I grew up in a rural community in southern Ontario. I grew up knowing every person that lived on my long country road, and I had gone to school with the same group of kids from kindergarten to grade 12. Although small town life has its charms, it also lacks a sense of diversity that you can only get from a big city.
I first visited Vancouver five years ago when I came to scope out a graduate studies position at UBC. I instantly fell in love with the city. It was this trip that made me realize just how tiny my current world had been. I remember wandering around downtown Vancouver and realizing that I was surrounded by people from all over the world. Every block I walked down, I heard diverse and beautiful accents and languages that were completely foreign to me. I was surrounded by people of all ethnicities, races and cultures, and I couldn’t help but drink it all in.
It was this trip that solidified my decision to move to Vancouver.
In 2014 I packed up my life and started my four-day drive to the west coast. Since moving here, I have realized just how unique this city is. If the beautiful, natural sceneries aren’t enough to make you want to stay, then the food and culture will definitely sway you.
Moving to a new city is quite intimidating, and making friends can be quite difficult. Before moving to Vancouver, I would have considered myself a “picky eater.” I liked few foods and was anxious about trying new things. However, I’ve learned that delicious food and a bit of wine makes forming friendships much easier. Many of the friends that I’ve made in this city are not from Canada, and all have been keen to share parts of their home country with me. This often includes traditional foods and family recipes from their homeland. Four years after moving here I don’t think the title “picky eater” can apply to me anymore. I have since fallen in love with the spiced flavours of India, the savoury salted meat dishes of Brazil, the fresh flavours of Vietnamese cuisine and so much more. With food from all over, inhabitants of Vancouver are provided with the opportunity to “taste your way around the world” and experience a part of other cultures through the experience of gastronomy.
Besides the delicious and diverse food options, I also love this city for the vast list of daily experiences that are available to me. Growing up in small town Ontario, our form of entertainment usually included hanging out in the parking lot at the local Tim Hortons and walking from one end of the town to the other (it only took about 20 minutes). Moving to Vancouver was a bit of a shock to my system. Suddenly I had almost unlimited opportunities for entertainment within walking distance. If I want to learn to speak a new language, a quick google search provides multiple places, meetings or groups in which to start my journey. Maybe I want to learn to code, scuba dive, volunteer with a play, become an extra on my favourite television show… No matter what excites me, there is a high probability that I can find a club or group of people that also enjoy the same activities within this city.
Vancouver is known for its diverse, cultured atmosphere and as such it attracts people from far and wide. This sheer diversity brings people together to learn from one another. Coming from a small town with little variation, I can honestly say that the diversity of Vancouver is one of this city’s best gifts. It has the potential to bring people together, and it helped me grow from my small-town roots in a way that I never could have imagined possible.