The first steps of a Frenchwoman in Vancouver

Wreak Beach – Nature’s magic is to be found amidst ocean and mountains.

I’ve been roaming around the city and its surroundings for two months, slowly, at my own pace.

As a former marketing person, before settling in the most populated city of British Columbia, I did my own research. I spent hours on the web “discovering” the city before even arriving. I found that I would read one thing and then its opposite, and that is pretty much what I have found since being here!

Canada is the dream for a little girl who loves nature. It is the dream for a woman who does not feel at home in her own country. Vancouver seems to me to be the city where everything is possible – the one where my career can have a new beginning or where everything could come crashing down tomorrow!

Vancouver is a place where luxury hotels and the homeless can be found only a few metres apart. It is a place where I can talk to many people from different nationalities in eight weeks. I see Vancouver as more of a world city.

Vancouver is a city embedded in nature; I grew up between the countryside and a small town, close to the ocean, but a different one: the Atlantic. The sound of the waves is magical, it soothes me, and here it is so present that I feel enraptured. To swim while looking at the snow-capped mountains and a seal in the distance is a moment that will remain engraved in my memory forever.

I am lucky to live in a house here, rather rare in my adult life. Watching a grey and a black squirrel playing together in the garden, I am delighted. I’m a little less delighted when I can’t sit in the grass for very long because there are too many ants or other critters. I have the impression that insects here are more numerous, and the Canadian mosquitoes, my god, they are ferocious!! Rain, sun, day or night, they don’t care. For me, mosquitoes bite only during the summer and at night.

Leaving for an “elsewhere” is to forget some codes only to relearn others. After two months, I still don’t understand why on some buses I can enter through any of the doors and on others only by the front door. Why for some lines I queue and others not. The code of the road and the rules for pedestrians retain many mysteries.

The magic of being in another place lies also in the encounters! For instance, my roommate, who met me at the airport before I had even signed the lease. The banker who gave me tons of advice. The man who helped recharge my car battery when there was no telephone network and night was approaching. The understanding policeman following a breach of the Highway Code. The vegetable producer at the market who invited me to discover his farm and way of working, an invitation that I hope to honor with two friends (two extraordinary women, also recently arrived in Vancouver).

I have discovered a city where I feel more free, especially with respect to my clothing and physical appearance. Having grown up in a country that is seen by many as a country of luxury and high fashion leaves scars. It is a country where I am always careful not to take the metro late at night in a miniskirt because it could be dangerous and to avoid the night bus because I would be the only woman. Here I reconsider.

Many say that a world class city has a significant financial cost. Having lived in Paris and one hour from London, I have some doubts, especially if I compare the quality of life that the three cities can offer. My criteria for this is feeling safe, access to healthy, quality food and proximity to nature, including the sea or the ocean.

My two months in Vancouver has also made me realize that the grass is not always greener elsewhere. The grass is simply different. Each city, country, or culture has its pros and cons. And in addition, according to the periods of my life and my expectations of the moment, the grass will have a very different flavour.

Translation by Barry Brisebois