Learning to be calm, kind and safe in a ghost town

Barely a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic began when the first case arrived in British Columbia. The restrictions in Canada escalated at a jarringly rapid pace. Coming home to Vancouver in February after four years of university (in the Netherlands and Victoria, B.C.), I returned to my old room in my parents’ house. With loving…

Back in BC after 7 years

It felt reassuring to see the “two-metre” marks on the ground at the London Heathrow Airport. In late October, I was travelling from Paris to Vancouver with a layover in London. Back then, France had consistently more than 50,000 new cases daily and was on the brink of announcing a second lock-down. In Paris, I…

From West to East, quirks and all

I never would have imagined experiencing such different weather conditions in a single year, and even less to be discovering them in Canada during lockdown. Last summer, as the heat increased and restrictions were relaxed and Vancouverites seemed to once again appreciate the city’s beautiful summer scenery, I had to pack my bags and leave…

An increasingly virtual world?

I think it’s safe to say that most of us are ready to leave the year 2020 behind. It was the year that kept on giving. Month after month, there was always some type of new unpredictability. As a student, seeing the chaos that ensued due to the pandemic was, quite frankly, unnerving. One more…

British Columbia as an example

In 1964, French novelist and former spy Pierre Nord wrote in essence that “if there was one thing that we should recognize in Anglo-Saxon culture, it is the genius of pragmatism. The proof is that they won both world wars by engaging only at the end.” This shortcut does not diminish the admiration I feel…

Pandemonium and a rebirth

As we near the nine-month mark since COVID-19 took hold of what feels like every aspect of our daily activities, it’s beginning to feel like life as we once knew it is nothing more than a distant memory. For me, 2019 was one of the most turbulent years of my life. I had spent a…

Losing it: a privileged rant

When lockdown was first announced, I think I had the same thought as many in the world, “Great, more time to myself.” My mantra was: “I finally get time to do all the things I never had the time to do!” I took up baking banana bread every week. I saved my gym membership fees…

Motion sickness

The first time I felt Canadian was this past March. In 2015, I landed in Ontario when I was on the brink of turning 16, having left my mother tongue and favourite cities (in Egypt), along with my closest friends and most formative years (in the United Arab Emirates). I became Canadian when I was…

A little bit of positivity

I remember the joy I felt when my teachers first announced the extension of spring break due to COVID-19. As a high school junior, my days were filled almost entirely with school and extracurricular activities, and I was grateful that I would get this much-needed rest period. As it turned out, that spring break was…

The courage to leave and the courage to stay

I am from the South of France… where the sea reigns and the mountains dominate. I grew up in Nice with my gaze turned towards an always dazzling Mediterranean Sea. Nice… a city where people dream of going on vacation, but from which I dreamed of leaving to explore new horizons and meet other challenges.…

Confusion and anxiety: a high school coronavirus story

The pervasive theme of the coronavirus pandemic seems to be uncertainty. Uncertainty over when a vaccine will arrive, uncertainty over the economic and political turmoil that has accompanied the pandemic, uncertainty over what tomorrow holds. What will the world look like after the dust settles? Confusion, confusion everywhere. As the trickle of coronavirus reports turned…

Time for radical equality

Having just arrived from Brazil in December 2019, my experience has been mostly related to minimum wage jobs and customer service. Isolated from friends, my face-to-face interactions involve employers, managers, co-workers and fellow essential workers. If anything, a lesson has been learned after working for ten years at universities and art schools – something I…

Finding sweet light in a shadowed world

What can we do now that anyone around us might be the vector of a deadly disease? We have to continue to live our lives. I’m a college student at UBC and in the Before Time (that’s what I call the time before this pandemic) I had a wonderfully full student life. There were parties…