My First Impressions of Canada

Flora Scott, Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Canada

Exactly one month after starting in Vancouver, its fair too say there are some definite advantages over life back home. Despite the frequent rainfall, which feels reminiscent of Manchester, the similarity between the two cities stops there. I loved living in Manchester but looking out over the beach and the mountains is a nice change from views of Owens Park tower.

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The view from Wreck Beach on campus

As well as making for a great picture, the proximity to the wilderness makes it easy to spend a lot more time outdoors. The students here spend a little less time watching Netflix and more time hiking the local trails, camping by the lakes or even just enjoying a bonfire on the beach. For a couch potato like me this is no bad thing.

There is also a much greater sense of school spirit here. Everyone is willing to get involved. It seemed as though almost the whole university turned up to the homecoming American football game to support the UBC Thunderbirds. Everyone wore the University colours and never stopped cheering (despite their landslide loss). The University also puts on regular events that anyone can attend. This can be anything from barbecues to boat races.

It hasn’t all been an easy ride. Arriving in Vancouver, everything was going smoothly for all of 5 minutes. Having come across the border from the States I waited around for a while in immigration before the rather unamused immigration officer informed me he couldn’t issue me with my study visa. My slight panic was replaced with annoyance after discovering this was due to a broken printer. Typical. So much for modern technology! This was not eased by the looks I received from the coachload of people I had kept waiting. Turning up at the University I was then told that without a visa I couldn’t apply for health insurance. Luckily I was saved by the kindness of Canadians in the form of my flatmate’s Dad. After a round trip of over 4 hours going all the way back to the border and having to stand in multiple queues, I finally had a visa. This was a huge relief – I could stop worrying about injuring myself and being landed with a hefty medical bill as I had no insurance. The money I saved from my summer of waitressing definitely would not have covered this.

There are also other aspects of life here that is taking a certain amount of adjustment. Having lived in Lonodn for most of my life, I thought I was used to steep prices before I came here and had to pay $4 dollars for a loaf of bread! It’s also a lot easier to spend money when theres endless trips to be taken and whales to be watched.

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Whale watching of the coast of British Columbia

All things considered, the very best thing so far has to be the view from my flat. Finally, compensation for two years of staring at brick walls in Manchester. It almost makes getting up for 8 am classes bearable!

The view from my kitchen

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