Vancouver: The Second Coming

When I boarded the plane for YVR on August 31st I knew exactly what to expect but also had no idea what to expect at the same time.

I had the privilege of living in this beautiful city for four years between 1998-2002 and probably have my first vivid childhood memories here. I remember 9/11, I remember going to the aquarium almost weekly and I remember running to greet my grandmother at the airport every time she came to visit.

My family and I have been lucky to return back on holiday on three or four occasions since and it’s nostalgic to visit old friends and places. But what would coming back to live here really be like?

I was apprehensive and nervous before I came but so far I am grateful for the opportunity and glad I challenged and convinced myself to return for ‘the second coming’.

Now exactly two months in, I try to piece together my clearest observations so far…

On Vancouver Island circa 2000

The setting

A lot of what I say in this post is already horribly cringeworthy and cliched so excuse me.

However, you simply cannot get bored of the views of the snow-capped mountains and greenery that surronds this breathtakingly stunning city. The 2010 Winter Olympics propelled Vancouver as a tourist city and house prices have rocketed.

But with all cities that are expensive, they are expensive for a reason. Vancouver is sought after because it is beautiful. Who could resist having the ocean and mountains on your doorstep?

A seaplane taking off out of Vancouver Harbour with Mt. Baker in Washington visible in the background

The people

What a nice change to get out of London where everyone apologetically stares at their shoes, ponders if its actually possible for Theresa May to screw up anymore and whether Brexit really means Brexit.

While it’s a stereotype, the Canadians are just genuinely friendly and interested in your well-being. A chat with the bus driver or a ‘have a great day’ said with enthusiasm have made life far more pleasant.

The atmosphere

When you are child one’s little brain does not seek to understand the atmosphere or vibe of a city you are inhabiting. You are carefree and that what I was back in 1998.

While I was able to get a sense of the laid-back atmosphere on trips back to Vancouver, I fully appreciate it now I am living here again.

Anywhere is laid-back compared to London but Vancouver’s vibe is the perfect mixture of work hard, play hard. While people get about their business seriously there is still plenty of room for letting your hair down and relaxing.

Vancouver at sunset from Jericho Beach

The University

It’s hard to quite describe in words the University of British Columbia. It’s more of a city than an university.

The university has its own hospital, stadium, state of the art swimming pool, supermarket, ice rink and on-campus 24 hours McDonalds (!). The scale of the place is honestly incomprehensible. I made the mistake of trying to walk across campus in the first week – it took me 45 minutes.

However, on a serious note, the support network seems to be far better than the University of Bristol where I did my undergraduate degree. The issue of depression, stress and anxiety is on the fingertips of every university in the world at the moment but the Journalism School has shown great support for my studies thus far. This is something unfortunately I did not see often enough at Bristol.

My walk every morning at UBC. You can’t get bored of it!

While things have gone well so far, there are likely to be bumps in the road. I just feel fortunate for the chance to come back to my old home and properly experience it for myself.

And finally…

Of course, there are inevitably a few things I could do without namely:

  1. Red cups and beer pong
  2. Tipping culture
  3. Shit tea
  4. The word ‘soccer’
  5. Time difference.

Other than that Canada is okay I guess…

Stunning views of Mount Seymour


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