I was born and raised in Dubai, a multicultural city in the United Arab Emirates. Even though I grew up in Dubai, I couldn’t call it my home because it is impossible for expats to gain citizenship in the United Arab Emirates. Children who are born in Dubai automatically take the citizenship of their father. In my case, I was a citizen of Cyprus. I was one of the 42% of the expats who integrated with the local population even though their lifestyles were extremely different from mine. Although various people discriminated against each other, I was happily living in a cocoon of non-judgemental people.
I lived in Halifax while I was studying at Saint Mary’s University. I was in a multicultural setting that was in close proximity to the university. Some of my Haligonian classmates had a hard time socializing with foreigners because of their biases. In the first year, foreigners integrated with each other and by the third year or so, Haligonians found a way to integrate with the rest of the world. After getting a Canadian citizenship, I considered Halifax my new home.
Edmonton, another multicultural city, called my name when I graduated from Saint Mary’s University. I moved to Edmonton after getting accepted to a graduate program at the University of Alberta. Edmonton was more diverse, with lots of events and job opportunities. The affordable rent prices compensated for the cold weather. I loved the university; I loved the city. Therefore, Edmonton was my new home.
As soon as I finished my graduate program, I found a job as a geologist in Brisbane, another multicultural city in Australia. Brisbane is filled with very nice people and lots of job opportunities, but as a woman working in a male dominated industry, I encountered sexists who had a hard time collaborating with me.
A new job opportunity took me to Toronto, the most diverse city in the world. This city is full of energy, and there is always something to do. Toronto never sleeps. No matter what time it was, I saw people on the streets. I could catch a street car at any time. Anything that you want can be found in this large city. Toronto was my home until it was hit by a recession.
I moved to Vancouver for the same reasons that I relocated to the previous cities. Like the aforementioned multicultural cities, Vancouver has open-minded people, diverse job opportunities, many options for recreational activities, and endless learning possibilities. Compared to the other cities that I have lived in, Vancouver has more appreciation for indigenous culture. Indigenous artwork can be seen painted on buildings, walls, under bridges and on the walls of dental offices. In addition, Vancouverites are quite friendly. Vancouver is not only diverse in its human population; you can see a diverse bird population in Vancouver right in your backyard. Not too long ago, a northern flicker bumped into my window causing a small crack in it. However, just like other multicultural cities, Vancouver has hidden sprinkles of racism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination. Some of these biased people formed their prejudices in the previous countries they resided in; others formed their opinions while living in Vancouver. For example, someone warned me about Korean hotel owners who could hack into my Internet for my personal information. Another person advised me about bad Chinese drivers. However, I never let these few people negatively influence my opinion about Vancouver.
I have only been here for less than a year, and I think that there is so much to learn from this city. As someone who has moved a lot, I consider the planet as my home and Vancouver as my bedroom. I don’t know where I will end up in the future, but I intend to enjoy and make the most of every moment that I spend in this bedroom.