In discovering Vancouver, I discovered myself

I was born on November 14th, 1990 in Belgium, a small, lovely country, where the highest summit doesn’t reach 2300 feet. My parents speak Flemish. It’s very close to Dutch, only the accent is different. I was six when my parents decided to divorce. That’s when I moved to the South of France. From then…

No sense of home

My experiences of growing up in Vancouver are different from most people’s. For one thing, I am a Vancouverite, born and raised here. Also, my family has lived here for four generations. However, my family is of Chinese descent. I found it bewildering, growing up in Vancouver. I always felt as if I didn’t quite…

An urban perspective

“When you first arrive in a town, you see streets in perspective. Rows of nondescript buildings. Everything is unknown, virgin territory. A day will come when you’ll have walked those streets, gone to the end of the perspectives, come to know those buildings, interacted with the people. Living in this city, you’ll have walked along…

A role model for smaller towns

Even though I’m a Saskatchewan-born Regina resident now, whenever I visit Vancouver, I feel right at home – probably because I spent five and a half years living there. I didn’t leave because I wanted to, but because of employment opportunities. I’ve now settled back into the prairie life, which was a bit of a…

Canada, who are you?

When I started to think about a working holiday visa, my main goal was to enjoy a new experience, discover a different culture and get to know life in another corner of the world. After weighing all the alternatives, I decided to burn my bridges and fly to Canada. I submitted my application and was…

The making of a cultural hub at the global stage

I am originally from Malaysia – a country that prides itself on being multicultural – but I spent the majority of my childhood abroad. I have always thought that my exposure to different countries and cultures meant that I have a firm understanding of multiculturalism. Despite my international upbringing, I spent the majority of my…

The sweet Canadian shock

One summer afternoon on a Vancouver bus, my mother looked at me wide-eyed, “A lady in transportation asked me how my day was … what do you think she wanted from me? ” she asked, a little bit embarrassed. “Nothing,” I replied. “Except knowing how your day went, I suppose.” I could only sympathize with…

Grimace at interracial couples

I cringe at eye contact, or rather, I feel deeply embarrassed when people stare at my partner and I walking side by side, hand in hand. In those eyes, confusion, unfriendliness or even aversion is written. My partner, D., is a Sri Lankan from Seattle. He has brown skin, while I’m a light-skinned Chinese living…

Vancouver: my hometown

I’m barely 19 and fortunately my identity crisis, a psychological crisis that begins during adolescence and that sometimes extends into adult life, has quickly passed. For a good part of my life I did not know who I was, partly because I’m “exotic.” By “exotic,” I am referring to the fact that I have ethnic…

Be yourself in Vancouver

Everyone knows Vancouver is a great city to live in. The mix between large urban buildings and nature makes the city attractive to all kinds of people. Vancouver is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life. Besides that, it’s also the third largest film production centre…

A Parisienne attempts a Vancouver makeover

Freshly disembarked from her native France on a winter morning (it’s all of 3°C out), the Parisienne, her ankles swollen with pride upon stepping out onto the soil of the new continent (or was it perhaps poor blood circulation due to the trip), changes her shoes. Indeed, as soon as she leaves the airport she…

Exploring cultures within a culture

During a long flight I opened my eyes and peeked out of the airplane window. There it was, a green stretch of mountainous land, surrounded by sea and arctic, seemingly wild and pure. I was on my way to Vancouver, the city where people talk in elevators, where yoga pants are for everyday use and…

Dream or reality

Sept. 27, 2014 found me on a plane, my heart palpitating with fear. The unknown was what terrified me most. In my backpack I had a sleeping mask, a pen, my diary and very precious memories. “This journey will unsettle me forever. I am not ready,” I wrote. I was on my way from Egypt…