Canada: The Beginning

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Hello, for the first time, and welcome to my section of the study abroad blog!

Although my first term at the University of British Columbia does not start until the 6th of September with Imagine Day (a kind of freshers-week-in-a-day affair), my mum and brother have decided to holiday with me all around the West Coast of Canada for the two weeks before term starts. As I am writing this I am sitting in the car going through the beautiful Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the way back to Vancouver from Tofino, so I thought it would be a great time to tell you all about the wonderful adventures that I have had so far in my magical first week in Canada.

If you would like to hear and see more about my adventures throughout the year, I post daily on my Instagram, BeautyByKat08, and post twice a week on my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/beautybykat08. Happy viewing/watching!

Destination: Vancouver 

At 5am we set off from my house, saying goodbye for the last time for a few months, to travel to the airport. Waving farewell to my dad (he wasn’t too keen on the nine and a half hour plane journey so decided not to join us on our trip) it finally set in that I am actually moving to Canada, nearly half way around the world. Getting my boarding pass, eating breakfast and stepping onto the aeroplane I felt a mixture of excitement, at all the adventures that I would pursue, and sadness at everything and everyone that I was leaving behind.

Nine and a half hours later, the first thing that struck me even before we were allowed off the plane, was the sheer beauty of Vancouver. Out the window I was stunned by the mountains and the ocean so close to a vibrant and large city. After getting off the plane and travelling on the Canada Line (one of the great lines on the transit system in the city!), I finally arrived. In terms of comparison to other cities, it reminded me of a mixture of San Fransisco and New York. It had the overhead lines in the road allowing buses to run and the low rise city feel of San Fransisco, with the vibe of Manhattan: the energy and modernity. It felt, and still feels, unreal that I am spending a whole year so close (a twenty minute free bus ride) to such a beautiful city.

In the three nights that we spent in the city, highlights included going to Stanley Park and seeing the UBC campus for the first time. The former is a large circular park (as the name suggests!) which boasts beautiful views of the mountains and is a great place to skate or bike around. We decided to walk which we seemed to regret after the whole ten kilometre trip! The latter was exciting simply in the fact that we got to see exactly where my home will be for the next year. The campus was so beautiful, with mountains and ocean in the background and a wide open campus.

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Next Stop: Victoria 

Before we knew it, we were boarding the ferry to Vancouver Island, which was an exciting activity in itself. The ferry crossing cost less than $20 a person and allowed you to see the gorgeous scenery and mountains of the Island. It was one of those moments where you sit back and think just how beautiful the natural world is.

Arriving in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, we were greeted by a much smaller city, with a vibrant history and great architecture. Of the whole of Canada it has the greatest percentage of citizens over the age of 80 and has the mildest climate.

Only having two nights there, we visited the parliament building and took lots of slow walks by the harbour. Throughout the trip we were incredibly lucky to have 28+ degree temperatures every single day, so we had ample opportunity to eat froyo whilst looking at the sights!

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Next Stop: Tofino

Our final stop so far was near Tofino in a hotel overlooking the ocean. Where the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, famously holidays, it is a place like none other that I can describe. It has the beautiful mountains and rock faces (although with many more trees and greenery) of Yosemite, with an incredible seascape. We spent four nights here, with two hikes and bear and whale watching being the highlights.

With Vancouver Island being home to 100,000 bears, we had the opportunity to go onto a lake, clad with our survival suits, and see multiple black bears and their cubs. Being less than 10 meters away from a beautiful black bear is an experience that I will never forget.

We also went into the open ocean to see a combination of humpback whales, sea lions, bald eagles and dolphins. Although not for the faint-hearted with the waves, this was one of those pinch-me moments that I was really in Canada and that I was really seeing incredible wildlife in its natural habitat.

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Final Stop: Vancouver 

Currently being in the car on the way to Vancouver, I am so excited for what this part of our journey will consist of, and my eventual goodbye to my family and hello to my new life for the year.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me and I am so excited to share all of my adventures with you!

Lots of Love,

Katherine

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