Canada is amazing. My first six weeks have been absolutely incredible, and I’m genuinely having the best time! It would take a long time to catch up on everything I’ve been up to, but a few things I’ve noticed:
- Everyone is obsessed with my accent. Usually positive (OMG YOU’RE BRITISH!?!), often mocking how I say things like ‘hat’ instead of ‘toque’ (pronounced toohk, literally what is that?).
- Canadians are almost as polite as the English and definitely friendlier!
- There are trees everywhere. Huge, beautiful trees that make the air very clean and fresh.
- It’s cheaper to eat out, but the food isn’t as good. Cheese is ridiculously expensive, or bright orange. But Poutine, Donair & Beavertails are SO TASTY.
- Alcohol from the liquor store is also way cheaper, but having drinks out is about the same price. That being said, happy hour involving $3 Mojitos definitely got the better of me…
- All of my tutors are called professors (regardless of qualification), and you’re actually encouraged to get to know them…
- Canadians are very punctual. That’s good, apart from when we were invited to a party that started at 8pm and my friends actually wanted to get there at 8pm. Not happening!
- Some of the cars/trucks here are about half the size of my house. For real.
- Everything is ‘super awesome’ and I’m ‘super stoked’ to be in Canada.
I have made so many great friends from all over the world and they’ve become like a big family on the other side of the pond: Canadian (no surprise there!), Dutch, Danish, German, Aussie, Kiwi, French, Peruvian, Egyptian, Singaporean. Most international students are very like-minded and up for exploring, so I’ve been able to travel around BC most weekends. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful the province is: everywhere on Vancouver Island and the surrounding area seems to be stunning!
I’m going to write about Salt Spring Island in this post, which is the largest Gulf Island situated in the Strait of Georgia between here and the mainland towards Vancouver. We’ve actually visited the island twice now – it’s an incredible place, with beautiful hikes and a fantastic hippy feel. It takes quite a while to get the bus to the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay from Victoria, but the actual journey across the water is less than half an hour. So worth it!
The ferry docks at Fulford Harbour, and on our first trip we followed a fab trail that winds through dense woodland up to the top of Reginald Hill. It’s not a long hike, although it can be pretty steep in places, but you’re rewarded with fantastic panoramic views over the island.
Some walkers told us you could head down the hill towards the beach and we got pretty lost in the woodsfor a few hours, but the sun was shining and it was wonderfully scenic so we didn’t mind at all. After accidentally trespassing on someone’s land and being given some directions we reached the beach and explored along the coastline – some people swam, others paddled!
Dinner at The Rock Salt Restaurant was the perfect way to end the day – great food with great people. The sunset over the ocean on the ferry ride home wasn’t half bad either.
On our second visit, we took the bus further inland to the main settlement on the island, Ganges, which hosts a fabulous Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. There was so much organic produce, delicious food and beautiful jewellery and gifts. A cauliflower and kale samosa was a definite highlight, as was getting a hand-made bead to add to my hair braid! We also visited one of the island’s vineyards for their annual grape-stomping event and willingly took part in some free wine and prosecco tasting! Accompanied by live jazz and a deep-fried avocado taco (seriously one of the best things ever), we all felt pretty content.
Everyone on Salt Spring is unbelievably friendly – it’s a very small community, so people are always keen to chat about where you’re from and what you’re up to, and one guy who gave us a lift back to the ferry said everyone was expected to pick up hitch-hikers! I can’t recommend it enough. A gem of a place in Beautiful British Columbia.