In April, it was once again time to set off to go to school. Due to unforeseen circumstances, this would be my last term with all my friends at TGS, so leaving home to let the long flight to Canada commence came with mixed emotions for me, much like the rest of my last term.
I had been to Canada, however I stayed in the east of the country and fell in love with Toronto. It was going to be interesting to see whether Vancouver could live up to my high expectations.
Already the flight there was quite spectacular. After my brief one-hour hop from Berlin to Amsterdam followed a much longer nine-and-a-half-hour flight from the Netherlands to Vancouver. I had passed over Greenland before, but there was a layer of clouds. This time, though, Greenland was visible in all its glory. I’m sorry for waking up half the plane by opening my blinds to get a better view out the window, but I am convinced that it was worth it. Glaciers, icebergs, plains of endless snow and steep mountain peaks – Greenland has it all. And not a single human habitation to be seen anywhere.
Upon arrival, Vancouver itself was quite different from what I expected. The city center seems almost hyper-modern, with its blue glass skyscrapers embedded into an incredible landscape. I stayed in one of these blue skyscrapers myself. For the next three months, my address would be “apartment 1106”. And this was the view from my window:
I didn’t have especially much time to explore Vancouver, though, as the next morning the majority of us set out early in the morning to catch a ferry that would take us over the Pacific and onto Vancouver Island for a Model United Nations (MUN) conference.
Vancouver Island has a very high concentration of bears, and there were signs now and then placed strategically to remind you of this fact. The place we stayed in for the night had this hanging right next to the door:
The MUN weekend passed, new friends, “friends” and connections were made, and we headed back to Vancouver once again. I had collected a bunch of recommendations for what to do in the city, and some of my roommates and I decided to try some of it out. Our first stop: Granville Island and its farmer’s market. Though everything was very expensive, we settled on buying an oversized basket of raspberries and trying to eat them by throwing them into the air, over obstacles and then catching them with our mouths (oh yea there’s epic video evidence. I will upload it eventually).
We also found rather creatively decorated silos of a cement factory on the island. Granville Island used to be an industrial area, but eventually the companies moved outside of the city (as there is no highway going into Vancouver) and eventually the toxic remains were cleaned up, making it the perfect place for not only a university of the arts, but also various trendy startups and the farmer’s market. The cement factory is the only original factory that remains on the island. You can reach Granville island either by (a tiny little) ferry, or walk across the bridge that connects downtown Vancouver to this Hipster’s Paradise.
The next days I spent visiting some of the more “local” parts of town, including Vancouver’s largest of many Chinatowns and one of the largest of North America. People with Asian roots make up over 30% of Vancouver’s total population despite having been harshly discriminated against in the past. Today, many of the traditional stores found in and around ethnic communities are having a difficult time staying in business. While I was in town, a small family business selling Italian delicacies closed following an over 100 year long history.
I had arrived in Vancouver and my last term traveling together with all my friends before having to part ways. And it was clear to me that Vancouver had a lot to offer for the coning three months.