hubby arrived from Italy on Friday to stay, so we have been showing them around and generally entertaining. We're all off to Reykjavik tomorrow, where hubby and I will spend Easter. I don't particularly like Reykjavik, but I do like the idea of a wee holiday and a whole week without having to get up at 7am :) I also need to try to buy a double duvet: something that it is not actually possible to buy in this town; and I might splash out and spend 2 days wages on an ugly maternity bra that actually fits. One with room for breast pads seeing as I continue to dribble... (Sorry if that grossed anyone out!) The five hour drive to get there (and back) doesn't appeal, especially since there will be five adults packed into the RomabĂ­ll but you can't have everything.

My belly continues to expand (I have long since stopped referring to the same as my "waist"); hubby calls me "Balena" (whale in Italian). If I get any bigger, I'll be getting my own postcode.



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