“How was Canada?”
That’s the question I’ve been asked most since I came home, and the question I most struggle to answer. How do you summarise more than a year into a sentence and actually be honest about it? It depends who’s asking, but usually I answer something like, “It was amazing – difficult, but amazing.” That’s the most sincere way I can describe it.
Fourteen months to the day after arriving in Vancouver, I left. I didn’t leave because I had to – my visa was valid for another ten months – I left because I couldn’t imagine staying another year. My time in Canada was broken neatly into stages, each completely separate and almost independent of each other. The first and longest stage, ‘Phase I’ as it grew to be known, spanned six months, and was made up mostly of rain, struggling for work and feeling lost (both physically and metaphorically). Phase II not only saw a change in the weather, but a complete change in what life in Vancouver had to offer, thanks in no small part to the friends that soon became my family away from home.
Once you drop the idea that you need a lot of money to travel and you find a solid bunch of people willing to go, pretty quickly you’ll realise that anywhere within a 400km radius is your playground. Although we had so much on our doorstep in Vancouver, the best part about my time there was going on trips away. In a very short space of time, I saw Whistler, Seattle, Kelowna, San Francisco, Vancouver Island, and so much more. Had I not been living in a new country, I never would have dreamed of taking that many breaks away.