For a while it had become my daily routine to get lost in the streets of Vancouver. One minute I would be asking a stranger for directions and the next, I would be zooming in on Google Maps just to get more confused. Relying completely on Google Maps is never a good idea and I learned that the hard way when I first got to Canada in 2013.
I then landed in Toronto’s Pearson Airport with a whole list of expectations and even though most of them were validated by my experiences, I eventually learned that holding expectations was limiting me. This is the same experience I encountered when I moved to Vancouver because I always used to hear compliments about Vancouver’s beauty and complaints about how expensive it is. From that point on, I had fixed expectations about this city in the west coast of Canada where only the rich and worthy can reside. Right there and then, I set a limit on myself thinking that only in another more privileged life could I live in such a city which not only has some of the most beautiful mountains and lakes but also provides the thrill of a bustling downtown without the bone-breaking cold that Canada is famous for. While I never initially made my mind on moving to Vancouver, there was always something in my subconscious that pulled me to move here permanently.
Having lived most of my life in Kuwait, I am used to living by the water. You can have a stressful day but as soon as you let the water speak to you, it has the power to calm you down, pull you in and take away your stress piece by piece. Perhaps that is my favorite part about living here: whenever my mind is foggy, or if I am feeling very anxious, I go to one of the many bodies of water surrounding the region and breathe myself back to clarity. No matter whether you are in Vancouver, New West or even Delta, you will always have water near you, that is the beauty of living in BC.
This place has a rich history which was made possible by the efforts of immigrants in search of opportunity and resources. To think about it in this context, it is precisely the same reason why an immigrant like myself has decided to set up camp in this part of the world. People from all around the world come to Vancouver and it is such a multicultural city that it can be challenging to find people who were born here.
I grew up in a very multicultural environment and when I arrived in Vancouver it played a huge role in helping me feel immediately at home. When I first got here, every day I would wake up, rub my eyes and think to myself “Oh my God, I can’t believe that I am actually in Vancouver”. This daily realization turned into a feeling that slowly dissipated as reality kicked in. Like any new experience, it only feels fresh and exciting for a short while until it eventually becomes familiar and plain. I noticed that people in Vancouver keep to themselves and do not smile in public a lot, so I do not doubt that Vancouver is one of Canada’s least happy cities, according to a study done by Statistics Canada.
By far, my favorite thing about this city is its thoughtful layout to complement the water and mountains that lie around it. During my first couple of months, my senses were getting bombarded with beauty and I would often have to stop just to collect my thoughts because it became overwhelming. In simple words, the beauty of this city is straight out of my childhood fairy tale imagination.