I have been in Vancouver for a year and a half or so. I grew up in Shanghai, the biggest city and financial centre in China. After twenty-two years living there, I made the biggest decision of my life. With the support of my family, I came to Canada to study at UBC’s School of Journalism. A top university in Canada situated in a beautiful city seemed to be a perfect package.
Studying abroad has been a turning point in my life. I experienced a brand-new city with incredible new activities, cultures and landscapes. Vancouver is different from Shangai in some ways, but both cities have one thing in common: cultural diversity.
Just like Vancouver, Shanghai attracts tourists from all over the world as an international city, and different neighbourhoods embrace diverse cultures just like a salad bowl. No one needs to be concerned about integrating into the main culture. Many neighbourhoods are kept westernized, such as Biyun International Community where most westerners reside. High-end pubs are scattered nearby, and soccer and rugby games are in full swing. Cheerful but diverse languages resound in the air, just like on the bus in Vancouver, where I can hear various languages fill my ears.
Before moving to Vancouver, I thought cities were places where everyone walked fast, worked hard and where few cared about what was happening around them. My stereotype of a city has gradually changed. Vancouver helps me to believe in humanity, helps me to realize that many emotions are universal, especially love. I have witnessed the kindness of strangers in my daily life. I have had really happy times in Vancouver.
I lost my wallet on the subway in Shanghai before I moved here and reported it to the police. After waiting for half a year without reply, I was pretty sure it was gone forever. Sadly, I didn’t get rid of my carelessness and inattention. After spending three months in Vancouver, I lost my wallet again near a construction site on the UBC campus. I was completely shocked. I was hopeless and upset when I unexpectedly received a message on Facebook from a man who worked at the construction site. He had found my wallet and sent me his work schedule so that I could drop by and get my wallet back.
I was so grateful when I saw this lovely text that I kept the message in my cell phone to remind me of the man’s act of kindness as well as the friendly atmosphere in Vancouver.
This isn’t the only great thing I have experienced in Vancouver. In 2015, on Remembrance Day, I saw so many people wearing a poppy that I realised how important the day was. My professor had mentioned in class that there was going to be a parade at the cenotaph in Victory Square to commemorate Remembrance Day, so I took a bus there.
On the bus, a lady dropped her poppy while getting off without noticing it. The bus driver immediately told her to wait a second. Then I saw such a touching moment that I will never forget it: the bus driver helped the lady put the poppy back on, then both smiled at each other. All the passengers witnessed the moment, the whole bus was completely silent at that time. I saw people sitting near me wearing big smiles.
There were mixed emotions in my heart when I saw the passengers’ reactions. I have never experienced this kind of emotional moment before because life in Shanghai is always a rush, with people minding their own business. If the lady had dropped her poppy on a bus in Shanghai, passengers might have felt a little impatient while waiting for the bus driver to stop and help her.
All these little moments made me fall in love with Vancouver. Although I’m proud of the city I come from, all the skyscrapers breaking through the skylines, beautiful lights bringing the city to life and the crazy nightlife, one thing is for sure, a friendly atmosphere is the most important element to make a city better. Despite the fact that my family is back in China, Vancouver is the place I would call home in my heart.